Last month, Boston’s Old South Church decided to part with one of its two copies of The Bay Psalm Book, originally published in 1640. Identified by the Library of Congress as “the very first book printed in what is now the United States” (although it is likely the third such book published on that same early printing press), the sale is expected to raise between $10 million and $20 million for the congregation’s building repair and upkeep needs.
Published under the more pedestrian title, “The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre,” the text served as a hymnbook for Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony throughout the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Only eleven copies remain, five of which are complete, including the one proposed for sale. You can thumb through the full work at the church’s website.