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A Bibliographical Handlist of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100


In a manuscript now in Rouen which was written at Winchester c. 1000, there is a Latin poem of forty-three lines, entitled Hymnus trium puerorum, which is a hexametrical version of the “Song of the Three Youths” from the biblical book of Daniel. Because the Hymnus is preceded in the manuscript by several hymns of Wulfstan, precentor at the Old Minster, Winchester, at the end of the tenth century, there is some possibility (as first suggested by Helmut Gneuss) that the Hymnus is an unrecognized poem of Wulfstan. After considering the possibility that, like the biblical “Song of the Three Youths” itself, the poem might have been used in the liturgy of the mass (specified for Saturdays of the four Ember fasts), the article presents detailed metrical analysis, to establish whether the anonymous poet’s metrical practice is comparable to that of Wulfstan, as attested in the large surviving corpus of his hexametrical verse. The analysis establishes that, although there are distinct similarities, there are also some differences; but the diction of the Hymnus shares a number of striking features with that of Wulfstan, enough to suggest that it is indeed an unrecognized work of Wulfstan. The article concludes with a new edition of the Hymnus trium puerorum