Liturgical Texts and Performance Practices

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focuses on the problematic relationship between medieval texts and contemporary performance practices in the many contexts that could be considered 'liturgical'. It provides the nature of liturgical texts and their relationship to performance at the centre of inquiry. The chancy survival of liturgical texts has been stressed: the readers have noted how accident and negligence or reliance on oral tradition and improvisation can affect the frequency with which certain practices are preserved and the formats in which they are preserved. Although Carolingian initiatives aimed at codifying liturgical practices may have resulted in the eradication of many largely unscripted performance practices, this initiative was unevenly carried out and constantly productive of intriguing hybrids. While the reader will never be able to overcome the gap between the mostly canonical texts they have and the wider world of liturgical practice, a more holistic and critical engagement with the evidence is in order, and could yield a good deal of fresh evidence.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUnderstanding medieval liturgy
Subtitle of host publicationessays in interpretation
EditorsHelen Gittos, Sarah Hamilton
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781315562988
ISBN (Print)9781409451501, 9781409451518, 9781472406705
StatePublished - 2016


  • Liturgik
  • Liturgics
  • Church history


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