SUNG BY A CHOIR OF PENITENT PROSTITUTES

The Hymns, Anthems & Tunes with the Ode used at the Magdalen Chapel set for the Organ, Harpsichord, Voice, German-Flute, or Guitar.

London, Printed for C. and S. Thompson … [1770?]

Large 8vo, ff, [2], pp. 37, [1], with a frontispiece of ‘A Magdalen in her Uniform’; engraved throughout; a fine copy, in contemporary half calf and marbled boards; ownership inscription ‘Charlotte Strickland her Book'.

£1750

Approximately:
US $2211€2068

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The Hymns, Anthems & Tunes with the Ode used at the Magdalen Chapel set for the Organ, Harpsichord, Voice, German-Flute, or Guitar.

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First edition thus, very rare, of this Magdalen Chapel Hymnbook, with a total of thirty-eight tunes: twenty-four hymns, three anthems, nine psalms, ‘The Wish’ and ‘The Ode’.

The Magdalen Hospital was founded in 1758 in Whitechapel for the rehabilitation of ‘penitent prostitutes’, its denizens being able-bodied (the venereal went to the Lock Hospital), and of an average age of fourteen. ‘The singing of psalms, hymns, and responses by the Magdalens became a great attraction of London society’ (Temperley), especially in the 1770s after a move to larger premises in Southwark, where its octagonal chapel became a fashionable place of worship, the choir of penitents concealed by a grill or a canvas screen to protect their modesty. Though the Hospital never issued its own hymnbook, a variety of commercial publications capitalised on this popularity. The first of these was Thomas Call’s The Tunes & Hymns as they are used at the Magdalen Chapel (1760), with twenty-two tunes (11 of which were new), which was quickly pirated in an edition by Philips. From around 1765 to 1775 Henry Thorowgood published a series of four books of Tunes (later re-issued by Longman, see next), adding a distinctive frontispiece of a Magdalen, which was much re-used thereafter.

Meanwhile, in 1770, C. & S. Thompson issued the present rival collection. Its contents were based on the Philips piracy, with an anthem drawn from The New Musical Pocket Companion by Adam Smith, an organist to the Magdalens, ‘and there are a few entirely new pieces’, their inclusion probably not authorised. The frontispiece has a different background from the one used by Thorowgood, featuring the building at Whitechapel in the background.

Not in ESTC. We have traced copies at the British Library and Princeton only.

Nicholas Temperley, ‘The Hymn Books of the Foundling and Magdalen Hosptial Chapels’, in Studies in English Church Music 1550–1900 – his edition D/a.

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