TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Antiphonal (Dominican Use)

In Latin, with some rubrics in German, decorated manuscript on paper
Southern Germany, Austria or Switzerland (Zurich?), c.1500-1525

TM 709


189 ff. on paper, watermarks, Briquet nos. 12268-12269 (a bear with a dart-like tongue, recorded in Berne and Solothurn in 1508-1513) and nos. 13015-13020 (grapes, recorded from 1497-1541 in Berne, Constance, Neuchatel and Fribourg, but also in Munich and Salzburg) and Piccard Online,129384, produced in Zurich in 1514(Online Resources); the two watermarks share a unique flaw in the recorded corpus, in which a string of three grapes on the right hand side of the watermark drifts away from the main stem leaving a small triangular interstitial space, modern pencil foliation every ten folios in upper outer corner, complete as in sixteenth century,( collation, i16 [original first leaf wanting, present f. 1 is a later tipped-in leaf], ii15 [first leaf a singleton, but with no apparent loss to text], iii-xi16, xii12 [+1 leaf, f. 182, added after 6, and + 1 blank leaf added at the end), ruled in red ink (justification 132 x 100 mm.), written in late gothic bookhands by two or three scribes with six lines of text and music on 4-line red staves, additions of further music at end of text on ff. 182r-183v at the time of the replacement of the original first leaf, rubrics and simple initials in red, a few larger initials with penwork, that on f. 39r picking out a simple clean-shaven human face, ink-burn in places with significant damage and small holes only in first few leaves, some small spots and tears to edges of leaves in places, else in good condition. Bound in contemporary sixteenth-century limp parchment strengthened with thin pasteboards, on three double thongs, spine rebacked with more modern parchment, and that covering the boards cut away at one time and spine folded and pasted underneath them. Dimensions 202 x 155 mm.

This is an Antiphonal for Dominican Use, possibly from the celebrated Predigerkloster in Zurich. Interesting as an example of a small-format Antiphonal, copied on paper in an informal script, this manuscript includes rhymed Offices for the Visitation, St. Anne, St. Dominic, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Rhymed Offices are regarded as “the chief vehicle for creative literary and musical composition in the late medieval liturgy” (Hughes). The manuscript is also noteworthy for its inclusion of unusual indications of performance practices in its marginal notes.


1. Written c. 1500-1525, probably for use in the Dominican Predigerkloster founded within the city walls of Zurich by 1231, as supported by liturgical use and the evidence of the distinctive watermark. The monumentally high choir of the convent still stands and dominates the city-hall square, and is the most important Gothic construction to still stand in the city. The manuscript here includes readings for the feasts of Saints Dominic, founder of the order, on ff. 99v-110v, and Catherine of Siena, its next most prominent saint, on ff. 168v-171v. 

A date at the beginning of the sixteenth century is suggested by the script and the watermark evidence (liturgical evidence allows us only to date it after 1457, since it includes the Transfiguration). The two watermarks are members of close-knit groups which cluster in northern Switzerland: Briquet nos. 12268-12269 (a bear with a dart-like tongue, recorded in Berne and Solothurn in 1508-1513) and nos. 13015-13020 (grapes, recorded from 1497-1541 in Berne, Constance, Neuchatel and Fribourg, but also in Munich and Salzburg). In addition, this last watermark is extremely close to that recorded by Piccard in the Landesregierungsarchiv Innsbruck (his no. 129384, produced in Zurich in 1514), and the paper here almost certainly was produced there. The two watermarks share a unique flaw in the recorded corpus, in which a string of three grapes on the right hand side of the watermark drifts away from the main stem leaving a small triangular interstitial space.

The Predigerkloster is one of only two Dominican foundations in the vicinity of Zurich, and as the other, Kloster Oetenbach, was an entirely female community, the stipulation in the opening lines of f.1 here that the following should be sung when the men of the choir (“die herren zü der cor”) enter the church, strongly suggests that this book was made for use in the former rather than the latter. The convent was secularised in 1524, during the Protestant Reformation, after Ulrich Zwingli exerted pressure on the city council of Zurich, and its library and property was then widely dispersed. Sigrid Krämer (Krämer, 1989-1990) records no manuscript from the convent.

The language on f. 1, is early New High German rather than medieval, and although many of the forms have been influenced by the printer’s language, there are two features that are distinctive: for in “heilig”, and ‘gan’ instead of ‘gen’ in “gand” (which also uses the ‘Einheitsplural’ <–ent>), suggesting this is probably eastern Alemannic. If this is correct, and the influence of print and the brevity of the text makes it hard to be certain, the manuscript was likely from the eastern Alemannic region (in southern Germany from the central Black Forest in the west to a line running through and including Ulm and Augburg in the east), certainly making an origin in Zurich possible (we thank Dr. Stephen Mossman for his assistance with this matter).

