Christian Prayers and Invocations in Scandinavian Runic Inscriptions from the Viking Age and Middle Ages
Futhark: International Journal of Runic Studies, Vol. 4 (2013)
Previous studies of Christian runic inscriptions have tended to deal with particular types of inscription from defined periods of time. This article analyses all the relevant Scandinavian runic material from the Viking Age and the Middle Ages, focusing on textual features and material contexts of inscriptions that use prayers and invocations. Its main aim is to explore the dynamics of what may be termed “the runic prayer tradition” with a view to identifying potentially stable elements of this tradition as well as those that alter over time. Two main categories of prayer and invocation explored are formulations in the vernacular and in Church Latin. The results of the study reveal various possibilities of variation in the runic prayer tradition, but also suggest links and overlaps between the earlier and later vernacular prayers. The evidence further suggests some sort of a division between a monumental (or public) form of discourse in connection with rune-stones, grave monuments and church buildings — which are dominated by vernacular prayers — and that of various loose objects, where Latin prayer formulas seem to be favoured.