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This page is intended to serve as an introduction to research on medieval liturgy and devotional literature. In addition to searches in our databases, an Advanced Search in our USC Libraries' online catalog, yields a significant number of titles:
Select: Advanced Search. and restrict your search to Catalogthen Type:
Liturgy ANDMedieval and, for each keyword, select the field: Subject
Devotional literature ANDMedieval and select the field: Subject
Early Church Documents
Guide to Early Church Documents - includes canonical documents, creeds, the writings of the Apostolic Fathers and other historical texts relevant to Church history.
Patrologia Latina Extensive collection of early Christian Latin texts (from Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240? AD) to the death of Pope Innocent III (who reigned from 1198 to his death in 1216). The entire collection is in Latin with no English translation.
Cantus: A Database for Latin Ecclesiastical Chant - A database of the Latin chants found in manuscripts and early printed books, primarily from medieval Europe. This searchable digital archive holds inventories of antiphoners and breviaries -- the main sources for the music sung in the Latin liturgical Office -- as well as graduals and other sources for music of the Mass.
Cantus Planus - A resource for the study of Gregorian chant. Includes databases. full-text, and links to Chant Archives. A collaborative intiative of the Universität Regensburg - Institut für Musikwissenschaft, and the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien - Institut für kunst- und musikhistorische Forschungen.
Chant Behind the Dikes - Dedicated to the medieval liturgy of the Low Countries and its manuscript sources. Aims at mapping the liturgy and the liturgical chant of this area. For the Table of Contents click here.This website is to be used as a hypertext: Churches, their liturgical manuscripts (and, occasionally early prints) and their saints are linked to each other. The material is accessible by several entries: codological, ecclesiastical, and musical. Includes direct links to other sites.
DIAMM (the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music) - A portal to worldwide collections of medieval polyphonic music manuscripts. "From its beginnings in 1998, the purpose of the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) was to obtain and archive digital images of European sources of medieval polyphonic music, captured directly from the original document. The purposes were (1) conservation and protection against loss, especially of vulnerable fragments, and (2) to enable libraries to supply the best possible quality of images to scholars.(...) The sources archived include all the currently known sources of polyphony up to 1550 in the UK (almost all sources up to 1450 are available for study through this website); all the ‘complete’ manuscripts in the UK; a small number of important representative manuscripts from continental Europe; a significant portion of fragments from 1300-1450 from Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain."
Global Chant - A searchable database of plainchant melodies and texts included in medieval sources and new editions. It serves as a simple tool for searching information on Gregorian chant and other medieval monody including sacred songs. The database contains almost 25.000 records of chant incipits that provide information about text, melody, genre, modus and concordances in new editions and other on-line databases. Some of the records include also hypertext links to facsimiles where a particular chant can be found.
Medieval Music Database (Last updated: 2007) - Texts (more than 70,000 works) of liturgical chant from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries and the texts of polyphonic songs of the fourteenth century can be searched by full text, composer, genre, and liturgical feast. Includes transcriptions with modern music notation (where melodic information is available),original manuscripts where possible, and links to the electronic editions themselves.
Celebrating the Liturgy's Books: Medieval & Renaissance MS in NYC - A resource prepared for the 2002 annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America. It contains images from manuscripts in New York City collections, illustrated glossaries, audio clips of liturgical musical forms, a bibliography, and links to Web-based resources on ecclesiastical chant.
Publication Date: Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018
Devotional texts in late medieval England were notable for their flamboyant piety and their preoccupation with the tortured body of Christ and the grief of the Virgin Mary. Generations of readers internalized and shaped the "cultures of piety" represented by these works. Anne Clark Bartlett and Thomas H. Bestul here gather seven examples of this literature, all written in the period 1350-1450, one in Anglo-Norman, the remainder in Middle English. (The volume includes an appendix containing the original texts of the latter six pieces.) The collection illustrates the polyglottal, conflicting, and often polemical nature of devotional culture in the Middle Ages. It provides a valuable context for and interesting counterpoint to the Canterbury Tales and other classic works of late medieval England. (...)
This is a continuation and technical amplification of the `Repertoire d'incipit de prieres en ancien francais (1956) of Father Jean Sonet, S.J., and adds 1,501 to the 2,374 identified by Sonet. (…) Includes Sinclair's introduction, an important brief critical work.
In Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages, Michelle Karnes revises the history of medieval imagination with a detailed analysis of its role in the period's meditations and theories of cognition. Karnes here understands imagination in its technical, philosophical sense, taking her cue from Bonaventure, the thirteenth-century scholastic theologian and philosopher who provided the first sustained account of how the philosophical imagination could be transformed into a devotional one. Karnes examines Bonaventure's meditational works, the Meditationes vitae Christi, the Stimulis amoris, Piers Plowman, and Nicholas Love's Myrrour, among others, and argues that the cognitive importance that imagination enjoyed in scholastic philosophy informed its importance in medieval meditations on the life of Christ. (...)
Publication Date: New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006
Addressing questions about the musical life in English nunneries in the later Middle Ages, Yardley pieces together a mosaic of nunnery musical life, where even the smallest convents sang the monastic offices on a daily basis and many of the larger houses celebrated the late medieval liturgy in all of its complexity.
Philippe de Mézières (1327-1405) was the quintessential man of all seasons of the fourteenth-century Mediterranean. A scholar, a soldier, a mystic, a man of affairs, a royal adviser and an incessant traveler around the Mediterranean, a prolific writer and an associate of religious orders, a champion of the crusade and no less an ardent advocate of peace in the West, a Frenchman, a Cypriot, and a Venetian citizen, he captures the spirit of his age like no other man. This volume, the first to address Philippe and his legacy comprehensively since 1896, gathers twenty-two contributions of original research shedding new light on Philippe’s literary, political, and mystical writings, and places him in the context of his age and his contemporaries.
