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23 January 2013


The Regius Manuscript:

Hic incipiunt constituciones artis gemetriae secundum Eucyldem.

Whose wol bothe wel rede and loke,
He may fynde wryte yn olde boke
Of grete lordys and eke ladyysse,
That hade mony chyldryn y-fere, y-wisse;
And hade no rentys to fynde hem wyth,
Nowther yn towne, ny felde, ny fryth:
A cownsel togeder they cowthe hem take;
To ordeyne for these chyldryn sake,
How they mygth best lede here lyfe
Withoute gret desese, care and stryfe;
And most for the multytude that was comynge
Of here chyldryn after here gyndynge.
They sende thenne after grete clerkys,
To techyn hem thenne gode werkys;
And pray we hem, for our Lordys sake,
To oure chyldryn sum werke to make,
That they mygth gete here lyvynge therby,
Bothe wel and onestlyche, ful sycurly.
Yn that tyme, throggh good gemetry,
Thys onest craft of good masonry
Wes ordeynt and made yn thys manere,
Y-cownterfetyd of thys clerkys y-fere;
At these lordys prayers they cownterfetyd gemetry,
And gaf hyt the name of masonry,
For the moste oneste craft of alle.
These lordys chyldryn therto dede falle,
To lurne of hym the craft of gemetry,
The wheche he made ful curysly;
Throggh fadrys prayers and modrys also,
Thys onest craft he putte hem to.
He that lerned best, and were of oneste,
And passud hys felows yn curyste;
Gef yn that craft he dede hym passe,
He schulde have more worschepe then the lasse.
Thys grete clerkys name was clept Euclyde,
Hys name hyt spradde ful wondur wyde.
Get thys grete clerke more ordeynt he
To hym that was herre yn thys degre,
That he schulde teche the synplyst of wytte
Yn that onest craft to be parfytte;
And so uchon schulle techyn othur,
And love togeder as syster and brothur.
Forthermore get that ordeynt he,
Mayster y-called so schulde he be;
So that he were most y-worschepede,
Thenne sculde he be so y-clepede:
But mason schulde never won other calle,
Withynne the craft amongus hem alle,
Ny soget, ny servand, my dere brother,
Thaght he be not so perfyt as ys another;
Uchon sculle calle other felows by cuthe,
For cause they come of ladyes burthe.
On thys maner, throg good wytte of gemetry,
Bygan furst the craft of masonry:
The clerk Euclyde on thys wyse hyt fonde,
Thys craft of gemetry yn Egypte londe.
Yn Egypte he tawghte hyt ful wyde,
Yn dyvers londe on every syde;
Mony erys afterwarde, y understonde,
Ger that the craft com ynto thys londe,
Thys craft com ynto Englond, as y gow say,
Yn tyme of good kynge Adelstonus day;
He made tho bothe halle and eke bowre,
And hye templus of gret honowre,
To sportyn hym yn bothe day and nygth,
An to worschepe hys God with alle hys mygth.
Thys goode lorde loved thys craft ful wel,
And purposud to strenthyn hyt every del,
For dyvers defawtys that yn the craft he fonde;
He sende about ynto the londe
After alle the masonus of the crafte,
To come to hym ful evene stragfte,
For to amende these defautys alle
By good consel, gef hyt mytgth falle.
A semble thenne he cowthe let make
Of dyvers lordis, yn here state,
Dukys, erlys, and barnes also,
Kyngthys, sqwyers, and mony mo,
And the grete burges of that syte,
They were ther alle yn here degre;
These were ther uchon algate,
To ordeyne for these masonus astate.
Ther they sowgton by here wytte,
How they mygthyn governe hytte:
Fyftene artyculus they ther sowgton
And fyftene poyntys they wrogton.

Hic incipit Articulus primus.

The furste artycul of thys gemetry:
The mayster mason moste be ful securly
Bothe stedefast, trusty, and trwe,
Hyt schal hum never thenne arewe:
And pay thy felows after the coste,
As vytaylys goth thenne, wel thou woste;
And pay them trwly, apon thy fay,
What that they deserven may;
And to her hure take no more,
But what they mowe serve fore;
And spare, nowther for love ny drede,
Of nowther partys to take no mede;
Of lord ny felow, whether he be,
Of hem thou take no maner of fe;
And as a jugge stonde uprygth,
And thenne thou dost to bothe good rygth;
And trwly do thys whersever thou gost,
Thy worschep, thy profyt, hyt shcal be most.

Articulus secundus

The secunde artycul of good masonry,
As ge mowe hyt here hyr specyaly,
That every mayster, that ys a mason,
Most ben at the generale congregacyon,
So that he hyt resonably y-tolde
Where that the semble schal be holde;
And to that semble he most nede gon,
But he have a resenabul skwsacyon,
Or but he be unbuxom to that craft,
Or with falssehed ys over-raft,
Or ellus sekenes hath hym so stronge,
That he may not com hem amonge;
That ys a skwsacyon, good and abulle,
To that semble withoute fabulle.

Articulus tercius

The thrydde artycul for sothe hyt ysse,
That the mayster take to no prentysse,
but he have good seuerans to dwelle
Seven ger with hym, as y gow telle,
Hys craft to lurne, that ys profytable;
Withynne lasse he may not be able
To lordys profyt, ny to his owne,
As ge mowe knowe by good resowne.

Articulus quartus

The fowrhe artycul thys moste be
That the mayster hym wel be-se,
That he no bondemon prentys make,
Ny for no covetyse do hym take;
For the lord that he ys bonde to,
May fache the prentes whersever he go.
Gef yn the logge he were y-take,
Muche desese hyt mygth ther make,
And suche case hyt mygth befalle,
That hyt mygth greve summe or alle.
For alle the masonus tht ben there
Wol stonde togedur hol y-fere
Gef suche won yn that craft schulde swelle,
Of dyvers desesys ge mygth telle:
For more gese thenne, and of honeste,
Take a prentes of herre degre.
By olde tyme wryten y fynde
That the prenes schulde be of gentyl kynde;
And so symtyme grete lordys blod
Toke thys gemetry, that ys ful good.

Articulus quintus

The fyfthe artycul ys swythe good,
So that the prentes be of lawful blod;
The mayster schal not, for no vantage,
Make no prentes that ys outrage;
Hyt ys to mene, as ge mowe here,
That he have hys lymes hole alle y-fere;
To the craft hyt were gret schame,
To make an halt mon and a lame,
For an unperfyt mon of suche blod
Schulde do the craft but lytul good.
Thus ge mowe knowe everychon,
The craft wolde have a myghty mon;
A maymed mon he hath no myght,
Ge mowe hyt knowe long ger nyght.

Articulus sextus

The syxte artycul ge mowe not mysse,
That the mayster do the lord no pregedysse,
To take of the lord, for hyse prentyse,
Also muche as hys felows don, yn alle vyse.
For yn that craft they ben ful perfyt,
So ys not he, ge mowe sen hyt.
Also hyt were ageynus good reson,
To take hys, hure as hys felows don.
Thys same artycul, yn thys casse,
Juggythe the prentes to take lasse
Thenne hys felows, that ben ful perfyt.
Yn dyvers maters, conne qwyte hyt,
The mayster may his prentes so enforme,
That hys hure may crese ful gurne,
And, ger hys terme come to an ende,
Hys hure may ful wel amende.

