The communal spirituality of medieval nuns is grounded in and shaped by the regular performance of the divine office—the nearly ceaseless singing that occupies nuns for so many of their waking hours (figure I.1). This constant music making shapes the vocabulary of spirituality, teaches and reinforces the tenets of Christianity, interprets the relationships among nuns, and even connects them to the world outside of the cloister. Singing the liturgy is a performative act—one that shapes the very community that gives it form. For medieval English nuns, the evidence from many specific religious houses demonstrates how pervasively this performance reinforces the particularity of each house even as it simultaneously links the nuns to the church “universal.”
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