THE CALENDAR AND LITURGICAL APPARATUS
In an ecclesiastical calendar, the selection of saints and the records of deaths can show the particular interests of its user or institution. They can also be a valuable dating tool.
has shown that this calendar was created in four stages by different scribes,
each adding a special focus to the church year (see Scribes 1, 3, 4, 5).
The stages are
Wormald began his analysis of the feast days by comparing this calendar with three other contemporaries from St Albans, B.L.Egerton MS 3721, B.L.Royal MS 2 A.X, and Mr B.S.Cron’s psalter. They were written under Abbot Geoffrey’s rule, before 1145 (AP, 33-45). Wormald traced similarities with the St Albans calendars and then highlighted the deviations. He noticed that seven important St Albans feasts were dropped and three feasts were especially celebrated at Ramsey Abbey. He concluded that the calendar was not composed for anyone who followed St Albans liturgical practices closely, and the Ramsey feasts suggested that the calendar may well have been composed for Christina’s own use (AP, 24).
(pers. com) has shown it is more useful to explore the calendar the other
way around, by comparing Ramsey (where the earliest surviving calendar
is thirteenth century, B.L.MS Cotton Galba E.x, Sandler, 1974, 162-178)
and then correlating with St Albans. The St Albans Psalter follows Ramsey
very closely. The three most important indicators are St Felix, apostle
to East Anglia, and St Ives, both of whose relics were at Ramsey; and
the tumulatio of St Benedict, a special feast at Ramsey. Both
Albani and Ramsey share the quirk of designating St Romanus miles (August
9) where he is usually called martyr.
This suggests that the basic model for the St Albans Psalter calendar came from Ramsey, with two St Albans feasts grafted on- by a writer who could make a slip with the spelling ‘Alban’. The calendar was nonetheless probably copied out at St Albans because the characteristic neums by ‘O Sapientia’ are a St Albans feature.
Dozens of feasts from both Ramsey and St Albans were omitted. In the case of Ramsey, this is to be expected because the twelfth-century liturgy was obviously sparser than that of the earliest surviving calendar, from the thirteenth century. For instance, the important Ramsey cult of SS Aethelred and Aethelberht only develops during the twelfth century.
Other feasts were dropped because they did not suit the interests of the psalter’s owner. Some were important institutional occasions, like the translation and octave of St Ivo (the patron of Huntingdon) in June, the dedication of Ramsey Abbey in September; the octave of St Alban in August, and the dedication of St Albans Abbey in December. These were not required in a hermitage. Instead, the psalter has the feast of St Anthony, patron of hermits, who is omitted from both the larger monastic calendars.
Some omissions and later additions are notable:
Wormald concluded that the three special Ramsey feasts point to a devotee from the Ramsey/ St Ives/Huntingdon area, namely Christina (AP, 24). The Ramsey cartulary records that Autti of Huntingdon (likely to be Christina’s father who had the same name), between 1114 and 1123, gave back the church of Shillington in Bedfordshire to the abbot of Ramsey, in return for ten marks of silver. (Ramsey Cartulary, I, 138). Christina and her parents stayed at a vill in Shillington on their return journey from St Albans Abbey (Talbot, 1998, 39-40). At this time Ramsey owned most of Shillington (VCH, Beds. II, 294).This may indicate a direct connection between Christina’s family and Ramsey Abbey.
The evidence given above suggests that in fact the model for the calendar came from Ramsey and was adapted for an anchorite with loose affiliations to St Albans. The scribe, Scribe 1, is similar to the annotator of the St Albans Cicero, B.L.Harl. MS 2624; the illuminator is Artist 1 who produced the Martydom of St Alban on p416. Furthermore the neums on p14 are a feature of the St Albans scriptorium. So the calendar was clearly written at St Albans Abbey.
The most obvious
source for a calendar with these peculiarities is one belonging to Christina
herself, part of the psalter she carried with her during her flight from
Huntingdon (Talbot, 1998, 98-99). This could have been made at Ramsey,
without any particular tuning to suit a young girl, perhaps a gift from
her parents or Sueno, the canon of Huntingdon who was her first spiritual
mentor, or even Eadwin the hermit living near Ramsey. Such a source would
explain the Ramsey feature of St Romanus miles, and the spelling
slip of St Albinus which the scribe was perhaps inserting free hand. It
would also explain the detailed computistical material which encases both
ends of the calendar: such computations were an erudite speciality of
Ramsey but not a particular feature at St Albans (see Keeping
Roger the Hermit’s obit (p 11)
This is written as
an entry of exceptional importance. All the other obits (notifications
of death days, when prayers were to be said for the named person) simply
indicate the person’s name. For Roger there is the inscription
The scribe who added the obit to Ailwinus in green just below, added the spelling correction h to monaci.
