And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

mandag 31. desember 2018

A commemoration of Saint Thomas of Canterbury in the Nidaros liturgy

Today, December 31, is the feast of Pope Silvester I, famous for converting Constantine the Great to Christianity and for defeating a pestiferous dragon hiding in the caverns beneath Rome. However, this blogpost is not about the sainted pope, but about the sainted archbishop Thomas of Canterbury, popularly known as Thomas Becket, who was appointed by King Henry II to the see of Canterbury, was sent into exile in 1164, and was murdered by knights at the altar of Canterbury Cathedral in 1170 within a year of having returned to England and been reconciled with the king. Thomas was canonised by Pope Alexander III in 1173, lives and liturgical offices were soon written in his honour, and his cult spread to the various corners of the Latin West.

Thomas of Canterbury going into exile
BL MS Royal 2 B VII, psalter, between 1310 and 1320

One of the corners in which the cult of Thomas of Canterbury achieved great popularity was the Norwegian metropolitan see of Trondheim, the centre of the Nidaros Archbishopric which - by the turn of the twelfth century - covered mainland Norway, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Orkney, Shetland, and the South Islands (Hebrides and Man). The popularity of Thomas in Norway was owed in large part to the circle around Archbishop Eystein Erlendsson (r.1161-88) and his successors, who belonged to the same school of ecclesiastical thought as did Thomas of Canterbury, and also Pope Alexander III. These high-ranking ecclesiastics all embraced the reformist ideals that had been formulated in the course of the Gregorian Reform Movement in the eleventh century also throughout the twelfth century.

We do not know exactly how and when  the liturgical celebration of Thomas of Canterbury arrived in Norway, or who brought the liturgical texts that were used, but there were many points of contact between the Norwegian and the English churches in the twelfth century. Moreover, the metropolitan see in Trondheim were probably eager recipients of the cult of Thomas as this gave them another saintly patron in their efforts to establish a Gregorian ideal kingdom in which the king was subject to the church and not the other way around. These efforts were cut short, however, when the pretender Sverre made claims to the throne and emerged victorious in the civil war that raged from 1177 to 1184. Despite this victory, King Sverre and the Norwegian clergy continued to quarrel about the relationship between king and church, and this conflict is likely to have strengthened the importance of Thomas of Canterbury in the Norwegian church province.

There is much to be said about the liturgical celebration of Thomas of Canterbury in Norway, but for the time being I will restrict myself to one single commemoration to exemplify his importance. The commemoration in question is found in the Ordo Nidrosiensis Ecclesiae, a collation of manuscripts from the Nidaros province in which there are found rubrics and notes regarding the details of the liturgical celebrations of the Nidaros churches. It was edited in 1968 by the Norwegian medievalist Lilli Gjerløw.

In the details for the feast of Saint Silvester on December 31, under the heading of the office of Lauds (around daybreak), a number of antiphons are listed that are to be performed in commemoration of important saints of the Christmas season. Among these were Stephen Protomartyr whose feast was on the 26th of December, the child martyrs of Bethlehem whose feast was on the 28th of December, and Thomas of Canterbury whose feast was on the 29th of December.

While the liturgical office, typically attributed to Benedict of Peterborough, was used for the celebration of Thomas' feast in Nidaros, the antiphon used for his commemoration is not from this repertoire but instead from the common of one martyr. These texts from the common of a type of saints comprised a shared repertoire of liturgical chants that were accessible to all of Latin Christendom. When a chant from this common material was used in the celebration of a specific saint, and especially a saint who had been added to the liturgical calendar in recent times, the individual saint's place among his saintly colleagues was emphasised. In the case of Thomas of Canterbury in Nidaros, the chant from the common of martyrs emphasised that he belonged in the collegium of martyrs who had been martyred alone - as opposed to the martyrs who had died as a group (although links between various types could be established through chant as well).

The antiphon by which Thomas of Canterbury was commemorated, was Nisi granum frumentum (CID 003883). The text of this chant is as follows:

Nisi granum frumenti cadens
in terra mortuum fuerit ipsum solum manet

The antiphon applies the imagery of the grain that is being threshed and in that process is being refined. In the liturgy of martyrs, as well as other saints, it was very common to apply imagery that invoked various labours of refinement. This is also seen in the office composed specifically for Thomas of Canterbury, where one responsory describes the exile of Thomas as a gem that is being hammered for six years, meaning that this hardship was part of what proved Thomas' sanctity.

That the antiphon Nisi granum was used in the Nidaros Archdiocese to commemorate Thomas of Canterbury on Saint Silvester's day, is just one of the many examples of Thomas' importance to the Norwegian clergy. It is as yet unclear whether such a commemoration, and this antiphon in particular, was established in the Norwegian liturgy by the metropolitan clergy, or whether it was a practice that was brought from overseas. The latter is more likely, because in the context of the reform movement the clerics sought unity and adaptation of existing practices, not originality or uniqueness. Together with other commemorations throughout the Christmas season in the Nidaros liturgy, the antiphon Nisi granum demonstrates that the cult of Thomas of Canterbury was of great importance in the Norwegian church province.  

onsdag 26. desember 2018

Eg synger jolekvad - a Christmas hymn in translation

For the Christmas season, I wish to present to you one of the musical staples of Norwegian Christmas in my part of the country.The song in question is a Christmas hymn - not a carol, mind you - that goes back to the fourteenth century, namely In Dulci Jubilo. The song was retained in the Protestant liturgical repertoire, and it was translated into Danish already in 1569. The first translation into Norwegian was executed in 1861 by the priest M. B. Landstad (1802-80), into what was the first draft of a Norwegian hymnal that was supposed to be a renovation of the old and by then somewhat old-fashioned liturgy. After heavy linguistic revisions, Landstad's translation was accepted and published in 1869. The title of the hymn was then Jeg synger julekvad (I sing Christmas songs).

The hymn was later translated into Nynorsk by the Norwegian theologian Bernt Støylen (1858-1937), and it was included in a Nynorsk hymnal presented to the public in 1925. The title had retained Landstad's rendition, but with the Nynorsk vocabulary, making it Eg synger jolekvad. The clip I include in this blogpost is a performance of Støylen's translation, as this is the one with which I have grown up in the Norwegian fjords.