Articulus septimus

The seventhe artycul that ys now here,
Ful wel wol telle gow, alle y-fere,
That no mayster, for favour ny drede,
Schal no thef nowther clothe ny fede.
Theves he schal herberon never won,
Ny hym that hath y-quellude a mon,
Wy thylike that hath a febul name,
Lest hyt wolde turne the craft to schame.

Articulus octavus

The eghte artycul schewt gow so,
That the mayster may hyt wel do,
Gef that he have any mon of crafte,
And be not also perfyt as he augte,
He may hym change sone anon,
And take for hym a perfytur mon.
Suche a mon, throge rechelaschepe,
Mygth do the craft schert worschepe.

Articulus nonus

The nynthe artycul schewet ful welle,
That the mayster be both wyse and felle;
That no werke he undurtake,
But he conne bothe hyt ende and make;
And that hyt be to the lordes profyt also,
And to hys craft, whersever he go;
And that the grond be wel y-take,
That hyt nowther fle ny grake.

Articulus decimus

The then the artycul ys for to knowe,
Amonge the craft, to hye and lowe,
There schal no mayster supplante other,
But be togeder as systur and brother,
Yn thys curyus craft, alle and som,
That longuth to a maystur mason.
Ny he schal not supplante non other mon,
That hath y-take a werke hym uppon,
Yn peyne therof that ys so stronge,
That peyseth no lasse thenne ten ponge,
But gef that he be gulty y-fonde,
That toke furst the werke on honde;
For no mon yn masonry
Schal no supplante othur securly,
But gef that hyt be so y-wrogth,
That hyt turne the werke to nogth;
Thenne may a mason that werk crave,
To the lordes profyt hyt for to save;
Yn suche a case but hyt do falle,
Ther schal no mason medul withalle.
Forsothe he that begynnyth the gronde,
And he be a mason goode and sonde,
For hath hyt sycurly yn hys mynde
To brynge the werke to ful good ende.

Articulus undecimus

The eleventhe artycul y telle the,
That he ys bothe fayr and fre;
For he techyt, by hys mygth,
That no mason schulde worche be nygth,
But gef hyt be yn practesynge of wytte,
Gef that y cowthe amende hytte.

Articulus duodecimus

The twelfthe artycul ys of hye honeste
To gevery mason, whersever he be;
He schal not hys felows werk deprave,
Gef that he wol hys honeste save;
With honest wordes he hyt comende,
By the wytte that God the dede sende;
Buy hyt amende by al that thou may,
Bytwynne gow bothe withoute nay.

Articulus xiijus

The threttene artycul, so God me save,
Ys,gef that the mayster a prentes have,
Enterlyche thenne that he hym teche,
And meserable poyntes that he hym reche,
That he the craft abelyche may conne,
Whersever he go undur the sonne.

Articulus xiiijus

The fowrtene artycul, by good reson,
Scheweth the mayster how he schal don;
He schal no prentes to hym take,
Byt dyvers crys he have to make,
That he may, withynne hys terme,
Of hym dyvers poyntes may lurne.

Articulus quindecimus

The fyftene artycul maketh an ende,
For to the mayster he ys a frende;
To lere hym so, that for no mon,
No fals mantenans he take hym apon,
Ny maynteine hys felows yn here synne,
For no good that he mygth wynne;
Ny no fals sware sofre hem to make,
For drede of here sowles sake;
Lest hyt wolde turne the craft to schame,
And hymself to mechul blame.

Plures Constituciones

At thys semble were poyntes y-ordeynt mo,
Of grete lordys and maystrys also,
That whose wol conne thys craft and com to astate,
He most love wel God, and holy churche algate,
And hys mayster also, that he ys wythe,
Whersever he go, yn fylde or frythe;
And thy felows thou love also,
For that they craft wol that thou do.

Secundus punctus

The secunde poynt, as y gow say,
That the mason worche apon the werk day,
Also trwly, as he con or may,
To deserve hys huyre for the halyday,
And trwly to labrun on hys dede,
Wel deserve to have hys mede.

Tercius punctus

The thrydde poynt most be severele,
With the prentes knowe hyt wele,
Hys mayster conwsel he kepe and close,
And hys felows by hys goode purpose;
The prevetyse of the chamber telle he no man,
Ny yn the logge whatsever they done;
Whatsever thou heryst, or syste hem do,
Telle hyt no mon, whersever thou go;
The conwsel of halls, and geke of bowre,
Kepe hyt wel to gret honowre,
Lest hyt wolde torne thyself to blame,
And brynge the craft ynto gret schame.

Quartus punctus

The fowrthe poynt techyth us alse,
That no mon to hys craft be false;
Errour he schal maynteine none
Ageynus the craft, but let hyt gone;
Ny no pregedysse he schal not do
To hys mayster, ny hys felows also;
And thatgth the prentes be under awe,
Get he wolde have the same lawe.

Quintus punctus

The fyfthe poynte ys, withoute nay,
That whenne the mason taketh hys pay
Of the mayster, y-ordent to hym,
Ful mekely y-take so most hyt byn;
Get most the mayster, by good resone,
Warne hem lawfully byfore none,
Gef he nulle okepye hem no more,
As he hath y-done ther byfore;
Ageynus thys ordyr he may not stryve,
Gef he thenke wel for to thryve.

Sextus punctus

The syxte poynt ys ful gef to knowe,
Bothe to hye and eke to lowe,
For suche case hyt mygth befalle,
Amonge the masonus, summe or alle,
Throwghe envye, or dedly hate,
Ofte aryseth ful gret debate.
Thenne owyth the mason, gef that he may,
Putte hem bothe under a day;
But loveday get schul they make none;
Tyl that the werke day be clene a-gone;
Apon the holyday ge mowe wel take
Leyser y-nowggth loveday to make,
Lest that hyt wolde the werke day
Latte here werke for suche afray;
To suche ende thenne that hem drawe,
That they stonde wel yn Goddes lawe.

Septimus punctus

The seventhe poynt he may wel mene,
Of wel longe lyf that God us lene,
As hyt dyscryeth wel opunly,
Thou schal not by thy maysters wyf ly,
Ny by the felows, yn no maner wyse,
Lest the craft wolde the despyse;
Ny by the felows concubyne,
No more thou woldest he dede by thyne.
The peyne thereof let hyt be ser,
That he prentes ful seven ger,
Gef he forfete yn eny of hem,
So y-chasted thenne most he ben;
Ful mekele care mygth ther begynne,
For suche a fowle dedely synne.

Octavus punctus

The eghte poynt, he may be sure,
Gef thou hast y-taken any cure,
Under thy mayster thou be trwe,
For that pynt thou schalt never arewe;
A trwe medyater thou most nede be
To thy mayster, and thy felows fre;
Do trwly al that thou mygth,
To both partyes, and that ys good rygth.

Nonus punctus

The nynthe poynt we schul hym calle,
That he be stwarde of oure halle,
Gef that ge ben yn chambur y-fere,
Uchon serve other, with mylde chere;
Jentul felows, ge moste hyt knowe,
For to be stwardus alle o rowe,
Weke after weke withoute dowte,
Stwardus to ben so alle abowte,
Lovelyche to serven uchon othur,
As thawgh they were syster and brother;
Ther schal never won on other costage
Fre hymself to no vantage,
But every mon schal be lyche fre
Yn that costage, so moste hyt be;
Loke that thou pay wele every mon algate,
That thou hsat y-bowght any vytayles ate,
That no cravynge be y-mad to the,
Ny to thy felows, yn no degre,
To mon or to wommon, whether he be,
Pay hem wel and trwly, for that wol we;
Therof on thy felow trwe record thou take,
For that good pay as thou dost make,
Lest hyt wolde thy felowe schame,
Any brynge thyself ynto gret blame.
Get good acowntes he most make
Of suche godes as he hath y-take,
Of thy felows goodes that thou hast spende,
Wher, and how, and to what ende;
Suche acowntes thou most come to,
Whenne thy felows wollen that thou do.