The Roger obit could have been added any time after his death c.1121-2, so the death date in no way sets a horizon for the completion of the psalter. The significance of this addition for dating the psalter is discussed under The debate and The date.
These entries were added by Scribe 5. Markyate Priory was dedicated by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln in 1145 and the charter survives (B.L. Cotton, Ch. XI, 8; AP, pl 169). Goldschmidt (1895, 34) suggested that the interest in St Margaret was generated by Abbot Robert of St Albans (1151-66) who vowed to honour her highly if he was spared during a storm at sea. In fact she was already in the St Albans calendars under Abbot Geoffrey. She was a popular saint and her addition here might reflect Christina’s faithful sister Margaret ‘ a virgin of admirable simplicity and uprightness’ who had joined her at the hermitage (Talbot, 1998, 141). So, these two additions can be dated ‘after 1145’, and perhaps within a year after that date, when it was time to celebrate the priory dedication again.
These additions are distinctly written by Scribe 4.
The selection of these saints forms a logical pattern (AP, 25)
One group relates to Christina and her family: Cristina first prioress of Bosco [Markyate]. As she received a grant from Henry II in 1155, she must have died some time after this date. Her father and mother, Auti and Beatrix, her brothers Simon and Gregory, the monk of St Albans are also added. Ailiua mother of Michael may be her aunt Alveva, mistress of Ranulf Flambard.
The remainder are
connected with St Albans or Markyate. Abbot Geoffrey died in 1147. Aluered
a monk of St Albans appeared to Christina in one of her visions. There
are two nuns Adelaisa and Matilda of Maizellis. Avicia was prioress of
Sopwell, another female establishment founded by Geoffrey shortly after
1140. Azo the hermit was one of the original companions of Roger, before
This section is not for the faint hearted. It is quite technical and offers an introduction to reading a perpetual calendar. It is relevant for those who wish to understand the lay out and contents of perpetual church calendars but it is not essential for a basic understanding of this psalter as a work of art. It aims to explain the terms used in the text, but does not provide the details with which to perform calculations. The St Albans Psalter computus material is particularly detailed, compiled, according to Pickering, by a calendar ‘boffin’. Full information, with particular attention to the St Albans Psalter, is in F.P.Pickering, The calendar pages of medieval service books, Reading Medieval Studies, 1, 1980, University of Reading. Full discussions about the medieval methods of calculating time are found in Günzel (1993, 16-30), Cheney (1978, 1-11) Wallis (1999) and Coyne (1983, 299-321).
It may be significant that the computistical tables are found on pp2 and15, the inside leaves of the first bifolium. P 1 and 16, the outer leaves of the bifolium, were both originally blank. Thus these sheets are an optional extra to the normal calendar, but it is unlikely that they were a special addition because the handwriting is uniform throughout the quire.
© Hildesheim, St Godehard
Each page of the calendar
(pp3-14) is illustrated by the Labour of the Month and the Sign of the
Zodiac. It lists the perpetual cycle of feasts which are held on fixed
days of the year and provides information about the moveable feasts whose
incidence depends on Easter. Easter is defined as the
first Sunday after the first full moon in spring, the vernal equinox of
21 March. Easter Sunday may fall between 22 March and 25 April.
Saints’ days and festivals.
Each moveable feast requires a number of entries: to give the date of the preceding new moon (prima incensio lune) followed by the name of the feast e.g. lxx Septuagesima, xl Quadragesima; and then the earliest and latest possible dates of the feast. The compiler is not consistent with all his moveable feasts but a complete entry for Septuagesima (the 70th day before Easter) reads thus:
the lunar information for remaining feasts becomes increasingly sparse.
Sexagesima and Quinquagesima are left out altogether and Easter only has
three moon phases mentioned.
The equinoxes and solstices are marked, from both the Roman calendar and an alternative by Bede;
The dog days are given from 14 July to 5 September. Romans considered the hottest days of the year were caused by the Dog Star rising with the sun, which occurred in late summer.
Dates relating to the cycle of the moon are mentioned:
The full calculations involved in the tables on p2 are set out in Pickering (1980, 25-29). Both of these tables are also to be found on f. 2v of Aelfwine’s Prayerbook, ca. 1031 and reproduced in Günzel (1993,90).
