Mary Channen Caldwell

Dec 7, 2022

Devotional Refrains in Medieval Latin Song

Cambridge University Press 2022

Mary Channen Caldwell in her new book Devotional Refrains in Medieval Latin Song (Cambridge University Press 2022) opens up new avenues for investigation by centering the refrain as an area of focus in which to analyze Latin songs through the Middle Ages.

Throughout medieval Europe, male and female religious communities attached to churches, abbeys, and schools participated in devotional music making outside of the chanted liturgy. Newly collating over 400 songs from primary sources, this book reveals the role of Latin refrains and refrain songs in the musical lives of religious communities by employing novel interdisciplinary and analytical approaches to the study of medieval song. Through interpretive frameworks focused on time and temporality, performance, memory, inscription, and language, each chapter offers an original perspective on how refrains were created, transmitted, and performed. Arguing for the Latin refrain's significance as a marker of form and meaning, this book identifies it as a tool that communities used to negotiate their lived experiences of liturgical and calendrical time; to confirm their communal identity and belonging to song communities; and to navigate relationships between Latin and vernacular song and dance that emerge within their multilingual contexts.

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