John Harper: medieval liturgical texts and buildings

Realising the latent:

Location: ICMUS room (Armstrong Building)
Time/Date: 8th December 2009, 17:00 - 19:00

Realising the latent: medieval liturgical texts and buildings

John Harper

Both liturgy and music are recorded in a latent form, and only exist when they are ‘performed’; and the spaces in which they are performed are integral to the shaping and realisation of sound and action. Musicians are used to realising a score (which cannot be read conventionally as an intelligible text) as music sounded by people in a specific space at a specific time. That, perhaps, influences their approach to liturgy as the realisation of liturgical text as ‘score’ to be sounded and enacted by people in a specific space. Furthermore, the configuration of that space can embody in latent form the liturgical ethos as well as liturgical action for which a medieval church was originally intended.

This paper is related to the three-year research project, The experience of worship in late medieval cathedral and parish church: investigation, realisation and interpretation, funded by the third phase of the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme. This is a project that can be evaluated by a range of physical outcomes and public impact. At its heart, however, is a quest for new understanding in reading medieval liturgical texts (words, music and instructions) and the medieval buildings where they were used.

John Harper is RSCM Research Professor of Christian Music and Liturgy, Bangor University, and director of the International Centre for Sacred Music Studies based there. He is also Emeritus Director, The Royal School of Church Music.

Published: 3rd December 2009