Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

O Virgo Virginum

In the original posts Fr East added this comment: "In England, there was an eighth antiphon, 'O virgo virginum', 'O virgin of virgins', applied to Mary; and example of English exhuberance spoiling the careful and spare patterning of the Roman liturgy."

In contradistinction one might say that it points to the variety permissible within the medieval church as different provinces and dioceses developed the pattern of the liturgical year.

The additional Sarum antiphon for today is:
O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud?
Quia nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem.
Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini?
Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.
O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?
For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me?
The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.
The first line appears to refer to Our Lady's response to the Archangel at the Annunciation in Luke 1:34, whilst the reference to the Daughters of Jerusalem links to the repeated references to them in the Song of Songs.

This antiphon is also still sung in the Premonstratensisn Use by the Norbertines, as one of their community in Chelmsford informed me the other year. This may reflect the particular Marian character of the Order.

Virgin and Child

Miniature of the Virgin and Child, from the De Lisle Psalter (British Library, MS Arundel 83 II,f.131v). The Virgin has her feet resting on a dragon and a lion. They are seated in an elaborate Gothic arched canopy, with niches containing two angels carrying candles, and the figures of St Catherine of Alexandria and St Margaret of Antioch.English circa 1310, and attributed to the  Madonna Master


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