The Booke of Psalmes
The Puritan immigrants brought over several versions of the Psalms, including the 1562 edition of the Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter.
In 1640 the Bay Psalm Book (The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre), a new translation from Hebrew to English, was printed at Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was the first book to be printed in what became the United States, but it did not have musical notes.
Connecticut congregations favored Sternehold and Hopkins, The Whole Booke of Psalmes: Collected into English Meeter, printed in London, in 1640.
Several pieces of Old English Church Music were included. The melody was shown in square-headed notes, with no bar lines.
The Psalms were usually bound up with the family Bible which was too heavy and costly for use in the churches. So antiphonal reading became common practice.
1667 Farmington Meeting
One Sabbath morning in 1667 the Farmington Meeting, likely attended by Joseph Hickok, started with a fifteen-minute prayer. Then Rev. Samuel Hooker read and explained a chapter of the Bible and announced the morning Psalm to be sung from the Psalter.
A deacon chose the beginning note (Psalm 100 or Old 100th used as an example) and sang out: “All people that on earth do dwell.” The congregation repeated the phrase.
“Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice,” recited the deacon, and the congregation echoed. The Psalm continued with the deacon and the congregation alternating until the end of the Psalm.
Following the Psalm Rev. Samuel, an excellent “warm and engaging preacher,” announced his text and turned over his hourglass, so he would know when he had preached for an hour. After a prayer and blessing, the people left for the noon meal.
Families from outside the village could eat at the nearby small Sabbath day houses which provided shelter during the winter months. The afternoon meeting repeated the morning service, with a couple additions. After the concluding prayer, all children born that week were presented to be baptized.
Then, starting with the leaders, the congregation took their offering to the deacon at the front of the church. After the offering new members were admitted.
A Psalm was sung and the assembly was dismissed with a blessing.—Sources: Christopher P. Bickford, Farmington in Connecticut, p. 66; Julius Gay, “Church Music,” Farmington Papers (May 6, 1891), pp. 23–33.