Members of historic Boston church vote to sell hymnal - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Old South Church votes to sell rare psalm book from 1600s

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credit: Boston Public Library credit: Boston Public Library
credit: Boston Public Library credit: Boston Public Library
credit: Boston Public Library credit: Boston Public Library

BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) — Members of Boston's Old South Church voted Sunday to sell off a rare copy of the first book ever published in British North America. It's one of just 11 remaining bay psalm books in existence.

A collection of colonial-era silver, including a Paul Revere chalice, was also approved by the congregation to be sold off. The book is worth about $20 million. But not everyone is happy with the vote.

"This book has never been outside of walking distance from the place," said Old South Church historian Jeff Makholm, "It's been published in 1640 before Boston even had a brick. Decades before, it had a brick and the very teeth of nature."

The psalm book is a rare copy of the first book ever published in British North America and the church has two. The vote passed by more than the required two-thirds majority of the congregation, but decenters were disappointed.

"I do think the church is selling out its history by doing this," said church member Janice.

The church put a 10-year time limit to get the artifacts sold.  But Makholm says up to half of the pieces of silver in the collection held at the MFA cannot be sold because the original donors prohibited it.

The trustees of the church say the money will go toward missions and important renovations to the church facility.

The church has mission projects to fund, like those to help the homeless in the city, and build up the church's savings of another rainy day.

"I have two young sons and looking forward," said Caroline Murray, of Arlington. "I want to make sure that that vision is funded. I want them to learn that it's not about an object, that we can take those objects and turn it into fuel to change the face of Boston."

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