Cologne MS 106: The Book of Hildebald

I have written a few times about The Book of Hildebald, also known as Cologne MS 106 (here and here). As many of you know by now, the archive in Cologne Germany collapsed this week to a level equal to intentional destruction (see here for more information). Hopefully archivists around the world are taking a second look at their archive buildings and getting a little of these economic stimulus packages to ensure that this never happens again.

Given that the manuscript is labeled Cologne MS 106, I have to assume that it was in the archive unless it was on-loan elsewhere. Keep an eye out for its mention as they begin shifting through the rubble.  I quick online search hasn’t turned up any information on where it was stored.

And then there were two…

So why is the Book of Hildebald important? The book, written during the tenure of Bishop Hildebald of Cologne (794-819), contains most of the works that Alcuin collected for Bishop Arno of Salzburg before 805, including several of Bede’s works. It includes one of only three early copies of Bede’s Abbreviated Psalter. If Cologne MS 106 has indeed been lost, it will severely hurt future studies of Bede’s psalter. It also included an early copy of Bede’s hymn on St Æthelthryth and 12 of his other metrical hymns. I have hypothesized before that this manuscript contained a portion of Bede’s lost Book of Hymns. If that it true, it may have been one of a kind.

The best source I know of on the manuscript is: Leslie Webber Jones. (1929) “Cologne MS.106: A Book of Hildebald” Speculum 4(1): 27-61.

Distilled Prayer Project moves…

My Distilled Prayer project has officially moved over to my new blog on the psalms and devotional materials. Here is the new url for the project:

All of the posts originally put on Heavenfield are still here. The main page has moved. I hope I see some of you over on the new blog occasionally…


It seems as though I’m going through a whole series of transitions at the moment and this blog is no exception. Inspired by Derek the Ænglican I’ve started a second blog to include all of my late medieval to modern church history, spirituality, and liturgical posts. My new blog is called Selah and it will house, among other things, the distilled prayer project. Although I’ll now be splitting my time between two blogs, in the long run this change will make Heavenfield even more medieval centered. It will also let me do more modernish things on Selah.

If you are wondering what in the world Selah means its an untranslatable Hebrew word found mostly, if not exclusively, in the psalms. It seems to be an instruction to pause, perhaps pause the music, or just to stop, think and ponder, to punctuate the previous stanza. This is a guess of course because no one really knows how to translate it. Sounds like a good title to begin a blog on the psalms.