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The Psalm and Hymn Tunes of John Bishop

John Bishop (b. 1665) was organist of Winchester College from 1695 to 1729, and of Winchester Cathedral from 1729 to 1737, the year of his death. He composed some music intended for cathedral performance (1), but he also published two books of music intended for parish choirs. I have made an edition from sources in the British Library (BL) of the 51 psalm and hymn tunes in these books. The anthems are the subject of a separate article.

In 1710 (2) Bishop published (SBT):

A set of New Psalm Tunes in Four Parts: containing Proper Tunes to all the different Measures of the Psalms which are to be found in the Old, or any of the New Versions, or Supplement: With variety of Tunes for the most common Measures: contrived within a moderate Compass, for the ease of the Voice, and may be sung in 1, 2, 3, or 4 parts, with a Figured Bass for the Organ; and a Table shewing what Psalms are proper to each Tune.

With four short anthems in four parts, for the Delight and Improvement of all who are truly Lovers of Divine Music. Design’d for the use of St. Laurence Church in Reading; and are taught by Tho. Batten.

By John Bishop, Organist of the Colledge [sic] at Winton.


Printed by W. Pearson, for the Author, and Sold by J. Walsh, at the Harp and Haut-boy in St. Katherine street, J. Hare near the Royal-Exchange, and W. Colson in Winchester. Price 1s. 6d.

An image of the title page is available here. The book was typeset with the four parts printed separately on facing pages for the strophic settings, and on successive pages for the anthems. C clefs were used for all three upper parts. It includes 33 tunes, mostly plain, for metrical psalms, and four anthems.

Second and third editions were published in 1722 (3) and 1730 (4) respectively, in the form of separate part books, when seven more tunes and three more anthems were added. The reference to St Laurence’s Church, Reading in the advertisement was omitted. Publication details for these editions are somewhat different, as are the prices: 1s. 6d., 2s. 0d. and 2s. 6d. for the three editions respectively.

Bishop published A Supplement to the New Psalm Book (SBP) (i.e. the New Version of Tate and Brady) in 1725 (5), with a second posthumous edition in 1770 (6). The first edition was issued typeset in score, and included 11 psalm tunes and six anthems. In the advertisement to the latter book the author writes,

“I have chose to put this in Score, believing it to be of great Use and Benefit to the Performers to have all the Parts before ’em, that they may see where each Part stops, and where it joyns again with the rest, by which they will know when to come in. I have also put the Treble-part in the Gsolreut-Cliff; as being generally better known than the other.”

The present editor is grateful for this decision, as the part books of SBT have inconsistencies which present editing problems. The 1770 edition was engraved, and the opportunity was taken to make a few corrections.

The subjoined table gives details of the 51 psalm and hymn tunes in the various editions. Detailed commentary follows the table:

  • # gives editorially assigned numbers for identification.
  • NAME gives the name assigned by Bishop. In SBT each tune is given a place name. The names Norwich and St. Albans are each used twice. In SBP Bishop simply states for which psalm or psalms the tune is recommended.
  • TITLE gives the first line of the text.
  • TEXT gives the source of the text given by Bishop. He usually underlays sufficient text for one repetition of the tune. Most of the psalm texts are from the Old Version of the Metrical Psalms. N shows a psalm text from the New Version in #13-16. Additional verses are conjecturally underlaid in the editions, in order to render them performable. In the case of tunes #47-51, which appear to be on a folio copied from another publication, and not composed by Bishop, no text is given. Texts have been conjecturally selected from other sources of these tunes.
  • HTI gives the Tune Number in Temperley's Hymn Tune Index (7).
  • Ed. 1 etc. refer to the different editions. Numbers refer to pages. Where two tunes appear on the same page, a, b and c refer to the items in descending order. X before a number denotes the page numbers on the extra folio mentioned above, bearing tunes #47-51.

Click on the S to view and hear the music from a Sibelius Scorch file. If you are new to Sibelius Scorch or have any trouble with these files please look at the relevant page of Questions and Answers for more information. Clicking on M and P brings up downloadable MIDI and PDF files respectively.


