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Professor Emma Hornby

Medieval liturgical chant

Emma Hornby's research is focused on medieval western liturgical chant. She is currently working on Old Hispanic chant in collaboration with Professor Rebecca Maloy (University of Colorado at Boulder). Their first joint monograph is Music and Meaning in Old Hispanic Lenten chants: Psalmi, Threni and the Easter Vigil Canticles (Boydell & Brewer, 2013). They are now working on the Old Hispanic responsory tradition. Emma also has research interests in the transmission of western liturgical chant (including aspects of orality), the relationship between Old Roman and Gregorian chant, analysis of formulaic chant, and the relationship between words and music in the Middle Ages.

Emma is co-editor, with J.R.Watson, of the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology (online publication, 2013). This major resource is the first encyclopedic dictionary in this subject area since John Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology (1892); totalling approximately 2,000,000 words, it contains over 3000 entries by 300 contributors.

Her first book, Gregorian and Old Roman Eighth-Mode Tracts, was published by Ashgate in 2002 and her second book, Medieval Liturgical Chant and Patristic Exegesis: words and music in the second-mode tracts was published by Boydell and Brewer in 2009. She is co-editor, with David Maw, of Essays on the History of English Music in Honour of John Caldwell: Sources, Style, Performance, Historiography (Boydell and Brewer, 2010). Emma has published articles in Plainsong and Medieval Music and The Journal of Musicology; her Journal of Musicology article was included in Thomas Forrest Kelly’s collection of seminal articles in the field, Oral and Written Transmission in Chant (Ashgate, 2009). Emma is director of the Bristol University music department’s Schola Cantorum,which specialises in medieval music.

Emma won a prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2009, and has also been awarded grants by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme (2009-11) and by the European Research Council (2013-18). The ERC Starting Grant project has a separate web page:


Research keywords

  • western liturgical chant
  • Old Hispanic liturgy
  • transmission of early medieval chant
  • text-music interactions in chant
  • orality