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Music and Meaning in Old Hispanic Lenten Chants

Music and Meaning in Old Hispanic Lenten Chants: Psalmi, threni and the Easter Vigil Canticles

Emma Hornby
Rebecca Maloy
Volume: 13
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 568
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  • Book Info
    Music and Meaning in Old Hispanic Lenten Chants
    Book Description:

    Medieval Iberian liturgical practice was independent of the Roman liturgy. As such, its sources preserve an unfamiliar and fascinating devotional journey through the liturgical year. However, although Old Hispanic liturgical chant has long been considered one of the most important medieval chant traditions, what musical notation to survive shows only where the melodies rise and fall, not precise intervals or pitches. This lack of pitch-readable notation has prevented scholars from fully engaging with the surviving sources - a gap which this book aims to fill, via a new methodology for analysing the melodies and the relationship between melody and text. Focussing on three genres of chant sung during the Old Hispanic Lent (the threni, psalmi, and Easter Vigil canticles), the book takes a holistic view of the texts and melodies, setting them in the context of their liturgical and intellectual surroundings, and, for the Easter Vigil, exploring the relationship between different Old Hispanic traditions and other western liturgies. It concludes that the theologically purposeful text selections combine with carefully shaped melodies to guide the devotional practice of their hearers. Emma Hornby is Senior Lecturer in Music, University of Bristol; Rebecca Maloy is Associate Professor of Music, University of Colorado at Boulder.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-090-3
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Music Examples
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-ix)
  6. Preface
    (pp. x-xi)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  8. Manuscript Sigla
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  9. Introduction
    (pp. 1-27)

    Liturgy was fundamental to the practice and expression of Christian faith in the medieval West, and liturgy was mediated through melody. Liturgical texts were neither read silently from the page, as so often in modern scholarly experience, nor were they spoken. Those explicitly understood as being musical range from ornate soloists’ chants to the simple weekday hymns sung regularly by an entire monastic or clerical community. Beyond this, however, readings and prayers were intoned rather than spoken. The melodic articulation of liturgical text is thus fundamental to any understanding of how those texts were experienced within the medieval liturgy. In...

  10. CHAPTER 1 Thematic Congruity in the Old Hispanic Lenten Liturgies
    (pp. 28-74)

    Chants acquire meaning through the rituals in which they are sung and their juxtaposition with the texts and music that surround them in the liturgy. The psalmi and threni, the primary Lenten focus of this book, can be most richly understood not in the isolation of their respective genres, but within their wider liturgical and intellectual context. The psalmi and threni participate in the recurrence of certain key words and ideas during the Lenten season. The primary theological themes of the Old Hispanic Lenten liturgy, as articulated in its readings, prayers and chants, form a tapestry into which the psalmi...

  11. CHAPTER 2 The Threni
    (pp. 75-106)

    On certain Lenten weekdays a threnos, rather than a psalmus, is sung between the Old Testament and epistle readings in the Old Hispanic Mass. ‘Threnos’ simply means ‘lamentations’, and is familiar as the Latin title of the biblical book of that name. It is not known when the threnos was added to the Old Hispanic liturgy; there is no clear evidence that the chant in its present form existed at the time of Isidore. In his Etymologies Isidore defines the word ‘threnus’ as ‘a song of lamentation and burial’ (‘threnus, quod est lamenti carmen et funeris’).¹ Since the chant genre...

  12. CHAPTER 3 The Melodic Language of the Old Hispanic Lenten Psalmi
    (pp. 107-154)

    The primary purpose of this chapter is to outline what can be understood of the melodic language of the Old Hispanic Lenten psalmi. The analysis of this repertory presents some large challenges. One cannot identify a single formal principle underpinning the genre: some psalmi are responsorial; others are sung as direct psalmody without refrains. Some have melodic repetition; others do not. Different psalmi have different numbers of verses. Another challenge is presented by the fact that, in contrast to the threni, the psalmi are idiomelic – that is, each has an individual melody. In Chapter 2 we were able to deduce...

  13. CHAPTER 4 Words and Music in the Psalmi
    (pp. 155-243)

    In Chapter 1 we argued that the Old Hispanic Lenten liturgical texts are carefully selected and tailored to convey a coherent theological message. In Chapter 3 we analysed the melodic grammar and stylistic norms of the psalmi melodies. Building on that foundation, we now turn to the texts of the psalmi and the relationship between melody and text. The primary objectives of this chapter are to show how the texts of the Lenten psalmi participate in the Lenten themes identified in Chapter 1 and how the melodies read those texts. We argue that the psalmi melodies convey their texts in...

  14. CHAPTER 5 The Easter Vigil Canticles
    (pp. 244-302)

    The purpose of this chapter is to contextualize the Old Hispanic Easter Vigil canticles. Examining a wide range of sources for the early medieval Easter Vigil in the West allows us to better understand the differences between traditions A and B. In our analysis of the threni and psalmi we have identified parallels in texts, melodies and liturgical assignment between the Old Hispanic traditions A and B. Such similarities suggest either that the two traditions have a common origin or that there was interchange between the two practices in Toledo after the reconquest in 1085. The Easter Vigil canticles in...

  15. AFTERWORD: Some Thoughts on the Relationship between the Old Hispanic Traditions A and B
    (pp. 303-314)

    Our examination of the threni, psalmi, and Easter Vigil canticles in previous chapters has renewed the longstanding questions about the status of the tradition B manuscripts and their place in the historiography of the Old Hispanic rite. Each of the genres we have examined has yielded a different perspective on the relationship between the melodies and liturgical traditions preserved in the extant manuscripts. For the threni, T5 and León 8 preserve closely related versions of the melodies and even arrange the threni in the same order. The two traditions also preserve related versions of most Lenten psalmi. In that repertory...

  16. APPENDIX 1 A Guide to Reading Old Hispanic Notation
    (pp. 315-326)
  17. APPENDIX 2 The Threni Texts
    (pp. 327-338)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 339-352)
  19. Index of Manuscripts Cited
    (pp. 353-354)
  20. Index of Chants Cited
    (pp. 355-359)
  21. Index of Scholars Cited
    (pp. 360-361)
  22. General Index
    (pp. 362-369)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 370-371)