Workshop Report: ‘The Murbach Hymns (MS. Junius 25) – Vernacular Glossing in the Early Middle Ages’

The workshop ‘The Murbach Hymns (MS. Junius 25) – Vernacular Glossing in the Early Middle Ages’ (17–18 February 2022) highlighted a remarkable text ensemble: the Murbach hymns, a Latin hymnal with Old High German interlinear glosses. Taking this text, one of the oldest sources of Old High German, and its manuscript MS. Junius 25 (Oxford, Bodleian Library) as starting point, the importance of vernacular glossing and writing in the Early Middle Ages became clear: It sits at the crossroads of theological, linguistic, and layout approaches to the text.

Helen Gittos and Luise Morawetz discussing MS. Rawl. C. 697 (Oxford, Bodleian Library) at the Weston Library.

Participants from all over the world were able to participate thanks to the hybrid conference format, accessible online as well as in person. To allow all participants the same close-up insights into the materiality of the valuable and fragile manuscripts, the workshop opened with a presentation of the manuscript MS. Junius 25. Due to the excellent equipment of the Bodleian Library, it came to life in the expert hands of the curators, who turned the pages and the whole volume as real-time reaction to questions and requests from the audience, who were introduced to the material and linguistic peculiarities of the rare object. The speakers present at Oxford had the chance to consult and discuss the original manuscripts beforehand.

Over the course of further sessions, scholars from different research communities came together and presented their work on linguistics, pragmatics and material studies. Combining different disciplines resulted in a comprehensive survey of the use and characteristics of vernacular in the Early Middle Ages, including Old High German, Old Frisian and Old English. The theoretical insights were put into practice in a Latin-Old High German compline, which demonstrated how the oldest variety of the German language could be brought back to life. For the first time in history, the glosses of the Murbach hymns were set to music, among other Old High German texts read during the service. The workshop was brought to a close with a consultation of further glossed manuscripts of the Bodleian Library (MS. Auct. F. 1. 16, MS. Rawl. C. 697, MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 57), partly neither digitised nor edited, which put the focus again on the object – the foundation of historical linguistic studies.

The St Edmund Consort performing the Latin-Old High German compline in the crypt
of St-Peter-in-the-East in Oxford.

The event was designed as a workshop and was intended to allow the participants to interact with each other and develop ideas collectively. Extended breaks were included in which discussions could continue in person as well as online. This opportunity was used by many, despite sessions already overrunning to address all questions. During the sessions, breakout groups allowed smaller groups of participants to share their thoughts before entering the main discussion, enabling equal contributions from listeners and speakers and leading to lively participation.

The interdisciplinary approach to early vernacular and the workshop format worked well, as the high numbers of registrations and intense and vibrant discussions showed. The workshop brought the exciting text and manuscript of the Murbach hymns back into the focus of linguistic research.

We hope to deepen the collaborations established during the event and continue the debates about the status of the vernacular in the Early Middle Ages in future, exploring the interdisciplinary approach further and testing it on other material from the rich collections of Oxford and beyond.

The manuscript in focus. The setup of the workshop in St Edmund Hall (Oxford) during the presentation of Auct. F. 1. 16 (Oxford, Bodleian Library).

I want to thank all participants and supporters of this workshop, above all the speakers (in order of their presentations): Prof. Dr Daniela Mairhofer (Princeton); Prof. Dr Michael Stolz (Bern); Dr Elke Krotz (Vienna); Dr Matthias Standke (Berlin); Prof. Dr Alderik Blom (Marburg); Dr Helen Gittos (Oxford); Prof. em. Dr Elvira Glaser (Zurich); Prof. Dr Stephan Müller (Vienna).

I also want to thank the team of the Bodleian Libraries, Dr Alexandra Franklin, Dr Matthew Holford and Dr Andrew Dunning; Tom Revell, who produced this event; James Whitbourn, who set the Murbach hymns to music, and the St Edmund Consort, who performed the compline; and Will Thurlwell, Prof. Dr Howard Jones and Prof. Dr Henrike Lähnemann, who supported the workshop in person.


