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Matthew of Rievaulx (c. 1109-1167), precentor of Rievaulx

Matthew, it seems, joined the community shortly after Aelred’s death in 1167 and was appointed precentor of the abbey during Silvan’s abbacy (1167-1189).
Matthew has been described as one of the new generation of monks, who was more caught up in political and ecclesiastical affairs than many of his predecessors. McGuire has characterised him as ‘a monastic writer who expresses himself more as a writer who happens to be a monk than as a monk who writes.’(1) A number of his writings survive, including hymns, poems and letters. Matthew’s letters are at times quite revealing, and convey some of his thoughts on friendship as well as the stressfulness of administering a monastic office. Matthew attributed his own ill health to the strains of his duties as precentor, and regretted having ever undertaken this office.(2)

A poem by Matthew:

The winter will lose its cold, as the snow will be
without whiteness,
The night without darkness, the heavens without
stars the day without light,
The flower will lose its beauty, all fountains their
water, the sea its fish,
The tree its birds, the forest its beasts, the earth its
harvest –
All these will pass before anyone breaks the bonds
of our love,
and before I cease caring for you in my heart.
May your days be happy in number as flakes of snow,
May your nights be peaceful and may you be without troubles.