The Genevan Psalter is a collection of metrical psalms created under the supervision of John Calvin. A metrical psalter is a kind of Bible translation: a Paraphrase of all or part of the Book of Psalms in Vernacular John Calvin (or Jean Calvin) (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564 was a French Protestant theologian during the Protestant Reformation and
Before the Reformation the singing of the Psalms was generally done by a select group of performers, not by the entire congregation. The Protestant Reformation was a reform movement in Europe that began in 1517 though its roots lie further back in time John Calvin understood that the entire congregation was to participate in praising God in the worship service. For this reason he wanted to create a song book in a form easily accessible to the people.
After being forced to move away from Geneva in 1538, Calvin settled in Strasbourg. Geneva (Genève is the second-most populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich) and is the most populous city of Romandy (the French -speaking He joined the Hugenot Congregation there where he also led numerous worship services. It was in Strasbourg where he got familiar with the German versification of the Psalms written by Martin Luther and others. Martin Luther (November 10 1483 February 18 1546 was a German Monk, theologian, university professor Father of Protestantism, and church reformer Calvin took these songs to his French congregation for which he wrote some metrical versifications himself. His own versions of the Psalms were apparently not of sufficient quality and he turned to the French court poet, Clément Marot who already versified most of the psalms in French during the first part of the sixteenth century. Clément Marot (23 November 1496 – 12 September 1544 was a French Poet of the Renaissance period
In 1539 the first edition of Calvin's Psalter was published. It bore the title "Aulcuns Pseaulmes et cantiques mys en chant" and contained 22 psalms and hymns, including 13 versifications of Marot, the ten commandments, the song of Simeon and the Apostolic Creed set to music. Most of the melodies therein were familiar tunes used in the German church in Strasbourg at that time. Some of these melodies, presumably composed by Wolfgang Dachstein or Matthias Greiter. In the current collection of the Genevan Psalter the following melodies have survived: Psalm 1, 2, 15, 32, 33, 36, 51, 67, 68, 69, 103, 114, 115, 130, 137 and 143.
In 1541 Calvijn returned to Geneva where he published a new psalter in 1542. Guillaume Franc, cantor and music teacher in Geneva, contributed numerous tunes for this edition including Psalm 6, 8, 19, 22, 24 (also used for 62, 95 and 111), and 38
Clément Marot moved to Geneva in 1543 and was commissioned by Calvin to create rhymed versions of all the Psalms, he was unable to complete this and died in the fall of 1544. His work was continued by Théodore de Bèze. Theodore Beza ( Théodore de Bèze or de Besze) ( June 24, 1519 &ndash October 13, 1605) was a French The 1543 edition bore the title "La Forme des Prieres et Chantz ecclesiastiques" More melodies composed by Franc (Psalms 138 and 140) appeared as well as one by Pierre Certon (Ps 43) and a number by Louis Bourgeois.
Based on the introduction of this psalter "Pseaumes octantetrois de David" we can conclude that the supervising composer of this edition was Louis Bourgeois. It is not exactly clear how many of the melodies were actually composed by him, but it is generally assumed that most of the new additions were from his hand.
Finally in 1562 a complete Psalter was issued with rhymed versions of all 150 Psalms. Some of the earlier melodies were replaced. The last 40 melodies found herein are ascribed to a certain Maistre Pierre, probably Pierre Davantès. Many of the the lyrics were updated or replaced and all of them were written by Marot and De Bèze.
The melodies from Geneva are still widely in use today in the Calvinist churches in the Netherlands, Hungary, Canada, The United States, South Africa and Australia. Probably the only group of Christians in North America that still uses the Genevan Psalter in its entirety are the Canadian Reformed Churches. The Canadian and American Reformed Churches (CanRC is a federation of over fifty Protestant Christian churches in Canada and the USA with historical roots in the They sing from their own Book of Praise, the Anglo-Genevan Psalter, containing English versifications for all the Genevan tunes.