Merry Christmas.

søndag 16. desember 2018

Call for academic help - a liturgical prose text from Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek RARA Musik M 4

For a year and a half I have been working with a set of fragments from a collection of old books housed at Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek. My work has been covered in various previous blogposts, and it has consisted of identifying and transcribing the text, and in so doing find out as much as possible about the fragment, the book from which the fragment came, and the historical origin and context of that book.

One set of four fragments with which I have been working particularly much goes by the collective shelf-mark Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek RARA Musik M 4. Three of these fragments are from the same manuscript, which appears to be a thirteenth or fourteenth century breviary from Northern Germany, as seen from both the musical notation and the place of the fragment-carrier's printing, which is in the Northern German town of Wolfenbüttel.

Most of the text of these fragment has been identified and transcribed, but there is still one prose text that remains difficult to solve. The prose text is shown below. It precedes, or belongs to, the chants for the feast of Saint Matthew (September 21). Unfortunately, the spine of the fragment-carrier runs along the fragment straight through the prose text, and consequently some of the crucial letters have been worn away. Although several of the words - such as "pastores", "in [a]edificationem ecclesi[a]e", "corporis" and "ihesu christi domini nostri" - can be read, these words in themselves are not enough to identify the text in question, primarily because they are too common in liturgical prose texts, as well as biblical passages, to allow for any specification.

This blogpost is, therefore, a call for help, hoping that someone will recognise the text from the surviving clues, or be a more skilled palaeographer and/or latinist than myself. If you do have any input on the prose text in the picture below, please let me know.

Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek, RARA Musik M 4, fragment X (detail)

Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek, RARA Musik M 4, fragment X

fredag 7. desember 2018

The Church of SS Dominic and Mary Magdalene in Trogir

Earlier this year I was on a work trip to Croatia organised by the Centre for Medieval Literature at University of Southern Denmark. This trip was a wonderful occasion to learn about the medieval history of a country about which I knew rather little, particularly about its medieval period. It was therefore quite the revelation to me as we toured some of the beautiful cities on the Dalmatian coast and saw things I had not expected seeing. One such highlight was the episcopal city of Trogir, whose cathedral has been mentioned in two earlier blogposts (here and here).

Aside from the cathedral, Trogir is a city rich in churches. One of these is the monastic church of SS Dominic and Mary Magdalene. A brief sketch of its history by Stepjan Krasić, in English, can be found here. The details of this blogposts are taken from this text. (See also here.) The church was established when the Dominicans reached Trogir from their monastery in Split around 1243, and it was given monastic status in the 1260s.


Lunette of SS Dominic and Mary Magdalene

While the church of the Dominican house was built in the mid-thirteenth century - roughly in the time when Master Radovan was working on his magnificent portal of the cathedral church - the church building was enlarged around 1325 and later extended in 1375 thanks to donations from local noble families. It was as a part of the enlargement of the church that Master Niccolò Dente of Venice made the lunette in which can be seen the Virgin Mary and the Christ-child seated, flanked by the local saint Augustin and one of the two patrons of the monastic church, Mary Magdalene.

Saint Augustin Kažotić (1260-1323) can be seen in episcopal regalia including a crozier and a mitre. This points to his brief career as bishop of Lucera in Italy, a position he accepted in 1322. Augustin was a member of the monastic community of SS Dominic and Mary Magdalene, and a modern statue can be seen next to the door of the church today. Next to Augustin is a female figure, and above here there is an inscription which Rudolf Eitelberger (d.1885) has interpreted as meaning Domina[?] Bitcula, Soror Huius Sancti Augustini (see Krasić s.80), meaning Lady Bitcula, Saint Augustin's sister. While I do not know when Lady Bitcula died, it is unlikely that she was herself alive at the time of Master Niccolò's making of the lunette in 1372. That the lunette came about thanks to the donation of her family, or her inheritance, however, is a possible explanation.    

On the right-hand side of the portal we find Mary Magdalene and an inscription stating that Master Niccolò called Cervo from Venice made this work. This depiction of Mary Magdalene is of particular interest in that it depicts her as covered in her own hair and praying, instead of clothed and carrying a jar of alabaster as is typical. The body covered in hair is instead a typical feature of Mary of Egypt (fifth century) who quit a life of prostitution to live as a hermit in the desert, and whose hair started growing to cover her naked body once her clothes had disintegrated from long use.

I can think of two possible solution to this uncommon rendition. One possibility is that there exists a tradition, either local to Venice or Dalmatia or possibly more widespread, in which the two Maries are conflated. After all, since Pope Gregory the Great (d.601) promoted the idea that Mary Magdalen was the same figure as the repentant prostitute who washed Christ's feet in Luke 7, it was commonly thought in at least parts of medieval Christendom that Mary Magdalen had given up a life of debauchery for Christ. Since this is also the story of Mary of Egypt, it is very easy to understand how these saints might be confused. After all, similar conflations across centuries were not uncommon - we see this for instance in Saint Denis in France.

Another, and far simpler yet possibly not more plausible, explanation is that Niccolò simply made a mistake and had the two Maries confused. While the possibility exists, however, I hesitate to embrace this as it suggests Niccolò and the monks at Trogir came from such diverse linguistic backgrounds as to not being able to properly community. This is unlikely, considering the strong ties between Dalmatia and Italy in the Middle Ages. What confusion there were in the making of this lunette, therefore, was probably one shared by master mason and monastic community alike.

tirsdag 27. november 2018

An order of service - a poem by Geoffrey Hill

As I'm heading north for a conference this week, I think it is a suitable way to end the blogging of the month of November with a poem by Geoffrey Hill, whose imagery plays with the frozen landscapes that might be awaiting.

An order of service

(From King Log, 1968)

He was the surveyor of his own ice-world,
Meticulous at the chosen extreme,
Though what he surveyed may have been nothing.

Let a man sacrifice himself, concede
His morality and be done with it;
There is no end to that sublime appeal.

In such a light dismiss the unappealing
Blank of his gaze, hopelessly vigilant,
Dazzled by renunciation's glare.

mandag 26. november 2018

Working with liturgical manuscripts, part 14 - a puzzle in progress

Last week my colleague Jakob Povl Holck and I were on an excursion to the library of Roskilde to investigate a manuscript fragment that was used to bind a volume by the Danish astronomer Tyco Brahe. I had seen pictures of the fragment before, but I was eager to get a chance to have a closer look and to get a better sense of how the book was bound and how the fragment had been folded in the process. I was also eager to look for details not easily caught by a camera, such as small letters hidden where the fragment folds around the edge of the book - letters that might seem inconsequential, but which can sometimes yield just enough information to take an identification of the text from likely to certain.

