Nahum Tate

About Nahum Tate

Nahum Tate (Dublin, 1652 - London, 1715) was an Irish poet, librettist, lyricist and translator. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in 1672, and moved to London four years later. The following year, in 1677, he made his debut as a poet. Subsequently he devoted himself to the theatre, achieving success in 1678 with the tragedy Brutus of Alba, or the Enchanted Lovers; the work served as the basis for the libretto of Henry Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas. His first collection of poems appeared in 1677. His other publications include Brutus of Alba (1678), A Duke and no Duke (1684), Poems (1684), Poems by Several Hands (1685), Cuckold's Haven (1685), Injur' d Love (1707). With the Anglican clergyman and poet Nicolas Brady, he wrote A New Version of the Psalms of David, a rhymed and metered version of all 150 Psalms (London 1696), which became so famous that the acronym Tate & Brady became synonymous. Parts of it are still used today in the Anglican Church as song lyrics.
Tate spent much of his career not composing original plays, but adapting masterpieces of Elizabethan theater to the tastes and times. In 1681 his opera The Sicilian Usurper, an adaptation of Richard II, was censored for its perceived anti-monarchist content. In 1682 he collaborated with John Dryden in drafting the second half of the epic poem Absalom and Achitophel. In 1692 he was made poet laureate of the kingdom, which he held until his death in 1715. He thus succeeded John Dryden (since 1668) and Thomas Shadwell (since 1689).

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