lyphony is an issue probably destined to remain unresolved, its answer forever lost in the unrecorded history of oral transmission.
Attempting to document the oral traditions of a popular cultural phenomenon is an exercise fraught with difficulties. But despite the danger of arriving at conclusions based upon prejudicial misconceptions, it is a useful exercise, allowing one a glimpse into the existence of a segment of society-at work, at play, and at prayer-which is traditionally poorly recorded. The names of a few luminaries may be found here, but for the most part the men who pounded the nails, manned the capstans, carted the lumber and formed the angelic choir belong to that class which enters this world unheralded and leaves it unchronicled except for a few artifacts that remain.
And while the study of documents such as these many produce more questions than answers, it does most assuredly impress upon the reader that the people of Florence who witnessed the Ascension play in the Carmine might well have identified with the Apostles. St. Luke tells us that after the Ascension "they went back full of joy." (24:52) And so also the cittadini must have done, for truly they had seen the flesh in the psalmist's words "God has ascended with jubilation" ( Ps. 47 , v. 5).
Research for this study was made possible in part through a Travel-to-Collections Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, summer 1984. The following abbreviations are used in citing lauda manuscripts:
|Aret.||Arezzo, Biblioteca Consorziale, MS. 180|
|Ars.||Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, MS. 8521|
Cortona, Pubblica Biblioteca del Comune e dell' Accademia etrusca, Cor-|
tena Laudario, MS. 91
|Fior.||Florence, Archivio della Curia Arcivescovile (no number assigned)|
|Luc.||Lucca, Archivio di Stato, MS. 93|
|Mgl1|| Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, MS. Magliabechiano II I 122|
(Banco Rari 18)
|Mgl2|| Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, MS. Magliabechiano II I 212|
(Banco Rari 19)