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libri ordinarii of the Salzburg metropolitan province



The Salzburg Liber ordinarius of 1198.

The Salzburg Liber ordinarius was very probably completed in 1198 to mark the dedication of the second cathedral. The order and structure of liturgical actions was to mirror this visible architectural order. The reconstruction of the church buildings following a devastating fire, which also destroyed most of the codices, was to have its counterpart in a thorough reorganisation of the liturgy that represented the spiritual architecture of the course of the days, weeks and years. Thus the Salzburg Liber ordinarius was more than just a collection of rubrics and an enumeration of chants and prayers to be performed; it became a complete compendium of the Consuetudo Salisburgiensis, a comprehensive account of everything that had to happen in the service – and when, where, how and especially why.
This liturgical ‘sum' was systematically compiled and written down by a priest by the name of Rudigerus. Robert Klugseder has recently identified this Rudigerus as the Salzburg canon who later became Bishop of Passau and was involved in the creation of the Liber ordinarius for Passau Cathedral. The scribe set himself a lasting, albeit slightly hidden memorial in the middle of a poem:

C lausa vel archana lege tam, sed tibi plana
H inc dubios sana posita formidine vana.
S cribam presbyterum placato deo Rudigerum.
H aec qui collegit, et in unum lecta redegit.

The Salzburg canons were concerned not only with depicting the correct order of the liturgy, but also with providing a theological justification and explanation for it. Rudigerus inserted explanations of even the smallest details of the liturgy, taken from contemporary theological studies, into the rulebook of the Salzburg liturgy. Compared to other Libri ordinarii, this large number of comments is rather unusual. Their purpose was to show why something particular was prayed, sung or ritually performed. Explanations of the reasons for liturgical actions form an important and often neglected partial aspect of a Liber ordinarius.

Codex M II 6 of Salzburg University Library (SAL) contains the oldest version of the Salzburg ordinarius. Its codex also contains a calendar and a computus that are somewhat older than the main part. The ordinarius's systematic structure separates the outline of the liturgy of the hours, including the Office for the Dead, from the outline of the ordo missae and the proper of the mass. The Salzburg mass rite and its explanations are located in the middle of the book, resulting in a clear three-part structure: liturgy of the hours – ordo missaeproprium missae. The book would not be complete without its notation, which after all depicts the way the liturgy should sound. All chant incipits are notated in German neumes in a form typical of Salzburg Cathedral. Furthermore, the codex contains a complete tonary: for each antiphon, both the psalm tone and the difference are noted at the side of the page – the psalm tone in Roman numerals and the difference in the form of neumes. The same goes for the Introit chants. The codex's layout, which in most cases allocated an entire line to the incipits, means that quite long sections of individual pieces are present, which, especially in the Gradual part, allows us to draw precise, comprehensive conclusions concerning notation practice in the cathedral, which has some characteristic differences to the practice in the neighbouring Benedictine monastery of St. Peter. Luckily the scribe of the texts, Rudigerus, took the musical notation into account and left sufficient space for neumatic and melismatic neumes. Some rare and less well-known chants are present in their entirety.

This Liber ordinarius attests 400 years of living liturgy and its developments. It contains numerous additions, deletions and revisions. Fortunately, its original 1198 state can be reconstructed easily thanks to its copies, where different and far fewer corrections were made. These are the ordinarius of Ranshofen, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München Clm 12635 (RA), and the ordinarius of Suben, which later ended up in Vorau, where it was adapted to the Vorau liturgy (Vorau Codex 99, VO). The Ranshofen Codex is a complete copy, while the Vorau version contains only the antiphonary and gradual part, without the mass rite and the explanations of the mass.

by Franz Karl Praßl

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