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Thomas Sternhold › Hymnals

Short Name: Thomas Sternhold
Full Name: Sternhold, Thomas, d. 1549
Birth Year (est.): 1449
Death Year: 1549

Thomas Sternhold was Groom of the Robes to Henry VIII and Edward VI. With Hopkins, he produced the first English version of the Psalms before alluded to. He completed fifty-one; Hopkins and others composed the remainder. He died in 1549. Thirty-seven of his psalms were edited and published after his death, by his friend Hopkins. The work is entitled "All such Psalms of David as Thomas Sternhold, late Groome of the King's Majestye's Robes, did in his Lyfetime drawe into Englyshe Metre." Of the version annexed to the Prayer Book, Montgomery says: "The merit of faithful adherence to the original has been claimed for this version, and need not to be denied, but it is the resemblance which the dead bear to the living." Wood, in his "Athenae Oxonlenses" (1691, vol. I, p. 62), has the following account of the origin of Sternhold's psalms: "Being a most zealous reformer, and a very strict liver, he became so scandalized at the amorous and obscene songs used in the Court, that he, forsooth, turned into English metre fifty-one of David's psalms, and caused musical notes to be set to them, thinking thereby that the courtiers would sing them instead of their sonnets; but they did not, some few excepted. However, the poetry and music being admirable, and the best that was made and composed in these times, they were thought fit to be sung in all parochial churches." Of Sternhold and Hopkins, old Fuller says: "They were men whose piety was better than their poetry, and they had drunk more of Jordan than of Helicon." Sternhold and Hopkins may be taken as the representatives of the strong tendency to versify Scripture that came with the Reformation into England--a work men eagerly entered on without the talent requisite for its successful accomplishment. The tendency went so far, that even the "Acts of the Apostles" was put into rhyme, and set to music by Dr. Christopher Tye.
--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872.


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