Dr William Flynn

Dr William Flynn

Lecturer in Medieval Latin

+44 (0)113 343 3723

Summary: Interactions among liturgy, music and theology; elementary music and grammar instruction to 1200; music theory to 1300; Abelard's works for Heloise's Paraclete; Hildegard of Bingen

Location: Parkinson 4.18


Biography and Research Interests

My commitment to interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the Middle Ages has grown naturally from my own formation in multiple disciplines. I took my undergraduate degree at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester (1978) and my first Masters degree at Edinburgh University (1979) with an emphasis in music composition (though work in music history, analysis, aesthetics and ethnomusicology was formative). After six years as a professional church musician, I went to Duke University, where I studied theology (MA 1988, PhD 1992), bringing a practical experience of the use of music in religious contexts to my research interests in music and texts written for eleventh- and twelfth-century Western liturgies. In 1990, I went to Emory University, dually appointed in the Candler School of Theology and in the Department of Music to support their Masters in Sacred Music, and later joined their Graduate Department of Religion. I came to Leeds in 2000 where I teach Medieval Latin to MA and PhD students. From 2002-6, my work with the Sapientia-Eloquentia project at the University of Stockholm led me to develop longstanding interests in the issues of editing liturgical and pedagogical texts. My teaching continues to inform my research on the relationships cultivated in the Middle Ages between music and language arts, and their deployment for rhetorical purposes.



1999.  Medieval Music as Medieval Exegesis. Lanham MD and London: Scarecrow Press.

Chapters in Books

2016. ‘Hildegard (1098–1179) and the Virgin Martyrs of Cologne’. In The Cult of St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins. Ed. J. Cartwright. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, pp. 93–118

2015. ‘Approaches to Early Medieval Music and Rites’. In Understanding Medieval Liturgy: Essays in Interpretation. Ed. by H. Gittos, & S. Hamilton. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 57-71.

2014. ‘Abelard and Rhetoric: Widows and Virgins at the Paraclete’. In Rethinking Abelard: A Collection of Critical Essays. ed. B. S. Hellemans. Leuven: Brill , pp.153–86.

2013 (co-author with T. Leigh-Choate and M. Fassler) ‘Hildegard as Musical Hagiographer: Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek MS 103 and Her Songs for Sts Disibod and Ursula. In A Companion to Hildegard of Bingen, ed. by G. Ferzoco, B. Kienzle, & D. Stoudt. Leiden: Brill, pp. 193–220.

2013 (co-author with T. Fleigh-Choate and M.Fassler) ‘Hearing the Heavenly Symphony: An Overview of Hildegard’s Musical Oeuvre with Case Studies’. In A Compantion to Hildegard of Bingen, ed. by G. Ferzoco, B. Kienzle, & D. Stoudt. Leiden: Brill, pp. 162–92.

2011 ‘Singing with the Angels: Hildegard of Bingen's Representations of Celestial Music’. In Conversations with Angels: Essays Towards a History of Spiritual Communication, 1100-1700, ed. by J. Raymond. New York and London: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 203–29.

2010 ‘Ductus figuratus et subtilis: Rhetorical Interventions for Women in Two Twelfth-Century Liturgies’. In Rhetoric Beyond Words: Delight and Persuasion in the Arts of the Middle Ages, ed. by M. Carruthers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 250–80.

2009 ‘Letters, Liturgy and Identity: The Use of the Sequence Epithalamica at the Paraclete’. In Sapientia et Eloquentia: Meaning and Function in Liturgical Poetry, Music, Drama, and Biblical Commentary in the Middle Ages, ed. by G. Iversen, & N. Bell. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 301–48.

2008 ‘In persona Mariae: Singing the Song of Songs as a Passion Commentary. In Perspectives on the Passion ed. by C. E. Joynes, & N. Macky. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, pp 106–21.

2006 ‘‘The Soul is Symphonic’: Meditation on Luke 15:25 and Hildegard of Bingen’s Letter 23’. In Music and Theology: Essays in Honor of Robin A. Leaver, ed. D. Zager. Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press, pp. 1–8

2006 ‘Liturgical Music’. In Oxford History of Christian Worship, ed. by G. Wainwright, & K. Westerfield-Tucker 769-792). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press,  769–92.

1998 ‘Liturgical Music as Liturgy’. In Liturgy and Music: Lifetime Learning, ed. by R. A. Leaver, & J. A. Zimmerman. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, pp. 252–64.


2012. ‘Reading Hildegard of Bingen's Antiphons for the 11,000 Virgin-Martyrs of Cologne: Rhetorical ductus and Liturgical Rubrics’. Nottingham Medieval Studies, 56: 171–89.

