The Exultet in Southern Italy
The Exultet rolls of southern Italy are parchment scrolls containing text and music for the blessing of the great Easter candle; they contain magnificent illustrations, often turned upside down with respect to the text so that they can be seen by observers. The Exultet in Southern Italy provides a broad perspective on this phenomenon that has long attracted the interest of those interested in medieval art, liturgy, and music. This book considers these documents in the cultural and liturgical context in which they were made, and provides a perspective on all aspects of this particularly southern Italian practice. While previous art-historical studies have concentrated on the illustrations in these rolls, Kelly's book also looks at the particular place of the Exultet in changing ceremonial practices, provides background on the texts and music used in southern Italy, and inquires into the manufacture and purpose of the Exultets-why they were made, who owned them, and how they were used.
- Hardback | 368 pages
- 163.6 x 244.3 x 34mm | 811.94g
- 01 Feb 2002
- Oxford University Press Inc
- New York, United States
- 16 pp halftones, numerous music examples, tables
Back cover copy
The beautifully worked Exultet scrolls of southern Italy unite music, liturgical text, and image for use in a ceremonial blessing of the great Easter candle. Much was uncommon about this solemn rite, and from a perspective a millennium or so removed in time, the ritual and its magnificent documents appear unusual to the point of mystery. Why, for example, did it fall to the deacon and not his superior the bishop to conduct the Exultet ceremony? And why on many of the later surviving documents were the pictures turned upside-down in relation to the text? Finally, and most basically, why produce these documents at all? What does it mean to 'lavish such care and talent on manuscripts to be used but once a year? Addressing these and other questions, The Exultet in Southern Italy provides a meticulous and uniquely comprehensive study of this fascinating early medieval phenomenon. Where previous treatments have tended to focus on the illustrations, this impressively researched volume looks at the Exultet in full, from the painstaking manufacture of the rolls to the melodic structure of the songs to specific features of the rite and its placement in the Easter vigil service. Offering a remarkable wealth of detail, the book pays equal attention to broad cultural and historical considerations, tracing in its subject a rich convergence of Byzantine, Roman, Lombard, and Norman influences while exploring the way changes in the ceremony reflect transformations in church organization and regional governance.
...a magisterial contribution, a synthesis the scope of which would daunt many scholars....The Exultet in Southern Italy succeeds handsomely in providing a much broader and more satisfying understanding of that distinctive liturgical book and, as well, offers a wealth of description, analysis, summary, primary source material, and cross-reference that will facilitate its fuller integration into medieval studies. * The Medieval Review *