Publication Date: Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennyslvania Press, 1996
In this book Thomas H. Bestul constructs the literary history of the Latin Passion narratives, placing them within their social, cultural, and historical contexts. He examines the ways in which the Passion is narrated and renarrated in devotional treatises, paying particular attention to the modifications and enlargements of the narrative of the Passion as it is presented in the canonical gospels. (...)
The Medieval Mass and Its Music, by Joseph Dyer (in The ORB – Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies) .The present essay describes the Mass as celebrated in Latin Christianity during the Middle Ages. It assumes the full complement of clergy (priests, clerics in what are known as "minor orders," and non-clerical assistants) needed to carry out the complex ceremonies of the Mass at a cathedral or large monastic church. A choir of monks or canons under the direction of the cantor provided all of the music, solo and choral. This would have been sung in chant but occasionally embellished by simple improvised polyphony. In a house of women religious all of the musical roles would have been assumed by the nuns, but ecclesiastical custom required that the ministers serving at the altar be male./ The form and essential components of the medieval Mass were stabilized during the Carolingian era, thanks largely the organizing zeal of Charlemagne and the efforts of monastic liturgists like Alcuin and Benedict of Aniane. This Franco-Roman liturgy, as it is known to modern scholars, spread throughout Europe, carried to the North by missionaries who preached the Christian faith to Germanic tribes. (…)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995
This collection of nineteen essays presents a broad spectrum of current research that will interest students of medieval music, history, or culture. Topics include a comparison of early chant transmission in Rome and Jerusalem; the relationship between the earliest chant notation and prosodic accents; conceptualizing rhythm in medieval music and poetry; the persistence of Guidonian organum in the later Middle Ages; a connection between Dante and St. Cecilia; and the development of the trecento madrigal. The essays, written by distinguished scholars, stem from a conference in honor of David G. Hughes, professor of medieval music at Harvard University and noted specialist of chant.
Publication Date: Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2015
The manuscript sources of medieval song rarely fit the description of 'songbook' easily. Instead, they are very often mixed compilations that place songs alongside other diverse contents, and the songs themselves may be inscribed as texts alone or as verbal and musical notation. This book looks afresh at these manuscripts through ten case studies, representing key sources in Latin, French, German, and English from across Europe during the Middle Ages. Each chapter is authored by a leading expert and treats a case study in detail, including a listing of the manuscript's overall contents, a summary of its treatment in scholarship, and up-to-date bibliographical references. Drawing on recent scholarly methodologies, the contributors uncover what these books and the songs within them meant to their medieval audience and reveal a wealth of new information about the original contexts of songs both in performance and as committed to parchment.
Publication Date: University of California Press, 2005
(...) Asking such fundamental questions as how singers managed to memorize such an enormous amount of music and how music composed in the mind rather than in writing affected musical style, Anna Maria Busse Berger explores the impact of the art of memory on the composition and transmission of medieval music. Her fresh, innovative study shows that although writing allowed composers to work out pieces in the mind, it did not make memorization redundant but allowed for new ways to commit material to memory. Since some of the polyphonic music from the twelfth century and later was written down, scholars have long assumed that it was all composed and transmitted in written form. Our understanding of medieval music has been profoundly shaped by German philologists from the beginning of the last century who approached medieval music as if it were no different from music of the nineteenth century. But Medieval Music and the Art of Memory deftly demonstrates that the fact that a piece was written down does not necessarily mean that it was conceived and transmitted in writing. Busse Berger's new model, one that emphasizes the interplay of literate and oral composition and transmission, deepens and enriches current understandings of medieval music and opens the field for fresh interpretations.
The interdisciplinary approach of Music and Medieval Manuscripts is modeled on Andrew Hughes internationally recognized for his work on medieval manuscripts, combining the areas of paleography, performance, liturgy and music. All these areas of research are represented in this collection with an emphasis on the continuity between the physical characteristics of medieval manuscripts and their different uses. Albert Derolez provides a landmark and controversial essay on the origins of pre-humanistic script, while Margaret Bent proposes a new interpretation of a famous passage from a fifteenth-century poem by Martin Le Franc. Timothy McGee contributes an innovative essay on late-medieval music, text and rhetoric. David Hiley discusses musical changes and variation in the offices of a major saint's feast, and Craig Wright presents an original study of Guillaume Dufay. Jan Ziolkowski treats the topic of neumed classics, an under-explored aspect of the history of medieval pedagogy and the transmission of texts. The essays that comprise this volume offer a unique focus on medieval manuscripts from a wide range of perspectives, and will appeal to musicologists and medievalists alike.
Publication Date: Oxford: Clarendon Press/New York: Oxford University Press, 1993
This collection of essays celebrates the work of the Plainsong and Mediaeval Music society and was written in particular to celebrate their centenary. Founded in 1888, the Society quickly established two areas of activity: to propagate information on medieval music and to revitalize the Anglican liturgy with the riches of the plainchant of the Roman Rite. Of the two sides of the Society's activities, the scholarly and the practical, this collection represents the former. The essays reflect the founders' interest in medieval music, both monophonic and polyphonic, and, particularly, their concern with chant. From its inception, the PMMS has directed much of its attention to the British source of medieval music, the music which might contribute to a renewal of the liturgy of the Anglican church, and this is reflected here. The contributors to this volume are among the most distinguished scholars of medieval music of recent years. Their essays are complemented by many music examples and a number of line drawings.