2002 ‘The ‘Contextualisation’ of Hildegard von Bingen: A Report on Recent Research’. Bulletin of International Medieval Research, 8: 1-12.

1989 ‘Music as Worship, and in Worship’. Reformed Liturgy & Music, 23: 61-5.

1983 ‘Britten the Progressive’. Music Review, 44: 44-52.

Music octavo

Hildegard of Bingen, O frondens virga (text-music edition) Chapel Hill: Treble Clef Press, 1998, 14pp.

Internet Publications 

2018 ‘Christian Liturgical Music’ in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (forthcoming)

2013 ‘Troper’. In The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, ed. by J. R. Watson and Emma Hornby. (Norwich: Canterbury Press) http://www.hymnology.co.uk/t/troper.

2010 Description for online facsimile of Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 103, for E-Codices: Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland. University of Freiburg. http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/description/bke/0103.

Dictionary and Encyclopedia Articles

2004. ‘Britten, Benjamin’; ‘Praetorius, Michael’; ‘Telemann, George Philipp’. Encyclopedia of Protestantism, ed. Hans Hillerbrand: New York: Routledge. 

2003 ‘A cappella’; ‘Aggiornamento’; ‘Ave Maria’; ‘Agnus Dei: II. Musikalisch’; ‘Antiphon [westlich und östlich]’; ‘Antiphonar’; ‘Burgess, William Pennington’; ‘Concentus’; ‘Credo: II. Musikalisch’; ‘Doxologie’; ‘Figuralmusik’; ‘Gabrieli, Andrea’; ‘Gabrieli, Giovanni’; ‘Gloria: I. Liturgisch’; ‘Gloria: II. Musikalisch’; ‘Guido von Arezzo’; ‘Hadyn, Michael’; ‘Intonation’; ‘Introitus: I . Liturgisch’; ‘Introitus: II. Musikalisch’; ‘Kirchentöne’; ‘Kyriale’; ‘Kyrie eleison: I. Liturgisch’; ‘Kyrie eleison: II. Musikalisch’; ‘Liturgische Gesangbücher’. In Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 4th edition (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1998–2003). Republished in English translation as Religion Past and Present, (Leiden: Brill, 2006-2013). 

2002 ‘Church Music’. In Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, 2nd edition, ed. Nicholas Lossky et al. (Geneva: World Council of Churches, and Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2002). Revision of same publication, 1st ed., 1991. 


2010. Translation of revision of G. Iversen, Chanter avec les anges (Paris: CERF, 2001) as G. Iversen, Laus Angelica: Poetry in the Medieval Mass, ed. by J. Flynn. Turnhout: Brepols, 2010.


2018. Review of Calvin M. Bower. The Liber Hymnorum of Notker Balbulus. Henry Bradshaw Society. London 2016. Music & Letters 98: 672–4.

2015. Review of M. S. Cuthbert, S. Gallagher, C. Wolff, eds. City, Chant, and the Topography of Early Music: Essays in Honor of Thomas Forrest Kelly. Cambridge MA, 2013. Music & Letters 96: 642-4.

2014. Review of Emma Hornby and Rebecca Maloy. Music and Meaning in Old Hispanic Lenten Chants: Psalmi, Threni and the Easter Vigil Canticles . Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music 13. Woodbridge, 2013. Renaissance Quarterly 67: 1051–3.

2011. ‘The beginnings of Christian Singing’.
Review of Christopher Page, The Christian West and its singers: the first thousand years (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010). Early Music, 39: 605-607.

2010. Review of T.J.H. McCarthy, Music Scholasticism and Reform: Salian Germany, 1024–1125 (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 2009). German History, 28: 572–3.

2010. Review of Susan Rankin, ed. The Winchester Troper: Facsimile edition and introduction (London, 2007). Early Medieval Europe, 18: 128–31.

2009. Review of Jan Ziolkowski, Letters of Peter Abelard: Beyond the Personal (Washington, DC: Catholic University Press, 2007). Modern Language Review, 104: 814–15.

2005 Review of Paola De Santis, I sermoni di Abelardo per le monache del Paracleto (Leuven, 2002), in Journal of the International Medieval Sermon Studies Society 48: 96–8.

2002 Review of Ross W. Duffin, ed., A Performer's Guide to Medieval Music (Bloomington, 2000), in The Medieval Review. https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr/article/view/15182/21300

1999 Thomas K. McCart, The Matter and Manner of Praise: Controversial Evolution of Hymnody in the Church of England, 1760-1820 (Lanham MD,1998), in Church History 68: 721-3.

1999 Review of Peter Williams, The Organ in Western Culture, 750-1250 (Cambridge, 1993) and The King of Instruments: How Churches came to have Organs (London, 1993), in Early Keyboard Journal 16-17: 199-202.