Commentaries on sequences and hymns

Project leader: Erika Kihlman

Commentaries on sequences and hymns exist in numerous manuscripts in different forms: as a commentary on a single text or as a collection of commentaries on sequences and hymns for the entire liturgical year. It is a late medieval genre and continued to flourish well into the age of the printed book. The commentaries treat a range of subjects from theology and philosophy to grammar and etymology. Their didactic function is clear and reflected in the prologues that sometimes precede the commentaries.

The commentaries are characterized by such a textual fluidity as to render the stemmatic editorial method impossible, with variation both as to the presentation of the text(s) – for instance, whether to include the sequence text with or without glosses – and as to the commentary text itself, adding, subtracting and adapting passages. Furthermore, there is evidence for the phenomenon traditionally referred to as ‘contamination’ between manuscripts.

This project aims at developing and testing methods more suitable for multilevel and fluid texts of this kind. In the pilot study for this project, three different editorial methods were tried: a) for texts found in only one source; b) for texts of a fluid character from many sources; c) for texts from many sources of a less fluid character. In this project, I will focus on and develop method b).