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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

> I think the main difference is between before and after the 
> (Counter-)Reformation.  There could also have been a  difference with regard 
> to date during the medieval period.  

John,
These are both valid points.  Much of the evidence for "nave-side" use of the 
pulpitum is 16th or 17th centuries.  On the other hand, it would appear that 
substantial screens around choir and sanctuary only began to develop from about 
the 12th century.  I still think a case can be made for earlier nave-side use.  In 
searching for more evidence of this, I've reread Jaqueline Jung's article"Beyond the 
Barrier: The Unifying Role of the Choir Screen in Gothic Churches," Art Bulletin, vo. 
82 (2000), 622ff, in which she specifically states, concerning jubes, "As their 
vernacular designations in France and Germany indicate, their primary purpose was 
to provide a stage from which the Gospels and Epistles would be read to the lay 
congregation in the nave".  She has lots of liturgical sources in her bibliography, but 
nothing specifically tied to such a view, however.  I've also had a fresh look at 
Aymer Vallance, Greater English Church Screens (London, 1947).  He states your 
position quite closely on pp. 19-20, specifically (and perhaps not surprisingly!) in 
relation to the "rule of Sarum: "On days when the Epistle was read from the 
pulpitum the Gradual also, instead of being read 'ad gradum chori' was read from 
the pulpitum by two boys facing towards the quire."  Later on, however (p. 24), he 
cites other information that seems to indicate nave-side use.  For example, a statute 
of 1251 prescribing the ceremonial for the reception of a bishop of Chichester, on 
his first arrival at his cathedral church, contains the direction: "Tunc intret ecclesiam 
et ascendat pulpitum si volerit exponere verbum Dei which shows that, so early as 
the 13th century, the pulpitum on occasion was used as a pulpit in the modern 
sense, for preaching."  Granted, there is some ambiguity about whom he would 
have been preaching to, but this and other references certainly seem to suggest 
nave-side use.  It is possible that there were differences between normal liturgical 
use and paraliturgical or special use, I suppose, but I have seen no studies detailed 
enough to make the situation very clear.

> Obviously, for special events such as a coronation or an election of a 
> bishop there would be a substantial gathering in the nave (if not exactly a 
> "congregation"), and the pulpitum could be used to communicate with them. 
> But under normal circumstances there would not be a  congregation for 
> services in the choir.

Jung has some sensitive analysis of the role of the pulpitum in relation to clerical 
exclusiveness and lay participation, including at least occasional lay presence within 
the sanctuary for services.  She also cites quite a lot of legislation and practice 
suggesting that the doors in the jube were kept open during services in the 
sanctuary specifically to provide visual access from the nave, and even cites the 
case of Chartres Cathedral, where a purple cloth was suspended behind the high 
altar, so that the elevated Host could be seen more clearly from the nave.  She also 
gives sources for the pulpitum serving as a stage for dramatic performances.  I'm 
afraid this exhausts my resources on this subject, but this discussion has been 
stimulating, even if it has raised more questions (for me, at any rate) than it has 
answered.  The peculiar English arrangement of having two screens at the west of 
the choir (with a space between them that is sometimes, quite confusingly, referred 
to as a "retrochoir", which is also used for spaces east of the sanctuary) certainly 
needs more investigation.  And whatever the liturgical use of the pulpitum as a 
raised platform, it certainly formed a splendid backdrop for all sorts of activities in 
the crossing and nave.
Cheers,
Jim Bugslag

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