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13.02.14, Meyer, Collections de Champagne-Ardenne

13.02.14, Meyer, Collections de Champagne-Ardenne

For medievalists who work in archives or with manuscript collections, laboring with love in ill-lit rooms or alone among a bevy of locals studying their family genealogies, there is great excitement knowing one can plan a trip and return to the texts, to the physical objects at the heart of one's study. Yet if you cannot get back to real parchment, as many of us working in the USA cannot do with regularity, a detailed manuscript catalog can suffice to conjure the riches of a manuscript codex. Christian Meyer's Catalogue des manuscrits notés does just this. In its wealth of commentary and detailed lists of contents within each manuscript one is able--with some work on the part of scholars less familiar with liturgical books--to imagine these manuscripts and understand their content and use. For those more deeply versed in the manuscripts of the liturgy, the present volume will be a very valuable tool that both up-dates older studies and complements the vast and growing array of texts now digitized and available online.

This volume is the second in Meyer's new series of catalogues dedicated to medieval manuscripts with musical notations held in the public libraries of France. [1] And, happily, many more volumes are projected in the same series. [2] This endeavor is part of a major collaborative effort jointly funded by the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) with the support of the Agence Nationale de la Recherche in the program Manuscrits notés en neumes en Occident (MANNO), with the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), the École Pratique des Hautes Études and the Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Texts (IRHT). In short, this is the fruit of French collaborative support at its best. Meyer's first volume addressed manuscripts with musical notations found in the collections of the public libraries of Alsace, Franche-Comté and Lorraine, thus of northeastern France. Here he turns to the Champagne-Ardenne and manuscript collections found in the municipal libraries of Châlons-en- Champagne, Charleville-Mézièrs, Chaumont, Langres, Reims, Troyes, and Vitry-le-François, or the departmental holdings of what corresponds to the medieval episcopal sees of Reims, Châlons, Langres and Troyes. Not surprisingly, of the 190 manuscripts described, the vast majority hail from Troyes and Reims, the two great episcopal and monastic centers of the region. Indeed, Troyes was home to the collegiate community of Saint-Étienne, founded by the counts of Champagne in the mid-twelfth century, which boasted a lavish collection of manuscripts. In addition, in the Troyes library one finds texts from the nunnery of Notre-Dame-aux-Nonnains, the community of Saint-Loup as well as the abbeys of Montiéramey, Montier-la-Celle and the Cistercian abbey of Clairvaux, which together account over half of the manuscripts considered in the volume. Most of the surviving manuscripts come from monastic houses that followed the Rule of Benedict or the Rule of Augustine. There are very few volumes from Dominican or Franciscan houses or from tertiary orders. (One would imagine this disparity in texts is telling, but Meyer does not analyze this detail.) By contrast, a significant percent of texts can be connected to Cistercian houses, notably Clairvaux, Auberive and Signy. In some instances these include liturgical books from the "first generation" that reflect liturgical reforms set in place by Bernard of Clairvaux. While certainly not exhaustive or exacting given the numbers of volumes lost since the end of the Middle Ages, the sample Meyer gathered is "disparate but certainly representative of the chants, and liturgical poetry from Champagne" (viii) and thus reflects changes and developments in musical notation and liturgical practices between ca. 800 and 1500.

The catalogue begins with a brief introduction (14 pages) to the collection and a very short overview of the principles employed in describing each manuscript. Meyer then addresses the varieties of medieval musical notation. In some cases this included elaborate and developed musical forms with staves and neumes that would be recognizable as music to a modern reader. In other instances this entailed only a hasty sketch of neumes in their simplest form jotted at the top of one manuscript folio offering only a suggestion to the reader of how to intone a particular antiphon or response. In several instances, manuscripts from the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries have had notations added into their texts in later hands thus converting what may have originally been a prose text into a manuscript that had liturgical use, suggesting a degree of malleability of texts as dictated by necessity or practical expediency.