We were hosted by two of the librarians who generously and kindly let us examine the fragments in all the ways we deemed necessary. Unfortunately, we quickly found that the tight binding of the book discouraged too much poking and prying in order to get to the details hidden in the inner folds, and neither could we open the book without great care so as not to crack the vellum. As a consequence, although I did get a much better sense of the fragment and its text, I returned from Roskilde with an imperfect understanding of how the manuscript folio had once appeared in its undismembered state. Such an understanding is crucial in order to understand the order of the text and thus understand the fragment as part of a lost unit.

Karen Brahes bibliotek, J.1

Karen Brahes bibliotek, J.1

Karen Brahes bibliotek, J.1

Since I had been unable to photograph the book in such a way that both the cover - and thus most of the fragment - could be seen in its entirety, I had to resort to a very old-fashioned way to understand the coherence of the fragment, namely by sort out the individual pieces and put them together like a puzzle. This I did by printing some of the pictures we had taken, then cutting away or folding most of the background. The most challenging part was the inside of the covers, where the left and right folds belonged to the opposite side of the folio as the centre, and therefore had to be separated and then moved about. The end result looked like this.

Reconstruction, based on pictures by myself and Jakob Povl Holck

In the present blogpost I do not wish to say much more about the details of this fragment, as that is a work in progress and there is much that remains to be ascertained. Here, it mainly serves as a little glimpse into the combination of digital and analogue labour that is required in order to research manuscript fragments while ensuring that they are not mangled in the process.

torsdag 22. november 2018

Two chants for Saint Cecilia

Today, November 22, is the feast of Saint Cecilia, a saint whose historicity is doubtful - a matter treated more extensively here - but who was nonetheless one of the virgin martyrs universally venerated in the medieval period. On the occasion of this day, I'm presenting to you a fragment on which I have been working together with my colleague Jakob Povl Holck at Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek.

The fragment is from a late-medieval liturgical manuscript, quite probably a breviary, and because of the bigger size of the original manuscript folios relative to the book which they now cover, a lot of the original text is now lost. We have only identified two chants for the feast of Saint Cecilia - two other texts on the other folio from the feast of Saint Martin are tentatively identified as well.

Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek RARA 47
Photograph by Jakob Povl Holck

The two chants that have survived in fragmentary form have tentatively been identified as one versicle and one responsory. The texts of these chants, in reconstructed form, are as follows.


 [Angelus domino descendit de celo et lumen r]efulsit in habitaculo

The angel of the Lord came down from Heaven at light shone in the house

(This text is taken from Acts 12:7)


[D]omine ihesu christe pastor bo[ne se]minator casti consi[lii susc]ipe seminum fructus quos [in cecilia se]minasti. Cecilia famula [tua] quasi ouis tibi argumento[sa deseruit]

Lord Jesus Christ, good shepherd, sower of chaste counsel, receive the seed of the fruit which you have sowed in your handmaiden Cecilia, who thus serves as rich proof for your flock

This little text is interesting for its play on the biblical images of Christ as gardener of the vineyard and shepherd, and its paradoxical invocation of chastity and germination. It is typical of texts for the virgin saints, and a fascinating example of how paradox is used in Christian literature to enhance its imagery.

lørdag 17. november 2018

Saint Olaf in Sweden, part 1 - Granhult

This summer I attended a conference in Sweden, organised in Växsjö in Småland which is about a two-hour train-ride north of Copenhagen and in the heartland of some of the books by Astrid Lindgren. This is a landscape of pine forests, parcels of rock-strewn open land, marshes and lakes, with scattered farms and homesteads that suddenly appear as you drive through the area. Historically, the region has been somewhat poor due to the soil being difficult to cultivate on account of the many stones and rocks and thick-set forests, and it is for this reason that the region of Småland was the area of Sweden from which most people emigrated to America in the nineteenth century.

Despite the difficulties of the landscape itself, the area around Växsjö contains an impressive number of medieval churches. This has in part to do with Växsjö being one of the oldest bishoprics of medieval Sweden, which dates to the first half of the eleventh century. Its first bishop was the Saint Sigfrid, a monk of Glastonbury who was most likely sent by King Ethelred to help Olaf Tryggvason (d.1000) to Christianise Norway. From there he went to Sweden, and according to his - not uncontested - legend it was he who baptised the Swedish king Olof Skötkonung (Tax-king) (r.995-1022). Sigfrid became venerated as a saint and is the patron of Växsjö. He figures in the municipal coat-of-arms.  

Saint Olaf in Granhult Church

Another important saint in medieval Sweden was Saint Olaf of Norway, who had been king of Norway from 1016-28 and who was killed at Stiklestad in 1030 in an attempt to regain the Norwegian kingship. From the mid-eleventh century onwards, Saint Olaf was an increasingly popular saint, and in medieval Sweden there was a strong liturgical tradition.

As a part of the conference, we had an excursion in which we travelled through Småland and visited four of its surviving medieval churches, all of which are impressively well preserved and very beautiful. In the present blogpost, I'm focussing on the last of the churches we visited, which was the church of Granhult (meaning small wood of spruce).

Granhult Church

Granhult Church was built in the 1220s and the timbers and woodwork of the nave has been dated and proven to be of the original structure. The sacristy and the porch are both post-medieval additions.

It is a beautiful little space, and the interior walls are covered in floreate decorations from the eighteenth century. As we were entering, I noticed a figure seated in a canopied niche on high up on the western wall, and it did not take long to recognise the typical late-medieval depiction of Saint Olaf of Norway. I was not the least bit surprised, as he had made appearances in the last two of the three churches we had already visited, and because I knew - as mentioned above - that his cult was important in medieval Sweden.

