Tate & Brady

Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady together produced the New Version of the Psalms of David, 1696, which has extensive instances in Hymnary.org. The problem is, they are sometimes listed under Tate & Brady, sometimes under Tate, and sometimes under Brady. Should we be merging these author authorities to standardize them? If so, under what name(s)? Tate always seems to be listed first and is the one who received a biographical sketch in The Hymnal 1940 Companion. John Julian lists them as Tate & Brady, suggesting that it is a standard reference. What do you all think?


Tate and Brady

If the hymnal says "Tate & Brady" it is usually meaning that the hymn came from this source rather than the hymn was written or composed by these persons. Some of the hymns in the "New Version of the Psalms of David" may have been written by Nahum Tate or Nicholas Brady and others may have been collected by them. Go with what the hymnal says, whether or not the hymnal attributes the hymn correctly - if it indicates the hymn was authored or composed by N. Tate of N. Brady they would go in as people, if it indicates that the hymn came from this source then "Tate & Brady" or "Tate & Brady's New Version of the Psalms of David, 1696" would be added as the source. Both Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady have standardized author authorities which should not be merged together.

Handling the Authority

OK . . . but if a modern hymn instance says "Tate & Brady" does the authority get connected to both Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady, to the "Tate & Brady" author authority which also exists (though perhaps it should not), or to the New Version as a hymnal source (which hasn't been indexed in its earliest form here on the Hymnary)? It seems that over the years certain hymns have been attributed to one or the other, similar to how the 1779 Olney Hymns were originally unattributed internally but have been assigned to authors based on other evidence. Does anyone know of a scholarly study that untangles the question of authorship?

Another way to look at it would be to ask, if someone were to add the original New Version as a hymnal on the Hymnary, which has no internal attributions, how would the author authority records be assigned?


There is a difference in the way the authority records and the instances are handled.

The instance records (corresponding to pages of actual hymnals) report what is in the hymnal. So if a hymnal or book of hymn texts doesn't have author attributions, they wouldn't be in the instance. However, the hymn texts in the instance would be connected to appropriate authority records, and there the authors are listed according to best current scholarship.

I don't think there should be a "Tate and Brady" entry in the person table in this case, although corporate entries are permitted.

Harry Plantinga
CCEL Director

New Version Authorities

Yes, I think the difference between instance and authority is abundantly clear and we can put an end to that question.

The problem is that no one has answered the question of how the New Version text authorities should be properly assigned, or what constitutes 'the best current scholarship.' Julian makes no attempt at this. It seems that there is a historical tradition of sorts, as demonstrated by the numbers of psalms in each man's authority on the Hymnary, so one decision might be to follow the tradition, for lack of better evidence; or the other decision might be to remove each man's authority record (and the 'Tate & Brady' record) and assign all of the New Version psalms to one of the three variant editions (1696, 1698a, and 1698b) as the text source with no text author.

There is an article on the New Version by scholar Robin Leaver in The Hymn, Oct. 1997. I may take a look at this when I can get my hands on a copy. Otherwise, I'm not sure where else to look for guidance on the issue. Any ideas?

Leaver on the New Version

Leaver's article does not spend any time in trying to differentiate Tate from Brady, except to restate the common conjecture that "the ornate, Drydenesque poetic forms were written by Tate and that the mundane Common Measure psalms are the work of Brady." Leaver neither supports nor tries to dissect this claim. The article as a whole speaks of the project as a collaborative effort (as opposed to Sternhold & Hopkins, who did not work together, for example). I find it hard to believe that the contributions of the two men can be sorted out simply by looking at each Psalm's writing style, especially considering that the book went through two revisions. If Tate really was the superior poet, then I find it hard to believe that he would not have had some influence over Brady's writing, or even that Brady had no input into Tate's, or that each man only edited his own psalms. Such a simple dichotomy is just as difficult to prove as attempting to differentiate each man's contributions.

I also looked at a few hymnals that include New Version psalms, and the trend I noticed was to credit the men as co-authors. The only exception is with "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks," which is always credited only to Tate (though I haven't seen an explanation for that).

Therefore . . . it seems to me that the best way to connect these psalm instances with proper author authorities would be to link them with a Nahum Tate authority (Leaver says 'Nathan') and a Nicholas Brady authority, but that is just my opinion and I would be happy to hear other proposals.

Also, if and when the New Version is added to the Hymnary, all three early editions need to be added (1696, 1698a, and 1698b), with subsequent instances linked to the proper edition, which (in theory and practice) would be the latter 1698 edition in most cases, since that one became the standard edition.

Tate & Brady

Since it seems difficult and impractical to determine which man wrote which psalm(s), and since they are understood to be collaborators, we would be covering all the bases to list both of them as authors. If later scholarship determines who wrote what, we could drop the second name at that point. Thank you to fennertree for doing the research on this question, and for giving it some cogent thought. Peter+

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