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les Enluminures

Antiphonal (Franciscan Use)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment with musical notation
Northern Italy, shortly after 1458

TM 827


i + 83 + i folios on parchment, partial contemporary foliation in red ink, upper center margin, in Roman numerals, liij-lvij, on pp. 59-67, later pagination in black ink in the upper margin, 2-112, 115-168, beginning on the verso of the first folio and with gap in pagination reflecting a lost leaf, beginning and ending imperfectly (with the partial contemporary foliation suggesting that sixteen leaves have been lost from the beginning) and missing at least twenty-five leaves internally, additional minor losses of text due to excisions from the margins of many leaves (collation i8 [-4 -5; missing at least one bifolium from the center, with loss of text] ii8 [-2 -7; missing at least one bifolium, with loss of text] iii8 [-1 -6 -7 -8; missing outer bifolium and two single leaves, with loss of text] iv10 [-1 +11 +12; ragged stub remains where leaf was excised, with loss of text; the two tipped in singletons, pp. 51-54, are the two singletons missing from q. iii] v10 vi10 [-4 -8; missing two single leaves, with loss of text; remaining singletons 3 and 7  joined with parchment stubs at top and bottom forming bifolium] vii8 [-1 -2 -4 -5 -8; inner and outer bifolia lost, along with a single leaf, all with loss of text] viii10 [-9; ragged stub remains where a leaf, pp. 113-114, was excised with loss of text] ix8 [-1 -4 -5 -8; missing inner and outer bifolia, with loss of text] x-xi8 xii6 [-1 -3 -4 -6; missing inner and outer bifolia, with loss of text] xiii6 [-3 -4; missing inner bifolium, with loss of text]), ruled with full-length vertical bounding lines in hardpoint and with horizontal rules in pale brown ink (justification 272-280 x 180-182 mm.), written in a well-formed Italian Gothic rotunda script of two different sizes on up to thirty-four long lines, more than three quarters of the leaves contain between one and eleven lines of music written in square notation on four-line red staves, red rubrics, capitals touched in red or yellow,  one-line blue paraphs, one-line blue and red initials with contrasting pen decoration in red and faded black, numbering i-x and (six times) i-ij written in red in the scribe’s hand in the inner margins of pp. 59-60, 62-63, 65-67, some smudged erasures written over in black ink in a later hand (pp. 105-107), marginal additions in later hands (pp. 68 and 132, now partially cropped, and p. 91), some localized fading or blurring of ink, with no loss of legibility (pp. 4, 9, 25), many leaves have been trimmed along their lower and outer margins and neatly patched with paper or parchment, sometimes with slight losses of text, more significant trimming to pp. 27-28 and 167-168 along upper, lower, and outer margins.  Bound in modern parchment over pasteboards, smooth spine with inscription at the top, now faded to illegibility, two sets of fore-edge leather ties, some slight staining and scratching of parchment and slight cracking along the top of the upper and lower joints, description in pencil on lower pastedown.  Dimensions 330 x 241-243 mm.

Distinguished by its very unusual layout, this attractive and large Franciscan Antiphonal was carefully copied with a system of ruling that allowed the scribe to make the transition easily between musical notation and the text.  Noteworthy among its contents are two offices, for the Finding and Exaltation of the Cross, whose particular arrangements of chants have not been found in their entirety in any other manuscripts we have consulted.  Its handsome, accessible presentation, and the losses it has suffered, makes it well-suited for teaching the history of the book.


1. This manuscript was made for Franciscan use, as suggested by its adherence to the textual arrangements of the revised Roman Breviary of Haymo of Faversham and to the chants found in other Franciscan Antiphonals (see Text section, below), its arrangement of texts for secular use, and the general prominence of Franciscan saints – including Francis (and the feast of his Stigmata), Clare, Anthony of Padua, Louis of Toulouse, and Bernardino of Siena – in the Sanctorale and elsewhere.

Evidence of script and decoration suggests that this manuscript was produced in Northern Italy.  Internal evidence indicates that it was most likely produced shortly after 1458, as the Sanctorale contains an office for the feast of the Transfiguration (officially observed by the Franciscans from 1458).  Furthermore, the volume contains two references to “sancto bernardino” (pp. 8, 10), that is, Bernardino of Siena, who was canonized in 1450 and whose feast was observed by the Franciscans from 1451.  Bernardino was an important saint for Franciscans.  His mention here, taken alongside the absence of his feast (20 May) from its chronologically appropriate place in the Sanctorale (between the feasts of the Apparition of Michael, celebrated on 8 May, and Anthony of Padua, celebrated on 13 June) may indicate that his canonization was still fairly recent when this Antiphonal was produced.

