The Notre Dame Diurnal


Location: Special Collections, Hesburgh Library

On Friday, Dec. 9, from 11:30-1PM a group of students in the liturgical prayer course will present a panel on their work and will sing representative types of music from the Notre Dame Diurnal. The work will unfold in Special Collections, Hesburgh Library, and the manuscript will be on display.

A light repast will be served (at an appropriate distance!).

The Manuscript

The Notre Dame Diurnal is a precious thirteenth-century liturgical manuscript, made in Paris for a house of Carthusians. It is a cantor’s book, and contains the music and readings needed to lead communal song, a psalter, and a calendar. There are many additions in the margins and elsewhere to demonstrate that this was a book of use, an integral part of a particular community’s life of prayer. In our Liturgical Prayer course, a team of Notre Dame students has been studying the book, and preparing an index of a substantial portion of it for the CANTUS indexing project.

Our Particular Work:

Our indexing project is making the Notre Dame Diurnal part of the CANTUS project. Because of our work, scholars from around the world will now be able to consult the contents of our book and study its unique features. Our book will be the first Carthusian manuscript to be indexed on CANTUS, the first diurnal, and one of only a few manuscripts held in libraries in the US to be represented. Through the indexing project, our students have gained knowledge about how to work with liturgical manuscripts, giving them access to the wealth of other manuscripts now online, and also preparing them to teach others about how to work with the musical treasury of chant, directly from the manuscripts. Students are using this panel as a trial run for further work to be presented at the International Conference on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo.

On the CANTUS Project:

CANTUS is a database of Latin ecclesiastical chant, the earliest written musical repertory of any significant size. The texts are almost all in Latin, and the majority of them are drawn from the Bible, very often from the book of Psalms. There are thousands of individual chants, and they came into existence over a long period, beginning in early Christian times and continuing until as late as the nineteenth century. Virtually all chants have clearly defined liturgical roles that associate them with either the Mass or the Office, a series of worship services that take place at intervals through the course of each day. For the vast majority of chants, the date of composition is unknown, as is the composer. However, owing to the use of chant in worship in medieval times and beyond, and because chant melodies are often incorporated into the sacred music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, scholars are deeply interested in learning all they can about it.

Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy; Co-Director of the Master of Sacred Music Program, University of Notre Dame

Sponsored by the Master of Sacred Music Program.