The Directory of Individual Liturgical Sources

Welcome to the home page of D.I.L.S. As some of you know, this stands for the Directory of Individual Liturgical Sources. This website replaces the gopher-site location of the D.I.L.S. project which is now "in the shop" being completely redesigned; the website itself is under construction and will be being added to over the course of the next year or so.

What is D.I.L.S.?


The D.I.L.S. project works from a still-growing database, The database, provisionally called LITMSS (from 'LITurgical ManuScriptS") will be available through the Trent University website by the end of 1999; it is a catalogue of all manuscripts owned or written in Anglo-Saxon England prior to 1100 A.D. It is about to be completely overhauled and newly-designed to facilitate use by readers who are interested in different aspects of the catalogue; at present it provides seventeen fields for each listed manuscript, noting language, date, origin and provenance, content as it pertains to relevance and context, layout and condition, as well as bibliographical information that continues to be upgraded. LITMSS may have to be loaded onto this website in an "exploded" form to permit reading as well as searching.

In addition to the database, D.I.L.S. is planned to consist of three categories of liturgical text, to be completed in three stages.

Liturgical Canticles

The first category focuses on the most-widely used of the liturgical texts. These are called 'Liturgical Canticles' and are found at the back of many Anglo-Saxon psalters. Most would have been recited on a daily basis either at the Mass or in the Office, and there is already substantial evidence that wording and phrasing from them has clearly influenced the composition of both Old English poetry and prose.

Collects and Capitula

The largest category of liturgical texts is being compiled for presentation in a second database of 'incipits', or 'first few words', of all the collects and capitula that are used within the Mass and Office liturgy of the Anglo-Saxon Church. Collects and capitula are linked in the D.I.L.S. design because they are both directly associated with the individual themes of the feast-days and fast-days that make up the calendar within the seasons of the liturgical year.

Collects are very short prayers that are used at specific places within the different services; a Mass or particular Office may have as many as four or five such collects, which make up a set that is designated for a particular day. To this end, each special day of the Sanctorale (the great cycleof the saints' feast-days throughout the year), the Temporale (the seasonal feasts of the liturgical year itself), the Common of Saints (services which celebrate a 'role', such as 'Apostle' or 'Martyr', rather than a named individual) and the Votive Masses (used with a particular intention in mind, such as prayer for peace or for a good harvest) has its own set of these collects that are used within that day's liturgy. Therefore the collect sets that are chosen for a particular day's use will always depend on its liturgical season or feast-day. There are several thousand of these collects, each set providing an ever-varying individual focus on the theme of its saint's or seasonal celebration, creating a new thread of colour within the unchanging design of the Mass or Office liturgy.

The capitula are brief 'chapters' from the Bible that are read at specified places in the liturgy. As with the collect sets, these individual capitula are prescribed for specific days within the liturgical year, since they too serve to focus the congregation's attention directly onto the theme that is central to the day's liturgical focus.

In addition to the database which will include fields for usage and location in particular manuscripts, we will prepare text-files for the most common of the collects, and for the prayers that make up the unchanging Canon of the Mass.

Sung Material

The third and last category will contain those parts of the Mass and Office that are sung to different chants. The terms used for this body of sung material include antiphons, psalm-verses, introits and graduals, offertories, and tropes. In some cases the manuscripts that contain this material have accompanying musical notation called 'neums'. It is our hope that a by-product of this section of D.I.L.S. will be a more readily-accessible view of the relationship between neumed and unneumed texts for scholars involved in medieval musicology.

When completed, D.I.L.S. will be made up of hypertext-linked text-files and a database.manuscripts owned or written prior to 1100 A.D. in Anglo-Saxon England that contains any liturgical material. The text-files will contain entries of all Latin or Old English versions of, or even references to each individual canticle, sung text or collect/capitulum of the three categories of source-type that D.I.L.S. includes.

The Project Past, Present and Future

D.I.L.S. has been generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada since 1990; this year, although the project was recommended for funding, cut-backs have left it without a secure financial future. Nevertheless the project will continue as well as it can on a slower timetable, relying on the generosity and interest of graduate student and scholarly assistance.

SSHRC's support betweeen 1990 and 1997 allowed the initial development of the database and text-file format, and the compilation of material that continues to build the text-files. A new upgrading of project design and HTML linking of text and database into a more effective package is the immediate desideratum for D.I.L.S. 1997-2000. The project continues under its original designer for stages one and two, but I am very keen to find help for work on the third stage.

If anyone who reads this has expertise in the sung liturgy of the Anglo-Saxon Church, I would like to hear from him or her.

I am the liturgy editor of ORB, On-Line Reference Book for Medieval Studies, I have been a member of Ansaxnet since 1990 (ansax-l@wvnvm.bitnet) and we can be reached directly at


s-mail: Dr Sarah Larratt Keefer Department of English Literature, Trent University Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7B8, Canada department phone number 705-748-1733; office phone 705-748-1815; private fax 705-799-0648.



s-mail: Kendra Adema, Dept. of Anthropology, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7B8 Canada.

We will also be attending the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo on May 6-10, 1998, and are presenting a paper on the future of D.I.L.S. on the Web in the SASLC session, Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m.; if you wish to talk to us directly about the D.I.L.S. project, please leave me a note on the bulletin board in Stinson Lounge.

You may enter any comments if you have them!

This page is maintained by: Sarah Larratt Keefer and Kendra Adema, Directory of Individual Liturgical Sources, Trent University, Ontario, Canada. Last modified: 4 May, 1998.