Quick Note on Sarum Prime

I just got done glancing through the ordering for singing Prime in the Sarum rite.

Now I don’t claim to be an expert or anything, but I think it’s fair to say that I do have a certain familiarity with the liturgical year as observed in Medieval England. As remarked n this site before, there’s always been discussion among Anglo-Catholics concerning the truth of Cranmer’s allegations on the complexity of the Sarum system to the detriment of the Gospel. Let me just say that this morning, I’m on Cranmer’s side…

There are no less than 20 different melodies for the singing of the Prime hymn (with 4 additional variants in the doxologies). The directions for use tend to look like this:

Daily within the Octave and on the Octave Day of the Assumption and of the Nativity of S. Mary when the service is of the same Octave ; and on every Commemoration of S. Mary through the whole year, except from the Octave of the Epiphany until the Purification, this melody is sung.

Looking at this as a liturgist and a programmer considering how to place this rubric within a rule-based machine-comprehensible system, the heart quails…

One Reply to “Quick Note on Sarum Prime”

  1. Eh, not so bad. ;-) “This is the melody for Marian Simple Feasts”. And I’d have to check when I get home, but I *think* the prime tunes are usually just the tunes for that day, from either Matins or Lauds.

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