Authorship and Authority:

Barking Abbey and Its Texts

Martin E. Segal Theater

CUNY Graduate Center, September 11, 2009


“Liturgy as the site of Creative Engagement: Contributions of the Nuns of Barking”

Ann Bagnell Yardley, Drew University

A close reading of the Barking Ordinal and a careful examination of liturgical texts from the abbey offers compelling evidence of the authorship and authority of the nuns of Barking Abbey. As this study will show, the liturgy offers a fertile ground for creative engagement for the nuns of Barking. This paper discusses several ways in which nuns, named and unnamed, individually and collectively, contributed their creative skills to craft and modify liturgical texts and music in order to enrich their communal spiritual life. From the well-recognized efforts of Abbess Katherine de Sutton (abbess 1363-1376) to anonymous hymns to St. Ethelburga and the many prosas and sequences which adorned their liturgy, the sources from Barking Abbey provide rich evidence that the liturgy was far from static and that successive generations of nuns continued to contribute to it.

Last modified: Sept. 1, 2009
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