Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 and was petitioned the same year to allow the publication of an English translation of the Bible. A few months later the work was complete and Myles Coverdale published the first complete printed Bible in English.
Coverdale went on to publish ‘Goostly Psalmes,’ and at the same time a French version of the Psalms translated by Marot, valet de chambre to Francis I, was taken up at the French court. Marot and Coverdale, both devout reformers for Protestant worship, hoped that singing of the Psalms would replace more obscene popular ballads.
Thomas Sternhold, the author of this exquisite book of Psalms from the Worcestershire County museum collection, followed shortly after these first scholars and reformers. He reputedly came from the village Awre on the River Severn in Gloucestershire.
His translation of the Psalms, first published in 1547, was in general use for more than 150 years and has had a larger circulation than any work in the language, except the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. This particular edition – the 1628 printing – was in wide use during the English Civil War and the parliamentary armies sang from it together before going into battle.
This book has been covered with embroidery and the fore-edge is beautifully patterned.