Book Series Medieval Church Studies, vol. 16

Carmelite Liturgy and Spiritual Identity

The Choir Books of Kraków

James Boyce, O. Carm.

  • Pages: 524 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:18 b/w, 30 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English, Latin, French
  • Publication Year:2009

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-51714-8
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57219-2
  • E-book
  • Available


"Boyce demonstrates in this book the value of focusing on this particular set of musical manuscripts. [...] He makes a great contribution to our knowledge of the explicit repertoire of the Carmelites as contained in these manuscripts."    (Anne Bagnall Yardley, in Speculum 85/3, July 2010, p. 644-645) 

"Fr Boyce's fine study provides a fundamental assessment of Carmelite liturgy through the example of the Kraków convent. [...] Carmelite theology, spirituality, liturgy and history are presented and explained in meticulous detail."    (Barbara Haggh, in Plainsong and Medieval Music 20/2, 2011, p. 211)

"This monumental book is an exemplary case study of liturgy and religious life based on the close analysis of chant books used in a particular church. (...) Carmelite Liturgy is recommended reading for church historians and musicologists alike (...)." (S. Boynton, in: Church History, vol. 81/1, March 2012, p. 175-177)

"(...) [the author's] meticulous research has revealed a treasure trove of information about, and insight into, the rich and many layered world of a local Carmelite liturgy over a long period. Fr. Boyce's book is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Carmelite experience in all its diversity." (J. B. Wickstrom, in: The Medieval Review, 10.03.13)

"Through his examination of these manuscripts Boyce broadens our veiw of Carmelite liturgy as a whole while also giving us a special understanding of their Polish and Bohemian identity. (...) Addtionnally, by comparing a selection of these chants with those of the larger mendicant orders of Franciscans and Dominicans, Boyce gives us a better view of the contributions of the Carmelites to the history of chant." (Peter Loewen, in: Manuscripta, 55.2, 2011, p. 213-217)


This book discusses the significance of the Carmelite liturgy as practised in the Kraków convent over a period of some four hundred years. Specifically, it examines the liturgical contents of five medieval Carmelite choir books from the Kraków convent and another choir book from this collection which is now in Wroclaw, and discusses their contents (especially their significant feasts), in terms of the Carmelite order's historical self-understanding and established liturgical tradition. Carmelite Liturgy and Spiritual Identity outlines the role of liturgy in the life of the Kraków convent and in relationship to the apostolic activity of these mendicant friars. It argues that the order's unique liturgical tradition, one which remained distinctive even after the Council of Trent, was crucial to their self-understanding. It also articulates how the liturgical practices of the Kraków Carmelites made a significant contribution to the spiritual life of the city and its people.