As we can make out from the picture above, the niche in which Olaf is seated is relatively high from the ground floor. During the divine service the congregation would have its back to him, but as they turned to leave they would all see his protective gaze and absorb his iconography, to which I will return shortly. From the present church space, however, it is difficult to say just how the medieval experience of the church would have been. Its white painted walls deocrated in once brights colours are a feature of the modern era, and although a lot of light enters through the windows it is difficult to say how that light would have illuminated the possibly dark medieval walls. In the winter, the light would naturally have come from candles, but even in the summer we might expect that the figure of Saint Olaf appeared with somewhat less brightness than it does today, if only on account of the colours surrounding him.

Saint Olaf and the dragon

The seated figure of Saint Olaf is a typical represenation of him from the later Middle Ages. The wooden figure is most likely fifteenth century, and was possibly made in Sweden or else in Lübeck from where a high number of late-medieval sculpture was shipped to Scandinavia. The figure shows Olaf enthroned with a full beard and a crown. In his right hand he holds a battle axe which is modelled more on the late-medieval halberd than the battle axe of eleventh-century Norway. This axe is Olaf's emblem, and is variously - and sometimes confusedly - identified as the axe with which he was wounded on Stiklestad - he was wounded by a spear, a sword and an axe according to some versions of the legend. In his left hand he holds what is now a broken royal orb. In its original state, this orb would most likely have been divided into three parts, signifying the three continents of the known world, since the orb symbolised the earth's sphere - and yes, they knew that the earth was spherical in shape in the Middle Ages.

Underneath his feet we see a dragon with a human head carrying a crown. As can be seen, the dragon's crown is of a similar colour to that of Saint Olaf, but the dragon's face is not beareded. This figure, known as an underlier, is typical in the iconography of Saint Olaf, but its interpretation is disputed. The Norwegian art historian Harry Fett (d.1962) argued that the dragon had the face of Saint Olaf and represented his former pagan self. However, in an MA thesis from 2010 from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Å drepe dragen (To kill the dragon), it was established that the face of the dragon does not always resemble the face of Saint Olaf. This is borne out in the figure from Granhult.

There exist other interpretations as well, such as the dragon symbolising the devil, Saint Olaf's enemies, the secular kingship which he spurned according to his Latin vita, but no consensus has been agreed upon. In my opinion, there is probably no consensus to be had, as it is likely that even in the Middle Ages the symbolism of this iconographic feature was open to various interpretations, and indeed was interpreted differently, which is why we see so many variations of it. It is also likely that the iconography changed over time.

The Saint Olaf of Granhult is a beautiful treasure from the medieval period, at once typical and specific to the church in question, situated in a thirteenth-century church in the middle of the Swedish forests.

onsdag 31. oktober 2018

Address to the toothache - a poem by Robert Burns

I try not to get too personal on this blog, as it is mostly inteded for sharing scholarly or cultural things that interest me or that I find worth sharing or talking about, and also pictures of nature. However, this time I give you a poem by Robert Burns which mirrors my own personal life for the few days, in which I have been struggling against that most aweful of tortures, a toothache. Burns' poem provides the perfect description. I have here taken it from The poem came readily to mind during these travails, as it is a hauntingly comic work which I've had somewhere on the periphery of my mind ever since I first read it in an excellent translation into Norwegian by Johannes Gjerdåker, several years ago.

Address to the toothache
MY curse upon your venom’d stang,
That shoots my tortur’d gums alang,
An’ thro’ my lug gies mony a twang,
Wi’ gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi’ bitter pang,
Like racking engines!

When fevers burn, or argues freezes,
Rheumatics gnaw, or colics squeezes,
Our neibor’s sympathy can ease us,
Wi’ pitying moan;

But thee—thou hell o’ a’ diseases—
They mock our groan.        

Adown my beard the slavers trickle
I throw the wee stools o’er the mickle,
While round the fire the giglets keckle,
To see me loup
While, raving mad, I wish a heckle,
Were in their doup!

In a’ the numerous human dools,
Ill hairsts, daft bargains, cutty stools,
Or worthy frien’s rak’d i’ the mools,—
Sad sight to see!
The tricks o’ knaves, or fash o’fools,
Thou bear’st the gree!

Where’er that place be priests ca’ hell,
Where a’ the tones o’ misery yell,
An’ ranked plagues their numbers tell,
In dreadfu’ raw,
Thou, TOOTHACHE, surely bear’st the bell,
Amang them a’!

O thou grim, mischief-making chiel,
That gars the notes o’ discord squeel,
Till daft mankind aft dance a reel
In gore, a shoe-thick,
Gie a’ the faes o’ SCOTLAND’S weal
A townmond’s toothache!

fredag 26. oktober 2018

The hunt of the griffin - a detail from Trogir cathedral

In a previous blogpost I gave a brief introduction to the portal of the cathedral of Trogir in Croatia. The main parts of this portal were carved by the master mason Radovan in the mid-thirteenth century, and as a whole the portal displays familiarity with both Northern Italian as well as Byzantine iconography. In its complex net of images and stories, the portal of Radovan is an exceedingly beautiful example of the skill of medieval masons, and it also provides a great example of the iconographical influences that shaped the art of medieval Croatia.

One example I want to highlight here is a hunting scene in which a griffin is depicted in the moment it captures a pig. The griffin is a familiar feature in medieval iconography, and its medieval reception history is complex and long. In The Divine Comedy, for instance, Dante describes how a griffin was drawing the car of Beatrice and in this the griffin belonged to the side of good. However, griffins could also be representatives of the wild regions beyond Christendom where paganism reigned and where there were no civilisations. This can be seen in how griffins were described in Pliny, who relied on Herodotus' description which in turn relied on the now-lost work of Aristeias. According to this classical tradition, griffins were guardians of gemstone mines in the far north near the cave Geskleithron, the abode of Boreas the north wind. These mines the griffins guarded from attacks by the one-eyed nation of the Arimaspi.

The depiction of the griffin in Radovan's portal is also a demonstration of the griffin's fierce aspect. Here we see the griffin in the moment it has struck a helpless pig and begun biting its face. This scene is remarkable for its beautiful execution. Moreover, it is noteworthy for its typicality. This scene is one that can be found in various versions in medieval bestiaries, where the antagonism between the griffin and the pig is firmly established. As such, Radovan's depiction not only displays his skill but also his familiarity with an established icongoraphical canon that in consequence reminds us that medieval Croatia was not a strange periphery but part of a wide-reaching network of ideas and images that spanned the Latin West and beyond.

