The Psalm poems
Psalm 6, a primordial paraphrase (before 1533)
A small booklet (a plaquette) with no date or place of impression contains the first translation of Marot into the vernacular: Le VI. Pseaulme de David, qui est le premier Pseaulme des sept Pseaulmes, translate en francoys par Clement Marot Varlet de chambre du Roy nostre sire au plus pres de la verite Ebraicque.
On the basis of an analysis of the typographical material this edition can be assigned to the printing house of Claude Nourry (Lyon) and the terminus a quo and ad quem can be determined as 1528 and 1533, respectively. Both the way it is printed (beautifully adorned, three engravings, gothic typeface) and the fact that every French verse is preceded by the Latin text (Vulgate), place this booklet in the tradition of devotional literature. The reference to ‘la verite Ebraicque,’ however, links the translation to the humanist approach to the Old Testament.Who commanded the printing of this booklet is not clear.
The only extant copy was acquired in Lyon in 1535 by the diplomat and bibliophile Fernand Colomb, second son of Christopher (The beginning of the translation with Agument, Latin verse en illustration is reproduced here).
1533: Psalm 6 : Miroir-Instruction
Between October and December 1533 this translation of Psalm 6 was added at the end (fol. 35r°) of the second Augereau edition of Le Miroir de treschrestienne Princesse Marguerite de France… The heading reads: Le VI. Pseaulme de David, translaté en Françoys selon l’Hebrieu, par Clement Marot Valet de chambre du Roy.
The Miroir (editio princeps, 1531) is a devout meditation by Marguerite de Navarre about her sinfulness and Gods grace. Apart from some textual differences (especially in the second part of the first verse), the text is the same as in the plaquette. The Latin verses have been retained, although the layout has been highly modernised: Roman characters, careful punctuation, and typography, following the Briefve Doctrine pour deuement escripre le Françoys, the orthographic treatise published at the same time, by the same printer (Antoine Augereau), and closely connected with it.
[Saulmes de Clement Marot] ca. 1538
The existence of this edition is only known from a statement of the Geneva printer Jean Girard, recorded in the ‘Procès criminels’ of the City of Geneva. Girard; being questioned about illegal printing activities, Girard is asked to sum up all the books he has printed since he arrived in Geneva (summer 1536). The interrogation took place on 1 May 1539. One of his publications is recorded by the scribe as Saulmes de Clement Marot. Since no copy of this edition has ever been found nothing else can be said with certainty about it, except that it must have existed because there is no reason why Girard would have lied about it.
Aulcuns pseaulmes & cantiques.. (Strasbourg, 1539)
This print contains a nineteen Psalm poems ('mys en chant' = for singing), among which thirteen Psalm paraphrases of Marot. This anonymous edition is the oldest available printed edition of a number of Marot’s Psalm paraphrases. Next to the nineteen Psalms there are the Canticle of Simeon, the Ten Commandments, and the Creed. Only the Creed has not been translated in verse form. All texts are meant for singing, since a melody is printed above the first stanza of every Psalm and above the entire Creed. Thirteen of the nineteen verse translations are by Marot (Psalms 1, 2, 3, 15, 19, 32, 51, 103, 114, 115, 130, 137, 143), but no author is mentioned. The edition is generally attributed to Jean Calvin (Pastor of the French–speaking community of Strasbourg) and the printing to the Strasbourg printer Johann Knobloch jr.
Below the titlepage with the the Canticle of Simeon, in a translation by an anonymous poet.
Psalmes de David, Translatez .. (De Gois, Antwerp, 1541)
Full title: Psalmes de David, Translatez de plusieurs Autheurs, & principallement de Cle. Marot..Veu, recongneu et corrigé par les theologiens, nommeement par M.F. Pierre Alexandre, concionateur ordinaire de la Royne de Hongrie.… (Antwerp, Antoine des Gois, 1541) with 30 Psalm paraphrases by Marot. This collection contains 45 Psalm paraphrases, among which the 30 by Marot already known from manuscripts. The title page suggests a more or less active role of Queen Mary of Hungary’s chaplain, Friar Pierre Alexandre, in the compilation of this edition. The fact that both Des Gois and Alexandre are known for their Evangelical sympathies gives this edition a ‘Reformed’ colour.
Trente Pseaulmes ... Paris, E. Roffet, )
Liturgical publications 1542 (Strasbourg, Geneva)
As a second and enlarged edition of the Strasbourg hymnbook appear both in Strasbourg and Geneva (Calvin had returned). Both build on the 1539 edition and both contain Marot's 30 Psalms with variations in melodies used.
La manyere de faire prieres aux eglises Francoyses… ensemble pseaulmes et cantiques…. ([Strasbourg, Johann Knobloch], 1542).
La Forme des prieres et chantz ecclesiastiques…([Geneva, Jean Girard], 1542).