Computisical table Page 2
The first table, Regularis feriales, determines on what day of the week kalends (the first day) of any month will fall in a 28-year period. The year is set out in the first column, beginning in March. The legal and official year, as opposed to the church year, began on 25 March, Lady Day until 1752. This table is linked to the perpetual calendar in March, with the entries on 1 and 24 March (immediately before Lady Day).
The second table, on the right, refers to lunar calculations. It determines the age of the ‘ecclesiastical moon’ on the kalends (1st) of any month during a complete epact-cycle of 19 years. (Pickering, 1980, 25) Here the year is set out beginning in September. In the perpetual calendar the corresponding entry is 1 September, hic mutant epacte.
The table on p15 provides the limits for the date of Easter (Günzel, 1993, 23-4, 106-7). Easter Sunday is defined as the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring and must fall between 22 March and 25 April, fluctuating during the 19 year cycle. The table starts with the left column, representing the 19 years. The short verses express the terminal dates, year by year, The sixth column, a cycle of Roman numerals, is the ‘Easter regular’ which must be added to the concurrent of a given year to obtain the weekday name of the feast limit. Any monk who had worked out the weekday name of the Easter limit was able to tell the date of Easter Sunday for a given year. The letters A-F refer to the days of the week, and the right column gives the date numerically. Notice that columns 2/3 and the last column provide the same information.
© Hildesheim, St Godehard
The exclusion of the ranks of feast days and the number of lessons makes this calendar rather sparse for formal liturgical use. The inordinate detail of the computistical tables and embolisms etc must come from a model. Ramsey Abbey, whose liturgical feasts are also connected with this calendar, was famous for its interest in computus.
Ramsey was founded in 966 by the learned St Oswald, bishop of Worcester and archbishop of York. Abbo of Fleury, who had studied the most advanced sciences at Reims, came to teach at Ramsey from 985-7. He brought his own computus and also Helperic’s De Computo Ecclesiastica from Fleury. With these, he taught the Anglo-Saxon monk Byrthferth who composed his own calendar guide, the Enchiridion, 988-996 (Baker and Lapidge, 1995). Byrthferth was an energetic master of the monastic school, teaching oblates, novices and secular clerics. He observed that the secular clerics (mainly country priests) were much lazier than the monks because they only had to master the rudiments in order to pass inspection by the bishop. Thus, it is unlikely that Christina herself would have appreciated the higher levels of computus, but the model for the St Albans Psalter was constructed by someone with detailed knowledge of the skills taught at Ramsey. The Albani scribe may not have understood everything he copied as there are some mistakes: there should be 7 embolistic periods all of 30 days, but only 5 are included and one has 31 days; 2 March is called vii None, when it should be vi; in August, September and December the Egyptian Days are left out. If the model for this calendar came from Ramsey, it might have been part of the psalter that Christine carried with her when she left home and went in to hiding.
The state of the Albani codex accounts for two of the textual variants within the Psalter. A fold within the membrane of pages 373 and 374 results on page 373 in the illegibility of the ‘i’ of fac[i]te, the ‘t’ of ‘mementote’, the ascender of the ‘d’ of ‘domino’ and the partial occlusion of the ‘nu’ of ‘inuocate’ . On the verso of the leaf the final minim stroke of ‘m’ in ‘mea’ and ‘finies me’ is obscured and the ‘e’ of ‘leo’ is illegible due to the fold in the membrane.
Many of the textual variants within the canticles of Albani are the result of the kind of scribal error made frequently in copied texts. These include omissions, for example of words as on page 378 where ‘et’ is omitted from the beginning of the phrase, ‘in sp[irit]u furoris tui’, on page 380 ‘et’ should precede egreditur in ‘Egreditur diabolus ante pedes ei[us] stetit et mensus est terra[m]’, on page 381 ‘te’ is missing after ‘et’ in ‘uiderunt et doluer[un]t montes’ and on page 390 ‘omnis’ has been omitted from before ‘imber’ in the phrase, ‘Bened[icite] imber.’ Letters are omitted also in a number of places; on page 376 ‘ad inferos’ should read ‘ad infernos‘ and on page 385 ‘dilatus’ should read ‘dilatatus.’ In a number of incidences the scribe has misread minim strokes; on page 379 ‘irruit’ should read ‘inruat’ and on page 390 ‘munerari’ should read ‘numerari.’ Occasionally the scribe has made additions; on page 375 ‘et’ is an addition in ‘cor meu[m] in d[omi]no:/ et exaltatum est cor/nu meu[m] in d[omi]no meo’ as is ‘tuum’ in ‘S[an]c[t]uariu[m] tuum d[omi]ne q[u]od firmauer[un]t man[us] tu[a]e’ on page 379. On one occasion the scribe has chosen to make a singular into the plural, hence on page 388 ‘arripuerit’ becomes ‘arripuerint’.