Griffin and pig by Master Radovan

mandag 22. oktober 2018

Book repair from the past

A few months ago, my colleague Jakob Povl Holck at the university library of University of Southern Denmark sent me a batch of photographs from a book he had recently examined. The main attraction of this book was the liturgical fragment on its cover, and which I might return to in a later blogpost. But I was also struck by the frontispiece of the fragment carrier, which is an edition of Eusebius' Chronicon translated into Latin by Jerome - the Chronicon only survives in translations as the original in Greek has been lost - and which was printed in Paris by the printer Henricus Stephanus, also known as Henri Estienne (1528-98).

As can be seen below, the frontispiece shows a beautiful, if incomplete, reparation in which the central roundel has been reconstructed, and in which the original abbreviation of "eius" has been retained in the missing words written out by pen. Understandably, the elaborate knotwork and fronds have not be recreated, but it is clear that the repair work has been undertaken with great care.

We do not know when the frontispiece was repaired. We do know that the book was kept at Herlufsholm School in Denmark for a long time - although we do not know when it came there - and it is easy to imagine that the tear has happened due to carelessness on the part of a Danish student possibly struggling with the sheer size and weight of the book. It is, however, equally possible that the work has been commissioned by the bibliophile who quite likely purchased this work and then later donated it to the school.

Although scholarly speaking the liturgical fragment of this book holds the greatest fascination for me, and the greatest mysteries, there is something very pleasing about such a repair work as this, and I keep coming back to it.

Eusebius' Chronicon, translated by Jerome
Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek, RARA L 15
Photo by Jakob Povl Holck

tirsdag 16. oktober 2018

Music for the season - Ana Vidovic and Isaac Albéniz

Even though it is a significantly warmer October than usual, there is still an unmistakably autumnal feel about these days, a certain crispness in the air, and the scent of rotting leaves and distant aromas of mulch and soil. Somehow, this mood seems to me to be perfectly encapsulated by the instrumental piece "Asturias" by the Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909), here mesmerisingly performed by Ana Vidovic.

onsdag 26. september 2018

The sausage-maker in Trogir

In the Croatian city of Trogir there is a medieval cathedral with a stupendous and beautifully crafted stone arch. I will tell you more about this in future blogposts, but today I will give you one of my favourite details of this masterpiece of masonry.

The stone arch is the accumulative product of the skills and efforts of several masons over a period of three centuries. But the earliest elements of the arch were put in place by the master mason Radovan, who finished his work in 1240. We know this because an inscription survives from the time of its completion, giving the name of the maker and the year it was finished.

The arch has been the subject of extensive study throughout the twentieth century, and there has been established a consensus concerning the layers of its genesis.

One of the details established as belonging to Radovan's workmanship is a scene depicting some of the labours of the year, namely the making of sausages. Below, we see how skilfully and life-like Radovan rendered this scene, one with which he was most likely very familiar from his own life. We see the sausage-maker in his clogs, minding the stew that will go into the intestines already prepared and drying from being cleaned, hanging above him. Meanwhile, a young boy pours liquid into a bowl. This is most likely pig's blood that will be mixed in with the stew that will go in the sausage.

There are many stunning things about this depiction. For instance, it shows that realism and sophistication were not absent from medieval masonry - a point that should not have to be made, but which bears repeating. Secondly, moreover, this scene is a great reminder that we modern people are not all that different from those of the Middle Ages. Having grown up on a farm, I am well familiar with the making of sausages, and in its basic elements we do this in the same way as the thirteenth-century Dalmatian man who served as Radovan's inspiration for this beautiful carving.

mandag 24. september 2018

A requiem by Cristóbal de Morales

As the autumn takes hold on Denmark and various signs of ending and transition appear in my everyday life, it somehow feels fitting to share with you a mass for the dead by one of my favourite composers, the Spanish Cristóbal de Morales (c.1500-53), whose music is among the most beautiful things in this world.

Cristóbal de Morales, Missa pro defunctis

lørdag 15. september 2018

The World in His Hands - a medieval representation of the earth in Early Modern Denmark

He's got the whole world in his hands
- Traditional

One of the most pernicious misunderstandings about the Middle Ages is the erroneous belief that people then thought the earth was flat. They did not, and we have much textual and artistic evidence to show that both lay and learned of the medieval period would have encountered depictions and formulations of the earth as round several times throughout their lives, be it in manuscripts, in sermons or in church art. The idea that medieval man and woman believed the earth to be flat was propagated by Washington Irving in a novel about Christopher Columbus, where part of the construction of Columbus as a hero of modernity consisted of him knowing that the earth was round. (In actuality, as Umberto Eco has demonstrated in his Book of Legendary Lands, Columbus suggested that the earth was not a perfect sphere but slightly elongated to the West.)
In the Middle Ages, it was well known that the earth is a sphere, and it was often, but far from exclusively, depicted with the three known continents divided by waters in the shape of a T in the middle of the sphere of the earth. From this design, these depictions are now known as T-O maps.

Yesterday I went to Dalum Church in Odense, Denmark, a former Benedictine nunnery established in the twelfth century and converted to a Protestant parish church in the sixteenth century. The pulpit of the church, which appears to be late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, depicts Christ flanked on both sides by the evangelists - a very common pictorial sequence in Protestant pulpits. Interestingly, in his left hand Christ holds the spherical earth, but depicted as as a medieval T-O map. This representation of the earth is very interesting to find at this point in time, since America had long since made its way onto contemporary European maps, and it seems that the craftsman deliberately harkened back to an older model, one of Christ as the redeemer of the world established in late-medieval Renaissance art.

I was very happy to discover this little detail, as it provides yet another example of the sophistication of medieval imagery, and how it has endured even into the modern world.

søndag 9. september 2018

A chant for the birth of the Virgin Mary

Yesterday, September 08, was the feast of the birth of the Virgin Mary, one of the oldest of the several Marian feasts that were implemented at various points throughout the medieval period. The universal importance of Mary in the medieval cult of saints meant that this feast was celebrated throughout Christendom and had a significant repository of liturgical chants.

In this blogpost, I wish to share one of these chants from the Latin calendar which is included in a manuscript fragment housed at the university library of University of Southern Denmark. This fragment, fragment XII of RARA Musik M 4, is most likely of German origin, but of unknown date, and it contains a partly-surviving column from the feast Nativitas Mariae. As part of my research on this fragment, I have transcribed the text of the chant, and this transcription - maintaining the spelling of the manuscript but having dissolved abbreviations - can be found below together with a translation of the text itself (this translation is my own).

