The Psalmes in Englysshe

A while back, maybe when I discovered the Sidney Psalms, I got the idea of collecting all the Englished Psalms I could find just for the sheer delight of the language.  Sort of an Oxford Book of English Psalms.  So I’ve googled madly and have discovered some interesting sources, including a database of early English works that probably shouldn’t be open to the public, and I’ve started the long process of gathering the texts, getting them into a text file and formatting them as needed.  Along the way I told my 12-year-old daughter about the project and her eyes lit up with excitement: Poetry!  English!  Psalms!

So she and I have sat down together the last couple of nights to start working through some of these.  We’ve started with the earliest comprehensible Psalms I could find, turned into verse by an English Francisan priest and Doctor of Sacred Theology, Thomas Brampton, who wrote in 1414 A.D.  It turns out she has a fine sense of poetic rhythm and a nearly preternatural ability to find good modern equivalents of archaic words.  She would much rather sit and think about rewe and sythen and avysĕment when I just want to do a slam-bang lookup in an Middle English dictionary.

So, the Great Psalm Project has begun and we’re already reaping rewards.


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