Decimus punctus

The tenthe poynt presentyeth wel god lyf,
To lyven withoute care and stryf;
For and the mason lyve amysse,
And yn hys werk be false, y-wysse,
And thorwg suche a false skewysasyon
May sclawndren hys felows oute reson,
Throwg false sclawnder of suche fame
May make the craft kachone blame.
Gef he do the craft suche vylany,
Do hym no favour thenne securly.
Ny maynteine not hym yn wyked lyf,
Lest hyt wolde turne to care and stryf;
But get hym ge schul not delayme,
But that ge schullen hym constrayne,
For to apere whersevor ge wylle,
Whar that ge wolen, lowde, or stylle;
To the nexte semble ge schul hym calle,
To apere byfore hys felows alle,
And but gef he wyl byfore hem pere,
The crafte he moste nede forswere;
He schal thenne be chasted after the lawe
That was y-fownded by olde dawe.

Punctus undecimus

The eleventhe poynt ys of good dyscrecyoun,
As ge mowe knowe by good resoun;
A mason, and he thys craft wel con,
That sygth hys felow hewen on a ston,
And ys yn poynt to spylle that ston,
Amende hyt sone, gef that thou con,
And teche hym thenne hyt to amende,
That the lordys werke be not y-schende,
And teche hym esely hyt to amende,
With fayre wordes, that God the hath lende;
For hys sake that sytte above,
With swete wordes noresche hym love.

Punctus duodecimus

The twelthe poynt of gret ryolte,
Ther as the semble y-hole schal be,
Ther schul be maystrys and felows also,
And other grete lordes mony mo;
There schal be the scheref of that contre,
And also the meyr of that syte,
Knygtes and sqwyers ther schul be,
And other aldermen, as ge schul se;
Suche ordynance as they maken there,
They schul maynte hyt hol y-fere
Ageynus that mon, whatsever he be,
That longuth to the craft bothe fayr and fre.
Gef he any stryf ageynus hem make,
Ynto here warde he schal be take.

xiijus punctus

The threnteth poynt ys to us ful luf.
He schal swere never to be no thef,
Ny soker hym yn hys fals craft,
For no good that he hath byraft,
And thou mowe hyt knowe or syn,
Nowther for hys good, ny for hys kyn.

xiiijus punctus

The fowrtethe poynt ys ful good lawe
To hym that wold ben under awe;
A good trwe othe he most ther swere
To hys mayster and hys felows that ben there;
He most be stedefast and trwe also
To alle thys ordynance, whersever he go,
And to hys lyge lord the kynge,
To be trwe to hym, over alle thynge.
And alle these poyntes hyr before
To hem thou most nede by y-swore,
And alle schul swere the same ogth
Of the masonus, be they luf, ben they loght,
To alle these poyntes hyr byfore,
That hath ben ordeynt by ful good lore.
And they schul enquere every mon
On his party, as wyl as he con,
Gef any mon mowe be y-fownde gulty
Yn any of these poyntes spesyaly;
And whad he be, let hym be sowght,
And to the semble let hym be browght.

Quindecimus punctus

The fiftethe poynt ys of ful good lore,
For hem that schul ben ther y-swore,
Suche ordyance at the semble wes layd
Of grete lordes and maystres byforesayd;
For thelke that be unbuxom, y-wysse,
Ageynus the ordynance that ther ysse
Of these artyculus, that were y-meved there,
Of grete lordes and masonus al y-fere.
And gef they ben y-preved opunly
Byfore that semble, by an by,
And for here gultes no mendys wol make,
Thenne most they nede the crafy forsake;
And so masonus craft they schul refuse,
And swere hyt never more for to use.
But gef that they wol mendys make,
Agayn to the craft they schul never take;
And gef that they nul not do so,
The scheref schal come hem sone to,
And putte here bodyes yn duppe prison,
For the trespasse that they hav y-don,
And take here goodes and here cattelle
Ynto the kynges hond, everyt delle,
And lete hem dwelle ther full stylle,
Tyl hyt be oure lege kynges wylle.

Alia ordinacio artis gematriae

They ordent ther a semble to be y-holde
Every ger, whersever they wolde,
To amende the defautes, gef any where fonde
Amonge the craft withynne the londe;
Uche ger or thrydde ger hyt schuld be holde,
Yn every place whersever they wolde;
Tyme and place most be ordeynt also,
Yn what place they schul semble to.
Alle the men of craft tehr they most ben,
And other grete lordes, as ge mowe sen,
To mende the fautes that buth ther y-spoke,
Gef that eny of hem ben thenne y-broke.
Ther they schullen ben alle y-swore,
That longuth to thys craftes lore,
To kepe these statutes everychon,
That ben y-ordeynt by kynge Aldelston;
These statutes that y have hyr y-fonde
Y chulle they ben holde throgh my londe,
For the worsche of my rygolte,
That y have by my dygnyte.
Also at every semble that ge holde,
That ge come to gowre lyge kyng bolde,
Bysechynge hym of hys hye grace,
To stonde with gow yn every place,
To conferme the statutes of kynge Adelston,
That he ordeydnt to thys craft by good reson,

