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Elizabeth C. Teviotdale

(Lat. liber troparius, troparium, troperium, tropharius, trophonarius, troponarius)

A type of medieval liturgical chant book, or a section of one, containing a significant number of tropes.

In his Summa de ecclesiasticis officiis of 1160–64, John Beleth, a professor at Paris University, described a troper as ‘a certain book that contains certain songs … and they are called tropi and sequentiae and Kyrieleison and neumae’ (ed. H. Douteil, Turnhout, 1976). The four categories of song listed by Beleth cannot be equated easily with genres recognized by modern scholars, but they most probably include Proper tropes, troped Ordinary chants (or perhaps more restrictively Latin-texted Kyries), proses (sequences) and sequence melodies. A troper neither necessarily nor typically includes all the genres implied by Beleth's definition, but a troper always contains at least one of them, and this medieval definition covers all the manuscripts and portions of manuscripts that scholars designate ‘troper’, ‘troper-proser’, ‘proser’ or ‘sequentiary’. The term ‘troper’ was used in the Middle Ages, as it is today, to describe both whole codices and portions of manuscripts. For example, a 13th-century inventory of the goods of an English parish church refers to a ...




David Dawson and Walter Klauss

Unitarianism is a religious movement whose origins lie in the Reformation, when dissenting groups of anti-Trinitarian believers emerged in Switzerland, Poland and Transylvannia. The Unitarian Church has traditionally subscribed to no formal creed, rejecting the doctrines of the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ and stressing the unipersonality of God. In America the Church has formally adopted the Universalist belief that no one is condemned to eternal punishment, salvation being ultimately granted to all. The dominant characteristic of present-day Unitarianism is the emphasis on individual responisbility in spiritual matters. This recognition of individual belief has encouraged the toleration and acceptance of a variety of practices and forms or worship and the use of different musical styles. Unitarian believers are found in more than 20 countries throughout the world, including Transylvania, where there is still a strong presence, but the following discussion is limited to Great Britain and the USA.

The first anti-Trinitarian congregation in England and Wales was organized in ...


Ritva Maria Jacobsson and Andreas Haug

A form of medieval Office, of Carolingian origin and common until about 1500, in which some or all of the antiphons and responsories are in verse. The vast majority are for saints’ days, but some are for particular Sundays or other feasts, including Advent, Trinity and Corpus Christi. Both metrical and accentual versification systems were used, and the verse was frequently rhymed. At least 1500 such Offices are known, some consisting of as many as 50–60 versified items (and there are countless others with only a single item); they are found throughout western Europe, including regions such as Scandinavia and Poland, whose conversion to Christianity was relatively late. (For a discussion of the overall structure of the Office, see Divine Office.)

Ritva Maria Jacobsson

No medieval equivalent exists for the modern term ‘versified Office’. Designations from the period refer to other aspects of the texts, for example, Responsoria cum antiphonis … dulcissime modulationis...



Richard L. Crocker


A general term used to designate, among many other things, a particular kind of Latin sacred song popular from the 11th century on. Its distinguishing features are rhyme and accentual scansion in the text; frequent but varied and imaginative use of strophe, couplet and refrain; and clear, songlike phrases in the melody.

In so far as it is equivalent to the English ‘verse’, the Latin versus is a frequently used formal term in early medieval music, and perhaps one of the most confusing. There are at least three main contexts in which the term is used, with many additional shades of meaning. The first is specifically that of metrics. Augustine (De musica) described the versus as the metric unit after which one ‘turns back’ (revertere) to begin the next line or ‘verse’. A versus, therefore, is either a line of metric poetry, or a poem using a pattern of such lines. The opposite of verse in this sense is prose: ...



Ruth Steiner

revised by Keith Falconer

(from Lat. vesper: ‘evening’)

A service of the Divine Office, traditionally performed at twilight, at the time when lamps are lit indoors. Among the services celebrated by the early secular churches was an elaborate form of ‘cathedral’ Vespers, many elements of which have survived in the evening Office of the Armenian and East Syrian churches, as well as, to a lesser extent, in the Byzantine church (see Hesperinos), but almost none in the Roman tradition, in which Vespers acquired at a very early date a strongly monastic cast. Cathedral Vespers in the 4th century began with the lucernarium, the lighting of the lamps and the blessing of the new light, after which was sung the ancient hymn Phōs hilaron; a number of psalms followed, including Psalm cxli (Vulgate cxl; this psalm seems to have early associations with the Office) accompanied by incensation, after which various other musical items such as hymns, canticles and responsorial psalms might also be included. A degree of flexibility in the choice of psalms – perhaps a sign of monastic influence – is already apparent even in those areas of western Europe, such as Gaul or Visigothic Spain, for which a cathedral Vespers is recorded. With the absorption of Vespers into the daily cursus of psalm singing, a process that was virtually complete by the time of the Rule of St Benedict (...


Barbara H. Haggh

(from Lat. votum: ‘vow’, ‘prayer’)

Devotional ritual with a restricted or private intention. In the Latin rite votive ritual is regarded as a class apart from the texts and chant prescribed for the calendar of church festivals because it can be performed at any time and, following the appropriate formalities, in any place. It includes not only antiphons and masses, but also Offices, processional chant, psalms without antiphons, litanies and prayers. Votive material often appears as a supplement towards the end of books for Mass and Office or in individual books, such as collections of masses or books of Hours, but it may be interleaved with similar but non-votive material, as in the case of votive Offices. Its history intersects with that of the private Mass.

The extent to which votive ritual is liturgy is unclear, and has changed with time. The term ‘liturgy’ was applied in Christian antiquity to official (in the East, priestly) or communal worship, as opposed to private devotion. Later definitions of the word, for instance, the use in the 16th century in titles of collections describing the Church’s worship, do not allow the inclusion of Offices for the Dead or other commemorative prayer read as liturgy by a private individual for personal intercession....