LUTHER, Martin (1483-1546). Geystliche Lieder. -Psalmen und Geistliche Lieder. Leipzig: Valentin Babst, 1545.
2 parts in one volume, 8° (151 x 98mm). Collation: A-Z8 a-b8; A-K8 (K8 blank). 279 (of 280, without final blank) leaves. 4-part metal-cut criblé border to each page, 27 full-page woodcuts, including repeats, printed music on staves. (Tiny wormhole from quire K, borders occasionally just shaved.) Early 20th-century burgundy crushed morocco, gilt and marbled edges, by Chambolle-Duru. Provenance: Geneviève Dubois and Georges Flore (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION OF THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION OF HYMNS BY LUTHER, the last published in his lifetime. Although not compiled by the great reformer himself, Luther did contribute a preface written specifically for this edition, which is 'his lasting contribution to hymnody' (Works, ed. Lehmann, p.332). 'Luther's own hymns were outstanding; Jesuits remarked that his hymns had won even more converts than his preaching' (Grove, 11, p.367). The 1545 Babst edition also includes melodies which derive from the hymnbook of the Bohemian Brethren. Scholars distinguish three families of Lutheran hymnbooks: the Achtliederbuch of 1524, containing, as its title indicates, 8 hymns only; a hymnbook first printed by Klug in 1529; and the present Babst edition, 'the most complete and carefully edited' (WA 35, p.332). The 1545 Babst edition is also notable for its elegant typography (the music printing is 'woodcutting of the highest artistry' [TNG2, vol. XX, p.330]) and 27 fine woodcut illustrations attributed to the Monogrammist HA, which were highly influential and widely copied (M. Hoberg, Die Gesangbuchillustration des 16. Jahrhunderts, Studien zur deutsche Kunstgeschichte, vol. 296, Strassburg: 1933).
ONE OF ONLY FOUR COPIES KNOWN; THE ONLY ONE IN PRIVATE HANDS; AND ONE OF ONLY TWO COMPLETE WITH THE SECOND PART. The others are at Göttingen, the British Library (without part II), and Berlin (not seen since 1923). Cf. E. Sommer 'Das Gesangbuch von Valentin Bapst, Leipzig, 1545', Jahrbuch für Liturgik und Hymnologie, 11, 1967, pp.146-61; Das Babstsche Gesangbuch, facsimile edition by K. Ameln, 1988. Benzing 3563 (recording only the Göttingen and British Library copies); Kind 308; WA 35, pp.332-33.