I realize that it kinda misses the point to talk about this trip on a blog without pictures. I don’t have an iPhone (shocking, I realize) and I didn’t think to ask for the camera often enough. So, a lot of the pictures that accompany these posts will be GIS’ed. I apologize if that’s not “authentic” enough for you.
One of the big surprises of the trip (for me, at least) happened on the Wednesday. Wednesday is “dumb day” at the cathedral (I kid you not, that’s what it’s called) and there is no sung service. This gave the choir the opportunity to go on a field trip to four small churches in rural Norfolk and Suffolk. These churches all had design elements that were used in the building of our church. There was a story at each of these parishes. We were greeted warmly at all four. At the first two, our director was interviewed by the local print media. At the second, we saw the tallest font cover in Europe. At the third, where we arrived around 4pm, we were treated to a sumptuous high tea in a house across the street from the church. And in the last, my musicologist’s heart skipped a beat when I heard that they had a treasure: the Ranworth Antiphoner. The sign on the wall next you the glass-topped case in which it lay explains it nicely:
The Antiphoner is a service book, written by the monks at Langley Abbey on the River Yare, 500 years ago. It has 285 sheepskin pages with 19 illuminated miniatures.
It is all in medieval Latin, and gives psalms, hymns, readings, prayers, and antiphons (which are versibles and responses) set to plainsong. They were used, and many are still used for the 7 daily services in monasteries according to the Sarum (Salisbury) Rite. [all sic]
One in our group, as we were trying to decipher the text, noticed a small illumination of a group of men encircling a pair of feet in the air. From this, she deduced that we book was open to the Feast of the Ascension and, according to the rector, she was right. I had the same feeling in my gut which caused me to want to go to graduate school in the first place. I tried to find the right way to ask the question, and finally settled on “as a recovering academic, has any comprehensive study been done on this manuscript?” The answer came back that studies had been done on parts of the thing, but not all. Were I 20 years younger, I’d be thinking DISSERTATION TOPIC. But as a worn-out forty-something, I sighed internally, and wished for a moment that I could throw it all away and become an independent scholar.