BAY PSALM BOOK: A metrical translation of the Psalms, published by Stephen Daye at Cambridge, Mass., in 1640 and the first book printed in America. The work of translation was begun in 1636, the principal collaborators being Thomas Welde, Richard Mather, and John Eliot, the missionary to the Indians. The rendering, as the translators themselves recognized in their quaint preface to the book, was a crude specimen of English, and carrying to the extreme their belief in the inspiration of the Bible, they tortured their version into what they conceived to be fidelity to the original. The meter, moreover, is irregular, and the rimes are frequently ludicrous. The general spirit and form of the translation may be represented by the following rendering of Ps. xviii, 6-9 :
Of the first edition of the Bay Psalm Book only eleven copies are known to exist. In 1647 a second edition, better printed and with the spelling and punctuation corrected, was published either by Stephen Daye or possibly by Matthew Daye or even in England, and this edition long remained in general use among the Puritans of New England. A reprint of the first edition (71 copies) was issued privately at Cambridge in 1862.
Bibliography: R. F. Roden, The Cambridge Press, New York, 1906.