Of greater significance is the number of textual variants that appear within the Canticles. A selection follows:
These variants are those that appear in a version of the Vulgate in some way associated with the name of Alcuin. In 782 Charles the Great invited Alcuin of York to aid him in revising the text of ‘Jerome’s Vulgate’ and the Church service books. The Alcuin version is described by Robert Weber as a text that ‘left much to be desired’ (Weber,1969, p.xx). It appears likely that the Albani scribe may have been copying the Canticles from an ‘Alcuin associated’ version of the Old Testament Vulgate. Albani contains a Gallican Psalter. This is the version of the psalms which Alcuin substituted for Jerome’s ‘Hebrew’ Psalter (until then the accepted text). Based on Jerome’s revision of his Old-Latin version of the Psalms, it has since been called the Gallican Psalter because it was the Psalter text commonly used in Gaul in Alcuin’s day. (Weber, 1969, p.xxi). The Canticles of Albani are also from a Gallican source as can be seen in the arrangement of the canticle texts. This follows in general the pattern as illustrated in The Utrecht Psalter (Utrecht, University Library MS.32, provenance Rhiems (?), ca. 830) and replicated in France, Italy, Germany and England as in for example, Cambridge, Jesus College 23, early twelfth-century provenance Durham; London, British Library Cotton Nero C. iv, c.1160 from Winchester (Mearns, 1914, p. 62). The comparison between Albani and Utrecht is useful:
As can be seen, Albani replicates many of the Gallican canticles albeit with some variation in order. The Te Deum is placed rather early in the first series’ sequence thus displacing the four canticles that immediately follow it and the second series commences with the Lord’s Prayer and contains the only item from Utrecht’s third series present in Albani: the Nicene Creed.
The significance of the ordering of these texts in Albani appears to lie in their place during the monastic day and week. As Richard Pfaff notes in his commentary on the twelfth century Eadwine Psalter from Canterbury, the first six canticles are for use at lauds (the first observance during the day) throughout the ordinary days of the week; Confitebor, Ego Dixi, Exultavit, Cantemus domino, Domine Audivi and Audite Caeli. The Benedicte is used at Sunday lauds, the Te Deum on Sundays and feast days at matins. The Benedictus for lauds daily, Magnificat for vespers and Nunc Dimittis for compline (Pfaff, 1992, 103). Albani presents the reader with material for lauds on ordinary days of the week, then provides Sunday material (both matins and lauds hence the relocation of the Te Deum), followed by canticles suitable for daily lauds, vespers and the compline that closes the monastic horarium. It then continues with those creeds and prayers that form the backbone of worship; the Pater Noster, the Apostles’ Creed that summarises the beliefs of the Church, the Nicene Creed, performed during the mass and providing greater detail on the relationship that is the Trinity and the Quicunque vult, regularly recited during divine office, generally on Sundays at prime.
Albani’s version of Utrecht’s series’ two and three is interesting. Whilst it contains all of the items of Utrecht’s series two, Albani omits from series three Utrecht number 17, the Benedictus es Domine and 18, the Te decet laus, te decet hymnus. Mearns cites the latter as appearing seldom in anything other than Benedictine books and is added to or connected with the Te Deum (Mearns, 1914, 67). It also omits the monastic canticles, “those pieces distinctive to the fully developed form of the monastic office and sung after the third nocturn at matins on Sundays and feast days.’ (Pfaff, 1992, 104). The same lacuna is present in the Eadwine Psalter. Pfaff suggests that rather than being evidence of the non-monastic character of Eadwine this is illustrative of the usual placing of monastic canticles in the context of hymns and so they are going to be present only in those psalters that contain hymns, which clearly Albani does not. Like the psalter itself, the Albani canticles are based on a Gallican model but with some variation. The Canticles provide texts for lauds, vespers and compline for ordinary days, as well as Sundays and feast days and conclude with professions of faith applicable to all Christians alike. It is thus appropriate for either the St Albans’ monks (who may well have owned a hymnal containing the missing monastic canticles) or indeed a group of female religious such as that over which Christina of Markyate herself governed.