# Name Title Text HTI Ed. 1 Ed. 2 Ed. 3 Scorch MIDI pdf
A Sett of New Psalm Tunes
1WanfordThe man is blest that hath not bent Ps 17202a2a2a S M P
2NorthamptonWith heart and mouth unto the Lord Ps 97122a2a2a S M P
3PortsmouthI will give laud and honour both Ps 347162b2b2b S M P
4St. Albans (1)How pleasant is thy dwelling place Ps 847174b2d2d S M P
5BristolO come let us lift up our voice Ps 956976a3a3a S M P
6SouthamptonRemember David's troubles, Lord Ps 1327198a3b3b S M P
7NewburyTake pity for thy promise sake Ps 577108b3c3c S M P
8OkeinghamYe righteous in the Lord, rejoice Ps 3371410a4a4a S M P
9WinchesterI love the Lord, because my voice Ps 11672112a4b4b S M P
10WorcesterPut me not to rebuke, O Lord Ps 3872314a5a5a S M P
11IllsleyAll people that on earth do dwell Ps 10070414b5b5b S M P
12BuckleburyThose that do put their confidence Ps 12569816a5c5c S M P
13OxfordMy soul inspired with sacred love Ps 103N71518a6a6a S M P
14MarlboroughI waited meekly for the Lord Ps 40N70818b6b6b S M P
15Norwich (1)No change of time shall ever shock Ps 18N71320a6c6c S M P
16GloucesterTo thee my God and Saviour, I Ps 88N70322a7a7a S M P
17YorkI lift my heart to thee Ps 2572424a7b7b S M P
18BerwickThe mighty God th'eternal hath thus spoke Ps 5069526a8a8a S M P
19ExeterWith heart I do accord Ps 11170128a9a9a S M P
20BedfordThe man is blest that God doth fear Ps 112/127694a32a10a10a S M P
21LondonYe children which do serve the Lord Ps 11370734a10b10b S M P
22LincolnIn trouble and in thrall Ps 12070636a11a11a S M P
23NewcastleI lift mine eyes to Sion hill Ps 12171138a11b11b S M P
24ChichesterI did in heart rejoice Ps 12269940a12a11c S M P
25IpswichNow Israel may say, and that truly Ps 12470542a12b12a S M P
26ChievelySuch as in God the Lord do trust Ps 12570044a13a12b S M P
27WolhamptonWhen that the Lord again his Sion ... Ps 12672244a14a13b S M P
28ReadingLord, to thee I make my moan Ps 130702b50a15a14a S M P
29MidghamMy soul praise the Lord Ps 10470452a15b14b S M P
30BrimptonPraise ye the Lord, for he is good Ps 13669654a16b15b S M P
31BathO laud the Lord benign Ps 136/14869358a18a17a S M P
32SherbourneSing to the Lord a new made song Ps 9671860a18b17b S M P
33A funeral hymnSince that our friend's prepared to rest Anon.702a78a27a26a S M P
34St. Albans (2)I waited long and sought the Lord Ps 40/66/138961-17c16c S M P
35Norwich (2)My soul give laud unto the Lord Ps 103/105960-8b8b S M P
36AbbingtonO Lord upon thee do I call Ps 141957-13b13a S M P
37AlesburyBehold and have regard Ps 134/25958-16a15a S M P
38CarlisleLord God of health, the hope and stay Ps 88959-17a16a S M P
39BlanfordThe Lord is only my support Ps 23715b-17b16b S M P
40Te DeumO God we praise thee, and we own Te Deum962-24a23a S M P

# NAME TITLE TEXT HTI Ed. 1 Ed. 2 Scorch MIDI pdf
A Supplement to the New Psalm Book
1725 1770
41Ps 31/92It is a thing both good and meet Ps 92109232 S M P
42Ps 30/98All laud and praise with heart and voice Ps 30109143 S M P
43Ps 67Have mercy on us, Lord Ps 67109355 S M P
44Ps 119/5th pt.Direct me Lord in the right way Ps 119109678 S M P
45Ps 100All people that on earth do dwell Ps 1001094910 S M P
46Ps 118/3rd pt.I will give thanks to thee, O Lord Ps 11810951213 S M P
47Babilon StreamsAs by the streams of Babylon Ps 137304X9a- S M P
48Bella TuneAwake my soul! Look up Anon.577X9b- S M P
49Christ Church TuneGive laud unto the Lord Ps 148892X9c- S M P
50Jersey TuneSuch as in God the Lord do trust Ps 125581X10a- S M P
51Somerset TuneGreat God, indulge my humble claim Ps 63900X10b- S M P

Editorial policy

In editing these tunes I have endeavoured to produce practical editions. I present them as published, without keyboard accompaniment. In Bishop’s time they were probably usually sung unaccompanied, but such straightforward music lends itself to all manner of performance. I have added extra verses to the single line of text included by Bishop, in most cases following a common custom of the period by including a total of four verses.

I have corrected what I consider to be errors which have occurred either at the typesetting or some other stage; these are all noted. Most of the consecutives I have left unaltered but noted. I have added suggested metronome markings enclosed in editorial square brackets.

The tunes in A Sett of New Psalm Tunes

In SPT all the tunes except #35 are plain tunes. With a one exception, there is no melismatic writing, and generally each foot of text is matched by a bar of music. In #31 Bishop allows himself a melisma on the word "eternally", an isolated example of word-painting. And in #40, a setting of the metrical Te Deum, Bishop repeats the text "holy"; a repetition which causes underlay problems in subsequent verses.

