The Liber Ymnorum of Notker Balbulus

December 2016
575 pages
29.7x21 cm
Henry Bradshaw Society
ISBN: 9781907497292
Format: Hardback
Henry Bradshaw Society
BISAC REL033000, MUS048010

The Liber Ymnorum of Notker Balbulus

Volume I: Text and Music; Volume II: Translation

Translated by Calvin M. Bower

Edited by Calvin M. Bower

First edition with the melodies of an immensely significant ninth-century liturgical masterpiece.
Winner of the Palisca Prize by the American Musicological Society, 2017

These two volumes present an important and distinctive collection of Carolingian poetry, composed for the liturgy in the last quarter of the ninth century by Notker Balbulus ("the stammerer"), monk of St Gall (d. 912). Notker was not the first liturgical composer inspired by the Carolingian renaissance of learning to make new texts for elaborate Alleluia melodies, but he was certainly the first to raise the sequence genre to a consistently refined linguistic and theological level, and to provide a repertory for the annual cycle of holy feasts. His collection circulated widely in Germanic areas in the tenth and eleventh centuries, while some of his compositions - such as Sancti spiritus - became staples throughout Europe.
Notker's Liber ymnorum has never before been edited with the melodies after which his sequences were fashioned and to which they were sung. Provided here is a full edition of Notker's dedicatory preface, followed by 49 sequences. Each sequence is presented with two musical notations ("Carolingian", in neumes, and pitched on staves), followed by translations and an extensive commentary. A full introduction provides a context for the work.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Part I. Notker on the Liber ymnorum
Introduction: Part II. The Liber ymnorum as a Musical and Poetic Document
The Manuscript Sources of the East Frankish Sequence and Notker's Liber ymnorum
Editorial Principles
Liber ymnorum
Vocabulary used in the Liber ymnorum
Index of ymniand prosae by incipit
Index of Melodies by title
Index of Manuscripts Cited


A monumental achievement in every sense of the word..These volumes raise Notker studies to a quite new level. PLAINSONG & MEDIEVAL MUSIC

Bower's edition should provoke renewed attention to both the poetry and the notation of Notker's Liber ymnorum by scholars of poetry and music, as well as by performers..[It] will rightly take its place as an indispensable contribution. MUSIC AND LETTERS

Also in Series

Related Titles