Champagne-Ardennes sits at the border of France and the German Empire and thus at the crossroads of several different textual and monastic traditions. This is reflected in the types of notations employed, which makes this sample very intriguing. Those texts from communities in the northern and eastern part of the region favored "messine" notations, whereas those created in the west and north of the Loire used French notations. Most of the manuscripts from Reims and within its orbit use messine notations, as did all of the manuscripts associated with Cistercian houses until the thirteenth century. Musical notation--and perhaps composition--thus has its own spatial geography. This is also an indication of the kinds of monastic and ecclesiastical networks that allied northeastern Champagne much more closely with Flanders and northern Germany than with the Loire valley or the heart of France. Champagne in turn became a place of mixed traditions and several manuscripts from central Champagne used both messine and French notes. Moreover, between the tenth and thirteenth centuries it is possible to observe changes in the style of notations, some with simple lines, others with small squares. Meyer explains these developments in brief, but it would have been helpful to have some images from the manuscripts to assess and understand the visual evidence of such shifts. Likewise, although he makes reference to changes in notation having to do with the intervals of sounds, a more detailed discussion of the evolution of some of this music would have been most welcome.

The descriptive entries that form the main body of the catalogue are detailed and useful. Unfortunately, Meyer chose not to describe methods or descriptive rational here, but refers the reader to the introduction of the first volume. [3] Still, when looking at the entries it is clear that he and his team have adhered to standard principles for modern catalogs. Each entry includes the manuscript number from the specific collection, the provenance of the manuscript, the date (when known), number of folios, measurements, descriptions of notations and dates of the musical notation if different from the original manuscript, and then often brief inventories of the texts including incipits with their associated folio numbers as well as references to the Analecta Hymnica and other printed inventories when applicable.

Overall there is a great diversity in the types of texts represented here that fall into the category of liturgical books and books with music. In addition to breviaries, pontificals, graduals, hymnals and lectionaries, the collections of Saint-Thierry and Saint-Rémi in Reims included a great number of prose texts (letters, sermons, and hagiography) that have musical notations added into the written words, indicating the diverse use of medieval manuscripts that many scholars might not associate with liturgical rounds or intoned prayers. Without ever coming out and explaining this process, Meyer's catalog makes clear that many abbeys in this region had a goodly store of books available to them for use in innovating or adding to their liturgical rounds. Breviaries required other texts to be on hand for reading longer passages, supplementing rounds of hymns, and embellishing basic lections when high feasts were newly implemented and celebrated.

In reading Meryer's entries closely it is clear how very creative, but also pragmatic, the practice of the liturgy could be, drawing from manuscripts in different communities and augmenting texts whose original purpose may have been quite different from the service they would render within the liturgy once glossed with musical notations. For example, among the volumes in the Reims Bibliothèque Municipale is Ms. 133 (B. 64), a tenth-century copy of the Psalms with commentaries used at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims originally given to the community by Adelbéro, archbishop of Reims (969-988). On folio 14r in the middle of the right-hand column that corresponds to the incipit "Remigius praesul" can be found a formula for a melody in messine notation added at the end of the tenth century (97). Whether this was a guide to be employed in communal worship, perhaps informing the chanter of the melody, or if it was used as a spur to personal devotion when reading and praying we will never know, but the music in its brief suggestive form rises from the page--and from obscurity--in Meyer's catalogue. More often, and not at all surprisingly, we find proper offices including specific hymns, verses, responses and the like embedded in prose texts. So the office of Saint Maurille, bishop of Angers (celebrated on 13 September, including the readings, verses and responses for the offices of matins and laudes) is copied into a longer text and commentary on the Song of Songs with sermons from Saint Jerome and Alcuin on the Assumption of the Virgin (96). Many other more formal liturgical texts like responsories and breviaries were also embellished and added to throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and Meyer does a wonderful job of communicating these additions, noting what exactly was added and when it can be attributed. So again the expansion of the liturgy is comprehensible in detailed ways through this catalogue. Many of the volumes belonged to Cistercian abbeys in the region and these can be compared with the liturgical texts from older communities like Montier-la-Celle outside of Troyes to get a sense of how the liturgical rhythms of the year differed among monastic orders. One can also glimpse how the Cistercians attempted to augment their calendars and rites in ways that kept them singing the same material in unison as an order as they added the Feast of Corpus Christi or masses for Saint Louis, and by the fifteenth century Saint Anne, into their breviaries. Other texts suggest the pastoral work of Cistercian monks. Clairvaux possessed an early thirteenth-century (ca. 1200) copy of Conrad of Hirsau's Speculum virginum that included on the last two folios antiphons and hymns for a Marian office, potentially the nativity of the Virgin (164). Some manuscripts remain only suggestive of their use. A volume in Troyes whose provenance is unknown contains the copies of the lives and passions of the saints (we are not told which saints precisely) and toward the end hymns in honor of Saint Radegund appear in an eleventh-century hand followed by the office of Saint Remi. One could also approach this catalogue looking for a specific feast, or seeking to trace the appearance of the office of the dead or the exaltation of the cross and come away with a wealth of detail.

