TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Noted Antiphonal (Franciscan Use)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper
Southern Europe (Spain or Portugal?), after 1728, before 1854

TM 751
mss in the curriculum


ii (paper, i, glued onto a decorative blue paper endleaf joined with the pastedown) + 350 + i (paper, glued to a decorative blue paper as in the front) folios on paper, original pagination in ink in roman numerals, middle, upper margin,1-671, and then added modern pagination in pencil, recto only, pp. 672-699, with one blank unnumbered page after p. 301, collation, i8 [-1, cancelled, with no loss of text] ii-xviii8 xix8 [with p. 301 followed by a blank, unpaginated leaf] xx-xxix8 xxx10 xxi-xliii8 xliv6 [-6, cancelled with no loss of text]), no signatures or catchwords, ruled in lead with a rectangular frame with double rules added as needed for each line of text (justification 120-115 x 85-82 mm.), copied in a clear upright script, usually with three lines of text and three lines of square musical notation on red four-line staves on each page, red rubrics, red initials, decorative red initials constructed with multiple lines or dots, FORTY-FOUR CHARMING COLORED INITIALS, often constructed of multiple parallel red, maroon, blue, and yellow lines adorned with small flowers, leaves, animals or faces in profile (initial p. 353, Assumption, with standing figure of the Virgin, and on p. 326, Common of Saints, a standing male figure) in simple red frames, in excellent condition, very small tear, lower margin p. 384, small blue stain bottom margin on pp. 217-232, pp. 691-692 partially detached. Bound in a modern brown leather binding, tooled in gold with small laurel stamps forming an outer border, framing an inner border of heart-shaped scrolls, tooled in blind, and a center panel, lettered in gold on both covers, “P.S./ D.O”, flat spine, elaborately tooled in gold, and lettered “Antiphonarium”, wound headbands, place markers of blue silk ribbons, gilt edges, in excellent condition apart from minor damage to the spine. Dimensions 145 x 113 mm.

This modern Antiphonal was carefully copied, and includes the same square notation on four-line staves found in medieval music manuscripts since the thirteenth century. Certain details of the text and decoration suggest it may have been copied in Spain or Portugal. It includes numerous colorful and charming decorated initials that make it a delightful volume to peruse, and this unusual and attractive artifact would be an interesting item to add to any collection centering on the history of the book.


1. Liturgical evidence allows us to date this after 1728, since it includes the feast of Margaret of Cortona (22 February), canonized in 1728; the manuscript also includes other feasts from around this date, namely the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin (15 April), celebrated by the whole Church in 1727, the feast of John of Capistrano (23 October), canonized in 1724, and the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (16 July), observed by the whole church since 1726. Also included is the feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph (third Sunday after Easter), celebrated by the Carmelites and Augustinians, c. 1700, extended to whole church in 1847, but celebrated earlier in Spain and in many other dioceses. It seems likely that it was copied before 1854, since the “New Office of the Immaculate Conception of Mary” celebrated since 1854, was among the texts added in a later hand beginning on p. 672, on pages originally left blank.

Where it was copied is more difficult to determine, although the evidence points to Southern Europe, and Spain or Portugal seems possible; note the inclusion of the feast of St. Rose of Lima, 30 August, and the Festo expectationis partus B.M.V (Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin’s Delivery, 18 December), a feast originating in Spain, although also observed elsewhere, including Italy and Southern France. The standing figure of a male saint on p. 326 shows some similarity in composition to initials in sixteenth-century Portuguese manuscripts (e.g. TM 710 on this site, p. 7). The added feasts for St. Richard (9 June), however, may support an origin in Italy, or suggest that the volume was used there early in its history, since Richard, although born in England, became the Bishop of Andria in Apulia, where he is the patron.

The volume was clearly copied for Franciscan Use, and includes numerous Franciscan feasts, including on p. 384, In festo Impressionis Sacrorum Stigmatum in Corpora S.P.N. Francisci (the Feast of the Impression of the Holy Stigmata on the Body of our holy father Francis); and on p. 403, In solemnitate S.P.N. Francisci (the Solemnity of our holy father Francis); other Franciscan Saints include Paschal Baylon (May 17), canonized in 1690, Bernardinus of Siena (May 20), Anthony of Padua (13 June), and Didacus (13 November), canonized in 1588.

