Thursday, July 19, 2007

Three works of the Henry Bradshaw Society

I wanted to take a few moments today to do something I've been intending to do for some time. It was during my trip to Oxford and London in the past autumn that I first ran into the momentous series of scholarly liturgical works put out by the Henry Bradshaw Society (unfortunately their website is presently in transition) and in our own day, published and distributed in the UK and USA by Boydell and Brewer.

About the HBS: "The Henry Bradshaw Society was established in 1890 in commemoration of Henry Bradshaw, University Librarian in Cambridge and a distinguished authority on early medieval manuscripts and liturgies, who died in 1886. The Society was founded `for the editing of rare liturgical texts'; its principal focus is on the Western (Latin) Church and its rites, and on the medieval period in particular, from the sixth century to the sixteenth (in effect, from the earliest surviving Christian books until the Reformation). Liturgy was at the heart of Christian worship, and during the medieval period the Christian Church was at the heart of Western society. Study of medieval Christianity in its manifold aspects - historical, ecclesiastical, spiritual, sociological - inevitably involves study of its rites, and for that reason Henry Bradshaw Society publications have become standard source-books for an understanding of all aspects of the middle ages."

This society continues to operate today and one can join for a fairly modest fee of £20.50 per year, which includes a copy of the publication for that year so far as I can see, and certainly a substantial discount on HBS titles. (Which, historically, include such wonderful subjects as The Hereford Breviary, A History of Early Roman Liturgy to the Death of Pope Gregory the Great, Papal Ceremonial at Rome in the Twelfth Century and The Stowe Missal.)

I wished to highlight three of their publications which are available for purchase. One was The Westminster Missal, which actually is 3 volumes put into one, and is a reprint of one of their first publications.

From the publisher:

"The manuscript edited in these volumes is a fine and elaborate missal of Westminster Abbey, given by Nicholas Lytlington (abbot 1362-1386) and often referred to by his name. As well as its importance as a particularly full missal text from a royal abbey (it includes an extensive coronation ritual), it is also the only monastic representative of a `Sarum' type of sacramentary to have received a modern edition."

The text itself is, of course, in Latin, and includes the text of the entirety of the Westminster Missal with its propers. Beyond that, it includes a "liturgical introduction" by the author which gives much in the way of comparison with the other medieval English uses which would prove of great interest to many.

Beyond facsimile editions and reprints of liturgical texts, HBS also publishes some unique and interesting scholarly studies.

Two such examples that are presently in print are The Liturgy of the Late Anglo-Saxon Church and The Royal Patronage of Liturgy in Frankish Gaul.

As regards The Liturgy of the Late Anglo-Saxon Church; from the publisher: "The essays in this volume offer the fruits of new research into the liturgical rituals of later Anglo-Saxon England. They include studies of individual rites, the production, adaptation and transmission of texts, vernacular gospel translations, liturgical drama and the influence of the liturgy on medical remedies, poetry and architecture; also covered are the tenth-century Benedictine Reforms and the growth of pastoral care. It will be valuable for anyone interested in later Anglo-Saxon England as well as medieval liturgy and church history."

Perhaps the best way to gain a sense of the depth of essays found within the volume is to list the table of contents itself:

The Roman Psalter, its Old English Glosses and the English Benedictine Reform (Mechthild Gretsch)

Making the Liturgy (Susan K Rankin)

Rending the Garment and Reading by the Rood: Regularis concordia Rituals for Men and Women (Joyce Hill)

Rites for Public Penance in Late Anglo-Saxon England (Sarah Hamilton)

The Chrism Mass in Later Anglo-Saxon England (Christopher A Jones)

The Veneration of the Cross in Anglo-Saxon England (Sarah Larratt Keefer)

The Rites and Ministries of the Canons: Liturgical Rubrics to Vernacular Gospels and their Functions in a European Context (Ursula Lenker)

Cross-Referencing Anglo-Saxon Liturgy and Remedies: the Sign of the Cross as Ritual Protection (Karen Jolly)

The Sign of the Cross: Poetic Performance and Liturgical Practice in the Junius 11 Manuscript (Catherine E. Karkov)

How much can Anglo-Saxon Buildings Tell us about Liturgy? (Richard Gem)

Ritual and Drama in Anglo-Saxon England: the Dangers of the Diachronic Perspective (M. Bradford Bedingfield)

Certainly an exceedingly diverse and interesting range of topics in a single volume, and whether one would agree with each conclusion of the authors, these certainly provide interesting food for discussion and debate.