2. Five antiphons for Lauds of the Feast of the Finding of the Cross were erased and overwritten in a clumsy Gothic hand (see pp. 106-107), presumably to reflect the preferred chants in the house where the Antiphonal was being used.  This particular arrangement of antiphons is recorded in another Franciscan manuscript localized to Venice and dated c. 1400, Dubrovnik, FranjevaĨki Samostan, Cod. E (HR-Hf Cod. E in the CANTUS Database; see Online Resources).  An effort was made to preserve the decorative program of the manuscript, with new initials painted in blue and red when the new antiphons were written in.

3. This volume clearly suffered losses of leaves and bifolia, as well as tight trimming of many of the leaves that remain, before it was repaginated and resewn in its present modern binding. 


pp. [1]-90, beginning imperfectly, “// uirginitatem dei genitrix intercede pro nobis Ps. Deus deus meus ... R. Tua est potentia tuum regnum domine: tu es super //”;

Noted Temporale for the entire liturgical year, beginning imperfectly in the middle of an antiphon, “Rubum quem viderat Moyses,” for Lauds on the feast of the Circumcision, and ending imperfectly in the middle of a responsory for Matins on the first Sunday of October.  The scribe has added number sequences in red Roman numerals in the margins of pp. 59-60, 62-63, and 66-67.  The first sequence, i-x (pp. 59-60), appears to number the Responsories for Matins on the feast of the Ascension, while the following six sequences, all i-ij, number Responsories for Matins on the feast of Pentecost and five of the six days that follow (Feria iii has been overlooked).  Losses of leaves and bifolia have left lacunae in the chants between pp. 14 and 15, 22 and 23, 24 and 25, 32 and 33, 80 and 81, and 86 and 87.  Two of the four leaves missing between pp. 32 and 33 have been placed out of order as pp. 51-54.

pp. 91-158v, beginning imperfectly, “// [added in a later hand: “Qui”] persequebantur iustum demersisti eos domine in infernum ... christi martyres: sancti confessores: uirgines dominj //”;

Noted Sanctorale for the entire liturgical year, beginning imperfectly in the middle of an antiphon, “Qui persequebantur justum,” for Lauds on the feast of Saint Andrew (30 November), and ending imperfectly in the middle of an antiphon, “Angeli archangeli throni et dominationes,” for Vespers on the feast of All Saints (1 November).  The chants for the feasts and texts here follow those in the reformed Roman Breviary of Haymo of Faversham (van Dijk, 1963), though significantly fewer feast days are included in the present manuscript.  Additionally, the following feasts, included here, are not found in Haymo’s Breviary: the Conception of the Virgin (8 December; p. 91), the Visitation (2 July, observed from 1263; p. 121), Mary of the Snows (5 August; p. 125), the Transfiguration (6 August, observed from 1458; p. 126), Clare (12 August, observed from 1255; p. 133), and the Stigmata of Francis (17 September, observed from 1337; p. 149).

The long offices for the Finding of the Cross (3 May; p. 104) and Exaltation of the Cross (14 September; p. 145) found in the present manuscript correspond neither to those included in Haymo’s Breviary nor those in the thirteenth-century Franciscan Antiphonals and Breviaries consulted, all of which contain shorter offices for these two feasts.  A binding fragment, the remnant of a fifteenth-century Breviary found in Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Cod. theol. et phil. 4o 219, appears to preserve chants corresponding to those in the present manuscript’s office for the Finding of the Cross, but it does not preserve chants for the entire office and its own provenance is entirely unknown (Dold, 1951, pp. 255-256).  We have not been able to find any manuscripts preserving the entire offices for the Finding or Exaltation of the Cross in which the office chants correspond to those in the present manuscript.

