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V. Inauguration Of Psalmody At Geneva.

The date of Calvin’s return to Geneva, upon being recalled from his exile, was September 13, 1541. In the church reorganization that ensued, he was now the dominating influence, and he gave immediate attention to the public worship, which during his absence had continued unchanged on the lines originally established by Farel. Calvin brought with him his little Strassburg Psalm book and the Order of Worship he had there observed. In adapting the latter to Genevan use he made numerous modifications. Of these the most important were the omission of the declaration of absolution following the confession of sins and a loosening of the rubrics so as to encourage free prayer. These modifications are not necessarily indicative of change in Calvin’s own liturgical views. Some were plainly concessions to the somewhat extreme notions of liturgical simplicity prevailing 56 at Geneva.4848See, contra, Douen, op. cit., vol. i, p. 350. But compare Doumergue, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 502, note; and, more fully, the same author’s Essai sur l’histoire du culte réformé, Paris, 1890, pp. 101 ff. But, nevertheless, the Order of Worship as established at Geneva rather than that established at Strassburg was henceforth regarded as representatively Calvinian. Under the authority of his name it became the general model of Reformed worship, and it largely determined the worship of all branches of English-speaking Presbyterians.

While thus willing to accommodate himself to local conditions in all matters not regarded by him as essential, Calvin abated nothing of his earlier insistence upon the establishment of congregational Psalmody. Two months after his arrival he obtained permission from the Council to introduce Psalm singing into the public worship.4949Douen, op. cit., vol. i, p. 347. See also pp. 354, 355. This was on November 20, 1541. At that time he had apparently no materials for the purpose except his own scanty collection. But in February, 1542, or very soon after, he received the enlarged edition of the Strassburg Psalter published in that month. He at once availed himself of its contents, and published later in the year the first Genevan edition of his Psalter as La forme des prieres et chantz ecclesiastiques, auec la maniere d’administrer les Sacremens, & consacrer le Mariage, selon la coustume de l’Eglise ancienne.5050One copy survives, found by Wackernagel in the library of Stuttgart. The services are printed in full in Calvini Opera, vol. vi, 161-210, with some of the Psalms; for a full description see Douen, vol. i, pp. 347-351. The volume opened with an unsigned “Epistre au lecteur,” which, with additions made in 1543, remains the fullest presentation of Calvin’s view on Psalmody.5151The full text of Calvin’s preface as printed in 1542 is in Ph. Wackernagel, Bibliographie sur Geschichte des deutschen Kirchenliedes im. XVI. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt, 1855, pp. 575, 576; and with the additions of 1543, in Opera, vi, 165-172. Wackernagel’s description of this edition (from the copy which he discovered) now requires modification. For a translation of the greater part of Calvin’s preface, see J. W. Macmeekin, History of the Scottish Metrical Psalms, Glasgow, 1872, pp. 98-100. Besides the Form 57 of Prayers, etc., now commonly known as “Calvin’s Liturgy,” this edition contained all the thirty Psalms of Marot, the five Psalms and two canticles of Calvin himself, with Marot’s metrical Lord’s Prayer and Creed. The text of Marot’s Psalms is that of Alexandre’s Antwerp Psalter, showing that Calvin had not yet seen Marot’s own publication of the Trente Pseaulmes, for, when he did see it, he greatly preferred Marot’s original text. Calvin, very likely, had not seen even the Antwerp Psalter. He took his material directly from the Strassburg edition of February, 1542, of which, excepting the omission of five versions there copied from the Antwerp Psalter, and the substitution of the metrical for the prose Creed, Calvin’s first Genevan edition is a reproduction. The musical contents of this edition are more distinctive, the Strassburg melodies, where here employed, having been subjected to revision, and twenty-two melodies added, which here first appear.

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