Finally, The Royal Patronage of Liturgy in Frankish Gaul: "This book concentrates on an aspect of the history of the Frankish liturgy - the royal patronage of liturgy - which is an important indicator of the cultural creativity and social development that characterised early medieval Francia. The patronage of liturgy in Frankish Gaul started in the Merovingian period. Yet it was the Carolingians, and foremost among them Charlemagne, who realised the political power within the patronage of liturgy and, therefore, used it to ease the formation and acceptance of new political ideals and structures. The examination of the royal patronage of liturgy in the Frankish kingdoms also provides a remarkable opportunity to re-examine some of the most persistent notions regarding the Frankish liturgy, such as the notion of a unified Carolingian liturgy and that of Romanisation of the Frankish rite."

I would be remiss to not note this review of this title by Dr. Alcuin Reid which demonstrates as well some of the great relevance such scholarship has to offer for our present day consideration and situation:

Throughout the twentieth century it was widely accepted by liturgical historians that the Carolingian monarchs (Pippin III and Charlemagne in particular), engaged in a sweeping Romanisation of their indigenous Gallican liturgical rites. This work challenges that assumption.

Hen argues that under Pippin III:

"New liturgical compositions were compiled, using both Roman and indigenous Frankish material, old liturgical compositions were updated and adapted to suit the Frankish use, and no official attempt to Romanise or unify the Frankish rite originated from the royal court."

That in Charlemagne's period:

"Roman books and liturgical practices were undoubtedly introduced into the Frankish kingdoms, both voluntarily and by legislation, but the traditional non-Roman rites were neither deliberately suppressed nor lost. Continuity in liturgical celebration is apparent, even when it seems that new practices were introduced or straightforwardly imposed on the Frankish Church."

And that in the reign of Louis the Pious liturgical scholars' work was "not innovation or reform, but clarification and explanation, addressed to the clergy and aimed at preserving and disseminating the `correct' rite."

All very well, one might say; an interesting piece of historical research. Certainly, Hen's scholarship is comprehensive, and is a significant contribution to the study of liturgical history. His introduction contains short essays on "The nature of liturgical studies" and "The nature of liturgical evidence" which are themselves important.

Non-specialist readers ought not be daunted: by his extensive notation Hen manages to keep the book's narrative remarkably clear and free from scholarly contention. This is a book for the interested reader as well as for the scholar.

A recurring theme, perhaps a little influenced by the contemporary penchant for `spin-doctoring,' is the political use Hen sees the Frankish monarchs making of the liturgy. One might ask whether the distinction between liturgy and politics was such that "using" the liturgy for political ends was a process of thought that would occur in this period, or whether the liturgy was not so integral to Frankish and to royal life that events we would today distinguish as "political," then found a less self-conscious and wholly natural liturgical expression?

However, this work has more than historical importance and interest. The prevailing assumption that Pippin III and Charlemagne unified and Romanised the liturgy on the sole basis of their authority is seen as ample precedent by some for later interventions by authority in liturgical development, which is of its nature organic: permitting development whilst maintaining substantial continuity.

J.D. Crichton, until his death the foremost English apologist for the postconciliar liturgical changes, described the Carolingian reform to this writer as an "earthquake," (i.e. the organic development of the liturgy was arrested, and its course substantially changed, as a direct result of the intervention of authority). In the light of this supposed precedent, Crichton, and many with him, found no difficulty in the seismographical similarities of the reforms enacted in the wake of Vatican II.

According to Hen's scholarship, Crichton and many late twentieth century reformers are wrong: there is no precedent in this period of the development of the liturgy in Frankish Gaul for abrogation of the law of the organic development of the liturgy by an authority - a thing, as Cardinal Ratzinger has pointed out, seen nowhere in the history of the Roman rite until the years following Vatican II. Thus this book is an important foundation to the current re-examination of late twentieth century liturgical reform of the Roman rite, called for by the same Cardinal.

This, and Boydell's fine production of the book, fully justify its price. It belongs in any serious liturgical library.

What Alcuin Reid says about this title can most assuredly be said of all the titles in the Henry Bradshaw Society series. These are true scholarly resources, covering in detail, very particular aspects of the Western liturgical tradition.

The quality of what is found within this society's publications is also matched by the beautiful black cloth hardcover bindings they are bound in, and in the properly non-minimalist tradition of the liturgy, includes the dignified gold-embossed crest of the Henry Bradshaw Society on the cover.

The prices are indeed not inexpensive, but then, they never are for such rare, qualitative publications as these.

I've been further informed that some of the older titles of the Society will, at some point, be put back into print. As such, we can hopefully look forward to again seeing issued The Hereford Breviary and like titles.

Those interested in ordering any of the three books described here may visit these links:

The Royal Patronage of Liturgy in Frankish Gaul ($65.00 USD. 192 pp.)

The Liturgy of the Late Anglo-Saxon Church ($85.00 USD. 344 pp.)

The Westminster Missal ($180.00 USD. 1032 pp.)

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