Adam of St.-Victor

c.1110-c.1180. Liturgical poet. Born probably in Britain or Brittany, he was educated in Paris and about 1130 entered the monastery of St.-Victor, where he stayed until his death. His theological ideas are Augustinian. He is chiefly renowned for his composition of about forty-five “sequences,” rhythmic pieces to be used in the liturgy of the Mass preceding the Gospel. These were approved by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. He is credited with having brought to perfection the sequence poetry initiated by Notker Balbulus (d.912) and nurtured at St.-Victor even before Adam's time. He used ideas borrowed from contemporary theology, biblical allusions, and legendary material, and presented a highly developed system of allegory, typology, and symbolism. The melodies for his sequences were composed by a fellow monk, H. Spanke. The sequences have been translated into English, and some have been used as hymns (e.g., four in Hymns Ancient and Modern). He was thought to be the author of scholastic and biblical works, but this has been disputed.

See D.S. Wrangham, The Liturgical Poetry of Adam of St.-Victor (1881).