2. The present volume was in other hands, perhaps those of a bookseller, by the nineteenth century, when the inventory or sale reference ‘26/50’ was written in red pencil inside the front board.


ff. 1rv, near-contemporary added folio [rubric, Das singt man andem hailgen ostertag so balt die herren zü der cor diir in gand so facht man an], incipit, “Cum rex glorie cristus infernum … intormentis alleluiia”;

ff. 2-6, incipit, “//Oraculo mangna [sic] dona panduntur seculo dei plena … f. 3v, [lauds] Dum deus ex virgine induit decorem … [Dreves and Blume, 1896, p. 97]; … Exultavit spiritus sterilis …”;

Rhymed Office for the Feast of the Visitation; beginning imperfectly in the response in the third nocturne of Matins from the rhymed Office of the Visitation (which begins, “Felix virgo cuius oraculo ..”); see Dreves and Blume, 1896, p. 96, continuing with lauds, and concluding with the antiphon for the Magnificat for the Octave. From the manuscripts listed by Dreves and Blume, this is clearly Dominican, and circulated especially in Germany, with widespread related examples, also Domincan, in Italy and elsewhere.

ff. 6-15, Die ist von S. Anne, incipit, “Virgo semper hec Marya stirpe nata regia david …”;

Includes many of the same texts in the rhymed office recorded in Dreves and Blume, 1896, pp. 52-61, but the identical office has not been identified.

ff. 15-29v, Transfiguracione, incipit, “Sunt de hic stantibus qui non gustabunt mortem …”; [Mass introit], f. 26, In festo transfiguratione domini officium mangnae corona, incipit, “Viderunt ingressus tuos deus …”; [Ps] “Illuxerunt chruscaciones tue …”; [Gr], Cantate domino et benedicite …”, Versus, “Annunciate inter gentes …”; Sequencia, Adest dies celebris quo pacatus …”;

Office and Mass for the Transfiguration; cf. the Genevan Missal of 1491, with same introit and communion prayers for the Transfiguration (Lafrasse, 1879, p. 224); the Sequence is printed in Morel, 1868, p. 15, no. 27 from a St. Gall manuscript (fifteenth century).

ff. 29v-172: ff. 29v-38v, In festo sancte trinitatis, incipit, “O beata et benedicta et gloriosa trinitas …” [Trinity Sunday]; ff. 38v-49, In vig[ila] Iohannis Baptista ad vesperas, incipit, “Ingresso zacharya templum domini …”; ff. 49-51, Joanne [et] pauli, incipit, “Astiterunt iusti ante dominum …”; ff. 51-67v, Appostolorum [sic] petri et pauli, incipit, “Que dicunt homines esse filium …”; ff. 68-76, Von sant pauel, incipit, “Lademus deum nostrum insolempnitate apostoli pauli …”; ff. 76-86, In dedictione [sic] templi, incipit, “Sanctificauit dominus tabernaculum suum …”; ff. 86-99v, Von Sant marya magtalena, incipit, “Recumbente Ihesu in domo pharisei …”; ff. 99v-110, Von S. Dominico, incipit, “Gaude felix parens hispania tante prolis dans mundo gaudia … “; ff. 110-122v, S. laurenze, …; ff, 122v-123, S. tiburcii …;  ff. 123-135v, In asumpcione marie, incipit, “Tota pulchra es amica mea  …”; ff. 135v-138v, Augustini …; ff. 138v-140, Decolacio Iohannes, …; ff. 140-144, Natifita marie, …; ff. 144-146, Von allen Engel, …; ff. 146-149, Von all halogen, …; ff. 149-155v, Von sant Vrsula, …; ff. 156-159, Von Sant Martinus, …; ff. 159-161v, Von S. Elsbeht, incipit, “Letare Germania claro felix germine nascentis elisabet ex regali femine … “; ff. 161v-164v, Die ist von sant cecilliga, …; ff. 164-169v, Von S. Katherina mart., incipit, “Ave virgo speciosa clarior …”; ff. 169v-172v, Dis ist von S. Katrine de senis, incipit, “Uirginem katherinam maximis hodie veneremur laudibus …”;

Sanctorale (ff. 2-172v), from the feasts of the Visitation (2 July), now beginning imperfectly, to that of St. Catharine of Alexandria (25 November); with the Office for St. Catherine of Siena (29 April) added at the end, beginning on f. 168v.

ff. 172-181v, Common of Saints, including Apostles (ff. 172r-173v), the Evangelists (ff. 173v-175r), martyrs (ff. 175r-176v), confessors (ff. 176v-177v), holy virgins (ff. 177v-179v) and the Holy Virgin, here “unser frowen” (ff. 179v-181r)… nostra omnium que salute”;

ff. 182r-183v, near contemporary additions at end, incipit, “Nisi manduca carnem filii hominis … in novissimo die”; and [rubric in same hand as added text, Offertorium de sacramento], incipit, “Sacerdotes in censum domini … corporis et sanguinis domini alleluia” [ff. 184-188v, blank apart from staff lines].

