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The Divine Office in Anglo-Saxon England, 597-c.1000

The Divine Office in Anglo-Saxon England, 597-c.1000

Jesse D. Billett
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 468
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  • Book Info
    The Divine Office in Anglo-Saxon England, 597-c.1000
    Book Description:

    When did Anglo-Saxon monks begin to recite the daily hours of prayer, the Divine Office, according to the liturgical pattern prescribed in the Rule of St Benedict? Going beyond the simplistic assumptions of previous scholarship, this book reveals that the early Anglo-Saxon Church followed a non-Benedictine Office tradition inherited from the Roman missionaries; the Benedictine Office arrived only when tenth-century monastic reformers such as Dunstan and Æthelwold decided that "true" monks should not use the same Office liturgy as secular clerics, a decision influenced by eighth- and ninth-century Frankish reforms. The author explains, for the first time, how this reduced liturgical diversity in the Western Church to a basic choice between "secular" and "monastic" forms of the Divine Office; he also uses previously unedited manuscript fragments to illustrate the differing attitudes and Continental connections of the English Benedictine reformer, and to show that survivals of the early Anglo-Saxon liturgy may be identifiable in later medieval sources.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-305-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Illustrations
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    J. D. B.
  6. Note on Usage
    (pp. xv-xv)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
  8. Manuscript Sigla
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  9. Part I. The Historical Development of the Divine Office in England to c.1000

    • 1 Towards a ‘New Narrative’ of the History of the Divine Office in Anglo-Saxon England
      (pp. 3-12)

      This book is about the Divine Office and its performance in Anglo-Saxon England. The Divine Office comprises the several non-sacramental services of psalmody, lections, and prayers recited daily by religious communities (usually of monks, nuns, or canons), and by individuals otherwise bound to do so. Unlike research into the Mass, work on the Divine Office has historically been the preserve of priests and religious, intended for a clerical audience.¹ In recent decades, however, a number of important studies and research tools have appeared that have made the Office more accessible to the wider scholarly community.² Research on the Divine Office...

    • 2 The Divine Office in the Latin West in the Early Middle Ages
      (pp. 13-77)

      The history of the Divine Office as it was performed in Anglo-Saxon England cannot be considered in isolation from the history of the Office on the Continent. In the present chapter, a few Continental themes of special importance to the Anglo-Saxon situation are explored, beginning with a brief account of the familiar classification of the medieval Office into two typical forms, one ‘secular’ and the other ‘monastic’. This classification is inadequate to describe the liturgical situation on the Continent and in England in the early Middle Ages. Instead, the role of monastic tradition, written and unwritten, in governing Office liturgy...

    • 3 The Divine Office in England from the Augustinian Mission to the First Viking Invasions, 597–c.835
      (pp. 78-132)

      Despite the almost total absence of surviving early Anglo-Saxon Office books, there is nevertheless evidence of various kinds for how the Office was sung in a few houses, as well as some evidence for the ideal to which the leaders of the English Church aspired when it came to Office liturgy. As shall be seen in the present chapter, this ideal was the Roman monastic Office. This may be seen in the manuscript and literary evidence for the sevenfold Roman Officehorariumand the Roman weekly distribution of the psalms. Evaluating the available evidence for the readings and chants of...

    • 4 The Divine Office in England from the First Viking Age to the Abbacy of Dunstan at Glastonbury, c.835–c.940
      (pp. 133-148)

      The ninth century has been seen as a period of anxiety and decline for the English Church.¹ Threatened by domestic political strife and harassed by pagan invaders, so the traditional narrative goes, monasteries lost all semblance of the true monastic life and the clergy descended into poverty and ignorance. ‘Learning had declined so thoroughly in England,’ lamented King Alfred (871–99), ‘that there were very few men on this side of the Humber who could understand their divine services in English, or even translate a single letter from Latin into English: and I suppose that there were not many beyond...

    • 5 The Divine Office and the Tenth-Century English Benedictine Reform
      (pp. 149-196)

      The history of the Divine Office in England from the Augustinian mission to the first decades of the tenth century, which has been reconstructed in the preceding chapters, may be briefly summarized as follows. A Roman form of the Office was introduced to England in the early seventh century, perhaps by the Roman missionaries, and by the middle of the eighth it had effectively supplanted the forms of the Office derived from British, Irish, or Gallican traditions that must previously have had some currency in England but which have left no trace and whose forms cannot be reconstructed with any...

