Advertisement

The Reality of Musical Life

  • Anne Bagnall Yardley
Chapter
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Although monastic rules and the extant liturgical sources offer a documentary view of the ideal musical practices in medieval English nunneries, such additional sources as visitation injunctions, records from the dissolution, architectural remains, and the charting of extant books from nunnery libraries provide a realistic corrective. The size of monastic houses (ranging from tiny to well populated), the social class of the nuns, the relative wealth and poverty of the establishment, and the quality of leadership all impact the character of the liturgy. While some contemporary authors express concerns about the ability of nuns to fulfill their basic liturgical duties1, the extant information strongly suggests that despite poverty and the lack of a comprehensive education, most medieval choir nuns sing the office regularly, their piety formed daily by the texts of the psalms, the poetry of the hymns, and the music of both the core Gregorian chant repertoire and later medieval additions. The ceaseless round of worship, this central duty of monastic life, is both burden and blessing to the medieval nun, not an ideal but a reality.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 3.
    David N. Bell, What Nuns Read: Books & Libraries in Medieval English Nunneries, Cistercian Studies Series 158 (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1995), pp. 33–37.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    J.B.L. Tolhurst, ed., The Ordinale and Customary of the Benedictine Nuns of Barking Abbey, Henry Bradshaw Society, vol. 45 (London: Harrison and Sons, 1927), p. 67.Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    Nicholas Watson, “Censorship and Cultural Change in Late Medieval England: Vernacular Theology, the Oxford Translation Debate, and Arundel’s Constitutions of 1409,” Speculum 70:4(October 1995):822–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 19.
    Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400–1580 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), pp. 9–130 passim.Google Scholar
  5. 30.
    F. C. Hingeston–Randolph, The Register of John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter (AD 1327–1369) Pt. I 1327–1330 (London: George Bell and Sons, 1894), p. 214.Google Scholar
  6. 32.
    A. Jessopp, ed., Visitations of the Diocese of Norwich, A.D. 1492–1532, Camden Society, n.s. 43 (Westminster: Nichols and Sons, 1888), p. 209.Google Scholar
  7. 34.
    Edward Peacock, “Injunctions of John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, to Certain Monasteries in his Diocese,” Archaeologia: Or Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Antiquity 47(1882):55–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 38.
    A.T. Bannister, ed., Registrum Thome Spofford Episcopi Herefordensis, A.D.MCCCCXXn–MCCCCXLVin, Canterbury and York Society, vol. 23 (London: 120 Chancery Lane, 1919), p. 81.Google Scholar
  9. 45.
    A. W. Goodman, ed., Registrum Henrid Woodlock Diocesis Wintoniensis (A.D. 1305–1316), Canterbury and York Society, vols. 43 and 44 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1940–41), pp. 516–17.Google Scholar
  10. 49.
    Susan Boynton, “The Liturgical Role of Children in Monastic Customaries from the Central Middle Ages,” Studia Liturgica 28(1998):197–99.Google Scholar
  11. 57.
    F.C. Hingeston–Randolph, ed., The Register of Walter de Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter (A.D. 1307–1326) (London: George Bell and Sons, 1892), pp. 316–17.Google Scholar
  12. 59.
    Margot E. Fassler and Rebecca A. Baltzer, eds., The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages: Methodology and Source Studies, Regional Developments, Hagiography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 10.Google Scholar
  13. 61.
    W. H. Blaauw, “Epsicopal Visitations of the Benedictine Nunnery of Easebourne,” Sussex Archaeological Collections 9(1857):12.Google Scholar
  14. 65.
    William Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanutn, reved., ed. John Caley, Henry Ellis, and Bulkeley Bandinel, 6 vols. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Browne, 1817–20), 3:424–25.Google Scholar
  15. 66.
    For more complete discussions of this topic see Frank LI. Harrison, Music in Medieval Britain (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963), pp. 202–218 and Francis Routh, Early English Organ Musicfiom the Middle Ages to 1837 (London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1973), pp. 1–19.Google Scholar
  16. 68.
    MacKenzie E.C. Walcott, “Inventories and Valuations of Religious Houses at the Time of the Dissolution, from the Public Record Office,” Archaeologia: Or Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Antiquity 43(1871):245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 73.
    Marjorie J. Harrison, The Nunnery of Nun Appleton, Borthwick Papers 98 (York: University of York, 2001), pp. 17–18.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Anne Bagnall Yardley 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Bagnall Yardley

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations