Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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p. 4. Aldhelm, Abbot OF Malmsbury.—The first specimen of musical notation given by the learned Abbot Gerbert, in his De Cantu et Musica Sacra, a prima ecclesue cetate (i. 202), is to a poem by St. Aldhelm, in Latin hexameters, in praise of virginity. This was written for the use of Anglo-Saxon nuns. The manuscript from which it is taken is, or was, in the monastery of St. Blaise, in the Black Forest, and Gerbert dates it as of the ninth or tenth century. It contains various poems of St. Aldhelm, all of which are with music, and the Pasohale Carmen of Sedulius, one of the early Irish Christians, which is without music. Many very early English and Irish manuscripts were, without doubt, taken to Germany by the English and Irish priests, who assisted in converting the Germans to Christianity. St. Boniface, " the apostle of Germany," and first Archbishop of Mentz (Mayence), who was killed in the discharge of his duties in the year 755, was an Anglo-Saxon whose name had been changed from Winfred to Boniface by Pope Gregory II. " Boniface seems always to have had a strong prejudice in favour of the purity of the doctrines of the church of his native country, as they had been handed down by St. Augustine; in points of controversy he sought the opinions of the Anglo-Saxon bishops, even in opposition to those inculcated by the pope; and he sent for multitudes of Anglo-Saxons, of both sexes, to assist him in his labours." (Bwg. Brit. Lit., i. 315.) He placed English nuns over his monastic foundations, and selected his bishops and abbots from among his countrymen. His successor in the Archbishoprick was also an Englishman.
To revert to St. Aldhelm—Paricius (a foreign monk of Malmsbury). who wrote his life about the year 1100, tells us that he exercised himself daily in playing upon the various musical instruments then in use, whether with strings, pipes, or any other variety by which melody could be produced. The words are, " Musicee autem artis omnia instrumenta qua? fidibus vel fistulis aut aliis varietatibus melodia? fieri possunt, et memoria tenuit et in cotidiano usui habuit." (Faricius, Col. 140, vo.) The anec­dote of Aldhelm's stationing himself on the bridge in the character of a glee-man or minstrel, to arrest the attention of his countrymen who were in the habit of hurrying home from church when the singing was over, instead of waiting for the exhortation, or sermon ; and of his singing poetry of a popular character to them in order to induee them gradually to listen to more serious subjects,—was derived by William of Malms­bury from an entry made by King Alfred in his manual or note-book. Aldhelm died

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III