Ars quatuor coronatorum

Pray we now to God almyght,
And to hys moder Mary bryght,
That we mowe keepe these artyculus here,
And these poynts wel al y-fere,
As dede these holy martyres fowre,
That yn thys craft were of gret honoure;
They were as gode masonus as on erthe schul go,
Gravers and ymage-makers they were also.
For they were werkemen of the beste,
The emperour hade to hem gret luste;
He wylned of hem a ymage to make,
That mowgh be worscheped for his sake;
Suche mawmetys he hade yn hys dawe,
To turne the pepul from Crystus lawe.
But they were stedefast yn Crystes lay,
And to here craft, withouten nay;
They loved wel God and alle hys lore,
And weren yn hys serves ever more.
Trwe men they were yn that dawe,
And lyved wel y Goddus lawe;
They thogght no mawmetys for to make,
For no good that they mygth take,
To levyn on that mawmetys for here God,
They nolde do so thawg he were wod;
For they nolde not forsake here trw fay,
An beyleve on hys falsse lay.
The emperour let take hem sone anone,
And putte hem ynto a dep presone;
The sarre he penest hem yn that plase,
The more yoye wes to hem of Cristus grace.
Thenne when he sye no nother won,
To dethe he lette hem thenne gon;
Whose wol of here lyf get mor knowe,
By the bok he may kyt schowe,
In the legent of scanctorum,
The name of quatour coronatorum.
Here fest wol be, withoute nay,
After Alle Halwen the eyght day.
Ge mow here as y do rede,
That mony geres after, for gret drede
That Noees flod wes alle y-ronne,
The tower of Babyloyne was begonne,
Also playne werke of lyme and ston,
As any mon schulde loke uppon;
So long and brod hyt was begonne,
Seven myle the hegghte schadweth the sonne.
King Nabogodonosor let hyt make,
To gret strenthe for monus sake,
Thaggh suche a flod agayne schulde come,
Over the werke hyt schulde not nome;
For they hadde so hy pride, with stronge bost,
Alle that werke therfore was y-lost;
An angele smot hem so with dyveres speche,
That never won wyste what other schuld reche.
Mony eres after, the goode clerk Euclyde
Tagghte the craft of gemetre wonder wyde,
So he ded that tyme other also,
Of dyvers craftes mony mo.
Throggh hye grace of Crist yn heven,
He commensed yn the syens seven;
Gramatica ys the furste syens y-wysse,
Dialetica the secunde, so have y blysse,
Rethorica the thrydde, withoute nay,
Musica ys the fowrth, as y gow say,
Astromia ys the v, by my snowte,
Arsmetica the vi, withoute dowte
Gemetria the seventhe maketh an ende,
For he ys bothe make and hende,
Gramer forsothe ys the rote,
Whose wyl lurne on the boke;
But art passeth yn hys degre,
As the fryte doth the rote of the tre;
Rethoryk metryth with orne speche amonge,
And musyke hyt ys a swete song;
Astronomy nombreth, my dere brother,
Arsmetyk scheweth won thyng that ys another,
Gemetre the seventh syens hyt ysse,
That con deperte falshed from trewthe y-wys.
These bene the syens seven,
Whose useth hem wel, he may han heven.
Now dere chyldren, by gowre wytte,
Pride and covetyse that ge leven, hytte,
And taketh hede to goode dyscrecyon,
And to good norter, whersever ge com.
Now y pray gow take good hede,
For thys ge most kenne nede,
But much more ge moste wyten,
Thenne ge fynden hyr y-wryten.
Gef the fayle therto wytte,
Pray to God to send the hytte;
For Crist hymself, he techet ous
That holy churche ys Goddes hous,
That ys y-mad for nothynge ellus
but for to pray yn, as the bok tellus;
Ther the pepul schal gedur ynne,
To pray and wepe for here synne.
Loke thou come not to churche late,
For to speke harlotry by the gate;
Thenne to churche when thou dost fare,
Have yn thy mynde ever mare
To worschepe thy lord God bothe day and nygth,
With all thy wyttes, and eke thy mygth.
To the churche dore when tou dost come,
Of that holy water ther sum thow nome,
For every drope thou felust ther
Qwenchet a venyal synne, be thou ser.
But furst thou most do down thy hode,
For hyse love that dyed on the rode.
Into the churche when thou dost gon,
Pulle uppe thy herte to Crist, anon;
Uppon the rode thou loke uppe then,
And knele down fayre on bothe thy knen;
Then pray to hym so hyr to worche,
After the lawe of holy churche,
For to kepe the comandementes ten,
That God gaf to alle men;
And pray to hym with mylde steven
To kepe the from the synnes seven,
That thou hyr mowe, yn thy lyve,
Kepe the wel from care and stryve,
Forthermore he grante the grace,
In heven blysse to hav a place.
In holy churche lef nyse wordes
Of lewed speche, and fowle bordes,
And putte away alle vanyte,
And say thy pater noster and thyn ave;
Loke also thou make no bere,
But ay to be yn thy prayere;
Gef thou wolt not thyselve pray,
Latte non other mon by no way.
In that place nowther sytte ny stonde,
But knele fayre down on the gronde,
And, when the Gospel me rede schal,
Fayre thou stonde up fro the wal,
And blesse the fayre, gef that thou conne,
When gloria tibi is begonne;
And when the gospel ys y-done,
Agayn thou mygth knele adown;
On bothe thy knen down thou falle,
For hyse love that bowght us alle;
And when thou herest the belle rynge
To that holy sakerynge,
Knele ge most, bothe gynge and olde,
And bothe gor hondes fayr upholde,
And say thenne yn thys manere,
Fayr and softe, withoute bere:
Jhesu Lord, welcom thou be,
Yn forme of bred, as y the se.
Now Jhesu, for thyn holy name,
Schulde me from synne and schame,
Schryff and hosel thou grant me bo,
Ger that y schal hennus go,
And vey contrycyon of my synne,
Tath y never, Lord, dye therynne;
And, as thou were of a mayde y-bore,
Sofre me never to be y-lore;
But when y schal hennus wende,
Grante me the blysse withoute ende;
Amen! amen! so mot hyt be!
Now, swete lady, pray for me.

Thus thou myght say, or sum other thynge,
When thou knelust at the sakerynge.
For covetyse after good, spare thou nought
To worschepe hym that alle hath wrought;
For glad may a mon that day ben,
That onus yn the day may hym sen;
Hyt ys so muche worthe, withoute nay,
The vertu therof no mon telle may;
But so meche good doth that syht,
As seynt Austyn telluth ful ryht,
That day thou syst Goddus body,
Thou schalt have these, ful securly:
Mete and drynke at thy nede,
Non that day schal the gnede;
Ydul othes, an wordes bo,
God forgeveth the also;
Soden deth, that ylke day,
The dar not drede by no way;
Also that day, y the plyht,
Thou schalt not lese thy eye syht;
And uche fote that thou gost then,
That holy syht for to sen,
They schul be told to stonde yn stede,
When thou hast therto gret nede;
That messongere, the angele Gabryelle,
Wol kepe hem to the ful welle.
From thys mater now y may passe,
To telle mo medys of the masse:
To churche come get, gef thou may,
And here thy masse uche day;
Gef thou mowe not come to churche,
Wher that ever thou doste worche,
When thou herest to masse knylle,
Pray to God with herte stylle,
To geve the part of that servyse,
That yn churche ther don yse.
Forthermore get, y wol gow preche
To gowre felows, hyt for to teche,
When thou comest byfore a lorde,
Yn halle, yn bowre, or at the borde,
Hod or cappe that thou of do,
Ger thou come hym allynge to;
Twyes or thryes, without dowte,
To that lord thou moste lowte;
With thy rygth kne let hyt be do,
Thyn owne worschepe tou save so.
Holde of thy cappe, and hod also,
Tyl thou have leve hyt on to do.
Al the whyle thou spekest with hym,
Fayre and lovelyche bere up thy chyn;
So, after the norter of the boke,
Yn hys face lovely thou loke.
Fot and hond, thou kepe ful stylle
From clawynge and trypynge, ys sckylle;
From spyttynge and snyftynge kepe the also,
By privy avoydans let hyt go.
And gef that thou be wyse and felle,
Thou hast gret nede to governe the welle.
Ynto the halle when thou dost wende,
Amonges the genteles, good and hende,
Presume not to hye for nothynge,
For thyn hye blod, ny thy connynge,
Nowther to sytte, ny to lene,
That ys norther good and clene.
Let not thy cowntenans therfore abate,
Forsothe, good norter wol save thy state.
Fader and moder, whatsever they be,
Wel ys the chyld that wel may the,
Yn halle, yn chamber, wher thou dost gon;
Gode maneres maken a mon.
To the nexte degre loke wysly,
To do hem reverans by and by;
Do hem get no reverans al o-rowe,
But gef that thou do hem know.
To the mete when thou art y-sette,
Fayre and onestelyche thou ete hytte;
Fyrst loke that thyn honden be clene,
And that thy knyf be scharpe and kene;
And kette thy bred al at thy mete,
Rygth as hyt may be ther y-ete.
Gef thou sytte by a worththyur mon.
Then thy selven thou art won,
Sofre hym fyrst to toyche the mete,
Ger thyself to hyt reche.
To the fayrest mossel thou myght not strike,
Thaght that thou do hyt wel lyke;
Kepe thyn hondes, fayr and wel,
From fowle smogynge of thy towel;
Theron thou schalt not thy nese snyte,
Ny at the mete thy tothe thou pyke;
To depe yn the coppe thou mygght not synke,
Thagh thou have good wyl to drynke,
Lest thyn enyn wolde wattryn therby
Then were hyt no curtesy
Loke yn thy mowth ther be no mete,
When thou begynnyst to drynke or speke.
When thou syst any mon drynkynge,
That taketh hed to thy carpynge,
Sone anonn thou sese thy tale,
Whether he drynke wyn other ale.
Loke also thou scorne no mon,
Yn what degre thou syst hym gon;
Ny thou schalt no mon deprave,
Gef thou wolt thy worschepe save;
For suche worde myght ther outberste,
That myght make the sytte yn evel reste,
Close thy honde yn thy fyste,
And kepe the wel from had-y-wyste.
Yn chamber amonge the ladyes bryght,
Holde thy tonge and spende thy syght;
Lawge thou not with no gret cry,
Ny make no ragynge with rybody.
Play thou not buyt with thy peres,
Ny tel thou not al that thou heres;
Dyskever thou not thyn owne dede,
For no merthe, ny for no mede;
With fayr speche thou myght have thy wylle,
With hyt thou myght thy selven spylle.
When thou metyst a worthy mon,
Cappe and hod thou holle not on;
Yn churche, yn chepyns, or yn the gate,
Do hym reverans after hys state.
Gef thou gost with a worthyor mon
Then thyselven thou art won,
Let thy forther schulder sewe hys backe,
For that ys norter withoute lacke;
When he doth speke, holte the stylle,
When he hath don, sey for thy wylle;
Yn thy speche that thou be felle,
And what thou sayst avyse the welle;
But byref thou not hym hys tale,
Nowther at the wyn, ny at the ale.
Cryst then of hys hye grace,
Geve gow bothe wytte and space,
Wel thys boke to conne and rede,
Heven to have for gowre mede.
Amen! amen! so mot hyt be!
Say we so all per charyte.

