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Medieval Studies and Research: Medieval Liturgy and Devotional Texts

this guide is

About this Page

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 Catalog  then Type:

  Liturgy AND Medieval  and, for each keyword,  select the field: Subject  

  Devotional literature AND Medieval  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.

Databases: Liturgical Chants, Planchant Melodies, Polyphonic Music,

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.

Liturgical Resources

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.

Cursus: An Online Resource of Medieval Liturgical Texts - A project housed at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, to make data from sources of medieval Latin liturgy available on the Internet using XML.   For the searchable repository of antiphons, responds, and prayers as well as selected liturgical manuscripts, click here

Liturgia Latina.  Includes digital versions of the traditional Latin liturgy and related documents of the Roman Catholic Church. Links to related sites are also provided.

Related Research Guides

Medieval Bible, by Debra Cashion (Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library, Saint Louis University).

Medieval Liturgy, by Debra Cashion (Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library, Saint Louis University).

Devotional Texts

Manuscripts and Medieval Music Studies

Medieval Studies Bibliographies - Medieval Liturgy, by Charles D. Wright. An important resource for research and studies.

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. (…)