(Meet the Manuscripts) Lecture 3: Correcting Christmas Carols

Event date
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Bodleian Libraries - Online Lecture Series
Event type
Lectures and seminars
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Disabled access?
Booking required

Have you ever come close to fisticuffs with a friend over the tune to which ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ should be sung? You’re experiencing a very old problem. The Bodleian’s Selden Carol Book is a famous collection of Christmas songs that only barely made it into modern consciousness: many of them survive in no other books, but have been modified in the manuscript itself, meaning that we have more than one version to choose between.

How do we deal with phenomena of scribal correction, error, and variation in late medieval carols? What can this tell us about performance and the oral culture of the late medieval period? You will learn how singers lived with change in their favourite songs, and hear carols of the Middle Ages both familiar and new.