22 January 2013


His life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Ecce dies preoptata,
Dies felix, dies grata,
Dies digna gaudio.
Nos hanc diem veneremur,
Et pugnantem admiremur
Christum in Vincentio.

Ortu, fide, sanctitate,
Sensu, verbo, dignitate
Clarus et officio,
Hie arcem diaconi,
Sub patris Valerii
Regebat imperio.

Lingue presul impedite
Deo vacat, et levite
Verbi dat officia:
Cujus linguam sermo rectus,
Duplex quoque simplex pectus
Exornat scientia.

Dumque fidem docet suam
Plebem Cesaraugustanam,

Comitante gratia,
Sevit in Ecclesiam,
Zelans idolatriam,
Presidis invidia.

Post auditam fidei constantiam,
Jubet ambos pertrahi Valentiam
Sub catenis.
Nec juveni parcitur egregio,
Nec etas attenditur ab impio
Saneti senis.

Fessos ex itinere,
Presses ferri pondere,
Tetro claudit carcere,
Negans victualia.
Sic pro posse nocuit,
Nee pro voto potuit,
Quia suos aluit
Christi providentia.

Seniorem relegat exsilio,
Juniorem reservat supplicio
Preses acerbiori.
Equuleum perpessus et ungulam,
Vincentius conscendit craticulam
Spiritu fortiori.

Dum torretur, non terretur;
Christum magis confitetur,
Nec tyrannum reveretur
In ejus presentia:
Ardet vultus inhumanus,
Heret lingua, tremit manus,
Nec se capit Datianus
Pre cordis insania.

Inde specu martyr retruditur,
Et testulis fixus illiditur:
Multa tamen hic luce fruitur,
Ab angelis visitatus.
In lectulo tandem repositus,
Ad superos transit emeritus;
Sicque suo triumphans spiritus
Est Principi presentatus.

Non communi sinit jure
Virum tradi sepulture:
Legi simul et nature
Vim facit malitia.
In defunctum judex sevit:
Hinc defuncto laus accrevit.
Nam, quo vesci consuevit,
Reformidat bestia.

En cadaver inhumatum
Corvus servat illibatum,
Sicque sua sceleratum
Frustratur intentio.
At profanus
Quod consumi.
Nequit humi
Vult abscondi
Sub profundi
Gurgitis silentio.

Nec tenetur a molari,
Nec celari potest mari,
Quem nec laude singulari
Venerari voto pari
Satagit ecclesia.
Ustulatum corpus igne
Terra, mari fit insigne.
Nobis, Jesu, da benigne
Ut cum sanctis te condigne
Laudemus in patria! Amen.
Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

See the longed-for day arriving!
Happy day, day pleasure giving!
Day in which we should delight!
Let us keep this day then holy,
On it Christ admiring truly,
As He doth in Vincent fight.

For his birth, self-consecration,
Feeling, faith, speech, lofty station.
And his office eminent.
Under the paternal sway
Of Valerius his day
Of diaconate was spent.

Slow of speech, the bishop giveth
All his time to God, and leaveth
Preaching to the deacon's share:
Wreathed his words are with uprightness,
And his single mind with brightness.
Bred of double learning, fair.

When the truth that he believeth
Sarragossa's crowd receiveth
From his lips through present grace,
Then the prefect's enmity,
Zealous for idolatry,
Fiercely would the church abase.

When their constant faith he learns, that never flagged,
To Valentia both in fetters to be dragged
Doth he direct.
Neither doth the wretch that noble young man spare,
Neither to the holy bishop's age doth care
To pay respect.

These men, tired with travel-pains,
Weighed down 'neath a weight of chains,
In a foul jail he detains,
And all food to them denies.
Though to hurt them he is fain,
Yet his wishes are in vain.
Since Christ's bounty doth maintain
His own servants with supplies.

To exile by him is the old man sent.
The younger one meanwhile for punishment
The prefect keeps still graver.
What time his pain by claw and horse-rack ends,
Vincent at once the gridiron ascends
With spirit braced and braver.

As he burneth, fears he spurneth;
Even more to Christ he turneth,
Nor, though present he discerneth
The dread tyrant, for him cares:
Datian's cruel visage gloweth,
Tongue and hand each useless groweth,
Till, such furious rage he showeth,
He beside himself appears.

Into a cave then is the martyr thrown,
And, there confined, flung down on potsherds prone;
Still he enjoys much light unto him shown,
When angels bright to him appear.
At length, upon a pallet rudely cast.
He passes thence to heaven, his labours past;
And, thus triumphant, his brave soul at last
Is to his Prince presented there.

Datian no such grave alloweth,
As man's common law bestoweth:
Violence his malice doeth
To what law and nature say.
'Gainst the dead the fierce judge burneth,
But more glory for him earneth,
For the very wild beast turneth,
Awe-struck, from its wonted prey.

Lo! untouched, a raven, flying,
Keeps the corpse, unburied lying,
And, a monstrous scheme thus trying,
Datian faileth utterly.
But, unholy
Heathen's folly!
What earth would not,
What earth could not,
Waste, is hurried
To be buried
In the silent depths of sea.

