Liturgy in History: Photo Gallery

Prof Nils Holger Petersen

Prof Nils Holger Petersen (Copenhagen)

The participants listening intently to the presentation of Prof Emma Dillon (KCL)

The participants listening intently to the presentation of Prof Emma Dillon (KCL)

Dr Beth Williamson (Bristol)

Dr Beth Williamson (Bristol)

Round Table: Dr Beth Williamson, Prof Emma Dillon, Prof Sara Lipton, Prof Nils Holger Petersen

Round Table: Dr Beth Williamson, Prof Emma Dillon, Prof Sara Lipton, Prof Nils Holger Petersen

The participants gathered in front of St Bartholomew the Great

The participants formed a procession in front of St Bartholomew the Great…

Prof Miri Rubin

…where they were joined by Prof Miri Rubin.

"As the daylight failed, the participants were able to listen to some of the music discussed in the day’s lectures..."

“As the daylight failed, the participants were able to listen to some of the music discussed in the day’s lectures…”

See also Liturgy in History Report.


Liturgy in History: Report

Report on the Queen Mary Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies ‘Liturgy in History’ study day, held 19th November 2013 in the Old Library of the Garrod Building Stepney Way

by David Alexander Harrap

The day began with an inspired discussion by Professor Nils Holger Petersen (Copenhagen) on The Medieval Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday and a polemical sixteenth-century Derivative: the Adoration of the Forty Hours. Professor Petersen’s address focussed on the issues faced by those who take on the task of examining liturgy as historical evidence. The textual and musical components of liturgy, he stressed, could only represent a fraction of the total liturgical experience, which was also visual, emotional, olfactory and gustatory. In addition, he highlighted the dangers of anachronism that the customary lexicon of the cultural historian might introduce into the mix; ‘ritual’ for example, is not a word or idea that existed during the middle ages. Liturgy itself was revealed to be a dangerous tool for the historian to use, being a rather monolithic exclusive label for practices deemed ‘official’ and distinct from ‘unofficial’ extra-liturgical or para-liturgical practices. Yet, the need for a term to characterise the collective worship if the medieval Church being accepted, Professor Petersen went on to discuss the Adoration of the Cross and its derivative, the Adoration of the Forty Hours, as liturgical practices. These were shown to have contained within their liturgical composition and histories of practice evidence for medieval conceptions of the sacred, for the sacramental importance of a liturgical actions and for the tendency, over the course of the middle ages, for liturgical orders to become more prescriptive in their formulations, leaving less to choice and demanding greater conformity to a standard set by ecclesiastical authority.

In the second session Professor Emma Dillon (KCL) presented on the subject Listening to Liturgy-Perspectives from Musicology. Professor Dillon expertly articulated the developments in liturgical chant over the course of the middle ages, introducing aspiring liturgists to some of the technical language needed to describe the forms that liturgy took. In particular Professor Dillon demonstrated the differences between syllabic and melismatic chants and the ornamentation of liturgical music through the addition of tropes. The need for a sensitivity to the ‘texture’ of a piece of music was demonstrated to be paramount. In addition to this, Professor Dillon suggested the importance of the idea of ‘temporal cacophony’ in liturgy, which is the idea that multiple voices form different points in history can be heard speaking within liturgy. This is important both for understanding the messages that liturgy was intended to convey, such as that the words of the prophets were fulfilled in the Annunciation and the worship of the Church, but also the multiple voices of successive generations of liturgy users, who ornament , embellish and adapt liturgies to their own needs.

After lunch, Doctor Beth Williamson (Bristol) presented on Liturgical Performance at the Threshold of the Cathedral. This fascinating lecture outlined the importance of the west-fronts of a number of cathedrals (Chartres, Wells and Exeter) in providing an appropriate setting and a visual gloss on the liturgy. The importance of stage managing and of the locations of liturgy was shown to be vital to any discussion of how a piece of liturgy functioned for its performers and audience.

Chairing the concluding round-table discussion, Professor Sara Lipton (SUNY, Oxford) led a conversation on subjects raised by the day’s lectures. In particular, the issue of temporality, so important to all three lectures provided fruitful material for discussion. Time and timing defined Christian liturgy, placing it into a multitude of narrative threads, of Sacred and Ecclesiastical history as well as local and institutional history, right down to yearly and daily cycles and the life cycle of the individual. Time is an inescapable theme of liturgy and is likely to receive further treatment in the proposed Liturgy in History Network, the setting up of which was endorsed by all present on the day.

To conclude the day, the participants repaired to St Bartholomew the Great (Smithfield) where, as the daylight failed, the participants were able to listen to some of the music discussed in the day’s lectures, sung in the surrounds of the historic Church.

(See also Liturgy in History: Photo Gallery)

Liturgy in History: List of Participants

Liturgy in History: List of Participants


Nils Holger Petersen, University of Copenhagen
Nils Holger Petersen has been studying theology since 1972: his master’s thesis, from the University of Copenhagen, offered a theological reading of music history. He gained his PhD at the Institute of Church History in 1994 with a dissertation on the liturgical origin and the genre of the medieval Latin music drama. From 1993-1995 he acted as a Research Fellow at the newly established Centre for Christianity and the Arts at the Copenhagen Faculty of Theology with a project on medievalism in operas of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1995 he became a Research Lecturer at the Theological Faculty in Copenhagen, where he has remained as an Associate Professor. In addition, Nils has been a Visiting Professor in Medieval Liturgical Chant at the Centre for Medieval Studies at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway (1997–2002). He has participated in research collaborations in the Nordic Countries, and internationally, supported by funding from National and Nordic Research Councils. Has published on medieval liturgy and drama, music drama and theology, cultural history and theology, and medievalism. Nils is also a successful composer: he was awarded the Hakon Børressen memorial prize for his music in 1993.

Emma Dillon, King’s College London
Emma Dillon is Professor of Music at KCL. She studied music at Oxford as an undergraduate (1989-1992), went on to complete a DPhil in 1998 and was also the recipient of a Junior Research Fellowship. She worked as a Lecturer in Music at the University of Bristol until 2000 when she moved to the United States and joined the Music Department at the University of Pennsylvania where she worked as an Assistant Professor and later as a Full Professor and where she also served as Chair of the Department. She has been a Visiting Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, a Member and Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton and a Visiting Scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. She joined the Music Department at KCL in 2013, and is also an active member of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies. Emma’s research focuses on European musical culture from the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. Her work ranges widely in terms of repertories, sources, and methodological approach. She is the author of Medieval Music-Making and the Roman de Fauvel and The Sense of Sound: Musical Meaning in France, 1260-1330. In 2002 she won the Jerome Roche Prize, awarded by the Royal Musical Association.

Beth Williamson, University of Bristol
Beth Williamson studied at the University of Oxford where she gained a BA in Modern History and at the Courtauld Institute of Art (MA and Ph.D). Before joining the History of Art Department at Bristol in1998, she taught at the University of East Anglia, University College London and the Courtauld Institute. Her research interests include relationships between liturgy, devotion and visual culture and sensory experience, including sound, touch and movement, in the engagement of objects with spaces. Her current book project is entitle The Embodiment of Devotion: Art, Music and Affect in Late Medieval England (for which she received and AHRC Fellowship in 2011), and explores sensory experience in religious devotion. Her most recent single-authored book, The Madonna of Humility: development, dissemination and reception, explores the iconography and development of the image of the Virgin seated on the ground, the assimilation and translation of the image between different cultural milieu, and its function and reception. Other recent publications include an edited volume (with Jon Cannon) entitled Medieval Art and Architecture at Bristol Cathedral: An Enigma Explored, arising from the conference ‘An Enigma Explored’ (University of Bristol, September, 2008).

Miri Rubin, Queen Mary, University of London
Miri is a Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History and Head of the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London. She is a historian of Europe of wide interests; her research ranges across the period 1100-1600 and she is deeply committed to inter disciplinary encounters, which have animated much of her diverse published work. Her research has introduced fresh approaches to the study of social relations in the predominantly religious cultures of medieval Europe and in all her work she seeks to understand issues of identity, community, and gender, the boundaries of cooperation and the threat of violence. Her publications include Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary and Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture.

Sara Lipton, State University of New York
Sara is an Associate Professor in Medieval Studies at the State University of New York, Stony Brook; she gained her PhD at Yale University in 1991. Her work focuses on religious identity and experience, Jewish-Christian relations and art and culture in the high Middle Ages and she has published extensively on these topics. She is interested in the relationship between formal knowledge and lived experience, particularly as manifested in the interplay of text and image, and as mediated through the figure of the Jew. She is currently working on two projects. The first, entitled ‘Dark Mirror: Jews, Vision, and Witness, 1000-1500’, examines how changes in Christian devotion and epistemology affected the visual representation of the Jew. It seeks to explain the sudden appearance of the iconographically identifiable Jew around the year 1080 and bring theoretical coherence to the dizzying proliferation of images of Jews in subsequent centuries. The second, entitled ‘Art, Preaching, and Piety in the High Middle Ages (1150-1300) explores why and to what effect Christendom invested so much in worshipping the ineffable Word through the material thing.


Emma Rose Barber, University of Kent
Part-time lecturer and tutor in the History of Medieval and Renaissance Art at The Open University, SOAS and the University of Oxford. Approaching end of PhD on the iconography of the medieval wayfarer in 14th century East Anglian Psalters, the University of Kent.

Jessica Barker, Courtauld Institute of Art
Jessica Barker is a third- year research student at the Courtauld Institute of Art, working on the tombs of married couples in late-medieval England. Her thesis investigates the interaction between these monuments and their architectural/liturgical surroundings, with particular focus on the relationship between joint memorials and the marriage rite.

Rachel Basch, Royal Holloway

James Alexander Cameron, Courtauld Institute of Art

Matthew Champion, Queen Mary, University of London
Matthew completed a BA (Hons) in Classics and Medieval Studies and a BMus (Hons) in Performance (voice) at the University of Melbourne in 2007. His subsequent MA research focused on early witchcraft theory in the Burgundian territories. Alongside his academic work, Matthew was the director of the Queen’s College Choir, University of Melbourne, from 2007-2010. He commenced doctoral study at Queen Mary in 2010, working with Professor Miri Rubin on perceptions of time in the fifteenth-century Low Countries: he has just submitted his thesis. He is particularly interested in how liturgy, devotional objects and music structured the experience of time, as well as late-medieval calendar reform and the effect of early print cultures on the perception of time.

Angela Clark, University of Winchester
Angela is a first year PhD student working on the spiritual privileges sought by the medieval English laity – for example apostolic and episcopal licences to have a private chapel, to have mass or divine office celebrated in an oratory, or to have a portable altar.  Supervised by Professor Michael Hicks and Dr Elena Woodacre, she is particularly interested in how the liturgy might be translated to these more personal arenas. She also sings in an (amateur) cathedral relief choir.

Johanna Dale, University of East Anglia
By the workshop Johanna should have submitted her thesis to the University of East Anglia. It comprises a study of royal and imperial inauguration and images of kingship in England, France and the Empire c.1050-c.1250. Previous research on coronation liturgy has tended to focus on the development of the rite, whereas the thesis is primarily concerned with whether and in what ways the liturgy contributed to shaping monarchical image.

Julia Exarchos, Ghent University
Julia studied History and Political Science at the University of Heidelberg and King’s College, University of London. In June 2013 she started her doctoral research Ritual scripting as work in progress: codifying rituals of conflict and reconciliation in the Medieval West (tenth-twelfth centuries) at Ghent University. Based primarily on the investigation of normative texts the project aims at revealing a relation between ritual scripting and ritual practice taking into account both internal and external influences.

Eva Ferro, University of Freiburg
2008 Bachelor in Philosophy (especially Philosophy of Antiquity and Hellenism) at the University of Verona (Italy). 2011 Master of Arts in “Mittelalter- und Renaissancestudien” with specialization in Medieval Latin at the Albert-Ludwigs- Universität Freiburg (Master thesis: Edition and survey of a newly discovered series of office chants for the feast of Mary Magdalena in context of the Hirsau Reform). At the time being PhD student in Medieval Latin with a dissertation project about the medieval cult of Saint Zeno of Verona and its spread north of the Alps. Coworker in the project “Hagiography as Heroisation” of the SFB 948 Helden–Heroisierungen–Heroismen.

Sietske Fransen, Warburg Institute
Sietske is a PhD student at the Warburg Institute, London. She gained a propaedeutic diploma in Biology at Ultrecht University in 2002 and a B.A from the same institute in Language and Culture Studies (with a Major in Medieval Studies) in 2007. She received her MA from the Warburg Institute in 2008 in Cultural and Intellectual History 1300-1650. Her PhD project with the title ‘Exchange of Knowledge through Translation: Jan Baptista van Helmont and his Editors and Translators in the Seventeenth Century’, focuses on the language in the medical works of the Flemish physician Jan Baptista van Helmont (1579- 1644) and the impact it exercised on later physicians and natural philosophers in the Netherland, England and Germany.

David Harrap, Queen Mary, University of London
David Harrap (b.1989) studied History at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge, graduating with a BA in 2011 and proceeding in 2012 to complete an MPhil on the writings of Henry Barrow. He is now researching for a PhD, with Professor Miri Rubin, on the Transformation and Transmission of Devotional Texts and Practices from Medieval Catholicism to Reformed Religion in England.

Jenny Hillman, Queen Mary, University of London
Jenny Hillman is British Academy postdoctoral fellow in the School of History at QMUL. Her research is concerned with the history of lay piety during the Catholic Reformation in Europe. She completed a PhD in History at the University of York in 2012, where she also completed a BA in 2007 and an MA in Early Modern History in 2008, and then spent one year as a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute, 2012 – 2013. Her current postdoctoral project is a study of early modern spiritual direction and aims to discover more about the spiritual friendships shared by male confessors and their female penitents. She is also currently completing a first book manuscript, entitled ‘Female Piety and the Catholic Reformation in France’ (Forthcoming, Pickering & Chatto ‘Religious Cultures in the Early Modern World’ Series) which explores the devotional culture of a pious network of Parisian aristocratic women.

Steffen Hope, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Steffen Hope is an MA student in history from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, with background also from the University of York. His thesis, The King’s Three Images, examined representations of Edward the Confessor in historiography, hagiography and liturgy. The thesis was finished in the autumn of 2012.

Hetta Howes, Queen Mary, University of London
Hetta graduated with a BA in English Lit and MPhil in Medieval Lit from Cambridge University. She is a second year PhD student, working under the supervision of Professor Julia Boffey. Her thesis explores imagery of water in late medieval devotional texts written by men but addressed specifically to women. The project argues for a literary language of water in a specific genre of texts, produced by both biblical and spiritual traditions of water and the cultural history of water in the late Middle Ages. She is interested in the liturgy of baptism, particularly in the late medieval and early renaissance periods.

Kati Ihnat, Bristol University

Rosalind Johnson, University of Winchester
Rosalind Johnson was recently awarded her PhD by the University of Winchester for her thesis on Protestant dissenters in Hampshire from 1640 to 1740. She has long had an interest in the sacred spaces and worship practices of all denominations in the early modern period.

Ella Kilgallon, Queen Mary, University of London

Tillmann Lohse, Humboldt University
Dr. Tillmann Lohse earned his PhD from Humboldt-University (Berlin) in 2009, where he is employed as a research associate since 2002. His dissertation dealing with the permanence of a pious foundation made by emperor Henry III (SS. Simon and Jude in Goslar) contains inter alia a critical edition of the chapter’s ordinal from 1435. In two recent articles he deals with editorial and interpretive questions concerning the “libri ordinarii” as a specific genre of liturgical books. Further research foci of Tillmann are the migrations of pious men in early medieval times.

Ad Poirters, Radboud University
Ad Poirters is a PhD student in the Dutch department at Radboud University Nijmegen, where he is developing an archaeological approach to historical book collections and applying it to the liturgical manuscripts and early printed books from the library of the canonesses regular of Soeterbeeck ( His research focuses on the traces of use left in many of these books by Rector Arnoldus Beckers (1772-1810).

Eyal Poleg, Queen Mary, University of London
In September Eyal took up a lectureship in material history (1200-1700) at Queen Mary University of London. For quite some time he has been fascinated by the medieval Bible, especially the ways it was mediated to lay and clerical audiences. The study of this question through the study of liturgy, court rituals, sermons and manuscript culture grew into Approaching the Bible in Medieval England (MUP 2013); he joined others to explore the appearance of biblical manuscripts in an edited volume on Form and Function in the Late Medieval Bible. Currently he examines the appearance of the Bible in England, 1230-1613 (to be published as The Skins of Beasts). Afterwards, he hopes to leave the Bible for a while, exploring the conversion of sacred space through both books and

Daniel Soukup, Institute of Czech Literature, The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
PhD in History of Czech Literature (2013) at the Department of Czech Studies (Palacký University, Olomouc), junior lector at the Kurt and Ursula Schubert Centre of Jewish Studies (Palacký University, Olomouc), head of the Department for Research into Old-Czech Literature (Institute of Czech Literature AS CR, Prague) and member of the Centre for the Study of the Holocaust and Jewish Literature (Charles University, Prague). The main area of my research is the image of Jews and Judaism in literature, especially representations of Jews in medieval and early modern Czech literature.

Ruben Suykerbuyk, Ghent University
Ruben Suykerbuyk studied art history at, respectively, Ghent and Utrecht University. In September 2013 he started his PhD research Embodied Piety in the age of iconoclasm. Church, artifact and religious routine in the sixteenth-century Low Countries at Ghent University, which aims at getting insight in the bodily conduct of the faithful and the day-to-day routine in and use of Netherlandish churches.

Fredrica Teale, University of Southampton
Fredrica Teale is a first year PhD student at the University of Southampton, researching 14th Century Monastic History, with a particular interest in the role of the abbot. She has a BSc in Archaeology from Durham University and worked as a singer in London for several years before returning to academia in 2011 to study Medieval and Renaissance culture.

Rosa Vidal, Queen Mary, University of London
Rosa is a Lecturer in Spanish Medieval Literature and Culture at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary, University of London. Her research to date has focused primarily on the study of the converso problem – the discrimination of Christians of Jewish origin and their descendants in fifteenth-century Spain -, particularly the role polemical and theological texts in these instances of religious persecution. Her monograph ‘Misera Hispania’: Jews and ‘Conversos’ in Alonso de Espina’s ‘Fortalitium fidei’ is to be published by The Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature in November of this year. Her next research project will look at the impact of theological discourses about mystics and visionaries on Spanish vernacular texts of spiritual instruction.

Cindy Wood, University of Winchester
Cindy Wood completed a PhD on the subject of cage chantries c.1366-1555 in 2010. This was an interdisciplinary approach to these chapels, looking at both documentary and physical evidence. It identified, where possible, the liturgical requests of the chantry founders for the masses in these chantries, an area of very little research.

Milan Žonca, Queen Mary, University of London
Milan completed his BA and MA studies at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague (Hebrew Studies, Comparative Religion). Since 2010 he is a postgraduate student of history at Queen Mary, working under the supervision of Professor Miri Rubin. His PhD project investigates how intellectual diversity and religious differences within Judaism were conceptualized and articulated in late medieval Ashkenazic communities. His academic interests also include polemical literature and various points of intersection between Jewish and Christian religious cultures in medieval Europe. His commentary and Czech translation of two polemical works written by rabbi Moshe ben Nahman, the thirteenth-century leader of Catalonian Jewry, has just been published.

Updated Programme and Readings


Location: Old Library, Garrod Building, Queen Mary Whitechapel Campus (near Whitechapel Station – District and Hammersmith & City lines)

Campus location (Google Maps), Campus Map (PDF), London Tube Map (PDF)


9:30–10:00 – Registration and coffee

10:00–11:15 – Professor Nils Holger Petersen (University of Copenhagen): The Medieval Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday and a Polemical Sixteenth-Century Derivative, the Devotion of the Forty Hours

Essential reading:

  • Nils Holger Petersen, ‘The Quarant’Ore: Early Modern Ritual and Performativity’, in Performativity and Performance in Baroque Rome, ed. by Peter Gillgren and Marten Snickare (Surrey: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 115–133.
  • Nineteenth-century textual transcription of the adoratio crucis ceremony (see pdf)

11:15–11:25 – Coffee break

11:25-12:30 – Professor Emma Dillon (King’s College London):  Listening to Liturgy: Perspectives from Musicology

Essential reading:

  • Susan Boynton, ‘Plainsong’, in Cambridge Companion to Medieval Music, ed. by Mark Everist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 9-25.
  • David Hiley, ‘Gregorian Chant’, in Cambridge Introductions to Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), esp. pp. 7–12.

12:30–13:10 – Lunch

13:10–14:25 – Dr Beth Williamson (University of Bristol): Liturgical Performance at the Threshold of the Cathedral

Essential reading:

  • Craig Wright, ‘The Palm Sunday Procession in Medieval Chartres’, in The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages, ed. by M. E. Fassler and R. Baltzer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 344–371.

Recommended reading:

  • Pamela Blum, ‘Liturgical Influences on the Design of the West Front at Wells and Salisbury’, Gesta, 25:1 (1986), 145–150.
  • Margot Fassler, ‘Liturgy and Sacred History in the Twelfth-Century Tympana at Chartres’, The Art Bulletin, 75:3 (1993), 499–520.
  • Pamela Tudor-Craig, ‘Bishop Grandisson’s Provisions for Music and Ceremony’, in Exeter Cathedral: A Celebration, ed. by M. Swanton (Exeter: Exeter Cathedral, 1991), pp. 136–143.

14:25–14:35 – Coffee break

14:35–15:25 – Professor Miri Rubin (QMUL) and Professor Sara Lipton (SUNY Stony Brook): Roundtable discussion

15:25–17:00 – Visit to St Bartholomew the Great Church

Note: All essential readings are available in electronic form in a dedicated Dropbox folder. If you are attending the workshop and have not received the link, please contact the organisers.

Call For Participants


We are delighted to announce a call for participants for ‘Liturgy in History’, an international study day for graduate students and early career researchers at Queen Mary’s Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.

Liturgy in History:  a full-day workshop exploring liturgy in practice in the medieval and early-modern periods.

When: Tuesday 19th November, 9:30 – 17:00 (lunch provided)
Where: Queen Mary, Mile End Campus, room tbc

Three speakers – Professor Nils Holger Petersen (University of Copenhagen), Professor Emma Dillon (King’s College London) and Dr Beth Williamson (University of Bristol) – will guide participants through the structure and formulae of liturgical sources. The musical, visual, architectural and performative aspects of the liturgy will all be carefully considered and approaches to liturgy re-interrogated. The presentations will be followed by a roundtable discussion with Professor Miri Rubin (QMUL) and Professor Sara Lipton (SUNY).

The day will culminate in a trip to a nearby renaissance church which will help situate them in their context. We would be delighted to welcome international participants and students from diverse disciplines, to reflect the multidisciplinary focus of the day itself.

If you would like to join us please email Hetta Howes (h.howes [at] or use this contact form. Attendance will be free of charge, but places are limited to ensure discussion and participation, so it is essential that you book your place.

You will find more information and a provisional schedule here:

Provisional schedule for Liturgy in History workshop, 19th Nov

Liturgy in History, Call For Participants