Meyer closes his catalogue with a five-part index that allows the reader to search by: I. Antiphons and Responses (corresponding to those in the Corpus antiphonalium officii); II. Hymns; III. Chants for Proper Masses; IV: Proses, Prosules, and Elements of Tropes; and V. Varia (which encompass various musical forms like motets and polyphony as well as litanies and masses for the dead). In short, once initiated into the terminology of the liturgy and its texts this is an extremely useful and user-friendly catalogue to the collections of an important and fascinating region of France.

The publications of Meyer's catalogues are a timely development with respect to new trends in medieval studies. As the work of Cecilia Gaposchkin, Susan Boynton and Margot Fassler--among others--attests, the liturgy is a powerfully telling lens for viewing cultural and religious shifts over time. [4] It is abundantly clear that proficiency in reading and using manuscripts associated with the liturgy--the rhythms of the day that shaped the lives and marked the hours of laymen, women and religious alike--is critical for a deeper understanding of lived religion and the everyday experiences of medieval people. Meyer's work (in accordance with the CMN website) reveals these texts to us in abundant detail and offers a marvelous tool for further investigation.



1. Christian Meyer, Catalogue des manuscrits notés du Moyen Age conservés dans les bibliothèques publiques de France. Collections d'Alsace, de Franche-Comté et de Lorraine I. Colmar, Bibliothèque municipal. II. Besançon, Épinal, Metz, Mulhouse, Nancy, Rambervillers, Saint-Dié, Saint-Mihiel, Salins-les-Bains, Sélestat, Strasbourg, Verdun et Vesoul, in 2 vols. (CMN 1/2). Turnhout: Brepols, 2009. Pp. xx, 279. 85,00 Euros. ISBN-13: 9782503529066.

2. Bougogne et Île-de-France (spring 2013); Nord-Pas-de-Calais et Picardie in 2 vols.: I. Abbeville, Amiens, Arras, Bergues, Cambrai, Lille, Saint-Omer (all prepared by Christian Meyer) and II. Douai, Laon, Valenciennes, Soissons, Saint-Quentin, Valenciennes (prepared by Jean-Franois Goudesenne). The regions of southern and eastern France will then follow. See the projections and additional descriptions on the Catalogue des manuscrits notés (CMN) website: http://www.univ-

3. These specifics are available on the CMN website in a pdf document that gives the "directives pour l'analyse des manuscrits et la redaction des notices du catalogue des manuscrits notés des bibliothèques publiques de France": http://www.univ-

4. See M. Cecilia Gaposchkin, The Making of Saint Louis: Kingship, Sanctity, and Crusade in the Late Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008), and idem, Blessed Louis the Most Glorious of Kings: Texts Relating to the Cult of Saint Louis of France, trans. with Phyllis B. Katz (Notre Dame, IN.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012); Susan Boynton, Shaping a Monastic Identity: Liturgy and History at the Imperial Abbey of Farfa, 1000-1125(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006); and Margot Fassler, The Virgin of Chartres: Making History through Liturgy and the Arts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).