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The Liturgy in Medieval England


  • Page extent: 622 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 1.11 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 264.009420902
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: BV193.G7 P43 2009
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Catholic Church--England--Liturgy--History--To 1500
    • Liturgics
    • Liturgical language--Latin
    • England--Church history--1066-1485

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521808477)

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$151.95 (C)

This book provides a comprehensive historical treatment of the Latin liturgy in medieval England. Richard Pfaff constructs a history of the worship carried out in churches - cathedral, monastic, or parish - primarily through the surviving manuscripts of service books, and sets this within the context of the wider political, ecclesiastical, and cultural history of the period. The main focus is on the mass and daily office, treated both chronologically and by type, the liturgies of each religious order and each secular 'use' being studied individually. Furthermore, hagiographical and historiographical themes - respectively, which saints are prominent in a given witness and how the labors of scholars over the last century and a half have both furthered and, in some cases, impeded our understandings - are explored throughout. The book thus provides both a narrative account and a reference tool of permanent value.


1. Introduction; 2. Early Anglo-Saxon England: a partly traceable story; 3. Later Anglo-Saxon: liturgy for England; 4. The Norman conquest: cross fertilizations; 5. Monastic liturgy, 1100–1215; 6. Benedictine liturgy after 1215; 7. Other monastic orders; 8. The non-monastic religious orders: canons regular; 9. The non-monastic religious orders: friars; 10. Old Sarum: the beginnings of Sarum use; 11. New Sarum and the spread of Sarum use; 12. Exeter: the fullness of secular liturgy; 13. Southern England: final Sarum use; 14. Regional uses and local variety; 15. Towards the end of the story.

Prize Winner

2012 Haskins Medal of the Medieval Academy


'This is a very impressive achievement. It is the product of decades of work: reading liturgical manuscripts, discussing them, teaching them. Its strength is not only in many historical insights into the religious culture of medieval England, but in its assured usefulness as an essential reference book for medieval historians of religion, Anglo-Saxonists, historians of music and liturgy. Early Reformation scholars will also find it a necessary tool in evaluating English religious life on the eve of Reformation." Miri Rubin, Queen Mary, University of London

'… this book is a valuable and important work … it is commendable in presenting church history as not only led from the top by bishops and cathedrals, but shaped at the bottom by those who used the books." -Church Times

"Pfaff's prose is clear, frequently humorous, and free of academic jargon.' Times Literary Supplement

"This study of regular formal public worship in England c600-1535 is a work of immense scholarship and the fruit of decades of research." -Jane E.A.Dawson, The Expository Times

"a wide-ranging, yet detailed, survey of the liturgy in medieval England approached primarily through surviving liturgical books, written by a scholar of quite exceptionally wide experience of the books and of earlier commentaries on them. Thus it will be a gold mine to the expert liturgiologist...It will also serve as a guide to all medievalists who have to come to terms with liturgical evidence; to them it is an answer to prayer...To cover the whole story in this manner from the age of Bede to the eve of the Reformation in a single volume is a tour de force." -Christopher N. L. Brooke, Speculum

"The book will serve for many as a standard reference; its self-contained chapters and ample cross-referencing are designed to facilitate this kind of use... As the first comprehensive survey [of what can be known about liturgical observance in England], the book will be an invaluable resource to many scholars who will be able to avail themselves of Pfaff’s vast knowledge." -Katherine Zieman, Journal of British Studies

"[a] magisterial overview… This is the book that it has been Richard Pfaff’s to write, and it has grown out of forty years of work on the primary manuscripts. It should find a hungry audience…it will become the essential work of reference for Medievalists seeking to understand the changing forms of Christian worship in England" -James Willoughby, The Library

"Pfaff is to be congratulated on an excellent and informative work which will be an essential companion to medieval liturgical study for many years to come." -Gordon Jeanes, Anaphora

"Magisterial is a word often debased by overuse, but one can think of no other characterization for this book, despite its remarkable modesty of tone. It will be teaching medievalists interested in the liturgy for many, many years." -Milton McC. Gatch, Church History

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