The Hymns of Medieval Southern Italy: Music, Politics, and the Transformation of Local Liturgical Song

by Bibiana Vergine

Institution: Princeton University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Beneventan Chant; Hymns; Manuscripts; Middle Ages; Musicology; Southern Italy
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2071925
Full text PDF: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01vq27zq82q


This dissertation is a musicological and historical examination of a liturgical plainchant genre—the Divine Office hymn—and its repertorial transformation in Beneventan manuscripts from southern Italy as monastic institutions responded to local dynamics of liturgical reform in the eleventh through thirteenth centuries. This study has three main objectives: to fill a lacuna in otherwise well-established scholarship on regional medieval liturgical hymns; to trace the effects of liturgical reform and inter-regional musical exchange on the hymn repertoire in southern Italy (at Montecassino and Benevento in particular); and to catalogue, transcribe, and analyze in their musical and historical context local hymns, especially those from two heretofore neglected hymnaries from the Biblioteca Capitolare of Benevento, manuscripts Ben 42 and Ben 37. While the hymn repertoires of other regions have been studied in detail, there is still need for a full survey of this genre in the context of late-medieval southern Italy. The identification of a possibly more ancient layer of hymns endemic to the Beneventan region adds to the understanding of locally-composed plainchant analyzed by scholars. The melodies of local hymns resemble the regional musical style found in these other genres of plainchant, one that was gradually replaced by more “Gregorian” counterparts in a period of liturgical standardization motivated by political currents involving the papacy. An understanding of the effects of reform and repertorial exchange at Monteecassino and Benevento clarifies the origins and functions of the hymns used there and of the manuscripts in which they were copied. Differences between older and newer hymnaries and between hymnaries from central and southern Italy suggest that there was a definite transformation through time as more standardized hymnaries replaced older ones with a greater number of local texts and melodies, precious sources of local liturgical songs. This dissertation contributes to a growing body of literature in medieval studies examining the effects of reforms on regional liturgy and power structures. These broader issues can be traced especially well in a genre such as the hymn which, by honoring local saints through collective song, was by nature bound to questions of authority, monastic and civic identity. Advisors/Committee Members: Wegman, Rob C (advisor).