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Helen Deeming, ed., Songs in British Sources, c.1150–1300, Musica Britannica 95. London: The Musica Britannica Trust and Stainer and Bell, 2013. lx+226 pp. £95. ISBN978 0 85249 935 1.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 September 2014


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1 See Stevens, John, Words and Music in the Middle Ages: Song, Narrative, Dance and Drama, 1050–1350 (Cambridge, 1986)Google Scholar; the rear cover of the paperback edition states that ‘Songs of English provenance are referred to as appropriate but the particular study of the English repertoire is reserved for a subsequent volume’. Stevens, , ‘Sampson dux fortissime: An International Latin Song’, Plainsong & Medieval Music 1 (1992), 140CrossRefGoogle Scholar; the journal's note on ‘Contributors’ states that Stevens ‘is currently writing a book on song in England during the Middle Ages’ (p. ii). Stevens, , ‘Alphabetical Check-List of Anglo-Norman Songs c.1150–c.1350’, Plainsong & Medieval Music 3 (1994), 122CrossRefGoogle Scholar; reference is made to ‘A book dealing with the whole question of songs and lyrics in early medieval England (in preparation)’ (p. 2). Stevens, , ‘“Sumer is icumen in”: A Neglected Context’, in Expedition nach der Wahrheit: Poems, Essays, and Papers in Honour of Theo Stemmler; Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag von Theo Stemmler, ed. by Horladher, Stefan and Islinger, Marion (Heidelberg, 1996), 307–47Google Scholar: ‘This paper contributes to an edition and study, Songs and Lyrics in Early Medieval England, to be published by Cambridge University Press; it will present the tri-lingual repertory of songs, Latin, French and English, from c.1150 to c.1350, with texts, translations and music’ (p. 346, note 53). Stevens, , ed., The Later Cambridge Songs: An English Song Collection of the Twelfth Century (Oxford, 2005)Google Scholar; in the ‘Foreword’ (p. v), Christopher Page refers to ‘SLEME: Songs and Lyrics of Early Medieval England’ as the grander, unfinished project.

2 See Helen L. Deeming, ‘Music in English Miscellanies of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries’, Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge (2005) and her significant and growing list of publications, for which see the website (accessed 1 June 2014).

3 The very small number of liturgical plainsongs other than sequences that turn up has prompted her to exclude them. No organa fall into her net, and that seems unsurprising, but the stark absence of any conductus with concordances in the major conductus collections is noteworthy. Moreover, only two motets appear among her forty-two sources (one Anglo-Norman and one Latin). She has opted not to edit these (p. xxix and note 9), and making it a policy to exclude motets (pp. xxviii–xxix), Deeming also eliminates from consideration one additional Anglo-Norman motet (Amor veint tout / Au tens d'este / et gaudebit) that is now tucked in at the end of a source that otherwise fits her field of scope, i.e., BL Cotton Vespasian A.XVIII, fols. 164v–165r.

4 For monophony and polyphony side by side in a liturgical codex that otherwise transmits exclusively plainsong, see Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson liturg. d.3, fols. 68v–72v, which is a gathering of seven sequences, four monophonic and three polyphonic, within a Gradual of the Use of Salisbury dating to the later thirteenth century.

5 For example, Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 497 is a non-musical fourteenth-century British manuscript whose flyleaves originated in a formal, purpose-copied, later thirteenth-century British codex of polyphonic conductus; at the bottom of one of the flyleaves, a monophonic sequence, Gaude virgo salutata Gabriele nuncio, has been added on empty staves by a contemporary hand.

6 A relevant example is the Dublin Troper (Cambridge University Library, MS Add. 710), which is a sequentiary of c.1350 and thus admittedly outside Deeming's temporal boundaries. This book ends with a Marian sequentiary consisting of four series of pieces. The first series has twenty-four sequences in alphabetical order, the second has nine in mainly alphabetical order, and the third has twelve short items in no evident order. The fourth group consists of Philip the Chancellor's lai Ave gloriosa virginum, the lai Omnis caro peccaverat, and three strophic songs (Angelus ad virginem, In ecclesiis celi, Scribere proposui). All the songs of this final cluster are edited from some earlier source by Deeming.

7 A further trilingual musical collection is worthy of mention here. Binding materials in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 8 are from a very large codex (paginations on the surviving musical bifolio are 547, 548, 557, 558) whose appearance and contents suggest that the original was a purpose-copied, multi-gathering British motet codex of the later thirteenth century, something on the scale of the Montpellier codex. Deeming omits its remains from her edition, presumably because of their highly probable origin in a codex. Contents include a rhymed, English-texted score notation work a2, a single-texted English motet a2, an Anglo-Norman song a3, scraps from Anglo-Norman versions of motets, and hockets on Latin tenors.

8 The DIAMM database is launching a new online resource, ‘Sources of British Song on DIAMM’, that forms a companion to Deeming's print edition (, accessed 1 June 2014).

9 Stevens, ‘Check-List’, 2.

10 Dean, Ruth J., with the collaboration of Boulton, Maureen B.M., Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts, Anglo-Norman Text Society, Occasional Publications Series 3 (London, 1999)Google Scholar.

11 Stevens, ‘Check-List’, 2.

12 See Page, Christopher, ‘A Catalogue and Bibliography of English Song from its Beginning to c.1300’, Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle 13 (1976), 67–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Dobson, Eric J. and Harrison, Frank Ll., Medieval English Songs (London, 1979)Google Scholar.

13 Brown, Carleton and Robbins, Rossell Hope, The Index of Middle English Verse (New York, 1943)Google Scholar and Robbins, Rossell Hope and Cutler, John L., Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (Lexington, 1965)Google Scholar.

14 See John Stevens on this problem in Words and Music, 48–52. For the few Latin songs from before 1150 in British sources, see Hartzell, K.D., Catalogue of Manuscripts Written or Owned in England up to 1200 Containing Music (Woodbridge, 2006)Google Scholar and Deeming's Introduction, xxix and note 12.

15 See the foundational description of this project at its website, (accessed 1 June 2014).

16 For an example, see the single-texted Latin motet with a similar text on the same theme, O debilis o flebilis condicio miseri hominis (Sanders, Ernest H., ed., English Music of the Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries, Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century 14 (Paris and Moncaco, 1979), no. 48Google Scholar).

17 On these song-like sequences, see the remarks by David Hiley and Ernest H. Sanders quoted in Lefferts, Peter M., ‘Cantilena and Antiphon: Music for Marian Services in Late Medieval England’, in Studies in Medieval Music: Festschrift for Ernest H. Sanders, ed. Lefferts, Peter M. and Seirup, Brian (New York, 1990), 247–82, at 263Google Scholar. Appendix III in that essay (‘Texts Associated with Sequence, Offertory, Antiphon, Cantilena, and Motet’) needs updating in light of Deeming's discoveries.