Yitzhak Hen

title.none: Pfaff, ed., Liturgical Books of Anglo-Saxon England (Hen)

identifier.other: baj9928.9702.010 97.02.10

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Yitzhak Hen, University of Haifa,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1997

identifier.citation: Pfaff, Richard W., ed. The Liturgical Books of Anglo-Saxon England. Old English Newsletter, Subsidia 23. Kalamazoo: Richard Rawlinson Center for Anglo-Saxon Studies, 1995. Pp. 128. $10.00. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 97.02.10

Pfaff, Richard W., ed. The Liturgical Books of Anglo-Saxon England. Old English Newsletter, Subsidia 23. Kalamazoo: Richard Rawlinson Center for Anglo-Saxon Studies, 1995. Pp. 128. $10.00. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Yitzhak Hen
University of Haifa

This small volume, edited by Richard W. Pfaff, contains seven papers, which vary in their length and quality, whose major aim is to survey the individual liturgical manuscripts from Anglo-Saxon England. The inventory of liturgical books published by Helmut Gneuss ("Liturgical books in Anglo-Saxon England", in: Learning and Literature in Anglo-Saxon England, M. Lapidge and H. Gneuss, eds., Cambridge 1995, pp. 91-141) has provided the authors with an initial framework. Yet, unlike Gneuss, the editor has chosen to structure this volume according to the types of services rather than types of books. Thus, the overall structure of the book, "is shaped by a simple three-part division of liturgical services: the mass; the daily (or divine) office in its eight constituent hours; and the occasional offices, those rites used only when occasion for them arose" (p. 2). The inevitable result of such a decision is repetition; and indeed several of the manuscripts are discussed in more than one paper. A short introductory section, which "attempts to give some idea of the services or parts of services wnich each kind of liturgical book exists to supply as well as of the particular nature of the books in question" (p. 2), is provided at the beginning of each contribution.

The first paper, by Richard W. Pfaff, is a survey of the massbooks (i.e. sacramentaries and missals). After some introductory notes on the emergence of the early medieval massbook, Pfaff turns to examine those massbooks that survive from Anglo-Saxon England. Unfortunately, as Pfaff points out, no complete massbook survives prior to the tenth century, and very few of the extant fragments can be safely said to have originated in England, rather than in an Anglo- Saxon centre on the Continent. Bearing this obstacle in mind, Pfaff lists six liturgical fragments with a probable Anglo-Saxon provenance from the eighth century (two of which are not listed by Gneuss), and ten manuscripts with some minor fragments from the tenth and the eleventh centuries. Each of these manuscripts receives a full treatment, which summarises the major issues regarding the manuscript itself and its place in the liturgical scene of Anglo-Saxon England.

The two short papers on graduals and tropes, by K.D. Hartzell and E.C. Teviotdale, respectively, deal with the two different types of collections of mass-chants. The decision to separate the discussion of these two types of books is at odds with the editor's initial purpose (i.e. to discuss the evidence according to types of services rather than according to types of books). Furthermore, two out of the three manuscripts discussed in each of the chapters, are the same (namely Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 775 and Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 473), and thus it would have made sense for these two types of books to be treated together in a single entry.

Alicia Correa's contribution on daily-office books is divided into two sections: one deals with collectars, and the other with breviaries. Correa lists a total of eight manuscripts with a probable Anglo-Saxon provenance, and discusses persuasively their place and influence on the development of the liturgy in Anglo-Saxon England.

Phillip Pulsiano discuses the psalters from Anglo-Saxon England, while stressing their mixed character as liturgical sources. As he points out, "although the recitation of the psalms was the principal component of the daily office, there are no Anglo-Saxon service books extant that contain the entire corpus of psalm texts in an arrangement unquestionably designed for use in formal worship; therefore the surviving psalters must serve as testimony to this fundamental aspect of liturgical worship" (p. 61). Pulsiano lists twenty-two psalters written in England during the pre-reform period; two twelfth-century psalters with Anglo-Saxon glosses; six psalters brought to England from the Continent during the tenth and the eleventh centuries; seven fragments of psalters; and three manuscripts which contain important psalter components. After listing all these pieces of evidence, Pulsiano turns to discuss various aspmcts related to them, such as the Old English glosses or the nature of the "tituli psalmorum."

The next chapter, by Janet L. Nelson and Richard W. Pfaff, which is by far the best contribution to this volume, surveys the books for those services that require the specific ministration of a bishop (i.e. pontificals and benedictionals). Apart from listing and discussing the various manuscripts, Nelson and Pfaff give a short introduction on the nature of these books, and their development in Anglo-Saxon England.

The last chapter, by Sarah Larratt Keefer, discusses the manuals, that is, the liturgical books which contain the occasional offices performed by a priest whenever the need arose, such as baptism, burial, and marriage. Keefer lists twenty manuscripts (most of which were discussed in at least one of the previous chapters) that contain manual material, and discusses the development and nature of the various services (baptism, marriage, visitation and ministry of the sick, burial of the dead, and exorcism). The entire volume ends with an exhaustive and updated bibliography on the various issues and manuscripts discussed in the various entries.

This volume, updating the last major study of this subject (namely H. Gneuss' above mentioned paper from 1985 and K. Gamber, Codices Liturgici Latini Antiquiores, 2nd ed., Fribourg 1968, with a supplement by B. Baroffio et al., Fribourg 1988), is an important contribution to Anglo-Saxon scholarship as well as to early medieval liturgical studies. There are places where experts may disagree with details of the discussions, and some suggestions and small corrections could be made. Nevertheless, in light of its comprehensiveness, this volume will be of great use to those interested in Anglo-Saxon liturgy, and its lasting value will be as a reference book. One could only regret the fact that a manuscript-index, which would have make the information on the various manuscripts more accessible, is not provided.

Important and interesting as I find the volume reviewed here, it cannot be but a preliminary attempt to categorise the liturgical manuscripts from Anglo-Saxon England. Determining the origins of a certain manuscript depends almost exclusively on the work of palaeographers. Yet, the analysis of late Anglo-Saxon scriptoria and manuscripts is very rudimentary still, and it seems that we are in a worrying state of ignorance regarding tenth and eleventh century Anglo-Saxon scripts. Winchester was pinned down as a prolific centre of manuscript production in the tenth and eleventh century (especially in the work by Francis Wormald), and subsequently many of the liturgical manuscripts are attributed to Winchester, sometimes without any logic or real basis for the attribution. Some activity can also be located to Canterbury and Worcester, but one wonders about places such as York or London. Indeed, an attempt to sort out Anglo-Saxon script was made recently by David Dumville, but no one seems to agree with him. Thus, a major study of late Anglo-Saxon scripts and scriptoria is needed, before further observations on the origins of the liturgical manuscripts and their relations with continental traditions, could be made.

These reservations aside, The Liturgical Books of Anglo- Saxon England is an important contribution, that should be welcomed by anyone interested in early medieval liturgy.