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“Alternative Spiritual Exercises for Weaker Minds”? Vernacular Religious Song in the Lives of Women of the Devotio Moderna

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In the Devotio Moderna, women appear to have used vernacular religious song to a much greater degree than men. Why this is so is an as yet unanswered question and the focus of this article. It explores in the first instance how song might have fit into the lives of meditation to which such women were dedicated, arguing that vernacular religious song was accepted but under some suspicion as a lesser meditative mode. It then interprets documented instances of actual singing in order to assess under what circumstances song might have been permitted to serve as meditative vehicle.

Affiliations: 1: Germanic, Slavic, and East Asian Studies, Craigie Hall C205, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB Canada T2N 1N4;, Email:


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