Millstone's weight can hold him never,
Ocean must her dead deliver.
Whom the church would now endeavour
With one voice of praise for ever
To revere especially.
For his corpse, reduced to cinder,
Fire, earth, sea, illustrious render!
Jesu! grant in mercy tender
We and all saints may Thy splendour.
Duly praise at home with Thee! Amen.

21 January 2013


Her life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Animemur ad agonem,
Recolentes passionem
Gloriose virginis:
Contrectantes sacrum florem,
Respiremus ad odorem
Resperse dulcedinis.

Pulchra, prudens et illustris,
Jam duobus Agnes lustris
Addebat triennium:
Proles amat hanc prefecti,
Sed ad ejus virgo flecti
Respuit arbitrium,

Mira vis fidei,
Mira virginitas,
Mira virginei
Cordis integritas!
Sic Dei Filius,
Nutu mirabili,
Se mirabilius
Prodit in fragili.

Languet amans, cubat lecto,
Languor notus fit prefecto;
Maturat remedia.
Offert multa, spondet plura,
Periturus peritura,
Sed vilescunt omnia.

Nudam prostituit
Preses flagitiis,
Quam Christus induit
Comarum fimbriis
Stolaque celesti.
Celestis nuntius
Assistit propius;
Cella libidinis
Fit locus luminis:
Turbantur incesti.

Cecus amans indignatur,
Et irrumpens prefocatur
A maligno spiritu.
Luget pater, lugent cuncti,
Roma flevit pro defuncti
Juvenis interitu.

Suscitatur ab Agnete;
Turba fremit indiscrete;
Rogum parant virgini:
Rogus ardens reos urit,
In furentes flamma furit,
Dans honorem numini.

Grates agens Salvatori,
Guttur offert hec lictori;
Nec ad horam timet mori,
Puritatis conscia.
Agnes, Agni salutaris
Stans ad dextram gloriaris,
Et parentes consolaris,
Invitans ad gaudia.

Ne te flerent ut defunctam,
Jam celesti Sponso junctam,
His, sub agni forma, suam
Revelavit atque tuam
Virginalem gloriam;
Nos ab Agno salutari
Non permitte separari,
Cui te totam consecrasti,
Cujus ope tu curasti
Nobilem Constantiam.

Vas electum, vas honoris,
Incorrupti flos odoris,
Angelorum grata choris,
Honestatis et pudoris
Forman prebes seculo.
Palma fruens triumphali,
Flore vernans virginali,
Nos indignos speciali,
Fac sanctorum generali
Vel subscribi titulo. Amen.

Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

As we tell once more the fashion
Of this glorious virgin's passion,
Be we kindled to the fight:
As we touch the sacred flower,
Let us breathe the scents that shower
From its sweetness' full delight!

Beautiful and wise and noble,
Agnes now had to the double
Of five years an added three:
Much the prefect's first-born loves her,
But to maiden scorn he moves her.
Not submission to his plea.

Wonderful power of faith,
Wondrous virginity,
Wonderful virtue hath
Virgin hearts' constancy!
So did the Son of God
Come of His wondrous will,
And in frail flesh abode;
Which is more wondrous still!

Sick, to bed the lover goeth:
When the cause the prefect knoweth,
Quickly seeks he for a cure:
Much now, vowing more, he proffers, -
Short-lived offerer, short-lived offers! -
But his gifts are all too poor.

Her doth the prefect, bare,
To outrage vile expose,
But a thick fringe of hair
Christ round her body throws,
And a robe heaven-whitened.
One of the angel-race
Beside her takes his place;
The den of lust that night
Becomes the abode of light,
And the lewd are frightened.

Her blind lover, most indignant,
Rushes in, and a malignant
Spirit robs him of life-breath.
Weeps his father, all are crying,
Rome bewailed a young man dying
By so terrible a death.

He is raised by Agnes' pleading;
But the crowd, - blind rage misleading! -
For the maid prepare the stake:
Its bright blaze the guilty burneth;
'Gainst the fierce the fierce flame turneth
For the Most High's honour's sake.

To the Saviour thanks she proffers,
To the lictor her throat offers;
Neither fears she when she suffers,
Conscious of her purity.
Agnes! thou, thy crown receiving,
At the saving Lamb's side living,
Comfort to thy parents giving,
Bidd'st them mount to joys on high!

Lest they mourn, as dead and buried.
One, to Spouse divine now married,
In a lamb's shape, Christ the story
Of His own and of thy glory
Set before them, spotless maid!
Suffer not our separation
From that Lamb, our One salvation;
Unto Whom devoted wholly,
Thou didst noble Constance throughly
Heal of sickness by His aid.

Vessel, glorious and elected!
Flower, with scent by naught affected!
By the angelic choirs respected!
Thou art as the type erected
Of a maiden's spotless fame.
Off the palm of victory bearing,
Still thy virgin blossom wearing,
Grant we may, unfit appearing
For a special title, share in,
With the saints, their general name! Amen.

20 January 2013


British Library:
The Macclesfield Alphabet Book is an exquisitely beautiful 15th century pattern book thought to have been used by scribes in medieval Britain to produce luxury books...

This extremely rare manuscript is written on parchment and has 46 leaves. It is held within an early 18th-century English calf binding and contains 14 different types of decorative alphabets, ranging from simple letters in Gothic script to large coloured anthropomorphic initials modelled after 15th-century woodcuts or engravings and two sets of different types of borders, some of which are fully illuminated in colours and gold.

19 January 2013


The Great Executioner (of St. John the Baptist) ~ Mezzotint by Prince Rupert of the Rhine, after the painting by Jose Ribera

Malcolm C. Salaman:
There is a story, long beleieved of Prince Rupert, that one day he saw a soldier cleaning the barrell of his musket, which the dew had rusted during a lengthy spell of sentry-go in the night. The prince, according to the legend, noticed that, as the soldier scraped away the fine grain eaten into the metal by the damp, which was in effect the rust, a sort of nondescript design was left, and from that he was supposed to have conceived the idea of mezzotint engraving. It was a plausible story, but its truth has been discounted, since Horace Walpole related it, by the discovery that the art was invented, not by Charles I's famous nephew, but by a German soldier of more modest fame.

Yet mezzotint engraving has its romantic story. When Prince Rupert was in Brussels in 1654, he sought the acquaintence of a certain Colonel Ludwig Von Siegen - but it was not to talk of military matters. Perhaps he was trying to forget the stricken fields of Marston Moor and Naseby, the surrendered battlements of Bristol, in the peaceful arts and sciences which now engaged his subdued activities. Among these engraving enjoyed his particular favour and interest; and his wonder and curiosity had been aroused by the report of certain extraordinary prints mysteriously produced from copper-plates which yet revealed no tough of graver or etching-point...

