Peterhouse : The Booke of Common Prayer


<p style='text-align: justify;'>Peterhouse holds an unrivalled collection of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century choral music collected and composed for its own chapel, accompanied by a contemporary book of organ music and a number of publications associated with the performance of divine service. For digitised images and descriptions of these manuscript part books, see <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''></a></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This folio copy of <i>The Booke of Common Prayer</i> (STC 16397.3), printed by the King’s printer, is typical of the sort of book used in churches and chapels across England. Our copy is paired – unsurprisingly – with a version of the Ordinal entitled <i>The forme and manner of making and consecrating bishops, priestes, and deacons</i> (STC 16474) from the same publisher. It is almost unique, however, in also being bound with a Latin translation of the rubrics and prayers for morning and evening services known only as <i>Ad Mat. & Vesp</i>. (STC 16448.3) as well as with ruled pages of manuscript music containing more than 30 individual compositions. Only one similar book is known to exist, Christ Church, Oxford, MS. Gibbs 12, also made for use in the Peterhouse chapel.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript music preserved in this volume is set for the part of the <i>medius decani</i> (or alto for the dean’s or south side). The music preserved at Christ Church is identical, except that it is for a contratenor part for the cantor’s (or north) side. It was intended for use to accompany morning and evening prayer, the communion service, and the singing of the litany, presumably by one of the two Fellows who were charged to assist the celebrant in Cosin’s statute of 29 October 1635.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript contains musical compositions by Byrd, Tomkins, Gibbons, and others, as well as by more local composers John Amner of Ely, and Henry Loosemore, from King’s College, Cambridge. Another composer, Henry Molle, became Vice-Prevost of King’s in 1639, which was also possibly the year he created two pieces of music for the litanies presented in this volume: one dedicated to Cosin himself, and the other for “St Peter’s College.”</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Music in the Peterhouse Chapel</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Peterhouse is unusual among Cambridge colleges in that it did not have the use of a chapel of its own until the seventeenth century: it was during Mastership of Matthew Wren (1625-1635) that it was finally agreed that the College would construct a chapel. Work began in 1628, the building was consecrated on 17 March 1633, and work continued throughout the early years of John Cosin’s Mastership (1635-1644 and 1660).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>An important aspect of the adornment of Peterhouse chapel was the provision of music that was felt to be suitable for a sacred environment. This included the printing and purchase of appropriate service books and the commissioning of sacred music. A significant element advocated by both Wren and Cosin was the reintroduction of Latin in the English Church, especially in the learned environment of the University, from which they believed it had never lawfully been excluded. The use of Latin opened up the possibility of singing choral music composed for services in Latin, both before and after the English Reformation, as well as anthems and settings for English. With the help of those whom he employed as musicians at Peterhouse, Cosin succeeded in collecting a remarkable group of choral manuscripts, including original work composed for Peterhouse.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Description</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Three printed sources bound in one volume:</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>O.6.29 (1): <i>The Booke of Common Prayer</i> (London: Robert Barker, 1634)</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>O.6.29 (2): <i>Mat. & Vesp.</i> (Cambridge: Thomas Buck, 1638) </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>O.6.29(3): <i>The forme and manner of making and consecrating bishops, priestes, and deacons</i> (London: Robert Barker, 1634)</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The 17 folios of part 2 <i>Mat. & Vesp.</i>, including interleaved music) is inserted between folios R.3 and R.4 of Part 1, separating the Psalms from the earlier part of <i>The Booke of Common Prayer</i>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>As noted in the Introduction above, the volume is further remarkable for being interleaved with service music in manuscript for the part of the <i>medius decani</i> (alto for the dean's or south side) for use in the chapel of Peterhouse, Cambridge. More than 30 pieces are represented here, including works by some of the most celebrated composers of the period (See “Additions” below for more information). The volume may have been part of a set of up to eight partbooks, of which the only other known survivor is Oxford, Christ Church Library (shelfmark Gibbs 12, interleaved with music set in <i>Contratenor Cantoris</i>). For MS Gibbs 12, see <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''></a>.</p>

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