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From «Beowulf» to Caxton

Studies in Medieval Languages and Literature, Texts and Manuscripts


Edited By Tomonori Matsushita, A.V.C. Schmidt and David J. Wallace

Senshu University has hosted many international conferences on medieval English literature – primarily on Geoffrey Chaucer and William Langland – as well as in the related fields of Old Germanic, medieval French and Renaissance Italian literature. These international collaborations inform and contribute to the present volume, which addresses the heritage bequeathed to medieval English language and literature by the classical world.
This volume explores the development of medieval English literature in light of contact with Germanic and Old Norse cultures, on the one hand, and Romance languages, on the other. The book includes a comparative study of Beowulf in the Germanic context, discusses aspects of Piers Plowman and its tradition, and offers philological approaches to Chaucer (especially his Troilus and Criseyde). The articles assembled here collectively suggest how the torches of classical learning were carried from continental Europe to illuminate the pages of medieval English literature.


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Patrick P. O’Neill - 14. The Senshu Psalter -321


Patrick P. O’Neill 14 The Senshu Psalter 14.0. Introduction In the book culture of the medieval West the Bible stood preeminent. Within the Bible, the Gospels, which conveyed the primary Christian message of the New Testament, obviously occupied first place. But a close second in status and frequency of use was an Old Testament book, the col- lection of 150 Psalms known as the Psalter. There are a number of reasons why the Psalter received special attention and was so frequently copied in western Christendom. It enjoyed special status as one of the ‘Sapiential’ or ‘Wisdom’ books of the Old Testament. It was also the text used to teach children (beginning traditionally at the age of seven) how to read and write Latin, especially in the monasteries where students learned it by heart. And, most importantly, it was the basic text of the Divine Of fice, the sequence of prayers that were sung and recited at fixed hours in a daily liturgical cycle. The recitation of the Divine Of fice was originally a monastic and clerical duty but by the eighth century it was already being embraced by pious laity.1 Such Psalters, liturgical or quasi-liturgical, had additional matter besides their text of the Psalms proper, notably a set of Canticles (hymns taken mainly from the Old and New Testament), a Litany (a series of interces- sions) and prayers.2 It is to this broad category of ‘liturgical Psalter’ that the Senshu Psalter (hereafter referred to as ‘S’) belongs (see Figures 14...

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