TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

PROCESSIONAL (Use of the Cistercians)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment with later paper additions
Germany, Lower Rhineland (?), c. 1475-1500 [after 1476]

TM 192
mss in the curriculum

59 ff., on thick parchment, complete (collation: i-v8, vi6, vii9 (12-3, with last 3 ff. likely cancelled), viii6 (added 16th or even 17th century paper quire, with a portion of a watermark, perhaps the lower portion of the type “Foolscap”, common in Dutch papers, see W.A.Churchill, Watermarks in Paper in Holland, England, France…(1935), no. 339-362), written in brown and black ink in a gothic textura script by at least four different hands (justification 110 x 75 mm), text copied between 4-line stave traced in ink, 5 staves per folio with noted music in “Hufnagel notation” (horse-nail notation) in black or brown ink, rubrics in red, word separators in red, some capitals traced with ink strapwork ornamentation (“cadelé” initials), stave-high painted initials in red or blue, NINE LIQUID GOLD INITIALS (1- to 2- stave-high) with green wash and mauve ink infill and mauve penwork extending in the margin (ff. 2, 7, 13v, 17, 20, 24, 27, 30, 34v), marginal annotations or addenda in brown ink. Disbound, quires sewn with rope (Some rubbing on first folios, else in clear condition). Dimensions 152 x 108 mm.

This is a typical Cistercian Processional from the area of the Lower Rhine; small in size, it is attractively illuminated with gold initials, and includes neatly transcribed Hufnagel notation. Internally conflicting evidence--text addressed to monks and an ownership inscription by a nun--suggests a possible provenance within a double or a multiple monastery. Further research on the choice of antiphons and comparison with other Germanic and Netherlandish Cistercian Processionals could yield a more precise localization to a specific abbey. Some vernacular notes in German and Dutch add to its interest.


1. Made in a Cistercian milieu, probably in the region of the Lower Rhineland, judging by the style of the decorated initials, very close in style to those found in an antiphonal made for the Cistercian abbey of Graefenthal, in Germany (Duchy of Cleves, near the Dutch border) (see Buchmalerei der Zisterzienser, 1998, no. 48, pp. 164-167). There are three female Cistercian abbeys in the duchy of Cleves (Graefenthal, Fürstenberg and Schledenhorst), but the present manuscript was initially intended for a male convent (see below rubric addressing “duo fratres” (f. 11v). Could the manuscript be related to such nearby male abbeys as Kamp or Gross Burlo?  The liturgy as well as the sober initials and penwork further corroborate a Cistercian provenance.

2. The manuscript must have been read and used in Germany, with supplementary inscriptions in German (15th c.), as follows: “Es weirt gesungen: Ecce mundi precium immolabit hedum / Te deum laudamus O Quam suavis est domine” (f. 20) and “In dedicacione wert erstlich gesungen” (f. 37v) [For the Dedication [of a church], it is fitting to sing first…]. Again in German the words “uber wasser” (f. 42v); also “Regina coeli wert gesungen in diesen dreyen festen durch die octavi nach…” (f. 55).

3. Inscription in Middle Dutch (late 15th c. or early 16th c.) on recto of first folio: “Dyt boeck hort Alb[a] (?) Travelman frouwe int cloister” [This book belongs to Alba (?) or Alberta (?) Travelman, sister in the cloister].  Thus the book belonged to a Dutch female owner, likely a nun from a Cistercian abbey. The region of the Duchy of Cleves in Lower Rhineland is close to the Dutch border and the regions of Guelders and Limburg.


ff. 1v-55, Procession for the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin (Candelmas Procession), rubric, Incipit cantuale per ambitum de cantandum in antiphonis responses ymnis et antiphonis suis diebus et primo in die purificacionis beate et gloriossime virginis Marie ad distribucionem candelarum et antiphona; incipit, “Lumen ad revelacionem gencium et gloriam plebis tue israel…” [Hesbert, Corpus antiphonalium officii, vol. I, 9713]; On the Cistercian version of this procession, see C. Waddell, “Notes on the Early Cistercian Blessing of Candles and Candlemas Procession”, in Liturgy O.C.S.O. 25/1 (1991), pp. 43-86.