In association with the Bodleian Libraries and Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by the Centre for the Study of the Book (CSB), The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML).

Convenor: Luise Morawetz (luise.morawetz@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk)

Webinar: The Murbach Hymns (MS. Junius 25) – Vernacular Glossing in the Early Middle Ages

This webinar (17th/18th of February 2022) centres around the Murbach hymns, a Latin hymnal with Old High German interlinear glosses from the ninth century, whose manuscript and textual context will be examined, as well as, on a wider scale, the use and function of vernacular language in the early Middle Ages. The manuscript MS. Junius 25 and other glossed manuscripts from the Bodleian Library will be presented and analysed, giving the audience the opportunity to view these valuable objects up close. In three discussion sessions, the materiality of the manuscripts and their content will be set in context with each other, drawing a connection between the object and its use. The focus will initially be on the texts of MS. Junius 25. In further sessions, the use of vernacular language in different cultural contexts and the emergence and function of (vernacular) glosses will be explored.


PROGRAMME
All times are GMT.


Thursday, 17 February 2022


2-3 pm: Meet the Manuscript: MS. Junius 25 and the Murbach Hymnal

MS. Junius 25

  • Prof. Dr Daniela Mairhofer (Princeton)
  • Luise Morawetz (Oxford)
  • Prof. Dr Henrike Lähnemann (Oxford)
  • Dr Matthew Holford (Oxford)

3.45-5 pm: A Textual Analysis of the Manuscript

  • Prof. Dr Michael Stolz (Bern): Marginalien zu MS. Junius 25
  • Dr Elke Krotz (Vienna): The Glossaries Junius A, B and C
  • Dr Matthias Standke (Berlin): Murbacher Hymnar? Begriffs‑ und Überlieferungsgeschichte: Versuch einer Einordnung

9.15 pm: Latin-Old High German Compline in the Crypt of St-Peter-in-the-East. Live streamed via youtube. Booklet with texts.

Friday, 18 February 2022


9-10 am: Vernacular Language in Use

  • Prof. Dr Alderik Blom (Marburg): Two Old Frisian Glosses on the Psalms
  • Dr Helen Gittos (Oxford): Vernacular languages in medieval liturgy

11-12 am: The Practice of Glossing

  • Prof. em. Dr Elvira Glaser (Zurich): The Functionality of Vernacular (Old High German) Glosses
  • Prof. Dr Stephan Müller (Vienna): Alliterations and Abbreviations. How to discover the German language between Latin lines of the Murbach hymns

2-3.30 pm: Meet the Manuscript 2: Consultation of other Glossed Manuscripts from the Bodleian

MS. Auct. F. 1. 16, MS. Rawl. C. 697, MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 57

  • Prof. Dr Daniela Mairhofer (Princeton)
  • Luise Morawetz (Oxford)
  • Prof. Dr Henrike Lähnemann (Oxford)
  • Dr Matthew Holford (Oxford)

The presentations and papers will be published online before the event. Questions for the speakers can be asked during the sessions or before the event via Twitter (#MurbachHymns) or email (luise.morawetz@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk, reference: Workshop Murbach Hymns). Papers here (password protected; please register here for the event to get access). If you have any questions, please contact Luise Morawetz (via email or Twitter).

In association with the Bodleian Libraries and Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML).


The first lines of the Murbach hymns (fol. 122v, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Junius 25).

Hold the Date – Workshop on the Murbach Hymns and MS. Junius 25

Vernacular Glossing in the Early Middle Ages

First lines of the Murbach hymns (fol. 122v, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Junius 25).

When?           17th/18th February 2022 (week 5)

What?            In this workshop, the fascinating Murbach hymns – a Latin hymnal with Old High German interlinear glosses from the 8/9th century – and their manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Junius 25) will be carefully examined regarding their translation technique, use and function, cultural background and transmission. Expect an afternoon full of presentations and discussions, a peek in the original manuscript and a live recitation of the hymns.

For further information, visit https://medieval.ox.ac.uk/2021/11/26/webinar-the-murbach-hymns/.

Convenor: Luise Morawetz (luise.morawetz@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk)