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Psalter Purchases


David Coram
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Hello

 

Been here before, I know, but I am considering purchasing some psalters.

 

Current - Worcester, mostly ok but some odd layouts/pointing, and no chants. RSCM chant book in use which is basically quite a good collection.

 

Out on principle - Parish, St Pauls.

 

Can anyone suggest any commercial contenders, preferably with chants and psalms in the same book?

 

D

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I don't think there is much else. Albeit without chants, my first choice, if I could get hold of a second hand set, would be the (out of print) Oxford Psalter which is not a thousand miles in character from the Worcester Psalter. I get the impression that a lot of cathedrals &c., use their own home-grown photocopies which give you exactly what you want but may ultimately prove more expensive (and certainly less durable) over all. It might also raise copyright issues over some of the chants.

 

I recall almost 45 years ago playing for Mattins at a strange church at very short notice. They used the Parish Psalter and, having launched into the Benedictus, I had to call out to a nearby choirman to ask whether they used the pointing in the main text or the alternative at the bottom of the page!

 

Recently I bought a copy of Saint Dunstan's Plainchant Psalter on-line from the Lancelot Andrewes Press in the USA. Without having studied it too deeply yet it seems to compare very well with "Briggs and Frere" and with the All Saints' (Margaret Street) Plainchant Psalter.

 

Malcolm

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I must admit that I do the psalms out on sheets myself as I have not yet come across a psalter that fully satisfies. Having worked in the past with both Worcester and Oxford my personal opinion is that Worcester is streets ahead. I would certainly not see a change from Worcester to Oxford as a step forwards.

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I've worked a lot with Oxford, and some with Worcester. Personally I find the Oxford infinitely preferable - there are some inconsistencies and occasional oddities which benefit from a bit of re-pointing, but far less so than Worcester. Worcester treats every single verse as 2 distinct halves, with a break at the colon, regardless of the sense of the words and the number of chords you're then left with for unimportant words in the second half (e.g. 3 chords on 'and'!).

I don't know whether yours is choral or congregational use. The Choral Psalter, produced by Thalben Ball, is worth looking at - but, as the title suggests, it couldn't be used congregationally. Most chants are new (but usually simple) but are written with the words of each psalm in mind - not only in terms of mood but structure of the chant. So verses that are complicated in Oxford become less so by having (e.g.) 4 chords in each quarter of the chant rather than the usual 4-6-4-6.

 

Paul

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Thanks for pointing out the new Lincoln Psalter; I've just ordered a couple of copies from their Friends. Seems a bargain at £10 plus £1.50 postage per copy. From the picture on the Friends' website it looks as if it's nicely laid out. A friend of mine was a bass lay clerk there from late Philip Marshall to early Colin Walsh time and they had some superb chants, particularly by Dr Marshall himself.

 

Philip Marshall and Francis Jackson - both pupils of Bairstow - both had/have absolutely beautiful manuscript.

 

Malcolm

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Thanks for pointing out the new Lincoln Psalter; I've just ordered a couple of copies from their Friends. Seems a bargain at £10 plus £1.50 postage per copy. From the picture on the Friends' website it looks as if it's nicely laid out. A friend of mine was a bass lay clerk there from late Philip Marshall to early Colin Walsh time and they had some superb chants, particularly by Dr Marshall himself.

 

Philip Marshall and Francis Jackson - both pupils of Bairstow - both had/have absolutely beautiful manuscript.

 

Malcolm

 

I also sang there - as a bass supernumerary (which in actuality involved much midweek work and at weekends) during the time of David Flood - their psalter was superbly copied out by PM and easy, effective etc. to use. Some good chants around too as I remember.

 

A

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My two copies of the Lincoln Psalter arrived just now, only a very few days after I ordered them from the Friends' Office. A quick glance indicates very sensible and effective pointing, a superb (if occasionally unexpected) choice of chants (Howells chants for Psalms 42/43), beautifully laid out out, easy to read and uncomplicated. My only initial two questions are whether everyone would find the A4 portrait format convenient and whether the binding would stand up to constant use, not to mention whether it would stay open on the organ.

 

It certainly is worth serious consideration by anyone thinking of introducing a new psalter.

 

Malcolm

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