Durham Cathedral Library, B.IV.24 "The Durham Cantor's Book"

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Sarah Larratt Keefer


122. Durham Cathedral Library, B.IV.24

"The Durham Cantor's Book"

[Ker 109, Gneuss 248]

HISTORY: Mainly written during the second half of the 11c with many additions of the first half of the 12c, the present book contains a number of discrete but related items pertaining to monastic practice and recordkeeping: these include a kalendar, a martyrology, a collection of Gospel capitula or pericopes, and a copy of Lanfranc's "Constitutions;' followed by a "Regula Sancti Benedicti" in both Latin and JEthelwold's OE translation: the hands for these latter two are contemporary and from the later 11c. Lanfranc's "Constitutions" was written by two Christ Church, Canterbury scribes in the 1090s, the first (on ff. 47v-67v/7) allegedly being Eadmer himself (Brooke in Knowles and Brooke 2002: xliv). The other main parts do not show any evidence of having been written at or originally prepared for Durham. The "Regula Sancti Benedicti" has a form better suited to a Canterbury origin in the 1080s than it does to Durham Cathedral Priory; the OE version matches the Latin in leaf size and age, but may have been written "as an afterthought" (Piper 1994: 80-81), and in fact has its own signatures '1-iii', indicating an entirely different origin and its text is "carefully revised" (Gretsch 1974: 142). The Kalendar, Martyrology, and Gospel capitula (ff. 6r-45r) are on leaves apparently made-to-measure with the "Rules" section (Piper 1994: 83). The Martyrology and pericopes are by the same continentally-trained scribe, identified with fair certainty by Gullick as the Norman or French monk Symeon of Durham, who in all probability came to Durham with William of St. Calais in 1091 ( Gullick 1994: 97-109; Rollason 2000: xlv; see also Gullick 1998a: 361). This same scribe also added Durham and Scots obits in the margins of the Martyrology, wrote one of the letters of St. Anselm (f. 95v), and added some of the notes at the end of the book (ff. 126r-127r). The Kalendar has only 28 obits in a pattern not obvious, its usual function apparently being appropriated by the Martyrology (Piper 1994: 85-86). The maintenance of such a book of liturgical ordinances, calendars, and obits as this would have been the responsibility of the priory cantor, which was the office Symeon held for some time before his death ca. 1130 (cf. Rollason in Rollason 1998: 2-3). Another scribe named "William" wrote some of the obits of Durham monks, which correspond closely to lists in Durham UL Cosin VII.6 [124], ff. 7r-8v and the Durham "Liber Vitae" (BL Cotton Domitian A. vii [188]), ff. 45rv, and added omitted portions of the Latin "Regula" (Piper 1998: 161-62, Gullick 1998a: 21; for other connections between B.IV24 and "Liber Vitae;' see Piper 1994: 88-89). A third scribe, who wrote the Kalendar, made minor additions to the Martyrology and the Latin "Regula'; and wrote the letter of Bishop William of St. Calais (f. 74r), was probably the same who wrote the bulk of Cosin VII.6 (Gullick 1994: 97; 19986: 108 n. 7). The section of manuscript that contains the Latin "Regula" was augmented in Durham by the early 12c, and was bound with the earlier part of the book at least by the end of the 14c but probably much earlier than that, as the description of a "Martyrologium et Regula;' in a list of books given to Durham by William of St. Calais ca. 1090, matches this combination (written on the fly of Durham Cath. Lib. A.II.4 ca. 1149, cf. Turner 1917-1918). A 17c table of contents and title on f. 2; many titles and notae in hand of Thomas Rud (d. 1733), cataloguer of the Durham Cathedral library. The present binding dates from the 19c.

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