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Art. 102, Gloria in excelsis Deo en fraunceis: 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); CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); DOML: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library; FDT: French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages (Sinclair 1979); FDT-1French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages, . . . First Supplement (Sinclair 1982); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); 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).

Like the Te Deum laudamus, the ancient liturgical hymn Gloria in excelsis Deo became a “private psalm” for the devoted. It opens with the words sung by the angels to the shepherds at Christ’s birth (Luke 2:14), and thus it was called the Angelic Hymn. As verses were added, it developed into a liturgical doxology. The prayer fits seamlessly in quire 15 with other religious memoranda that record and itemize efficacious prayers, rituals for commemorative masses, and the occasions for psalms. On its own, fol. 134v serves up three prayers in French and Latin. This vernacular item follows an Anglo-Norman prose listing of efficacious psalms, and it resides next to a confessional prayer in Latin. The Gloria to God in the Highest in French is notable for how the scribe references its language as something translated from Latin. The Ludlow scribe seldom flags a specific language in this way. Written as prose, the prayer is, in fact, a poem, and the scribe marks line breaks. For another reference to the Gloria in excelsis Deo in quire 15, see Three Prayers That Never Fail (art. 109a).

[Fol. 134v. ANL 869. FDT 3098. Scribe: B (Ludlow scribe). Quire: 15. Meter: Fourteen alexandrine lines on one rhyme, -é. Layout: No columns, written as prose, title underlined in red. Edition: Hunt and Bliss, pp. 242–45. Other MSS: None. Translation: Hunt and Bliss, pp. 242–45.]

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