The secret of his invention, however, Colonel Von Siegen had kept to himself for twelve years, and in the interval, he had worked during his leisure hours at its development; but the flattering interest evinced by Prince Rupert, when he curiously and admiringly examined the prints, overcame the reticence of the gallant and ingenious inventor. He confided his secret to the sympathetic prince. He told him how, by means of a steel roller with fine sharp teeth cut on the face of it, fixed to a horizontal handle, he had worked over and over a copper-plate, in every possible direction, until the surface presented a close and even burr of grain, which, when inked, had given an impression of practically uniform black. Then, with a sharp tool, which he had devised for the purpose, he had gradually scraped away portions of the burr to varying depths and degrees, while other portions were left untouched, so that the high-lights, middle tints, and black shadows of his design resulted from impressions taken from the worked plate, and a whole picture was accordingly presented merely by gradatory tones of light and shade, and without a single line or dot, as in the known forms of engraving.
[The Old Engravers of England by Malcolm C. Salaman]

18 January 2013


According to five early ecclesiastical historians:

Eusebius of Caesarea:
But since I have come to mention this city, I do not think it right to omit a story that is worthy to be recorded also from those that come after us. For they say that the woman who had a haemorrhage, and who, as we learn from the sacred Gospels, found at the hands of our Saviour relief from her affliction, came to this place, and that her house was pointed out in the city, and that marvelous memorials of the good deed, which the Savior wrought upon her, still remained. For that there stood on a lofty stone at the gates of her house a bronze figure of a woman, bending on her knee and stretching forth her hands like a suppliant, while opposite to this there was another of the same material, an upright figure of a man, clothed in comely fashion in a double cloak and stretching out his hand to the woman; at his feet on the monument itself a strange species of herb was growing, which climbed up to the double cloak of bronze, and acted as an antidote to all kinds of diseases. This statue, they said, bore the likeness of the Lord Jesus. And it was in existence even to our day, so that we saw it with out own eyes when we stayed in the city.
Macarius Magnes:
Berenice, who once was mistress of a famous place, and honoured ruler of the great city of Edessa, having been delivered from an unclean issue of blood and speedily healed from a painful affection, whom many physicians tormented at many times, but increased the affection to the worst of maladies with no betterment at all, He made to be celebrated and famous in story till the present day in Mesopotamia, or rather in all the world - so great was her experience - for she was made whole by a touch of the saving hem of His garment. For the woman, having had the record of the deed itself nobly represented in bronze, gave it to her son, as something done recently, not long before.
John Malalas:
In his grief King Herod, the son of Philip, came from Judea, and a certain wealthy woman, living in the city of Paneas, called Bernice, approached him, wishing to set up a statue to Jesus, for she had been healed by him. As she did not dare to do this without imperial permission, she addressed a petition to King Herod, asking to set up a golden statue to the Saviour Christ in that city.

The petition ran as follows: To the august toparch Herod, lawgiver to Jews and Hellenes, king of Trachonitis, a petition and request from Bernice, a dignitary of the city of Paneas. Justice and benevolence and all other virtues crown your highness's sacred head. Thus, since I know this, I have come with every good hope that I shall obtain my requests. My words as they progress will reveal to you what foundation there is for this present preamble. From my childhood I have been smitten with the affliction of an internal haemorrhage; I spent all my livelihood and wealth on doctors but found no cure. When I heard of the cures that Christ performs with His miracles, He who raises the dead, restores the blind to sight, drives demons out of mortals, and heals with a word all those wasting away from disease, I too ran to Him as to God. I noticed the crowd surrounding him and I was afraid to tell Him of my incurable disease in case he should recoil from the pollution of my affliction and be angry with me and the violence of the disease should strike me even more. I reasoned to myself that, if I were able to touch the fringe of His garment, I would certainly be healed. I touched Him, and the flow of blood was stopped and immediately I was healed. He, however, as though He knew in advance my heart's purpose, cried out, Who touched Me? For power has gone out of Me. I went white with terror and lamented, thinking that the disease would return to me with greater force, and I fell before Him covering the ground with tears. I told Him of my boldness. Out of His goodness He took pity on me and confirmed my cure, saying, Be of good courage, My daughter, your faith has saved you. Go your way in peace. So, your august highness, grant your suppliant this worthy petition.

When King Herod heard the contents of this petition, he was amazed by the miracle and, fearing the mystery of the cure, said, This cure, woman, which was worked on you, is worthy of a greater statue. Go then and set up whatever kind of statue you wish to Him, honouring by the offering Him who healed you. Immediately, Bernice, who had formerly suffered from a haemorrhage, set up in the middle of her city of Paneas a statue of beaten bronze, mixing it with gold and silver, to the Lord God. This statue remains in the city of Paneas to the present day, having been moved not many years ago from the place where it stood in the middle of the city to a holy place, a house of prayer. This document was found in the city of Paneas in the house of a man called Bassus, a Jew who had become a Christian.
Among so many remarkable events which occurred during the reign of Julian, I must not omit to mention one which affords a sign of the power of Christ, and proof of the Divine wrath against the emperor.

Having heard that at Caesarea Philippi, otherwise called Paneas, a city of Phonicia, there was a celebrated statue of Christ which had been erected by a woman whom the Lord had cured of a flow of blood, Julian commanded it to be taken down and a statue of himself erected in its place; but a violent fire from heaven fell upon it and broke off the parts contiguous to the breast; the head and neck were thrown prostrate, and it was transfixed to the ground with the face downwards at the point where the fracture of the bust was; and it has stood in that fashion from that day until now, full of the rust of the lightning. The statue of Christ was dragged around the city and mutilated by the pagans; but the Christians recovered the fragments, and deposited the statue in the church in which it is still preserved. Eusebius relates, that at the base of this statue grew an herb which was unknown to the physicians and empirics, but was efficacious in the cure of all disorders. It does not appear a matter of astonishment to me, that, after God had vouchsafed to dwell with men, he should condescend to bestow benefits upon them.

There is also the statue of the Saviour in the city of Paneas, a work of magnificent execution put up by the woman with the haemorrhage whom Christ healed, and erected on a notable site in the city... Now an herb grew up by the feet of our Saviour's image and the reason for this was sought, for in the passage of time both the person portrayed and the reason for the monument had been forgotten; it stood in the open with nothing to cover it, and much of the body was buried in the dirt that kept falling upon it from highter ground especially in times of rain, the dirt covering the writing that explained each of the matters. An inquiry was therefore instituted, the buried part was dug out, and the writing was found that told the whole story... The Christians removed it and put it in the sacristy of the church. The pagans pulled it down, fastened ropes to the feet, and dragged it through the public square until it was broken up bit by bit and so destroyed. Only the head was left; that was seized by someone while the pagans were raising their clamor and speaking blasphemies and utterly disgraceful words against our Lord Jesus Christ, words such as no one had ever heard.

15 January 2013


Selected illustrations from Romani Collegii Societatus Jesu Musaeum Celeberrimum, a description of Kircher's museum written by Giorgio de Sepibus and published in 1678:

14 January 2013


Timothy J. Crowley:
The celebration of the Festum Asinorum in medieval and ecclesiastical circles was a pastime in which all, from the dignitaries in the upper stalls of the sanctuary to the humblest among the esclaffardi, participated. The feast dates for the 11th century, though the source which suggested it is much older [the Christmas Eve liturgy of the Processus Prophetarum] ... In all this the part that pleased the congregation was the rôle of Balaam and the Ass; hence the popular designation of the Processus Prophetarum as the Feast of the Ass.
The part of Balaam was soon dissociated from its surroundings and expanded into an independent drama. The Rouen rubrics direct that two messengers be sent by King Balaak to bring forth the prophet. Balaam advances riding on a gorgeously caparisoned ass (a wooden, or hobby, ass, for the rubric immediately bids somebody to hide beneath the trappings - not an enviable position when the further direction to the rider was carried out - and let him goad the ass with his spurs). From the Chester pageant it is clear that the prophet rode on a wooden animal, since the rubric supposes that the speaker for the beast is in asinâ. Then follows the scene in which the ass meets the angered angel and protests at length against the cruelty of the rider.
Once detached from the parent stem, the Festum Asinorum branched in various directions. In the Beauvais 13th century document, quoted by the editors of Ducange, the Feast of Asses is already an independent trope with the date and purpose of its celebration changed. At Beauvais the Ass may have continued his minor role of enlivening the long procession of Prophets. On the 14th of January, however, he discharged an important function in that city's festivities. On the feast of the Flight into Egypt the most beautiful girl in the city, with a pretty child in her arms, was placed on a richly draped ass, and conducted with religious gravity to St. Stephen's Church. The Ass (possibly a wooden figure) was stationed at the right of the altar, and the Mass was begun. After the Introit a Latin Prose was sung... Mass was continued, and at its end ... the following direction was observed:
In fine Misse sacerdos, versus ad populum, vice Ite, Missa est, ter hinhannabit: populus vero, vice Deo Gratias, ter respondebit, Hinham, hinham, hinham.

