Raising Arms: Liturgy in the Struggle to Liberate Jerusalem in the Late Middle Ages

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Raising Arms: Liturgy in the Struggle to Liberate Jerusalem in the Late Middle Ages. By Amnon Linder. [Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Volume 2.] (Turnhout: Brepols. 2003. Pp. xx, 423. $ 113.00, euro90,00.)

In the renaissance that is now crusade studies, scholars have increasingly turned their attention to the wider implications and expressions of the movement. Once relegated to the periphery of medieval history, new studies have demonstrated that the crusades existed at its very core, animating events and dynamics across Europe. Modern studies no longer view the crusades as mere military campaigns, but as intensely religious activities incomprehensible outside of religious history. The crusades were the barometer of Europe's soul. For medieval Christians, success in the crusades meant spiritual health and the favor of God. Defeat, which was the norm, was clear evidence of a sickness in Christendom and general divine disfavor. That is why "home front" crusade activities, such as prayers, processions, and fasts were seen as integral to success as the mustering of troops and the fighting of wars.

It is all the more surprising then, that virtually no scholarly attention has been paid to the ways in which medieval Christians sought to win victories abroad through prayers at home. In that respect, this book is the first spade full of dirt in what promises to be a large and fascinating excavation. It is the first study to gather together and examine crusade-related prayers within medieval liturgy. Specifically, Linder looks at five kinds of liturgical prayers: the Holy Land Clamor, a genre of prayer that appears after the conquest of Jerusalem in 1187 that was usually injected into the Mass or the Office; the Holy Land Mass, identified by distinctive prayers in the Collect, secret, and Postcommunion; the dedicated war Mass, which weaves together the triple prayers along with additional supplications and appropriate Scriptural readings; the GregorianTrental, a series of Masses-usually thirty as the name suggests-for the deliverance of Christians or Christian lands held in bondage or (as was much more often the case) the deliverance of souls from Purgatory; and the Holy Land bidding prayers, which were vernacular petitions read at Mass.

Perhaps it is due to the ground-breaking nature of this book, but the organization is unlike anything I have encountered before. …