School of Divinity

Wode Psalter

Singing the Reformation: The world of Reformation Britain as seen and heard in the Wode Psalter

This three-year multi-disciplinary project studied this important collection of musical part books of the Psalms.

The main project funded by the AHRC ran from 2007-11 and its follow-on project ‘Sing the Renaissance and Reformation’ from 2012-13. The Edinburgh research team led by Jane Dawson was drawn from Music and the University Library as well as Divinity. Its international partners were the British Library, Trinity College, Dublin, and Georgetown University, Washington DC. The main project culminated in a major exhibition at the 2011 Edinburgh Festival telling the story of psalm singing in Britain at the time of the Reformation. It brought together for the first time all eight surviving Wode Psalter manuscripts and created digital images for permanent viewing. These Part-books form one of the most important collections of early modern Scottish music, including harmonisations for the metrical psalms. Highly illustrated and scattered with marginalia, the Part-books provide many valuable insights and connections with the world of Reformation Britain. Concerts, a musical CD, psalm-singing and academic workshops, subsidiary exhibitions, school resources, an IPhone App and eBook were all produced for the main project and ‘Sing the Renaissance and Reformation’ is bringing modern musical editions to amateur and church choirs.

About the Psalter

The Wode or St Andrews Psalter comprises an important collection of manuscript musical part books of the Psalms.

It is named after Thomas Wode, vicar of St Andrews, who, under the patronage of James Stewart, Earl of Moray, copied and compiled the books between 1562 and 1592.

Example images

As can be seen in the example images, he illustrated them beautifully.

The books also contain a few additions by other hands made between 1606 and 1625.

Iphone app

The WodePsalter Iphone app accompanies the Singing the Reformation free exhibition taking place at the University of Edinburgh from 6 August to 28 October 2011.

The app allows you to explore in more detail some of the objects that will be on display, examine samples of the transcribed scores from the part books and listen to excerpts of the music.

It can be downloaded at no cost from the ITunes store.

The work was funded by a CAHSS Knowledge Exchange grant.

Research team

The project team is led by Professor Jane Dawson (Divinity)

Co-investigators are:

Dr John Scally, Director of University Collections

Dr Noel ORegan (Music)

Dr Andrew Grout (Edinburgh University Libraries) is managing the digital images and Dr Jessie Paterson (Divinity Computing) is responsible for the project website.

Research forum

The Research Forum is open to everyone who has an interest in the Wode Part-books and/or their musical, literary, artistic, political and religious contexts.

Aims and results

Of the eight extant Wode Part books, Edinburgh University Library is fortunate to possess five, including three in the Laing Collection.

In addition to co-ordinating multi-disciplinary research on the Psalter, the project will also produce an exhibition and a series of concerts.


There are a number of events related directly to the Wode Psalter project and others that are associated or are of interest to the project

The Arts and Humanities Research Council


This project is supported through the generous funding of the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Wode Psalter Project

  • School of Divinity
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Mound Place

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