A New Year’s liturgical drama

Ludus Danielis (Beauvais, 13th century), one of the most discussed and performed liturgical dramas of the Middle Ages, is found in only one manuscript (GB-Lbl MS Egerton 2615) together with the New Year’s Office from Beauvais, indicating an association with that celebration.

Chants at certain important points of the play are intriguing not only for their musicological interest or for their theological or liturgical associations, but also in terms of time representation and the genre, which does not easily lend itself to the scholarly categories of liturgy or drama.

This according to “Danielis ludus and the Latin music dramatic traditions of the Middle Ages” by Nils Holger Petersen, an essay included in The past in the present (Budapest: Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem, 2003) pp. 291–307.

Above, Daniel interprets the Writing on the Wall to King Belshazzar in a painting by Benjamin West. Below, the corresponding scene of Ludus Danielis as performed at The Cloisters, New York City, in 2008.


Filed under Dramatic arts, Middle Ages

3 Responses to A New Year’s liturgical drama

  1. Is it possible to buy the DVD? I have looked for it but have only found a couple of clips in YouTube. Kindly answer at uninortehistoria@gmail.com or at the University e-mail indicated below.
    They bought the rock version! –I am interested in the Medieval ‘mise en scène’ presented at the Cloisters.
    Thanks for your answer,
    Sara C. Neuman
    Instructor of Music History at Universidad del Norte.
    Barranquilla, Colombia, S.A.

    • We’re sorry Professor Neuman, we have no idea whether this is available beyond YouTube. We wish we knew how to refer you to a more complete publication–it is a very beautiful performance!

      • Sara Cecilia Neuman

        Just now I sw your message! I year has passed and I’m still looking for the DVD.
        Thanks for answering.