Natiuitas tua
Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek RARA Musik M 4

Natiuitas tua
(CID: 003852)

Natiuitas tua dei genitrix uirgo gaudium annuntiauit uniuerse mundo ex te enim ortus est sol iustitie christus deus noster qui soluens maledictionem dedit benedictionem et confundens mortem donauit nobis uitam.

Your birth, god-bearer, virgin, announced joy to the whole world, namely that from you is risen the sun of justice, Christ, our god, who loosening the bonds of punishment, giving blessings and dismaying death, gave life to us. 

fredag 31. august 2018

Felix, and Adauctus the added saint

Yesterday, August 30, was the feast of SS Felix and Adauctus, who were believed to have suffered during Diocletian's persecution of Christians, one of the most wide-reaching of such persecutions to have taken place, and the persecution that occupied the most important place in the cultural memory of medieval Christendom. Diocletian, and his co-augustus Maximian were the main antagonists in many of the stories of early and often apocryphal saints, and this includes the story of Felix and Adauctus, a story which Jacobus de Voragine dates to c.287, i.e. before the persecutions were begun.

The story of these two saints is not a long one, and it mostly revolves around Felix. He was a priest, together with his brother whose name was also Felix but who disappears from the story and does not take part in his brother's passion story. The older Felix was brought before the two emperors and commanded to sacrifice in the temple of Serapis. Felix blew in the face of a statue of Serapis and the statue crumbled, a common topos in martyr stories. He was then taken to statues of Mercury and Diana, but with the same result, and the Romans seized him, tortured him and brought him to a sacred tree. Felix blew on the tree as well, and it fell over, crushing an altar as it did.

As Felix was about to be exectued, another man of unknown name and background stepped up and said he was a Christian as well, and the two martyrs-to-be embraced each other and were then killed. According to Jacobus de Voragine in Legenda Aurea, the two saints were buried in the hole of the sacred tree by Christians who managed to retrieve their dead bodies. Since the man who had joined Felix in martyrdom was unknown, he was given the name Adauctus, meaning "added" or "increase", to signify that he was an addition to the martyrdom of Felix.

Collect for the feast of Felix and Adauctus
Syddansk Bibliotek, RARA Musik M 4

onsdag 29. august 2018

A requiem by Duarte Lobo

Since so much of my work consists of researching medieval liturgy, much of the music to which I listen in the course of a workday is also liturgical, albeit early modern rather than medieval. Currently, one composition that both reflects my late-August mood and is well worth sharing is a requiem composed by Duarte Lobo (c.1565-1646), one of the most important composers of polyphonic music in early modern Portugal.


søndag 26. august 2018

Working with liturgical manuscripts, part 13 - the intertextuality of an antiphon

I have recently returned to work on manuscript fragments at Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek, and it is very gratifying to sit down with these old treasures again. Currently, my attention is partly focussed on the cover fragment of Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek RARA L 31. This fragment contains parts of the matins of the liturgical office for Sundays, and its most visible feature is the opening antiphon of the first nocturne, marked by strongly blue initial. I already identified this antiphon during previous research on this fragment, but as I sat down to consider it more closely, I noticed just how rife it is with biblical intertextuality.       

Antiphons are relatively short chants that are sung in responses to psalms. The very name, antiphon or counter-sound, points to its function as a kind of refrain. In the regular services of the liturgical year, where there is no major saint or important event to celebrate, the antiphons used are very often drawn from an old repertoire. Accordingly, their dates and the names of their composers are lost to us, and were in all likelihood not known by those who performed the antiphons as a part of the annual liturgical cycle.   

Because of the relationship between the antiphons and the psalms, it comes as no wonder that a lot of antiphons rely on language and imagery based on the psalms themselves. However, it is often easy to forget just how intricate this intertextuality of antiphons can be, and so in this blogpost I wish to show the echoes of the psalms and other biblical passages that can be found in the antiphon Beati qui in lege tua from RARA L 31. It is important to note that my aim here is merely to highlight the intertextual potential of the antiphon as a chant. I do not claim that the biblical echoes of the antiphon that I suggest here are the ones intended by the long-lost composer of the antiphon. It might very well be that he or she aimed for a different intertextuality than the one I present here. This is, in other words, merely an exercise to become more aware of biblical echoes that can be found in the antiphon. Moreover, I wish to emphasise that the antiphon necessarily has a musical side – as can indeed be see in the picture below – and this music could also have its connections to other chants or other musical repertoires, an intermusicality for want of better words. I do not possess the expertise to talk about this aspect, and accordingly I will leave that out of the present discussion. Nonetheless, it is important to be reminded that I here treat merely on the textual level, also had a very significant musical level that affected how it was received and performed in the liturgical setting.                

Beati qui in lege tua
Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek RARA L 31
Photograph by Jakob Povl Holck

The text of the antiphon is as follows (I have dissolved abbreviations but retained the spelling otherwise):

Beati qui in lege tua iugiter meditantur domine beati qui in te confidentes tibi seruiunt in timore de monte sancto tuo nos clemens exaudi nec nos arguas in die furoris tui

This translates roughly to (with modernised punctuation):

Blessed are they who continuously meditate on your law, Lord. Blessed are they who trust in you and who serve you in fear. From your holy hill, listen to us in clemency, and do not accuse us on the day of your fury.                  

In order to unpack some of the potential intertextuality of this antiphon, I will in the following list some strings of words which can be found, either verbatim or with minimal difference in text, in biblical passages. The text in Latin is taken from the Vulgate, while the translations into English are from the Douay-Rheims edition.                 

Beati qui      

See Psalm 83:5: Beati qui habitant in domo tua, Domine; in saecula saeculorum laudabunt te

(Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord: they shall praise thee for ever and ever)       

in lege tua iugiter meditantur                 

See Psalm 1:2: in lege ejus meditabitur die ac nocte (and on his law he shall meditate day and night)

beati qui in te confidentes

See Psalm 10:2: In Domino confido; quomodo dicitis animae meae : Transmigra in montem sicut passer? (In the Lord I put my trust: how then do you say to my soul: Get thee away from hence to the mountain like a sparrow?)