The daily prayer of the Church or the Divine Office was celebrated by members of the secular clergy and religious orders throughout the day and night at the offices of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. The Antiphonal is the book that included all the musical propers, that is the text and music that were unique to a particular feast or liturgical occasion, for the day and night offices, including antiphons, responsories, and invitatories. (The Ordinary for the Office, texts said without variation each week, were included in liturgical Psalters and in many Breviaries). The two main cycles of the liturgical year are the Temporale, or Proper of Time, which includes the feasts celebrating the life of Christ, organized around the moveable feast of Easter, and the Sanctorale, which includes the feasts of Saints (which were fixed and celebrated on the same date each year). This manuscript includes the music and words for selected feasts for the Sanctorale, from July to the end of November (the Visitation on 2 July to Catharine of Alexandria on 25 November), followed by the Common of Saints, a section that provided Offices to be used for saints without a proper Office in the Sanctorale.

The Offices for the feast days of various saints were often the occasion for the composition of new literary texts and music, since the saints venerated varied depending on the locality and the religious order, and because new saints were canonized during the Middle Ages. There are a number of texts here that may be notable (many are very long; note the very full texts given here for Trinity Sunday, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, Mary Magdalene, Dominic, Lawrence, the feast of the Assumption and Ursula), including rhymed offices for the Visitation (beginning imperfectly on f. 2), St. Anne (beginning f. 6), St. Dominic, beginning, f. 99, “Gaude felix parens Hispania ...” (see Hughes, 2001, p. 58), and St. Elizabeth of Hungary, beginning on f. 159, “Letare Germania claro felix germine nascentis elisabet ex regali femine …”, which has been edited by Haagh, 1995, and was composed for the elevation of St. Elizabeth’s relics in 1236. As Andrew Hughes has observed, rhymed Offices were “the chief vehicle for creative literary and musical composition in the late medieval liturgy (Hughes, 1994). The presence of the rhymed Offices identified above suggests that further texts of interest are likely present, and a complete study of the texts and music included in this manuscript is needed.

The texts for the Transfiguration may also be of particular interest, since it appears to be the only feast here with texts for both the Office and the Mass. The Transfiguration is the feast that celebrates the biblical event revealing Christ’s divinity, when “he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow” (Matthew 17:2). The feast was celebrated early in the Eastern Church, but was not established as a feast observed in the Universal Church in the West until 1457, although it was known in some dioceses earlier (in some places as early as the tenth century).

The text opens with an added leaf with instructions in German in a near-contemporary hand that the following should be sung on Easter day as soon as the men of the choir enter (“Das singt man andem hailgen ostertag so balt die herren zü der cor diir ingand so facht man an …”). Additions of the same date on f. 110, are also of interest, and note which parts are to be sung by the choir when the organ is played.  The interesting contents of this Antiphonal, should be seen in context of its physical characteristics. Copied in a rather small format, on paper rather than on parchment, both the script and musical notation, while clearly legible, are rather informal (the quickly drawn staff lines are often markedly crooked). Was this volume the repository for Offices not found in the convent’s other liturgical books? Or were they copied by a friar who was particularly interested in certain Offices? Further research is needed.


Dreves, Guido Maria and Clemens Blume. Historiae rhythmicae: Liturgische Reimofficien des Mittelalters, Guido Maria Dreves and Clemens Blume, Fues, 1896.

Haggh, Barabara, ed. Two offices for St. Elizabeth of Hungary: Gaudeat Hungaria and Letare Germania, Ottawa, Institute of Mediaeval Music, 1995.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century, Oxford, 1991 (repr. 2001).

Hughes, Andrew. Late Medieval Liturgical Offices: Texts and Sources and Chants, Subsidia mediaevalia 23-4, Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1993-6.

Hughes, Andrew. “Late Medieval Plainchant for the Divine Office”, in Music as concept and practice in the late Middle Ages, The New Oxford History of Music, III.1, ed. Reinhard Strohm and Bonnie J. Blackburn, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 31-96.

Hughes, Andrew. “Research Report. Late medieval rhymed offices”, Journal of the Plainsong and Mediaeval Music Society 8 (1985), pp 33-49.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office. A Guide to their Organization and Terminology, Toronto, 1982 (repr. 1986, 1995).

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

Krämer, Sigrid. Handschriftenerbe des deutschen Mittelalters, Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz, 3 vols (Munich, 1989-90).

Lafrasse, P.-M. “Etude sur la liturgie dans l’ancien Diocese de Genève”, Mémoires et documents publiées par l’Académie salésienne (1879).

Morel, P. G. Lateinische Hymnen des Mittelalters, grösstentheils aus Handschriften Schweizerischer Klöster, als Nachtrag zu den Hymnensammlungen von Mone, Daniel und andern, 1868.

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

Briquet Online (Kommission für Schrift- und Buchwesen des Mittelalters
der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften):

Piccard Online

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

Introduction to liturgical manuscripts: “Celebrating the Liturgy’s Books”:

Dreves and Blume, Historiae rhythmicae (see above), online edition