A Newly Discovered Birgittine Antiphonal in Linköping

March 10th, 2017 by Karin Strinnholm Lagergren

During my Birgittine adventures I learnt some time ago about a Dutch Birgittine antiphonal now in the library in Linköping. Last week I finally had the chance to see it!

It is not that this antiphonal has been unknown to mankind for centuries, since it was properly catalogued at its acquisition in 1921. But no one has paid attention to it, and the reason for this is probably its late date: it was written in 1849. This is one of the most neglected periods in chant history if it not comes to the work of Solesmes. But a lot of other musical liturgical activities took place during the 19th century, which this is an example of.

This antiphonal was written in the Dutch Birgittine abbey Maria Hart in Weert and contains the special Office liturgy for Birgittine sisters, the Cantus Sororum, though only vespers and compline. Maria Hart was founded in 1843 as a daughter foundation from Maria Refugie in Uden, also in the Netherlands. When Maria Hart was founded, sisters from Maria Refugie brought with them several liturgical books from the 17th and 18th centuries, but they also wrote at least two books. In Weert one antiphonal from 1851 is preserved today, also only containing the liturgy for vespers and compline. Both these antiphonals are written by sister Maria Catharina Sanders.  The relation in detail of the content of these two manuscripts remains to be investigated.

During the Birgittine Indian summer during the 1910s and 1920s, the library in Linköping asked Weert for a manuscript for their collection. Abbess Cecilia offered this antiphonal to the Linköping library in 1921 where it is today, accessible for anyone interested in the late development of the Birgittine liturgy.

Habent sua fata libelli.

Sunday vespers antiphon ‘Beati metuentes’ from Cantus Sororum.

Inscription by scribe Maria Catharina Sanders at end of manuscript.

PS! The manuscript is catalogued as Antiphonale Mariano Birgittanum ordinis Anno 1849.

Karin Strinnholm Lagergren
Senior Lecturer at Linnaeus University

Senior lecturer in musicology and singer of medieval music. Research interest monastic chant, in particular Birgittines and Dominicans. In this blog I write, comment and reflect on my research project ‘The Musical World of the Birgittine Order’. Expect loads of manuscript images, tricky chant problems and square notation!


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