Deep in the heart of Texas
the night sky is wide and black
Enveloping creation with strong arms
gifting us with smells of cedar and fresh cut hay
Lighting our dreams with a million pinpoint stars
so close, we did not know there were so many
A blanket of eternities, like hills on the horizon
bestowing space and peace
-- Linda Dini Jenkins
from the Quizmeister
Exercising his immense powers, the Quizmeister declares two winners in our Trivia VIII contest. Marjorie Wold and Janice Graves, come on down and claim your plates at the Front Desk.
Marjorie Wold correctly answered that the first book published in North America was the Bay Psalm Book, and that there are 11 known copies left out of a total of 1700 originally printed, and that Old South Church is indeed the owner of two copies. Janice Graves accurately reports that you will not find our copies in the Gordon Library but across the street at the Boston Public Library among the treasures of the Prince rare book collection, not on the open shelves where a member of the general public might borrow one of the ancient tomes, take it home and spill salsa on Psalm 23 while watching reruns of McGyver.
The Bay Psalm Book, published in 1640, ancestor to our own modern day hymnals, was a collaboration of John Elliot, Thomas Weld and Richard Mather, who translated a number of Psalms. Stephen Daye published some 1700 copies of what was actually titled The Whole Book of Psalms Faithfully Translated into English Metre, which isn't as catchy as New Century Hymnal but is pretty descriptive.
One correspondent raised an interesting question: Was this actually the first book published in any language in North America? Research turned up no evidence of the Spanish or the French beating the Massachusetts Bay colonists to the punch. And, none of the North American Indian civilizations were in possession of what we would describe as publishing technology (e.g. movable type, printing presses). However, it is interesting to note that the Oxford Dictionary of Christianity refers to the Bay Psalm Book as being the first book published in British North America and the United States Encyclopedia of History refers to it being the first in the American Colonies. So, since these solons hedge their bets, we probably should, too.
On to our next question:
We all know of Paul Revere's connection to the Old North Church (if you don't, it's back to first grade for you and no TV tonight). What was the famous horseman's tie to the Old South?
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