IMC 2005: Sessions

Session 318: New Discoveries in Medieval Manuscripts of Music and Liturgy

Monday 11 July 2005, 16.30-18.00

Organiser:Susan Boynton, Department of Music, Columbia University
Moderator/Chair:Susan Boynton, Department of Music, Columbia University
Paper 318-aWomen Worshipping in Brussels: A 14th-Century Processional at Columbia University
(Language: English)
Karen Hiles, Department of Music, Columbia University
Index terms: Liturgy, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Music
Paper 318-cA New Source for the Parisian Conductus Sursum corda elevate
(Language: English)
Susan Boynton, Department of Music, Columbia University
Index terms: Manuscripts and Palaeography, Music

Abstract Paper -a: Housed in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at Columbia University, Plimpton MS 034 is a modestly-illuminated fourteenth-century processional containing processions for six feasts. The centrepiece of the small book is a double hymn with an apparently unique melody. Here, O decus virgineum, a hymn to St Clare, is underlaid beneath a hymn to St Francis, O stupor et guadium, and the emphasis on these two saints provides one of the few clues to the manuscript’s provenance. The colphon was signed by a scribe named Johannes de Havere, who dated his signature ‘1351’ but left no record of his location. Until now, curators at Columbia have assumed that Havere was working somewhere in the Low Countries at a convent of St Clare, based on the double hymn and the frequent references to ‘sisters’ in the manuscript’s rubrics. A comparison to the colophon of Bruxelles, B.N. 1870, a collectarium-capitularium copied in 1348 at the Convent of Saint-Clarisses in Brussels, reveals the signature of the same scribe, and suggests that the processional and the collectarium were copied and used in the same Brussels community of ‘Rich’ or Urbanist Clares founded in 1343.
This discovery is important for two reasons: first, it contextualizes the processional within the existing body of information comcerning convents of Rich Clares across the Low Countries and the Brussels community in particular. Secondly, the processional can now join the sparse surviving repertory from fourteenth-century Northern European convents. Relatively few of the extant liturgical books from these types of institutions in Brussels date from before 1550 (Haagh, 1994), and almost all contain widely-known repertory. A more precise understanding of the origins of Plimpton MS 034, especially as it contains a unique, locally-composed chant, can reveal much about life and worship in one of the few centres for St Clares in medieval Belgium.

Abstract Paper -b: The paper will present unique chants in the Conception office in the fifteenth-century manuscript from Perugia, now kept in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University.

Abstract Paper -c: A thirteenth-century fragment partially disengaged from the binding of a printed book in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University contains part of the first strophe of the two-voice conductus Sursum corda elevate. The fragment is related in style and decoration to the central sources of Notre-Dame polyphony.