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Preparation for Lent, in a Hymnal

Preparation for Lent, in a Hymnal

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1050

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Vespasian D XII

Item number: f.48v

Length: 18.5

Width: 11

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

Believed to have been at Hartland Abbey, Devon, in the later middle ages, this hymnal's origins are unknown. It was made during the late Anglo-Saxon period (11th century) and has Old English words written above the Latin verses to translate or explain (glosses) as well as paraphrases of the hymns in Old English and Latin. It has at least three sections, each of which appears to have been copied from hymnals associated with different places (Winchester, Canterbury, plus special verses for monks--monastic canticles). Monks or nuns would have sung the hymns during their daily prayer services.

On the ninth Sunday before Easter (Septuagesima), Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns would have begun preparing themselves for the rigors of Lent. Their daily prayer services would shed all signs of rejoicing, and the expression of joy, 'Alleluia', would not be sung again until Easter. Sung at Septuagesima, this hymn represents the solemn farewell to joy. The refrain has Old English equivalents of the Latin words written between the lines in red.

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