The Bangor Pontifical Project celebrates first anniversary

The Bangor Pontifical Project, launched one year ago by Bangor University and Bangor Cathedral in Wales, has just reached its first significant milestone. Completion of phase one, funded by a Welsh Assembly grant, has enabled conservation and rebinding of the Bangor Pontifical and digitization of its 340 pages. The manuscript was photographed by the cutting-edge Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) last spring, and viewers may now zoom in on the excellent high-quality images via the open access Bangor Pontifical Project website.

The Bangor Pontifical is the only complete liturgical manuscript known to survive from the medieval diocese of Bangor, and one of just two extant books from medieval Wales as a whole to contain substantial plainchant notation. Inscribed as belonging originally to Anian, bishop of Bangor, it is now confidently dated to the first quarter of the fourteenth century. (Anian ‘Sais’ was bishop of Bangor between 1309 and 1328.) It contains texts and detailed instructions for liturgical observances conducted by a bishop: the dedication of churches, altars and cemeteries; the enthronement and consecration of an archbishop; and special blessings given during the canon of the Mass and on other specific occasions. The manuscript also contains a very substantial corpus of plainchant, all copied onto a four-line stave.

The manuscript itself returned to the University Archive last week from the Conservation Unit of the National Library of Wales, where it has been fully restored and provided with a new medieval-style goatskin cover. Its return will be publicly celebrated at a special service of dedication in Bangor Cathedral on Sunday 6 February 2011 in the presence of the current Bishop of Bangor, the Right Reverend Andrew John.

The Bangor Pontifical Project is now well into its second phase, which will culminate with the launch of a new-look website. This will serve not only as a high-level research tool but will also emphasize heritage and education. Complete parallel transcriptions of the text and music in the Pontifical, translations, commentaries, and sound files of some of the plainchant melodies will be added gradually to the site, some of the material prepared with the assistance of the Project’s associated PhD student, Christopher Edge, who is funded by a 125 Anniversary Scholarship bursary. The site will also incorporate interactive learning tools for students of palaeography, church history, music, worship and art, together with special resources for visitors and school children. A touch-screen kiosk connected permanently to the site will be installed in Bangor Cathedral.

Click here to go to the Bangor Pontifical Project website

Source: Bangor University

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