At the end of Mass, the priest, having turned to the people, in lieu of saying the Ite, Missa est, will bray thrice; the people instead of replying Deo Gratias say, Hinham, hinham, hinham.
This is the sole instance of a service of this nature in connection with the Feast of Ass. The Festum Asinorum gradually lost its identity, and became incorporated in the ceremonies of the Deposuit or united in the general merry-making on the Feast of Fools. The Processus Prophetarum, whence it drew its origin, survives in the Corpus Christi and Whitsun Cycles, that stand at the head of the modern English drama.
Sequence by Peter of Corbeil:

Orientis partibus
Adventavit asinus
Pulcher et fortissimus
Sarcinis aptissimus.

Lentus erat pedibus,
Nisi foret baculus,
Et eum in clunibus
Pungeret aculeus.

Hic in collibus Sychen
Iam nutritus sub Ruben
Transiit per Jordanem
Saliit in Bethlehem.

Ecce magnis auribus,
Subjugalis filius,
Asinus egregius
Asinorum dominus.

Saltu vincit hinnulos
Damas et capreolos
Super dromedarios
Velox Midianeos.

Aurum de arabia
Thus et myrrham de Saba,
Tulit in Ecclesia,
Virtus asinaria

Dum trahit vehicula
Multa cum sarcinula
Illius mandibula
Dura terit pabula

Cum aristis hordeum
Comedit et carduum,
Triticum ex palea
Segregat in area.

Amen dicas, Asine!
Iam satur de gramine:
Amen, Amen itera -
Aspernare vetera!

Englished by Andrew Streinmetz:

In the eastern regions
Chanced an Ass to be,
Beautiful and bravest,
Fittest loads to bear.

Slow in foot was he
Lest there was a stick
And a goad to prick him
In his lazy buttocks.

He was raised in Sichem,
Pastured under Reuben,
Found his way o'er Jordan,
Trotted into Bethl'hem.

Here he is with big ears -
Primitive clod-hopper -
Ass as big as ever -
Lord of all the asses.

Mules he beats at jumping,
Bucks and goats the same -
Swifter than the Midian
Dromedary's he.

Gold of rich Arabia,
Incense, myrrh of Saba -
All, the Church now offers
To an Ass's virtue.

Whilst he drags his wagon,
Plentifully piled on -
Then his jaws are grinding
Hard food for digestion.

Wheat and barley loves he,
Thistle too he savours,
Wheat from chaff well knows he,
Browsing in the barn-yard.

Now say Amen, O Ass!
Belly full of clover -
Amen! Amen ever!
And away with fodder!

12 January 2013


Glasgow University Library:
The book is one of the seminal works of musicology and was hugely influential in the development of Western music – in particular on J.S. Bach and Beethoven.

Its author [Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher] lived and worked at the Collegio Romano in Rome for most of his life and his position at the hub of a huge international organisation – the 40000 or so strong Society of Jesus - had two very important effects: first of all he received thousands of letters from Jesuits and others in places as far apart and little-known as China and Mexico, giving him access to unparalleled sources of knowledge mostly unknown to the western world.

The second effect was the converse of this: Kircher’s books were printed in large numbers – there were 1500 copies printed in 1650 of the Musurgia Universalis alone – and widely distributed through Jesuit channels. In 1652, for example, more than 300 Jesuits came to Rome from all over the world to elect a new Superior General: every one of them took back one of these sumptuous volumes, which explains the astonishing diaspora of these books even today.

The Musurgia Universalis then is hugely famous and has been since it appeared in 1650. Its most famous image is probably that of the birds with their songs written out in musical notation beside their pictures... The nightingale's song is given first, followed by those of the cock, the hen laying eggs and calling her chicks, the cuckoo, quail and parrot; the latter says Hello in Greek. The cockerel's music has the familiar portamento at the end of each phrase; as usual the cuckoo's call is notated as a falling minor third.

The rest of the content of the book, however, is much less well-known... The German publishing house of Olm produced a facsimile edition of it in 1990 but it is already out of print. Perhaps most strangely of all, apart from a nineteenth century translation of the work into German, there are no translations of the book, which is written in rather ponderous Latin with occasional excursions into Greek and Hebrew. Some of the musical scores printed in the book are found in no other form, despite the fame of some of the composers.

The frontispiece to the first volume was engraved by Baronius of Rome after a drawing by John Paul Schor. It makes reference to similar pages in some of Kircher's other volumes, particularly the triangle and globe symbols...

The triangle at the top is the symbol of the Holy Trinity and sheds its rays over the whole of the top of the picture. Kircher held to the mediaeval idea that music is a reflection of the essential mathematics and proportions inherent in all Creation... Under the Trinity we find the nine angelic, four-voice choirs, singing a 36-part canon by Romano Micheli. The canon is properly described as canoni sopra le vocali di piu parole (on the vowels of a few words) although in the present case the words ascribed are those of the angelic choirs in the Trishagion, Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus, as described in Revelation. The strip of text reads: Angelic choir of 36 voices [then the Sanctus music notated in staff notation] distributed in 9 choirs.

The middle section is dominated by a globe of the World, on which is seated Musica, holding the lyre of Apollo and the panpipes of Marsyas. The globe is encircled by the Zodiac, and Musica holds also a streamer bearing the legend Of Athanasius Kircher of the Society of Jesus, Universal Musicmaking or the Art... [being the beginning of the full title of the work]. Round the last part of the streamer is displayed the dedication To His Serene Highness Leopold William, Archduke of Austria. Other symbols in this section include rings of dancing mermaids on the shore, a shepherd trying out the echo and the winged horse of the Muses, Pegasus.

The lowest part of the picture shows blacksmiths in a cave: the sound of blacksmiths hammering had led Pythagoras to important conclusions about the nature of pitch and the blacksmiths are acknowledged in the picture by being pointed out by Pythagoras, who also holds an illustration of his theorem, also using triangles, and hence referring obliquely once again to the top of the picture. The muse on the right may be Polymnia who appears in standard pose surrounded by musical instruments of various kinds.

11 January 2013


Christian Museum:
This painting by an Austrian or perhaps a Hungarian painter has an unusual iconography. Originally, the panel was joined with another one that closely correlated to it also in its content. In the other, now lost panel, a praying man was depicted. The red lines that once departed from his figure and continue in this picture represent his erring thoughts. The attention given to clothes, drinking, worldly treasures, and women is shown here as morally reproachable. It is possible that also a third panel was joined to these which showed the correct direction of the praying man’s thoughts and the desirable virtues. Tempera on wood, 1430s.

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