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Metrical Psalters

One of the fruits of the Protestant Reformation. Both Luther and Calvin insisted that the people as a whole, not just groups of professional singers, should participate in singing in the public service of worship. Luther was the first to compose metrical versions of the Psalms, but his example was soon followed by others. In France, Clement Marot; in England, Miles Coverdale; in Scotland, two Wedderburn brothers; and in the Netherlands, Souter Liedekens-all produced metrical psalters, or portions of the psalter in the vaious vernaculars. Calvin, however, probably played the most important role in the popularization of Psalm-singing. Not only did he prepare a collection of Psalms while in Strasbourg, but he was responsible for the publication in Geneva of a complete psalter versified by Marot and Theodore Beza. This became the standard work for most Reformed churches, being used either in French or in translation. In England and Scotland the metrical Psalms of Sternhold and Hopkins, Kethe and others eventually became the versions used. The music for these works was often adapted from popular tunes, although sometimes they were composed specifically for a psalm, probably as in the case of Old Hundredth. These psalms often became the battle hymns of the Calvinists in their resistance to oppressive governments, and have formed the basis for most Protestant psalmody and hymnology ever since.