The Libro de la Regla Vieja of the Cathedral of Seville as a Musicological Source
By Juan Ruiz Jiménez
Cathedral, city and cloister : essays on manuscripts, music and art in old and new worlds, edited by Kathleen Nelson (Ottawa: Institute of Medieval Music, 2011)
Introduction: Seville Cathedral’s Libro de la Regla Vieja has, incomprehensibly, been overlooked by the scholars from various disciplines who have consulted the collections of the Institución Colombina. Although the volume was catalogued as Book 1 of Section 3 (Liturgy) of the Fondo Capitular in the Archivo de la Catedral of Seville (E-SC sección III, 1), the listing itself has been the cause of some confusion. A brief description in the published catalogue’s introduction indicates—without further explanation—that copying of the book was begun in 1524, and that it continued to be added to until 1680. Meanwhile, the date given in the main entry, “1424”, is a typographical error.
The volume—a mid-sixteenth century revised copy of an older but now lost regla de coro, collecting regulations concerning the performance of Mass, Office and other ceremonies in choir throughout the annual cycle—is a key document for the study of the pre-Tridentine music and liturgy of Seville Cathedral, and of all those churches within the territorial limits of its archbishopric: the bishoprics of Málaga and Cádiz in the Iberian Peninsula itself; the see based on the island of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; and those sees founded in the Americas before 1548. These New World churches were originally suffragans of Seville, and even after they were restructured in the 1540s into the independent archdioceses of Santo Domingo, Méjico, and Lima (to which was later added Santa Fe de Bogotá), they would have continued to follow Sevillian liturgical usage, until, ultimately, they adopted the Tridentine Roman rite. The significance of this regla de coro to Seville’s pre-Tridentine use prompted me to seek here a deeper understanding of the book, and especially the textual transmission of its contents, confusion over which has led, hitherto, to most of the difficulties and errors concerning its dating.