Colton, Lisa (2008) Languishing for Provenance: The Troubled History of Zelo tui langueo and the Search for Women's Polyphony in England. In: Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, 24 - 27 July 2008, University of Bangor, Wales. (Submitted)
Abstract

Zelo tui langueo / Reor nescia / T. Omnes de Saba has been discussed widely, certainly
more than most other English motets, on account of a number of puzzling elements
of its content and provenance. Two manuscript sources of the motet survive; in
addition, two images of clerics performing the motet are preserved in Psalters of
the early 14th century, roughly contemporary with the musical sources. The
apparent "female voice" in the text of the motet's duplum invited speculation from
FRIDAY, 25 JULY / DYDD GWENER, 25 GORFFENAF
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Frank Harrison that Zelo tui langueo may have been composed or performed by
women. The Gilbertine provenance of one musical source (York Minster, xvi.N.3)
offered corroboration – Gilbertine nuns and monks lived in double houses,
communally but out of one another's sight – but this was rejected after
palaeographical study by Andrew Wathey. This paper re-examines the manuscript
within a network of various sources, and argues that the provenance of York
Minster, xvi.N.3 can be reassigned to the Gilbertine double house at Shouldham in
Norfolk. It also considers a range of evidence that locates the motet musically,
textually and socially within the context of East Anglian devotional practice.

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