2. Front flyleaf, f. ii verso, erased owners’ or dealers' codes.


pp. 1-525, Noted texts for the Office, beginning with the antiphon for Vespers for the octave of Christmas (incipit, “O admirabile commercium creator generis humani animatum …”), and concluding with Christmas; mostly including feasts from the Sanctorale, but also incorporating Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, and the feasts following Easter; among the feasts included are: p. 38, Margaret of Cortona (22 February); p. 43, Joseph (19 March), p. 68, Septem dolorum BVM (15 April), p. 150, Feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph (third Sunday after Easter), p. 200, Paschal Baylon (May 17), p. 257, Bernardinus of Siena (May 20), p. 261, Anthony of Padua (13 June), p. 323, Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel (16 July), p. 368, In festo translatio S. Rosae (August 23 or 30), p. 384, Stigmata of Francis, p. 403, Francis (4 October), p. 442, John of Capistrano (23 October), p. 463, Didacus, p. 477, Immaculate Conception of Mary (Vesp. Ant., incipit, “Sicut lilium inter spinas …”; Ad magnificat, incipit, “Quam pulchri sunt gressus tui ..”; Ad Benedictus, incipit, “Quam pluchra es amica mea ...”), and p. 489 In festo Expectationis Partus B.M.V. (Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin’s Delivery, 18 December);

pp. 526-638, Noted texts for the Common of Saints, concluding with the Dedication of a Church;

pp. 638-662, Officium parvum B.M.V (Hours of the Virgin), Noted antiphons at Vespers, Magnificat, Benedicat, and at second Vespers;

pp. 663-671, Antiphonae majores ad Magnificat., incipit, “O Sapientia quae ex ore …”; “O Adonai et dux domus …”; “O radix Jesse …”; “O clavis David …”: “Oriens splendor …”; “O rex gentium …”; “O Emmanuel …”, Finis;

pp. 672-685, [Later additions, added on blank folios], Novissimum Officium Immaculata Conceptionis B. M. V. Ad Vesperas Magnificat, incipit, “Beatam me dicent omnes generationes quia fecit  …”;  Hymnum ad matutinum, incipit, “Praeclara custos Virginum …”;  In festis B. M. Virginis … [Kyrie and Benedictus, texts for Masses of the Virgin]; pp. 679-80, blank; p. 681, In Festo S. Richardi, ….; In festo Patrocinii S. Richardae …(hymn, “Richarde adesto et percipe”, cue only with notation); brief antiphons for first Vepers and Second Vespers; [pp. 686-688, blank staves; p. 689, blank, apart from ruled frame];

pp. 690-696, Tabula Sanctorum ac Beatorum, Festorum que mobilium; Table of contents, arranged according to the months of the year, with page references; original to the manuscript and copied by the same hand; [pp. 697-699, blank, apart from ruled frame].

Choir books form a distinctive category of liturgical manuscripts. In the later Middle Ages many were copied in a very large format that enabled a group of singers to share one manuscript. This very late manuscript, copied long after the invention of printing, is in contrast a relatively small book and was probably used by the individual who copied it. The main Choir Book for the Divine Office (prayers said throughout the day and night by members of religious orders at the offices of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline) is the Antiphonal or Antiphonary. The two main cycles of the liturgical year are the Temporale, or Proper of Time, which includes Sundays and the feasts celebrating the life of Christ, organized around the moveable feast of Easter, and the Sanctorale, which includes Sundays and the feasts of Saints, which were fixed, and celebrated on the same day each year. This manuscript includes selected feasts for the Sanctorale, with a few important feasts from the Temporale mixed in.

Only the proper texts for the particular feast are given, so for example, the Purification (a short example), includes the antiphon at Vespers [cue only, directing the user to use the antiphon from the feast of the Circumcision], and the antiphons for the Magnificat and the Benedictus. The Office for the Solemnity of St. Francis, beginning on p. 403, is longer and includes the rhymed antiphon for Vespers, “Franciscus vir catholicus et totus apostolicus …” (with three verses and responses), the antiphon for the Magnificat, and the Office at Matins, with antiphons, versicles and responses for each of the nocturns, and concludes with the antiphon for the Benedictus.

In terms of its layout, general organization, and musical notation, this volume is a direct descendant of the liturgical Choir manuscripts copied in the later Middle Ages and in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It includes the same square notation copied on four-line staves found in medieval musical manuscripts since the thirteenth century. This system of notation is, of course, very different than modern music. Its use here, in a somewhat simplified form, is an example of its continued use for liturgical music into the modern era. As such it is a remarkable example of the continuity of the musical traditions of the celebration of the Divine Office, and their transmission in manuscripts.


Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy, Oxford, 1991.

Hughes, A. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: a Guide to their Organization and Terminology, Toronto, 1982.

Huglo, M. Les livres de chant liturgique, Turnhout, Brepols, 1988.

Palazzo, Eric. A History of Liturgical Books from the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century, translated by Madeline Beaumont, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1998.

Plummer, John. Liturgical Manuscripts for the Mass and Divine Office, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, 1964.

Online resources

Introduction to liturgical manuscripts: “Celebrating the Liturgy’s Books” http://www.columbia.edu/itc/music/manuscripts/

Huglo, Michel and David Hiley. “Antiphoner”, in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online (subscription Database)

Jean-Baptiste Lebigue. “Livres de l’office Les propres de l’office”, in Initiation aux manuscrits liturgiques, Ædilis, Publications pédagogiques, 6, Paris-Orléans, IRHT, 2007 http://aedilis.irht.cnrs.fr/initiation-liturgie/propres-office.htm

Divine Office Online (with different versions; in Latin and English)

Printed Breviary (1888)