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Music

Tans’ur,William. A compleat melody: or, The harmony of Sion, the whole is composed in two, three, and four musical parts, according to the most authentick rules for voice or organ. London: Printed byW. Pearson, for James Hodges, 1735.

William Tans’ur, 1706-1783.

This is one of the first well-regarded non-Jewish musical adaptations of the Tehilim or Book of Psalms.

In Jewish prayer , the Psalms had long been accompanied by music. From medieval times, Christians also found them ideally suited to show devotion to God. Psalm translations became some of the first printed books; by the 16th century, composers were adapting them for use with their newly created rhymes and music for prayer, especially in the new Protestant Church.

Tans’ur, a self-taught musician, was one of the first such composers. Despite his apparently dubious credentials, many of his nearly two-hundred tunes and his musical theory works became popular. Compleat, his first important work, was republished several times, and influenced William Billings, the first significant American composer. The JPL’s copy is the original edition.