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Bridwell Library Purchases Rare Book in Memory of Music Professor Donna Mayer-Martin

"Les Chamsons des Pelerins de S. Jacques" Purchased in Honor of the Longtime Music History Professor

SMU’s Bridwell Library has purchased a rare book in memory of longtime Meadows music history professor Donna Mayer-Martin, who died of cancer last year at the age of 62. The tiny songbook, Les Chansons des Pelerins de S. Jacques, was published in 1718 for the use of French pilgrims journeying on the medieval pilgrimage route to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It contains the texts of numerous chansons (without musical notation – the well-known tunes were indicated by title), illustrated throughout with charmingly crude woodcuts. Also included are various prayers, memorials of saints, shrines, and relics at Santiago de Compostela and other churches, and a table of the distances between various towns on the route from Paris to Santiago de Compostela.

“Although the book would have been sold for pennies when it was published, today it is a true treasure, as few have survived the travails of pilgrimage or the subsequent centuries – only one other copy is recorded in the United States,” said Eric White, curator of special collections at Bridwell.

“Donna always made excellent use of Bridwell Library’s musical treasures for her research and teaching,” said White. “She tended to favor the scruffy witnesses to real history over the more stately treasures, and we have no doubt that she would have fallen madly in love with this little book of pilgrim’s songs.”

A modern edition of the texts may be found at Google Books.



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