Hore Beate Marie Virginis - Reference to Secondary Sources
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The method of locating medieval liturgical manuscripts by a certain combination of incipits in the text is well known by all scholars today. It is in fact a relatively modern invention. It was discovered by the young Benedictine scholar G. Beyssac during World War I. He worked with a hitherto unseen systematical scientific consequence, and arranged his recordings with the mind of a modern database. The first immediate result was his discovery of the importance of the various alleluia verses in medieval missals. His friend Victor Leroquais was the first to take advantage of the system, which he fully acknowledged and praised in the preface to his publication from 1924:
"Je suis redevable de cette trouvaille, maintes fois utilisée au cours de ce travail à mon ami dom G. Beyssac, à qui je me fais un devoir d'en exprimer toute ma reconnaissance. Grâce à ce criterium, j'ai identifié nombre de missels dont le sanctoral était incomplet ou avait partiellement disparue; grace à lui, des probabilités sont devenus des certitudes et des précisions ont été fournies qui tout d'abord faisait defaut."
(Leroquais: Sacramentaires et missels manuscrits, 1924, I, p. xxvi).
In his preface from 1927 to "Livres d'heures manuscrits" did Leroquais likewise acknowledge that it was G. Beyssac who had instructed him how to identify the use of an office of the dead by comparing the series of responsories from the nine lessons at matins. The same was probably the case with the combination of the incipits of the hours of the Virgin. By 1927 had Leroquais already collected so large a collection of incipits from the hours of the Virgin that he was able to come forth with a well documented criticism of the "Test" previously published by Falconer Madan in 1923.
G.-M. Beyssac, who died in 1965, did unfortunately never publish any of his results. In a number of handwritten "Cahiers" did he arrange all the incipits in long rows after different criteria, and some of the material I have seen does in fact precede the method computers used (by IBM programmers) in 1965, with more than a decade!
I am greatly indebted to the two grands seigneurs on whose shoulders we all stand today. Without the large material they collected would it be difficult to select any single primary source as representative. The additional comparative material from a variety of independent sources constitutes the circumstantial evidence that testify the validity of each source. A number of variants have been added on basis of the notes by Beyssac and Leroquais. Reference is made to the notes with the abbreviations B and VL. The B numbers are corresponding to the numbers quoted by Knud Ottosen (as below), which opens the possibility to find the series of responsories from the same source. The VL numbers can be consulted on a microfilm from the notebooks in the Bibliothèque Nationale.
G.-M. Beyssac: "Le moyen cours". Unpublished handwritten notes on the liturgical contents of 1200 medieval sources, collected by G.Beyssac from the 1920ies to the 1950ies. The Beyssac fonds were bequated to the Benedictine monastery Foyer Saint-Benoît à Port-Valais (Le Bouveret) in Schwitzerland, where he spend his last years.
The notes are written on single leaves, arranged after libraries and numbered 1-1200. The recto has extracts from the calendar, incipits of the hours of the Virgin, and a list of special commemorations. The verso has all the incipits of the office of the dead (as explained in Knud Ottosens book) and a list of the saints in the litany.
Victor Leroquais: L'Office de la Vierge (Ms. nouv.acq.lat. 3162) is referred to as VL (with the folio number stamped on the recto). Part of his handwritten notebooks on the contents of books of hours, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris BN Ms. nouv. acq. lat. 3162-3167. (Can be ordered as microfilm).
Each folio has the incipits of the hours of the Virgin on the recto, and the lessons, responsories and versicles from the office of the dead on the verso.
Additional sources are indicated, and variant readings are added on the page as notes, which means that each folio is representing more than one source. This explains why different sources can appear under the same number.
Knud Ottosen: The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead. Aarhus University Press 1993.
(The only published printed key to an identification of the office of the dead in books of hours. The B-numbers used by Knud Ottosen are referring to the corresponding sheet in the notes of G.-M. Beyssac, as above. The Leroquais material in Knud Ottosen was not taken from the originals, but drawn from a second hand copy called LH).
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Last update 24.06.2002