E 891 dl: Medieval Latin Authors



This syllabus is subject to change. The latest version on this website is the binding syllabus.

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WEEK 4: Hymnody
11 February


Our topic this week is lyric and hymnody. Review the hymns of Ambrose of Milan, and browse the Psalms.

Consider the precise sequence in which the meaning of a hymn unfolds in time. Note juxtaposition and variation, as well as sequences and catalogues.

How do Prudentius and his contemporaries understand the invisible world's interaction with human physicality? How can a hymn effectively expound faith and understanding? What is the role of imagery in exposition and contemplation? Why must these hymns—indeed any poem—employ images of physical things?

Resource: Latin Words program: on internet and for download.

Karma Lochrie, Margery Kempe and translations of the flesh. Univ. Penn, 1991. esp. chapter 1.

Here is Dag Norberg on versification.


1) Raby, chapter 2, pp. 44-71.

2) In Walsh, 100 Latin Hymns, read Ambrose, 1. "Aeterne rerum conditor" [SUNG]; 2. "Splendor paternae" [SUNG]; 3. "Deus, creator omnium" [SUNG]; 5. "Intende, qui regis Israel" [SUNG]; 7. "Illuminans altissimus"; 8. "Agnes beatae virginis"; and 14. "Aeterna Christi munera." Here is something on the Ambrosian manuscript tradition

3) Compare the Magnificat (canticle of Mary).

4) Sedulius in Walsh: 19, "A solis ortus ordine" [SUNG]

5) In Walsh, Prudentius 18, "Deus, ignee fons animarum"; and in the Loeb, Prudentius, "Hymnus ante somnum," pp. 48-56; and "Hymnus omnis horae," pp. 76-84. If you like, more Prudentius in Latin is here.

6) Venantius Fortunatus in Walsh: 20, "Pange, linua" (compare Philip the Chancellor, Hymn 92); 21, "Vexilla regis prodeunt"; 22, "Crux benedicta nitet."

7) In Walsh, hymns 63, "Ave, maris stella" [Grieg's version]; and Columba's "Altus Prosator" (no. 64).

NB) Critical edition of Confessions. Medieval Torah at BN.