ff. 7-13, Procession for Feast of Palm Sunday, rubric, Palmarum in ramis; incipit, “Pueri hebreorum tollentes…”; first station: “Collegerunt pontifices…”; second station: “Unus autem ex ipsis…”; third station, with rubric: Hic conventus accipit veniam conversus ad crucem […], “Quid facimus…”; hymn “Gloria laus…” preceded by rubric: Perlecto evangelio duo fratres clauso ostio ecclesie…(f. 11v);

ff. 13-17, Easter morning Procession, rubric, In sancto die Passche; incipit, “Cum rex glorie tristus infernum…” (in the margin “Nulla stacio”);

ff. 17-20, Procession for the Feast of the Ascension, rubric, In ascensione; incipit, “Viri Galilei quid…” (in the margin “Nulla stacio”);

ff. 20-23v, Procession for the Feast of the Corpus Christi, rubric, Corporis cristi. In die sacri; incipit, “Immolabit hedum multitude filiorum israhel…” (in the margin “Tres staciones”); In secundo progressu, “Ego sum panis vite…”; In tertio progressu, “Cenantibus illis accepit…”; In ingressu ecclesie, “O quam suavis est…” (Feast adopted by the General Chapter of the Cistercian Order after 1318). Here again, the responsories and antiphons differ from those usually found in Cistercian processionals. It is likely that they are proper to German Cistercian processionals that adopted specific hymns for the Office of the Corpus Christi (see Analecta hymnica medii aevi…, vol. 24, 26-28);

ff. 23v-26v, Procession for the Feast of the Assumption, rubric, Marie in exitu gloriose virginis. In assumpcione; incipit, “Hodie Maria virgo cellos ascendit…” (Feast adopted between 1202 and 1225, see Huglo, 1999, p. 49*);  

ff. 26v-30, Procession for the Feast of the Nativity and Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, rubric, Gloriosissime virgine marie. In nativitate et conceptione; incipit, “Beatissime virginis marie nativitatem…”(in the margin “Tres staciones”). The feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin was adopted after 1289 (although it was celebrated in the monastery of Villers in Brabant as early as 1252). See C. Maître, “A propos de quelques tropes dans un manuscrit cistercien”, in Recherches nouvelles sur les tropes liturgiques (1993), pp. 357-358.

ff. 30-34v, Procession for the Feast of the Annunciation, rubric, In annunciacione; incipit, “Missus est Gabriel angelus…” (in the margin “Nulla stacio”);

ff. 34v-37v, Procession for the Feast of the Visitation, rubric, In visitacione; incipit, “Videte miraculum matris domini…” (in the margin “Nulla stacio”); In secundo progressu, “Benedicta et venerabilis es virgo…”; In tertio progressu, “Benedicta tu in mulieribus…”; In ingressu ecclesie, “Virgo prudentissimaque progrederis…”. The procession for this Marian feast was adopted after 1476. However, the present responsories and antiphons differ entirely from those usually found in Cistercian processionals (see M. Huglo, 1999, p. 49*).

ff. 37v-39, Procession for the Dedication of a Church, rubric, In dedicacione ecclesie. In Porta; incipit, “Benedic domine domum istam et omnes habitantes…”;

ff. 39v-40, Procession to the hospital, rubric, In hospitali; incipit, “Laverunt stolas suas et candidas…”;

ff. 40v-52, Supplementary hymns and musical staves, beginning: “Dominus Ihesus postquam cenavit cum discipulis suis…” (f. 40v), and ending: “Benedicat nos deus deus noster…” (f. 52);

ff. 52-55v, Supplementary hymns and musical staves, beginning: “[E]cce mundi precium corpus Christi…”; added hymns with German instructions (see Provenance above);

ff. 56-61v, Procession for the Feast of Saint Bernard [20 August] (added to Cistercian liturgy after 1202), rubric, Processio de S. Bernardo. Tres stationes (added 16th c. quire); incipit, “Beatus Bernardus quasi vas auri solidum ornatum omni lapide precioso fluenta gratia propinavit in populo…”; f. 59, De spine corona; incipit, “Flos de spina nascitur quem spina…”; f. 60, De omnibus angelis; incipit, “Te sanctum dominum in excelsis laudant omnes angeli dicentes… .”