Tunes #28 and #33 are reworkings of the same musical material, and it is unclear which came first. #33 is the only hymn setting in the compilation, and appears spearately from the psalm tunes, at the end after the anthems. It is in Double Common Metre. #28 sets Psalm 130 Old Version, which is in the then unusual 7676 metre, of which only one previous example is listed in the HTI (7). It is therefore perhaps more likely that #28 is the adaptation.

#35 is in the form which has come to be known as a relay tune. The four voices in turn sing a line of text unsupported, after which there is a chorus for all four voices repeating the last two lines of text. In the first strain of the chorus the soprano voices repeat the music which they previously sing unsupported. (This device is similar to that later employed in some relay tunes by William Knapp (c1698-1768), who sometimes uses the first strain of the chorus bass as the prior unsupported bass passage.) I have been unable to find any similar relay tune published before 1722, the date of SPT's second edition. It may then be that Bishop invented what was to become a popular form for West Gallery tunes.

Bishop's part allocation is always clear. Most of the strophic settings have the air in the tenor, in contra-distinction to his anthems, in which the air is in the soprano. The HTI lists all these tunes as having tenor air. However, I consider this allocation questionable in the case of #35. As mentioned above, the soprano of #35 repeats a strain in the chorus, and later cadences onto the tonic. The tenor has more the character of a harmony part, and cadences onto the mediant, which is unusual for a West Gallery air. (The tenor of #37 is the one other example of a tenor air which cadences onto the mediant, but in this case it is fairly clear from the general structure of the tune that the air is in the tenor.)

19 of the 40 tunes in SPT are in minor keys, which is by no means unusual for West Gallery music of this period. What is unusual is that 12 of them end with a tièrce de Picardie (a major final chord in a minor key setting). The remaining minor tunes end on open fifths or bare ocatves. The tièrce de Picardie is rarely found in other West Gallery settings, though it was occasionally used by Joseph Key (d. 1784).

Another feature of these tunes rather rarely found in later publications is the many intermediate cadences onto the subdominant. These may be found in #4, #8, #12, #13, #16, #17, #24, #37, #38 and #39. This feature is perhaps indicative of the work of a trained musician. It is also found in #45 and #46 in SPB.

There is, however, a surprising feature of music which is generally so well written, which is the frequent appearance of forbidden consecutive intervals, noted in the editions. To what extent these are accidental is unclear, but in other respects Bishop's technique usually obeys the conventional canons of composition.

In my opinion these apparent blemishes by no means spoil the overall effect of these tunes, which with eight exceptions were republished by other compilers. #2 and #7 appear to have been particularly popular, though it is hard to identify any special qualities of those particular tunes, nor of those which were not selected by subsequent compilers.

The tunes in A Supplement to the New Psalm Book

Only tunes #41-46 are by Bishop. All except #45 were later republished by other compilers. Bishop describes his compilation as "Consisting of ... six new psalm tunes, after a different manner." Unlike most of those in SPT, none is a plain tune. All have the feature of textural contrast by including passages in just one, two or three parts, before a final full passage. This feature was widely used in subsequently published tunes, and Bishop's usage seems to have been one one of the earliest. It is perhaps surprising that he did not include any more relay tunes similar to #35 in SPT.

#43 and #44 feature passages for unsupported bass voices which is later repeated as the bass of a fully scored final strain. As mentioned above, this technique was later used by William Knapp in some of his relay tunes, thus combining it with the innovatory structure of #35. It is tempting to conjecture that Knapp was familiar with Bishop's tunes, and chose to combine the two techniques.

As with the SPT tunes, the HTI lists these six as having the air in the tenor part. There is difficulty in assigning the air-bearing part, as Bishop's style of textural contrast causes the air to move freely between the parts. However, all these tunes end with a fully scored final strain, and here the air may be identified as either soprano or tenor. On this basis, I consider that the air in #41, #42 and #46 is in the soprano part, and that the HTI is in error in this respect.

Perhaps coincidentally, the three tenor-led tunes #43-45, all have the text of the second two lines of each verse repeated. This feature occurs in the SPT tunes only in the case of #35.

Tunes #47-51 appear on a folio at the end of the 1725 edition, which appears to have been copied from another publication. Page numbers [9] and [01] (sic) appear, following the preceding P.56. All had been previously published, but it has not been possible to find in the HTI any publication in which all five appear. They were omitted from the 1770 edition of SPB.

All are plain tunes. None has any similarity in style with Bishop's tunes. Four are in two parts, #50 being in three. Tune names are given, but no indication of text. Suitable texts mentioned in other publications have been added in the editions to enable performance.

Sources and footnotes:

1   BL Add. 50890
  BL B 580 ww
  BL A 1230 e; C 523
  BL A 1230 f; A 1231 p
  BL B 616
  BL A 1231 q
  The Hymn Tune Index by Nicholas Temperley (Oxford, 1990)
  Metrical version of the Te Deum by John Patrick (fl1679)