  10. Part II. Manuscript Evidence for English Office Chant in the Tenth Century

    • 6 A Methodology for the Study of Anglo-Saxon Chant Books for the Office
      (pp. 199-219)

      Despite its place at the centre of the Divine Office, the particular arrangement of thecursusof psalmody and readings used in a given church or monastery, once identified, is of limited use and interest. It will be either ‘secular’ or ‘monastic’, except in those rare sources that witness the more fluid situation that prevailed before the spread of the Carolingian two-Office ideal. It is very surprising ever to find an Office book whose disposition of psalms does not correspond to one of the two expected patterns. More often than not, the psalms to be sung at each hour are...

    • 7 Two Witnesses to the Chant of the Secular Office in England in the Tenth Century Durham, Cathedral Library, A. IV. 19, and Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 41
      (pp. 220-251)

      It has been argued in the first part of this book that the Benedictine reformers of the tenth century were probably familiar with an existing liturgical tradition of the Divine Office sung by both ‘monks’ and secular clerics in cathedrals and minster churches. A lack of Office chant books surviving from earlier than the end of the tenth century – and the earliest are mere fragments – makes it very difficult to determine the actual content of this tradition, or the Continental traditions that may have influenced it. Important sources of this kind of information are, however, preserved in two...

    • 8 A Fragment of a Tenth-Century English Benedictine ‘Breviary’ London, British Library, Royal 17. C. XVII, fols. 2–3 and 163–6
      (pp. 252-300)

      The five parchment end-leaves of Royal 17. C. XVII in the British Library (fols. 2–3 and 163–6) are all that remains of what was apparently once a complete liturgical book containing biblical readings, prayers, and chants for the eight daily services of the Divine Office as it was sung in an Anglo-Saxon church. It has received very little attention from scholars. Appearing as number 498 in Helmut Gneuss’sHandlist, it is described as a fragmentary breviary dating from the end of the tenth century or the first half of the eleventh.¹ The British Library’s catalogue entry for Royal...

    • 9 A Fragment of a Tenth-Century English Benedictine Chant Book Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawl. D. 894, fols. 62–3
      (pp. 301-347)

      Rawlinson D. 894 in the Bodleian Library (Summary Catalogue 13660) is a guardbook containing, in the main, fragments from liturgical and musical manuscripts of varying date. Folios 62 and 63 are the two leaves of a small bifolium. The first extended notice of this fragment was given in S. J. P. Van Dijk’s handlist of liturgical manuscripts in the Bodleian:

      FRANCE 10th (?) century

      From the sanctorale: portions of the Commemoration of St Paul (30 June), the night office of St Lawrence (10 Aug.) and a part of the office of the Assumption (15 Aug.). Several texts in full, some...

  11. 10 Conclusion: Ways of Making a Benedictine Office
    (pp. 348-352)

    It is now possible to offer some answers to the questions posed at the end of Chapter 5, and to reconstruct the process whereby the ninth-century Frankish concept of a distinctive ‘monastic’ Office based on the Rule of St Benedict was put into practice in England in the tenth century. The two extant fragments from tenth-century English Benedictine Office books reveal two very different approaches to the creation of a Benedictine Office liturgy. In the breviary fragment in BL Royal 17. C. XVII (Roy), an Office antiphoner of Corbie was the source for the texts of the chants and their...

  12. Appendices

    • Appendix A Transcription Conventions
      (pp. 353-355)
    • Appendix B London, British Library, Royal 17. C. XVII, fols. 2, 3, 163–6 (Text)
      (pp. 356-373)
    • Appendix C Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawl. D. 894, fols. 62–3 (Text)
      (pp. 374-379)
    • Appendix D London, British Library, Burney 277, fols. 69–72, and Stowe 1061, fol. 125 (Text)
      (pp. 380-388)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 389-418)
  14. Index of Manuscripts
    (pp. 419-424)
  15. Index of Liturgical Forms
    (pp. 425-443)
  16. Index of Biblical References and Liturgical Readings
    (pp. 444-445)
  17. General Index
    (pp. 446-463)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 464-464)