The Albani Litany largely replicates that found in many psalters. Starting with the ‘Supplication to God’ which begins with the Kyrie, it continues to the invocation that the Holy Trinity have mercy on us, Sancta trinitas unus deus miserere (page 403). The Invocation to the Saints begins with the Virgin Mary and then is divided into sections depending on the role and status of the saint being called upon:
In the translation of the Litany the abbreviation ora has been consistently expanded to ‘pray for us’; in the Invocation to Christ, libera is translated as ‘deliver us lord’ and in the Supplication for Various Needs Te rogamus is given as ‘we beseech you hear us.’ Although the two disciples called James are not distinguished in the Latin, in the translation of the Litany they are identified as James the Greater and James the Lesser.
The litany is an integral part of the psalter section (quite separate from the calendar). It consists of invocations for mercy and deliverance from the three persons of the Trinity, and for intercession from the Virgin Mary, and a long list of worthies arranged in classes such as prophets, saints, confessors and virgins. Like the calendar, it is varied to suit the needs of a particular institution or individual. It can therefore be a subtle diagnostic tool for identifying the interests of the patron or user.
Wormald compares the litany with that in the St Albans Breviary (B.L.Royal MS 2 A.X.) (AP, 30-32). He shows that the litany is based on St Albans but with some variations. St Alban receives a double invocation and is placed immediately after St Stephen, the protomartyr. The double mention and prominent position is normally reserved for the patron saint of the church, indicating a close involvement with St Albans Abbey (Haney, 1995, 24).
There are 13 female saints at the end of the list (SS Margareta- Smeralda), including a number who rejected marriage for a life of chastity. These are not part of the St Albans Abbey litany and appear to reflect Christina’s interests, although Haney clearly points out that a high ratio of female to male saints per se in a litany does not necessarily indicate a convent or female recipient (Haney, 1995, 25). There are also 6 extra male saints in the St Albans Psalter litany who are not in other lists from the abbey. Apart from Alexis, these male saints, Cosmas, Damian, John, Paul, and Paulinus have no obvious connection with Christina. St Alexis features at the end of the confessors in the psalter litany. He appears in only one calendar from the abbey, and in no other litanies. Although a chapel was dedicated to him under Abbot Richard, by Bishop Flambard between 1099 and 1119 (GA, 148) the cult was perhaps not long lasting. Alexis was of particular interest to Abbot Geoffrey who was responsible for the insertion of the Chanson into the St Albans Psalter. In the prologue to the Chanson it states that ‘we have heard readings and song’ about Alexis, perhaps suggesting that Geoffrey promoted his cult.
Further evidence of a female interest in this latter section of the psalter is found in the wording of the Collects or prayers which follow the litany. In these, petitions are addressed by God’s servants, both men and women (famuli and famulae) (see below, Collects).
At the close of the codex, the St Albans Psalter contains 11 collects, 8 within the codex and 3 copied onto what is now the detached leaf at Köln. According to Alicia Correâ a collect is “ a brief, concise prayer recited both in the liturgy of the mass and the daily offices.” (Correâ, 1992,) whilst Richard Pfaff offers an additional use of the term to describe “ a prayer summarising devotionally a theme taken from the Psalm just recited” (Pfaff, 1992, 94) of which there can be up to 150 in number. The Psalm collects are generally distributed after each Psalm but occasionally may be grouped together towards the back of the book, as with Albani where the collects are found grouped together at the close of the psalter, as set out below:
Since the selection of collects in Albani follows neither the procedure of producing a collect for every psalm as found in the Eadwine Psalter nor one for every saint’s and feast day as in the collectars of Wulfstan and Durham; the choice appears quite eclectic. Included with five prayers that appear unique to this codex are prayers representative of each of the different kinds of collectar that exist in this period; collects for the daily offices (Ordinary and Sundays) and one based on a verse of Psalm 25. This suggests possibly an editorial decision to provide examples suitable for each of the contexts in which a collect could be used for an audience who may have had access to such material in a more complete form. Each of the collects concludes with per (through) which is an abbreviation of the usual sentence that concludes the collect, ‘Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’
Talbot stated ‘It is true that all the prayers in the psalter were written in the masculine as if the text was meant to be read by a man’ (1998, 22). This is misleading. Where a suppliant is suggested, it is plural (usually famuli/servants as in collects 1, 2, 3, 10 and 11, or servi as in collect 4). This, coupled with the specific references to domo tua (collect 7) and ecclesiae tuae (collect 8) indicates that the prayers would be appropriate for those living within a community. Specific reference to famulae (handmaidens) in collects 3 and 10 suggests that these prayers are appropriate to both male and female communities.
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