See also Wisdom 16:24: Creatura enim tibi Factori deserviens, exardescit in tormentum adversus injustos, et lenior fit ad benefaciendum pro his qui in te confidunt (For the creature serving thee the Creator, is made fierce against the unjust for their punishment; and abateth its strength for the benefit of them that trust in thee)

tibi seruiunt 

See Psalm 118:91: Ordinatione tua perseverat dies, quoniam omnia serviunt tibi (By thy ordinance the day goeth on: for all things serve thee)    

in timore      

See Psalm 2:11: Servite Domino in timore, et exsultate ei cum tremore (Serve ye the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling)

See also Psalm 5:8: Ego autem in multitudine misericordiae tuae introibo in domum tuam; adorabo ad templum sanctum tuum in timore tuo (as for me in the multitude of thy mercy, I will come into thy house; I will worship towards thy holy temple, in thy fear)

See also Psalm 118:38: Statue servo tuo eloquium tuum in timore tuo (Establish thy word to thy servant, in thy fear)                     

de monte sancto tuo          

See Psalm 3:5: Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi; et exaudivit me de monte sancto suo (I have cried to the Lord with my voice: and he hath heard me from his holy hill)

See also Psalm 14:1: Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo? aut quis requiescet in monte sancto tuo? (Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle? or who shall rest in thy holy hill?)       

nos clemens exaudi           

See Psalm 19:9: Domine, salvum fac regem, et exaudi nos in die qua invocaverimus te (O Lord, save the king: and hear us in the day that we shall call upon thee)            

See also Psalm 64:6: Exaudi nos, Deus, salutaris noster, spes omnium finium terrae, et in mari longe (Hear us, O God our saviour, who art the hope of all the ends of the earth, and in the sea afar off)

nec nos arguas in die furoris tui            

See Psalm 6:2: Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me, neque in ira tua corripias me (O Lord, rebuke me not in thy indignation, nor chastise me in thy wrath)                    

This verse is also found in Psalm 37:2.   

This is not an exhaustive list of references, neither to biblical passages in general nor to psalm verses in particular. The psalms provided the backbone of the liturgical performance at a monastic or a secular church, as can be seen from the Rule of Saint Benedict where it states that all 150 psalms should be performed in the course of one week. It is therefore no wonder that antiphons were composed in order to resonate with this foundation. In order to comprehend this intertextuality, we must keep in mind that the monks or priests who performed the antiphon found in RARA L 31 were well familiar with the psalter. Each psalm was performed at least once a week, sometimes more often depending on the calendar of the institution, and the performers of the antiphon Beati qui in lege tua would have no difficulty recognising its intertextuality. For each of the phrases taken from another psalm, or reminiscent of another psalm, the performers would catch in during their own performance of the antiphon, and they would connect it to the other psalms in question.                    

As for the content and the meanings of these psalm verses, the understanding would vary from individual to individual. There were commentaries on the psalms which expounded the different layers of meaning, most famously the one by Cassiodorus, but this knowledge is not likely to have been evenly distributed. We therefore do not know the full depth of the intertextuality of this antiphon that was accessible to the members of the institution from which the fragment of RARA L 31 derived. What is clear, however, is that even the novices would be able to recognise what psalms were echoed in this antiphon, and depending on individual levels of knowledge and insight, they would understand the theological depth of the antiphon beyond the words of the antiphon itself.   

søndag 19. august 2018

Difficult writes - or, the unexpected challenges of an otherwise ordinary article text

So much of academic life is writing, and the amount of writing you are supposed to do only increases as you delve farther into an academic career, imagined here not as a pathway but as a nebulous, immaterial murk. Ever since I finished my MA degree in the autumn of 2012, I have written a lot of texts aimed at different audiences and requiring different degrees of preparation and sophistication. Some of these texts have been demanding because they have required a lot of research, such as my PhD thesis. Other texts have been challenging because of constraints regarding length. However, such demands do not necessarily make a text difficult to write. It often depends on the process itself and how prepared you are to write what must be written. In the case of my thesis, for instance, I had to write a lot and then edit a lot, meaning that I inevitably wrote much more than what ended up as a part of my submitted product. While this writing process was both challenging and demanding, taking a lot of time, and lot of thinking, and a lot of trial and error, I did not think of it as difficult to write, simply because I had, from the very beginning, a very clear idea of what I would write about and what I found find in my research. This is not to say that I had my thesis all prepared from the onset. Quite the contrary, there were a wide range of details and a great degree of knowledge that I had not foreseen or prepared for, and that I picked up along the way. But I had the structure in place, I had my remit set, and I knew enough of the literature to begin quite comfortably with my preparations. Consequently, despite the labour required to complete the thesis I knew where I would end up, more or less at least, and this made it easier to claw myself in that direction when things were at their hardest.

This month, however, I'm seeing the end of what is unquestionably the most difficult thing I have written since earning my MA degree. The text in question is an article of regular length whose subject is taken from one of my thesis chapters. I will say no more about it here, but if it gets published I will no doubt express my relief and happiness in a future blogpost. Be that as it may, this text, ca. 20 pages in length and on a subject with which I am very familiar, is the most difficult thing I have written since November 2012. There is nothing in the article itself to explain this, and it all comes down to how prepared the author needs to be in order for the writing not to become too difficult.

The article in question was one I was offered to write by the editor of a collection towards the end of 2017. I was very happy to be offered this contribution since I had seen the volume advertised and since I knew that it was well within my own field of interest. Naturally, I felt very confident about my ability to churn out a suitable article in time - after all, I had had a busy autumn of conferences and I thought I could recycle my main points and my sources from one of my presentations. I started writing, and the pressure got to me right away.

The reason why the pressure got to me that easily was that by this time it was the Christmas holiday and I needed to prepare for my viva. I still thought that I would be able to write a good text with time enough to spare, but it turned out that the things I had organised so nicely in my head did not convert into words on paper that easily. I wrote a lot in those last days of Christmas, sitting down in the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, writing by hand as frantically as I could. I wrote several pages, and threw them all away and began again. Fortunately, I got an extension and could pick it up after the viva was over, and so in the last half of January I did manage to submit something I thought was good enough, and which was in effect the second draft of the article. I was glad it was done.

