Newsletter 8 (February 2006)
The Database of the Office of the Dead now re-opened.
In 1993, when I published my Doctoral thesis The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead, I was forced to inform my readers that the data-base and the computer programmes on which the whole investigation was based did not work any more, because the computer (a CDC 6400) was taken down and my programmer, Director Bjarner Svejgaard at the Computer Centre of Aarhus University (RECAU), had regrettably died in 1988 before the data and the programmes could be transferred to a personal computer. Consequently I had to conclude that “since the original machine is no longer in operation, it is not possible to make inquiries into the data for the time being.”
This deficiency has now been remedied. At the Institute of Musicology, University of Regensburg, Robert Klugseder has incorporated my series of responsories, as they are seen in chapter 4 of my book, in the Cantus planus. Western plainchant database search facility (www.cantus-augusta.de). It is now again possible to search for offices of which only a few responsories are known, under the condition that one knows their position. This possibility is vital for establishing the origin of the source. In order to establish this it is not only necessary to isolate unique items, structures or patterns but to prove (as far as possible) that they do not turn up elsewhere.
Let me give you a fresh example.
One of the last fragments I have described from the Danish National Archives in Copenhagen is RA 8683. It contains three responsories from an Office of the Dead: Peccante me quotidie (68); Memento mihi domine quia ventus est (46) and Libera me domine de vijs inferni (40). These three responsories are normally the last responsories in the series.
Open the cantus-augusta homepage and click on ‘Database’ (in the bottom line) ---> ‘Responsories for the Office of the Dead’ and see how this particular inquiry is done.
Compared with more than 2.000 series of responsories for the Office of the Dead only two series have this combination in the third nocturn, and both are from the diocese of Agen in France. Our fragment represents the same liturgical tradition, and is approximately of the same age as the two printed breviaries.
If you want to make an inquiry yourself click on ‘Go to the query’ and fill in the responsory-numbers on the positions as indicated in your source. Avoid approximations, they are in general misleading.