A somewhat later hand has made a number of changes to the texts for Lauds for the feast of the Finding of the Cross (pp. 105-107) and a modern hand has penciled the words of a different antiphon for Vespers on the feast of the Dedication of Saint Michael (p. 151) over the musical staves.  Losses of leaves and bifolia have left lacunae in the chants between pp. 92 and 93, 96 and 97, 116 and 117, 120 and 121, 124 and 125, and 156 and 157.  The later loss of pp. 113-114 has resulted in a further textual lacuna.

pp. 159-168, beginning imperfectly, “//ritatem nemo habet: ut animam suam ponat quis pro amicis suis ... Ad laudes et per horas. Antiphona. Domum tuam domine decet sanctitudo in //”.

Noted Common of Saints, beginning imperfectly in the middle of an antiphon, “Majorem caritatem nemo habet,” for Lauds for the Common of Apostles, and ending in the middle of an antiphon for Lauds for the Dedication of a Church, and also including the Commons of a single martyr (p. 161), of many martyrs (p. 161), of virgins (p. 165), and of saints neither virgins nor martyrs (p. 166).  Losses of a leaf and a bifolium have left lacunae in the chants between pp. 160 and 161, as well as 164 and 165.

This large, noted Franciscan Antiphonal contains the chants, excluding hymns, to be sung in the Divine Office throughout the liturgical year.  The Antiphonal, or Antiphonary, is the main Choir Book for the Divine Office.  It is thus the counterpart of the Mass Gradual.  As its name implies, the Antiphonal includes antiphons, and, indeed, its contents were originally limited to antiphons (the term “antiphonarius,” referring to a book of chants, first appeared in the eighth century).  Most Antiphonals, however, incorporate the invitatories and responsories as well, and thus contain all of the Office chants, except for hymns and Psalms.  The Office Antiphonal, like the Mass Gradual, is arranged according to the Temporale, Sanctorale, and Common of Saints.  While the contents of this Antiphonal accord with we would expect to find in such a book, their layout on the page is unusual.  This is a big book, big enough for use by multiple singers, perhaps.  Even so, many of the chants are not only not noted, but are written in a smaller script, perhaps for quick reference.

This manuscript’s contents indicate that it is a secular Antiphonal, copied for the use of Franciscans.  Its contents track very closely with other Franciscan liturgical books, notably Fribourg, Bibliothèque des Cordeliers, 2, a thirteenth-century Antiphonal (CH-Fco 2 in the CANTUS Database; see Online Resources) and Munich, Franziskanerkloster St. Anna – Bibliothek, 120 Cmm 1 (D-Ma 120 Cmm 1 in the CANTUS Database; see Online Resources), a thirteenth-century Italian Breviary.  Furthermore, it features several important Franciscan feasts in its Sanctorale, including those of Anthony of Padua, Clare, Francis, and the Stigmata of Francis.

Two aspects of this Antiphonal are particularly striking – its handsome, accessible presentation and the losses it has suffered – and both of these facets make this manuscript particularly well-suited for teaching the history of the book and medieval manuscripts’ physical characteristics.  A strategic system of ruling enables the scribe to accommodate this Antiphonal’s unusual layout.  The scribe was able to move with ease and efficiency from lines of musical notation to text, copied in two different grades of script.  Also noteworthy are this book’s losses – from entire pages to overzealous marginal cropping to textual erasures – and the measures that have been taken, in the latter cases, to materially or textually replace what was lost.


Dold, Alban. “Die Geschichte eines Bucheinbandes und die Ergebnisse seiner Untersuchung,” Zeitschrift für schweizerische Kirchensgeschichte / Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique suisse 45 (1951), pp. 241-258.

Fassler, Margot E. and Rebecca A. Baltzer, eds. The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages: Methodology and Source Studies, Regional Developments, Hagiography: Written in Honor of Professor Ruth Steiner, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Introduction and Guide for Students and Musicians, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1991.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A guide to their organization and terminology, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1982.

Palazzo, Eric. A History of Liturgical Books from the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century, trans. Madeleine Beaumont, Collegeville, 1998.

Vauchez, André. Francis of Assisi: The Life and Afterlife of a Medieval Saint, trans. Michael F. Cusato, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2012.

van Dijk, S.J.P., ed. Sources of the Modern Roman Liturgy: The Ordinals of Haymo of Faversham and Related Documents, 1243-1307, 2 vols. Leiden, 1963.

Online Resources

CANTUS: A Database for Latin Ecclesiastical Chant, University of Waterloo

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

TM 827