SERMO: A Repertorium of Middle English Prose Sermons

The Repertorium of Middle English Prose Sermons is intended to provide an authoritative and comprehensive record of all extant Middle English prose sermons, including both edited and unedited material. The project offers a clear guide to the contents of sermon manuscripts and their intricate interrelationships. It has also allowed the collation of information concerning the contents of the sermons, providing summaries of individual sermons, indicating sources and recording such details as the exempla, biblical and patristic quotations and personal names mentioned. The Repertorium also includes a full bibliography relating to each text and collection.

By providing this data in a consistent and searchable form, the Repertorium provides an overview of the whole corpus of Middle English prose sermons which will aid future editorial and analytical research and facilitate comparative work across the genre and beyond. Close links with similar research projects across Europe have made it possible to extend comparative study to other vernaculars. The Repertorium acts as a foundation for further investigations in the interdisciplinary field of sermon studies and will assist scholars studying the literature, language, history and theology of Medieval England in exploring sermons.

Research Context

Medieval sermons are increasingly recognised as a valuable resource for a wide range of historical, literary, linguistic and theological studies. Preserved in thousands of manuscripts across Europe, they both reflect and respond to changing and enduring theological and cultural values. With such quantities of unedited material, large-scale research tools are required to provide an overview of the genre and facilitate further editorial and analytical work. Research into Latin sermons of the later Middle Ages has been greatly stimulated by the production of J. B. Schneyer's Repertorium der lateinischen Sermones des Mittelalters (Münster, 1969-1990) which identified over 100,000 individual copies of sermons. To complement this work and to encourage the study of vernacular texts, the SERMO project was developed by a group of international scholars with the aim of producing repertoria of medieval vernacular sermons. Dr Veronica O'Mara of the University of Hull was invited to design and co-ordinate the Middle English section of the SERMO project.

Middle English Sermons

Research into Middle English sermons is more advanced than in many other language areas; various listings of the material exist and several major collections have been edited or are in the process of being edited. The total number of manuscripts containing Middle English sermons is also relatively small by comparison with other vernaculars. However, the process of cataloguing and describing of Middle English sermon manuscripts is complicated by considerable amounts of textual reworking, mutual borrowing and interdependence between individual compilations. The Repertorium of Middle English Prose Sermons will make these complex textual resources more widely available and suggest new possibilities for research into Middle English sermons.

The aims of the Middle English SERMO project were:

1. To provide an authoritative and comprehensive record of all extant Middle English prose sermons in a consistent and searchable format.

2. To offer quick access to the contents of Middle English sermons to scholars from a range of disciplines.

3. To collate information concerning manuscripts containing Middle English prose sermons.

4. To enable comparative research across the full range of Middle English prose sermons.

5. To contribute to a broader comparative sermon studies project across European vernaculars.

The Middle English SERMO project is funded by the AHRB for the period 2003-2007. It is based in the Department of English at the University of Hull.

The co-instigators of the Sermo Project are Dr Suzanne Paul and Dr Veronica O'Mara.

Contact us

If you wish to find out more about the Middle English SERMO project, please contact: 

  Dr Veronica O'Mara
  Dept of Humanities (English)
  University of Hull
  Tel: +44 (0)1482 465648
Back to top