Months later, however, I received the feedback, and while there were several positive things, Reviewer number one pointed out several flaws and weak spots in my work, and I realised that I had taken the task too lightly. I waited a few months, simply because I dreaded the task I knew to be required of my, and tried not to think about it. It didn't help that this feedback came just as I was organising a conference and finishing up a four-month position of work. In the beginning of May, however, I began rewriting, tossing out material that I thought to be problematic, and in the end I had a third draft, most of it completely new-written. By this time, I wanted to let it rest before submitting it, and I wanted a few things checked by friends first. I then tried to forget about it.

In late July, however, I was contacted by the editor, who expressed kind concern about the progress, and I promised to have it done in August. Thanks to my friends I was able to have some quality control, and, thanks to one friend in particular, I was made aware of some problems such as lexical repetition and visible lack of confidence in my own work. She provided me with solid feedback, and the most basic issues have now been corrected. The final details will be sorted in the course of next week - God willing.

I am, in other words, in the fourth round of writing on this article, and this despite there being nothing particularly new or demanding about its subject or the sources I rely on. It simply comes down to timing, and to me being overconfident, and to my lack of a coherent plan for all the parts of the article before I started writing. It is a good reminder, at least for myself, that difficulty does not depend on length or topic, but on the writer's own vision of the text.

tirsdag 31. juli 2018

The World - a sonnet by Christina Rossetti

As the month winds to its close and I'm on the verge of returning to the duties of academic existence in Denmark, I present you with a sombre poem by Christina Rossetti that adequately describes the mixed feelings that appear at the close of a vacation at home.

The World

By day she wooes me, soft, exceeding fair:
But all night as the moon so changeth she;
Loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy
And subtle serpents gliding in her hair.
By day she wooes me to the outer air,
Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety:
But through the night, a beast she grins at me,
A very monster void of love and prayer.
By day she stands a lie: by night she stands
In all the naked horror of the truth
With pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands.
Is this a friend indeed; that I should sell
My soul to her, give her my life and youth,
Till my feet, cloven too, take hold on hell?

søndag 29. juli 2018

Saint Olaf seated - an illumination from The Icelandic Model Book

Today is the feast of Saint Olaf, the patron saint of Norway, who died at Stiklestad north of Trondheim in 1030. He fought against an army of Norwegian nobles and the Danish king Knud, the latter having established overlordship over Norway when Olaf was sent into exile in Russia in 1028. The cult of Olaf was of great importance throughout medieval Norway, and also in the wider Nordic world. Of the few Norwegian saints, Olaf is by far the most widely and frequently depicted. In this brief blogpost, I wish to present one example of this, namely from the Icelandic Model Book, in which were drawn images from which the illuminators could see how various figures should be drawn. Olaf figures frequently in this, and below is one of the images, where he is seated, holding the axe of his martyrdom. This photograph was taken at the North-Atlantic House in Odense, when a friend and I attended the exhibition of the manuscript.

mandag 23. juli 2018

Another Song of a Fool - a poem by W. B. Yeats

For the, hopefully, quiet summer days, here is one of William Butler Yeats' perhaps lesser known poems, provided here by virtue of it being lesser known.

Another Song of a Fool

This great purple butterfly,
In the prison of my hands,
Has a learning in his eye
Not a poor fool understands.

Once he lived a schoolmaster
With a stark, denying look;
A string of scholars went in fear
Of his great birch and his great book.

Like the clangour of a bell,
Sweet and harsh, harsh and sweet,
That is how he learnt so well
To take the roses for his meat.

- From The Wild Swans at Coole, 1919

søndag 15. juli 2018

Summer reading

I'm currently enjoying a month's vacation at home in Norway. Consequently, my blogging will be quite sparse and my blogposts very brief this month. They will predominantly be snippets of summer life in the fjords, as exemplified by this little stack of books photographed at the family's cabin, containing my first batch of summer reading.

lørdag 30. juni 2018

Portrait - a poem by Ngwatilo Mawiyoo

As an end to this month's blogging, and as a sort of farewell as I leave Denmark for Norway for my summer holiday, I present to you a poem by Kenyan poet Ngwatilo Mawiyoo from her collection Dagoretti Corner (Akashic Books, 2016).


For Nairobi

And we are the dust that has no place,
that lines the walls and leaves.

Daily, almost daily, a woman -
a man - wipes a floor;
head down, bottom high.
Pivoting a swirling shuffle,
left right and back: the path
of a clean woman, a good woman,
man a faithful servant.
When the floor dries the white line

My grandfathers are in the ground,
they are bone and smoothed tree.
My last Susu has lost her sight.
When her mind went, she listened for it
in our voices. She's losing interest.

Tom Mboya Street defies rot.
The dust tells what we buried, calls
our memory to the good,
to grass, thorn trees, cool water.

onsdag 27. juni 2018

Tu es Petrus - chants for the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul

In two days, June 29, it is the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul, a feast which commemorates both their martyrdoms. This is their primary feast, and is of great importance in the liturgical year. I was reminded of this as I was listening to a mass composed by Palestrina called Missa Tu es Petrus, a mass specifically addressing the history of Peter and to be performed on June 29. Its incipit is taken from Matthew 16:18, where Christ says to Peter: You are Peter, and on this rock [petram] I will build my church. This passage has been of vital importance in the emergence of Rome's primacy in Western Christendom, as the traditional interpretation has been that the site of Peter's martyrdom signifies the location of the heart of the Christian church. This interpretation has not been uncontested, and it did take a long time before Rome ascended to the primary position it eventually came to possess within Latin Christianity.

Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek
Photo by Jakob Povl Holck

Although I have listened to Palestrina's mass several times, today I was reminded of how this mass connects with my own research. During my months as a research assistant at the university library of University of Southern Denmark, one of the medieval manuscript fragments I worked on, RARA M 28, contained texts for the mass for the apostles Peter and Paul, and among the few chants that could be read, though badly damaged by moisture, were two chants that both bear the incipit Tu es Petrus. The exact type of these chants is not yet ascertained, though one of them is most likely a versicle.

Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek
Photo by Jakob Povl Holck

Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek
Photo by Jakob Povl Holck

This is, in short, one of those occasions when pleasure and professional life overlap to some degree, which I think to be very common to most medievalists.

Missa Tu es Petrus, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1525-94)