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13. Bilingual Devotion in Northern Germany: Prayer Books from the Luneburg Convents

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Chapter Summary

The prayer books from Medingen and other Lüneburg convents offer a unique insight into the processes of religious and linguistic transformation which shaped devotion through writing in northern Germany in the late Middle Ages. The interweaving of Latin and the vernacular is common to all of the devotional books written by the nuns of Medingen, with the proportion of the Low German components ranging from the insertion of single phrases or verses from songs to the almost complete translation into German of the Latin elements. The dual use of Latin for official monastic written documents and German for communication with lay people, extended to all areas of life in Medingen, including work on tapestries such as the Wichmannsburg Antependium. The Latin components of the textual collage originate from the liturgy, primarily the sequences and antiphons of Easter morning, from which individual verses are borrowed, in part with their musical notation.

Keywords: devotional books; late Middle Ages; Lüneburg convents; Medingen; northern Germany



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