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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Alpost 8VII

Ian McDougall (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Allra postula minnisvísur 8’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 863-4.

Anonymous PoemsAllra postula minnisvísur

Kallaz kærr af öllum
Krists bróðir guðs móður
systur sonr inn hæsti
sannr í drottins ranni.
Jácobus hefir aukið
öll verk og stórmerki,
verður vegs til dýrðar
vóttr postuli drottins.
Drekki hier dreingir inni
dýrligt Jácóbs minni.

Kærr bróðir Krists kallaz af öllum sannr sonr systur {móður guðs}, inn hæsti í ranni drottins. Jácobus hefir aukið öll verk og stórmerki, postuli drottins, verður vóttr vegs til dýrðar. Drekki dreingir hier inni dýrligt minni Jácóbs.

The dear brother of Christ is called by all the true son of the sister {of the mother of God} [= Mary], the highest in the house of the Lord. James has performed all deeds and great feats, the Apostle of the Lord, a worthy witness of the way to glory. Let the lads herein drink a glorious memorial toast for James.

Mss: 721(15v)

Editions: Skj AII, 510, Skj BII, 561, Skald II, 307, NN §§1758, 1759, 2887.

Notes: [1-4]: The interpretation here follows Kock (NN §1758), who objects to Finnur Jónsson’s interpretation of these ll. as Kristi broder ... elsket af alle, kaldes den höjeste, sand i herrens bolig ‘Christ’s brother ... loved by all ... is called the highest, true in the house of the Lord’ (Skj B). Kock argues that af öllum must be construed with kallaz: ‘is called by all’, and sannr must modify sonr, so that guðs móður systur sonr ... sannr should be interpreted as ‘God’s mother’s true nephew’ (i.e. ‘nephew in the flesh’). — [2, 5] bróðir Krists ... Jácobus ‘Christ’s brother ... James’: On S. James the Less, see Cross and Livingstone 1983, 723; Kilström 1962a, 530-1; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 314; Foote 1976, 162-3; Cormack 1994, 108, 242. James the Less, son of Alphaeus, is regularly described as ‘Christ’s brother’ (cf. Brev. 4/9; IO 76, 1; AM 660 4° 23v, Foote 1976, 153), following the prime source, Gal. I.19: alium autem apostolorum vidi neminem nisi Iacobum fratrem Domini ‘but other of the Apostles I saw none, saving James the brother of the Lord’; cf. Mark VI.3. The author may recall this detail from scripture, or from the hymn Jacobe iuste sung at the feast of the Apostles Philip and James the Less (1 May; see Ordo Nidr. 337): Jacobe iuste, Jesu frater domini, sit tibi pia super nos compassio ‘James the just, brother of our Lord Jesus, have pity on us’ (AH 51, 122, no. 107, v. 4; CH, 85; DH, 108). — [2, 3, 4] sannr sonr systur móður guðs ‘the true son of the sister of the mother of God’: Cf. IO 76,1: Iacobus Alfei ... sororis matris Domini filius ‘James [son of] Alphaeus ... son of the sister of the mother of the Lord’. The Virgin Mary’s half-sister Mary, wife of Cleophas (John XIX.25), was the mother of James the Less (see Mark XV.40; cf. Cross and Livingstone 1983, 304) – a potential source of confusion, since the mother of James the Great (to whom verse 5 above is dedicated) was also the half-sister of the Virgin Mary (cf. Kilström 1962a, 530). This may support Kock’s reading of sannr (NN §1758, see Note to 1-4 above), if the poet intends to suggest here that James the Less has a greater claim than his namesake to being called ‘God’s mother’s nephew’. — [4] drottins ‘of the Lord’: Cf. 8/8 and Note. — [5] aukið ‘performed’: On this sense of the verb, see LP: 2. auka 2. — [7-8] verður vóttr vegs til dýrðar ‘a worthy witness of the way to glory’: Kock (NN §2887) objects to the translation supplied by Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) : herligheds vidne værdig til hæder ‘witness of glory worthy of honour’, interpreting vegs as gen. sg. of vegr ‘honour’, rather than of vegr ‘way’. — [7] verður ‘worthy’: Ms. ‘uerdr’. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) normalises to verður to supply the extra syllable needed in this otherwise light l. Kock (NN §1759) strenuously objects, as he often does elsewhere (cf. Note to Pét 4/2) to substitution of a desyllabified form. He prefers to substitute for the offending verður the synonymous adj. verðugr to gain an extra syllable; cf. Meissner 1930, 232. — [8] vóttr ... drottins ‘witness ... of the Lord’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) marks both vowels as long: <ó> to preserve aðalhending, although at st. 4/2 the late form drottni, with short <o>, is required for aðalhending. (At 1/1, 6/8, 8/4 a form with either <ó> or <o> is possible. The short form has been adopted throughout this edn for consistency, although in 8/8 this produces an irregular rhyme.) Kock (Skald) marks both vowels as short: vottr ... drottins. On variation of forms of dróttinn / drottinn in C14th poetry, see Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, 6; cf. ANG §127.3.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. AH = Dreves, G. M., C. Blume and H. M. Bannister, eds. 1886-1922. Analecta hymnica medii aeui. 55 vols. Leipzig: Reisland. Rpt. 1961. New York: Johnson.
  7. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  8. Björn K. Þórólfsson. 1925. Um íslenskar orðmyndir á 14. og 15. öld og breytingar þeirra úr fornmálinu. Reykjavík: Fjelagsprentsmiðjan. Rpt. 1987. Rit um íslenska málfræði 2. Reykjavík: Málvísindastofnun Háskóla Íslands.
  9. Brev. = [Anonymous] ‘Incipit breviarium Apostolorum ex nomine vel locis ubi praedicaverunt, orti vel obiti sunt’. In Acta Sanctorum Novembris collecta digesta illustrata II.2, 3-4.
  10. CH = Wieland, Gernot R., ed. 1982. The Canterbury Hymnal. Toronto Medieval Latin Texts 12. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.
  11. Cormack, Margaret. 1994. The Saints in Iceland: Their Veneration from the Conversion to 1400. Studia Hagiographica 78. Brussels: Société des Bollandistes.
  12. Cross, F. L. and E. A. Livingstone. 1983. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 2nd edn. 4th impression. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 3rd rev. edn 2005 by E. A. Livingstone. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  13. DH = Milfull, Inge B. 1996. The Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church: A study and edition of the ‘Durham Hymnal’. Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England 17. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  14. Ordo Nidr = Gjerløw, Lilli, ed. 1968. Ordo Nidrosiensis Ecclesiae (Orðubók). Norsk historisk kjeldeskrift-institutt. Den rettshistoriske kommisjon. Libri liturgici provinciae Nidrosiensis medii aevi II. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
  15. IO = Gómez, César C., ed. 1985. [Isidore of Seville] De ortu et obitu patrum. Auteurs Latins du Moyen Age. Paris: Société d’Editions ‘Les Belles Lettres’.
  16. Kilström, B. I. 1962a. ‘Jakob’. KLNM 7, 529-31.
  17. Meissner, Rudolf. 1930. ‘Minnetrinken in Island und in der Auvergne’. In Vogt et al. 1930, .
  18. Internal references
  19. David McDougall (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Pétrsdrápa 4’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 799-800.

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