TitleColonial New England psalmody and the poetics of discord in translation
NameCattrell, Kevin Robert (author), McGill, Meredith L. (chair), Iannini, Christopher P. (internal member), Coiro, Ann Baynes (internal member), Bauer, Ralph (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
Psalmody--New England—History—17th century,
Psalmody--New England—History—18th century
DescriptionMy dissertation explores the poetics of colonial New England psalmody from 1640 to 1730. This poetics, I argue, sought to consolidate textual, musical, spiritual, and social accord, blending the faithful translation of scripture, the agreement of voices, the mutual engagement of hearts, and the cohesion of churches. In many ways, however, colonial New England psalm singing was defined as much by its engagement of discord as by its pursuit of harmony. Through readings that span a broad range of genres—metrical psalm translations, war narratives, sermons, music primers, mission tracts, and meditational poetry—my dissertation attempts to trace out the forms of this engagement. In the first chapter, I investigate the development of a unique discourse of congregational psalmody in Massachusetts Bay in the 1640s. Centered on a translation of the Book of Psalms compiled and first published in the Bay colony, this discourse emphasized social and musical unison while acknowledging the psalter‘s thematization of alienation and miscommunication. Chapter 2 explores the ways in which colonial representations of Praying Indians tested the Reformed doctrine of the psalms‘ universal translatability. Missionary writers in this period, I argue, conveyed to transatlantic audiences a sense of spiritually complex Indian Christian personhood by demonstrating the affective continuities between the experiences of native proselytes and the psalmists‘ godly but quintessentially human songs. Meanwhile, opponents to the mission used the psalms to expose what they suspected was the fundamental shallowness of Praying Indians‘ professed commitment to the Christian faith. The third chapter centers on a long and public 1720s altercation between ministers in favor of ―Regular Singing‖—a more methodical approach to psalmody—and a surprisingly obstinate faction of laypersons who opposed these measures. According to the progressive, scientifically informed perspective of the proponents of Regular Singing, the purpose of the ordinance was—and always had been—to reflect reason and order back to its divine source. The colonists‘ failure to do so, the proponents of Regular Singing feared, implied that a chosen people were effectively willing their own degeneration into American savagery. The fourth and final chapter explores the Westfield, Massachusetts minister Edward Taylor‘s lifelong commitment to psalmody as a poet, translator, and pastor. I argue that Taylor‘s verse not only makes use of a broad, polyglot lexicon of vocal and instrumental devotional music, but that it explores the rich aesthetic potential in discord. I trace the early development of this exploration to Taylor‘s two discarded attempts to translate the psalms.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Kevin Robert Cattrell
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.