Texts

Altus Prosator

  • Hiberno-Latin
  • Hiberno-Latin texts
Latin hymn
Author
Ascribed to: Colum CilleColum Cille / Columba (fl. 6th century) – founder and abbot of Iona, Kells (Cenandas) and Derry (Daire).
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Manuscripts
Continental manuscripts:(3)n. 3 The following list of manuscripts as well as the list of editions below are based primarily on Jane Stevenson, ‘Altus Prosator’, Celtica 23 (1999).
  1. Montpellier, École de Médecine, MS 218
    ff. 79–81
  2. Orléans, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 169 (146)
    ff. 300–308

Irish manuscripts:
  1. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 P 16 (Hodges & Smith 224, 1230) = Leabhar Breac [s. xvin]
    pp. 237a–238a
     
    Heavily glossed. Text with Irish prose introduction. Altus Prosator proper begins on p. 237b
  2. Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1441 (E 4. 2) = Liber hymnorum [s. xiex-xiiin]
    ff. 11–13
     
    Heavily glossed. Lacks stanzas 14-21.
  3. Dublin, University College, MS Franciscan A 2 = Liber hymnorum [s. xiex-xiiin]
    pp. 2–8
     
    Text with preface and some glosses. The hymn proper begins on p. 3.

English manuscript:

  1. London, British Library, MS Cotton Galba A xiv
    ff. 7–19
     
    MS from Winchester
Language
  • Hiberno-Latin
Date
“written in Ireland or Britain, in his [Columba’s] time or not long afterward” (Carey).(1)n. 1 John Carey, King of Mysteries: early Irish religious writings (2000): 29. “Its affiliations in style and language together with its sources and what may be traced of its early history, are entirely compatible with its having originated in Ireland in the seventh century” (Stevenson).(2)n. 2 Jane Stevenson, ‘Altus Prosator’, Celtica 23 (1999): 364.
Provenance
Irish

Classification

Hiberno-Latin texts

Sources

Notes

Jane Stevenson, ‘Altus Prosator’, Celtica 23 (1999): 364.
The following list of manuscripts as well as the list of editions below are based primarily on Jane Stevenson, ‘Altus Prosator’, Celtica 23 (1999).

Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

Critical editions
[ed.] Blume, Clemens, “Pars altera: Hymnodia Hiberno-Celtica saeculi V.IX.”, in: Blume, Clemens [ed.], Die Hymnen des Thesaurus Hymnologicus H. A. Daniels und andere Hymnen-Ausgaben. I. Die Hymnen des 5.-11. Jahrhunderts und die Irisch-Keltische Hymnodie aus den ältesten Quellen, Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi 51, Leipzig: O. R. Reisland, 1908. 257–364.
Internet Archive: <link>
271–283
[ed.] Bernard, J. H., and Robert Atkinson (ed. and tr.), The Irish Liber hymnorum, 2 vols, Henry Bradshaw Society 13–14, London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 1898.  
comments: Volume 1: Text and introduction

Volume 2: Translation and notes

Manuscripts used, with sigla:

Internet Archive – vol. 1: <link>, <link>, <link> Internet Archive – vol. 2: <link>, <link>
Vol. 1, 62–65 (preface), 66–83 (hymn) Edition based primarily on the Irish manuscripts. direct link direct link
Editions from single manuscripts
[ed.] Riefferschied, A. [ed.], “Die Ambrosianische Bibliothek in Mailand”, Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil-hist. Klasse 67 (1871): 467–568.
544–546 Text from Biblioteca Ambrosiana, MS M 32 sup.
[ed.] Boucherie, A., “Mélanges latins et bas latins”, Revue des langues Romanes, 3rd series, 7 (1875): 5–41.
12–26 ‘Hymne abécédaire contre les antitrinitaires’, text from Montpellier, École de Médecine, MS 218.
[ed.] Cuissard, C., “La prose de Saint Columba”, Revue Celtique 5 (1882–1883): 205–212, 396, 507.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>, <link>
Text from the Orléans MS.
[ed.] Gilbert, John T. [ed.], Facsimiles of national manuscripts of Ireland, 5 vols, Dublin: Public Record Office of Ireland, 1874–1884.
HathiTrust: <link>
Vol. 4.2 (1884), 131–133 (Appendix XXI). Text from Franciscan A 2.
[ed.] Ó Longáin, Joseph, J. J. Gilbert [eds], Eugene O'Curry, and Brian O'Looney [co-authors], Leabhar Breac, the Speckled Book, otherwise styled Leabhar Mór Dúna Doighre, the Great Book of Dun Doighre, 2 vols, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1872–1876. Lithographic facsimile edition of a transcript made by Joseph Ó Longáin.
HathiTrust: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
237–238 Text in facsimile from Leabhar Breac.
[ed.] Todd, James Henthorn, Leabhar imuinn: the Book of Hymns of the ancient Irish Church, 2 vols, Dublin: Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society, 1855–1869.
Internet Archive – fasc. 1 and 2: <link> Internet Archive – fasc. 1: <link> Internet Archive – fasc. 2: <link>
Vol. 2, 201–251 Text from TCD 1441.
[ed.] Muir, Bernard James [ed.], A pre-Conquest English prayer-book (BL MSS Cotton Galba A.xiv and Nero A.ii (ff. 3-13)), Henry Bradshaw Society 103, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1988.
32–39 Text from Cotton Galba A xiv.
Translations
[tr.] Carey, John, King of Mysteries: early Irish religious writings, 2nd ed. (1998), Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000.
29–50, 275
[tr.] Clancy, Thomas Owen [ed.], The triumph tree: Scotland's earliest poetry AD 550-1350, Canongate Classics 86, Edinburgh: Canongate, 1999.  
Translations, with notes. Latin texts translated by Gilbert Márkus, Welsh texts by Joseph P. Clancy, Gaelic and Old English texts by Thomas Owen Clancy, Norse texts by Paul Bibire and Judith Jesch.
95–99
[tr.] Clancy, Thomas Owen, and Gilbert Márkus, Iona: the earliest poetry of a Celtic monastery, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995.
[tr.] Bernard, J. H., and Robert Atkinson (ed. and tr.), The Irish Liber hymnorum, 2 vols, Henry Bradshaw Society 13–14, London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 1898.  
comments: Volume 1: Text and introduction

Volume 2: Translation and notes

Manuscripts used, with sigla:

Internet Archive – vol. 1: <link>, <link>, <link> Internet Archive – vol. 2: <link>, <link>
Vol. 2, 23–26, 140–153 Translation of Irish preface and glosses only, with notes direct link direct link

Secondary sources (select)

Stevenson, Jane, “Altus Prosator”, Celtica 23 (1999): 326–368.
Celtica – PDF: <link>
Wesseling, Margaret, “Structure and image in the Altus Prosator: Columba's symmetrical universe”, Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium 8 (1988): 46–57.
Stevenson, Jane, “Altus Prosator: a seventh-century Hiberno-Latin poem”, Cambridge, PhD dissertation: University of Cambridge, 1985.
Contributors
Dennis Groenewegen
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