‘Hallowing God’s House in 1121: the consecration of the abbey church at Tewkesbury’
Professor John Harper, by Zoom video conference
Theulf, bishop of Worcester, consecrated the new abbey church at Tewkesbury on 23 October 1121. This lecture explores the likely order and ritual of the rite of dedication of the church on that occasion. Much of the Norman building survives, and there is good knowledge of what was changed in later centuries. That provides one side of the story. The other side can be found in surviving books of the kind that Theulf will have used on this occasion: two pontificals, bishop’s books which contain the rite of dedication of a church and were written in the later eleventh century, have associations with Worcester. Of course, much of the detail has to be imagined – but then the study of the past always requires imagination; nevertheless, it is possible to establish much that happened at the liturgy on that important day.
During the past decade, John Harper’s research has explored the relationship of medieval churches and the liturgy, asking what was the experience of worshipping in a cathedral, monastery or parish church? His current work is focused on the emergence of the highly influential liturgical Use of Salisbury Cathedral in the period 1075–1225. He is emeritus director, The Royal School of Church Music; emeritus professor, Bangor University; and honorary professor, University of Birmingham.
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