A Processional is a small portable liturgical book containing the chants, rubrics and collects appropriate to liturgical processions. Although there are a few very early Processionals dating from the from the tenth or eleventh century, most date from the thirteenth century or later. The earliest Cistercian Processional is from the abbey of Pairis in Alsace (twelfth century) (see Huglo, 2001, p. 391). This Processional contains the hymns with antiphons in keeping with Cistercian liturgy, as described in M. Huglo, 1999, p. 49*, “Tableau V, Le processionnal cistercien.” Cistercian Processionals generally begin with the antiphon “Lumen ad revelationem….”  The Cistercian Processional was printed at about the same time as the antiphoner (1545) (Huglo, 2001, p. 391). We have found recorded only the copies printed in 1550 (see J.B. Molin and A. Assedat-Minvielle, Répertoire des rituals et processionaux imprimés conservés en France, 1984, no. 2124 and 2125, p. 455)

The house to which this Processional was originally destined is a convent of friars because of the mention “duo fratres” placed in red before the hymn “Gloria laus…” (f. 11v). The order is Cistercian since the processional antiphons are those followed by the Cistercian liturgy. This is further confirmed by the added paper quire that begins with a procession in honor of Saint Bernard, founder of the Order.

Following the Cistercian custom, the present Processional includes two feasts for the Holy Week, Ascension, Corpus Christi and no less than five feasts for the Virgin Mary (Purification, Assumption, Nativity and Conception, Visitation, Annunciation). Huglo, 2001: “In the liturgy and chant reform undertaken by the Cistercians in the early 12th century, the number of processions was considerably reduced. The primitive Processional included only ritual processions for Candlemas (2 Feb.) and Palm Sunday.  The first addition, for the feast of the Ascension, dates from c. 1150, after which further processions for specific feast days were gradually introduced:  between 1202 and 1225, first the Assumption of the BVM (15 August), then the feast of the Order’s founder, St Bernard (21 August); after 1289, the Nativity of the BVM (8 September); after 1318, Corpus Christi; and finally, after 1476, the Visitation (2 July)” (p. 391). The importance granted to Marian feasts is a typical Cistercian characteristic.  On the centrality of the Virgin Mary in the Cistercian liturgy and tradition, see La Vierge dans la tradition cistercienne. Communications présentées à la 54e session de la Société Francaise d’Etudes Mariales, Paris, Mediaspaul, 1999.

Some chants are distributed according to a first, second and third station, stations indicated by an added inscription, either “tres staciones” or “nullus stacio”, at the start of each procession. There are some additional musical annotations such as the words “chorus” and “organus” copied between the musical staves (ff. 37v-38v).


Buchmalerei der Zisterzienser. Kulturelle Schätze aus sechs Jahrhunderten. Katalog zur Ausstellung “Libri Cistercienses” im Ordensmuseum Kamp, Stuttgart/Zürich 1998.

Dreves, Guido and Clemens Blume. Analecta hymnica medii aevi, Leipzig, 1886-1922, reprint New York and London, 1961.

Freeland, Jane Patricia. “A Fifteenth Century Cistercian Processional”, in Cistercian Ideals and Reality, ed. by John Sommerfeldt, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, 1978, pp. 344-351.

Gy, P. M. “Collectaire, rituel, processional.” Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 44 (1960) 441-69.

Hesbert, R.-J. Corpus antiphonalium officii…1. Manuscripti “cursus romanum”, Rome, Herder, 1963.

 Huglo, M. Les livres de chant liturgique, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental, 52, Turnhout, Brepols, 1988.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume I, Autriche à Espagne, Répertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (1), Munich, 1999.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume II, France à Afrique du Sud, Répertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (2), Munich, 2004.

Huglo, Michel. “Processional.” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 20, London, 2001, pp. 388-393.

Ottosen, Knud. The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead, Aarhus, 1993.

Maître, Claire. “A propos de quelques tropes dans un manuscrit cistercien”, in Recherches nouvelles sur les tropes liturgiques…réunies par Wulf Arlt et Gunilla Björkvall, Stockholm, 1993.

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.

Processionale Cisterciense juxta veteres codices Ordinis editum, Tornaci, Desclée, Lefebvre et Soc., [1883].

Rubin, M. Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Wipfer, E.  Corpus Christi in Liturgie und Kunst der Zisterzienser im Mittelalter, Münster, Lit Verlag, 2003.

Online resources

On the Cistercians and their liturgy:

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

General introduction to liturgical processions; (New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Processions”)