Critical edition and study of Bern of Reichenau's complete liturgical writings
Henry Parkes is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Nottingham. The author of The Making of Liturgy in the Ottonian Church (Cambridge, 2015), his research deals with music and worship in the central Middle Ages, above all in Germany, with a focus on the experience of ritual, the formation of tradition and identity, and manuscript culture.
This volume offers the first modern edition and study of the liturgical writings of Bern, abbot of Reichenau (d. 1048). Dealing with some of the more ordinary questions facing medieval worshipping communities – such as how to find the correct date for Advent Sunday, or how to be sure that a text is liturgically or doctrinally appropriate – Bern’s four tractates provide rare first-hand insights into the practices, problems and perceptions of Christian liturgy in the early years of the second millennium. Formerly attributed to Bern, a fifth work (Ratio generalis de initio Aduentus) is shown to be one of his sources and is edited in an appendix.
Unlike formal liturgical expositions, Bern’s writings were devoted to alleviating specific concerns, often at the request of specific people. However, the author also believed strongly in the potential of his reasoning to draw together the Christian community at large. As such, these writings are assiduously argued and researched, reaching their conclusions with the author’s characteristically broad weave of citation, interpretation and anecdote. With implications liturgical, intellectual and political, the tractates are fertile sources not only for scholars of religion, but also for musicologists and medieval historians.
In an extensive introduction the editor addresses longstanding questions about the shape, extent and internal coherence of Bern's liturgical oeuvre, aided by two recently rediscovered manuscripts. The apparatus and indices also provide the first detailed survey of the author’s extensive liturgical, patristic and canonical citations, in addition to accessible explications of more complicated areas of argument.