Contact: Jenni Smith
SMU News & Media Relations
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November 21, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Students at Southern Methodist University have translated classic Latin texts to be showcased with illuminated manuscript images as part of the third annual interactive online Advent calendar, with the theme of Fiat Lux, “Let Light Come!”

The Web site,, is available for viewing through the end of December 2001. Each day during the Advent season, beginning Dec. 2, a new image from the Sellers Book of Hours will be revealed on the Web site, paired with Latin texts translated by the SMU students.

“The texts chosen for this project communicate divinity as light and are intended to invite the reader to consider the language of light,” said SMU Latin Instructor Paula Lemmon, who developed the concept of an interactive online Advent calendar as a way to link the language of the ancient world with current technology of the Internet. “I thought it would be a great gift to the world to have the opportunity to see these rare and gorgeous illuminated manuscripts from ancient texts, as well as giving me a way to share the wonderful work of my students.”

Beginning Latin students have translated John 1:1-51 from the Vulgate Bible of St. Jerome. Intermediate students have translated Genesis 1:1-5; excerpts from selected Psalms and the Apocalypse, also from the Vulgate, as well as a passage from the Confessions of St. Augustine.

The Sellers Book of Hours, one of the earliest, finest and most important book of hours preserved in any Texas collection, is on long-term deposit to SMU’s Bridwell Library from the collection of Dr. Lyle M. Sellers (1894-1968), which was formerly at the Baylor University Medical Center Library in Dallas. Filled with bright colors, Gothic ornamentation and marginalia, the Sellers Book of Hours was produced circa 1330 in Northern France or West Flanders, probably in the vicinity of St. Omer in the dioceses of Therouanne. Consisting of 164 parchment leaves measuring 95 X 65 mm, the book’s main devotional texts were written in Latin.

Each image online has been digitally manipulated to reproduce the look of a treasured manuscript. Jan Marston, director of the Foreign Language Learning Center at SMU, and Clayton Mitchell, webmaster and site designer aided Lemmon in producing the project.

The study of foreign languages and literatures lies at the center of the humanities, and SMU's Latin program offers students the opportunity to study the language and culture of classical and medieval Latin worlds. The objective of the Latin program at SMU is to build a solid foundation in the language and to prepare students to translate original classical and medieval texts on their own, as they did with the Advent calendar. Besides emphasizing vocabulary, grammar and syntax, the Latin program also presents an overview of Roman history and culture through written texts and videos in English, and points out the connections between Latin and modern-day Romance languages and English.

The Sellers Book of Hours is part of Bridwell Library’s Special Collections, under the direction of Valerie Hotchkiss, director of Bridwell Library, and Eric White, Curator of Rare Books.

Students who worked on the 2001 Advent calendar project include Katie Arnold, Amanda Taylor, Keith Wilkins and Laurie Zrull of Dallas; Krystel Manansala of Alief; Nadalynn Jenkins of Arlington; Morgan King and Blake Orr of Austin; Erin Crosby of DeSoto; Tony Robertson of Grand Prairie; Beth Torrey of Kingwood; Dominic Lacy of Mesquite; John McQuillen of Plano; Curt Carter of San Antonio; and Crissy Hamilton of Carrizo Springs, Texas.

Also Andrew Baker of Little Rock, Ark.; Gail Bickford of Baltimore, Md.; Tracy O'Neill of Aspen, Colo.; Parker Young of Darien, Conn.; Amy Lynn Huff of Bellevue, Wash.; Chris Harvey of Heber Springs, Ark.