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Art. 66, Blessed be thou, Levedy: Introduction

ABBREVIATIONS: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CCC: Corpus Christi College (Cambridge); CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); IMEV Suppl.: Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (Robbins and Cutler); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

Blessed Are You, Lady is a dignified prayer to the Virgin that also survives in MS Egerton 613, a book older than MS Harley 2253. The two versions each have two unique stanzas and many phrasal variations, and after lines 1–8 the stanzas are not in the same order. The lyric was probably copied from memory for at least one of the two texts. The Harley scribe has clustered three poems in the same meter (arts. 64, 65, 66) on two facing leaves (fols. 80v–81r) (Solopova, pp. 377–79). The grouping may indicate that they are to be sung to the same music. Moreover, the placement of this prayer item with the others seems to make deliberate contrast between secular and religious love, which the scribe clearly does elsewhere (compare arts. 92, 93). For the history of commentary on Blessed Are You, Lady, see the bibliography in MWME 11:4353–54, to which may be added Durling, p. 290.

[Fol. 81r–v. IMEV, NIMEV 1407. MWME 11:4199 [26]. Scribe: B (Ludlow scribe). Quire: 9. Meter: Nine 4-line stanzas, aaaa6–7, with some internal rhyme. Compared to the Egerton version, the Harley lyric tends to reduce regular septenary meter to six stresses. Layout: No columns. Editions: Wright 1842, pp. 93–94 (no. 33); Böddeker, pp. 216–17; Brook, pp. 64–65 (no. 26); Saupe, pp. 127–28 (no. 64). Other MS: London, BL MS Egerton 613, fol. 2r (ed. Brown 1932, pp. 111–13 [no. 55]).]

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