TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures


In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment with musical notation
Western Germany or Southeastern Belgium, c. 1500-1525

TM 1070
  • 21 200 €
  • £19,200
  • $25,000

i (paper) + 92 folios on parchment (original repairs, f. 62 and f. 62v, within text, circled in red), complete (collation i-viii10 ix12), no catchwords or signatures, ruled in ink with the top and bottom rules full across and with full-length single vertical bounding lines, prickings remain in the top, bottom, and outer margin of many folios (justification 130-126 x 86 mm.), written in a gothic bookhand in seventeen long lines, music in Hufnagel notation on red five-line staves, red rubrics, tiny guide letters visible within many initials, a few majuscules filled with pale yellow, one- to two-line initials and larger initials equivalent to one line of text and one stave, in red or blue throughout, diagonal tear crossing most of f. 60 (no loss of text), minor soiling and thumbing throughout, front flyleaf damaged in the lower margin, rust spots on the opening and closing leaves from the binding. CONTEMPORARY BINDING of brown leather over wooden boards, stamped in blind on the front cover with an outer border of rosettes with four petals and with round fleur-de-lis stamps at the corners, framing a rectangular inner panel of small rosettes with five feathered petals surrounded by a border with stamps of an indeterminate shape, back cover, outer border with the same indeterminate-shape stamps and fleur-de-lis stamps at the corners framing a broad diapered center panel with compartments containing a lozenge stamp with small rosettes, spine with three raised bands and an early paper label at the top (two lines handwritten in ink, the first indecipherable, the second, “Hymne”), once fastened back to front, one brass catch plate remains upper board (other plate and the two straps lacking), parchment guards from another manuscript (long narrow strips) at the front, and between quires one and two (following f. 10v) with an unidentified text in Latin, fifteenth century, rear pastedown with unidentified watermark of a snake entwined about a cross, upper joint cracked, paper at hinges now gone, boards exposed at rubbed corners, small loss at head and tail of spine, covers with a few small gouges down to the wood, but overall sound and attractive, in a modern buckram clamshell box with gilt titling on spine. Dimensions 180 x 125 mm.

This manuscript offers a tantalizing glimpse at the steps of medieval bookmaking, including pricking and ruling, parchment repairs, manuscript guards, musical notation, and binding.  Its content, the hymns for the Divine Office, present one of the richest collections of medieval poetry, and the first lines of the music for the hymns are copied in distinctive German Hufnagelschrift notation (so named for its similarity in shape to horseshoe-nails, or Hufnagel).  Why occasional hymns in the volume are accompanied by staves without music is an interesting, unanswered question.


1. Written in Germany, likely Western Germany or neighboring Southeastern Belgium, in the opening decades of the sixteenth century, c. 1500-1525, as suggested by the script, a very formal gothic bookhand liberally adorned with decorative hairlines and other flourishes, and the use of a five-line staff for the musical notation.  Saint Maternus is included in the Sanctorale, who, legend as has it, was the first bishop of Cologne, the founder of the diocese Tongeren, and a bishop Trier.  The presence of the monastic canticles is evidence that this was copied for use in a monastery.

2. Signs of use include corrections added by a number of different users, and dirt in the bottom outer corners of many openings where the book was held open.

3. Modern bookseller’s annotation, inside front cover in pencil, “CEH104,” but no earlier evidence of ownership.


ff. 1-10v,  Sciendum quod hii duo ymni tenendi sunt a dominica qua cantatur Ad aperiat usque ad aduentum domini .., incipit, “Primo dierum omnii [sic] quo mundus …”; Eterne rerum conditor nocte …; O lux beata trinitas …; Nocte surgentes …; Ecce iam noctis ..; [Saturday vespers], Deus creator omnii [sic] …; [f. 3v, Prime], Iam lucis ortis siidere [sic]…; …; [Saturday, Lauds], Aurora iam spargit …”;

Hymns for the Hours beginning with Sunday at Matins and continuing through Saturday Lauds; text only, without staves or musical notation.

ff. 11-44v, incipit, “Conditor alme siderum …; Verbum supernum prodiens …; [f. 30], Vexilla regis …; [f. 30v], Pange lingwa gloriosi prelium certaminis … [Passion Sunday, with empty staves]; …; [f. 39], Jhesu nostra redempcio …; [f. 40v], Jam cristus astra ascenderat … [Pentecost]; …; [f. 43], Sacris sollempniis … [Corpus Christi]; [f. 44], Christus lux indeficiens … [Chevalier, 1892-1921, no. 3225, Corpus Christi, with empty staves]”:

Hymns (text and musical notation) for the Temporale from Advent, beginning with Sunday Vespers, through Corpus Christi, celebrated the Thursday following Trinity Sunday (21 May-27 June).

ff. 45-74, incipit, “Ut querant laxis … [John the Baptist, Chevalier, 1892-1921, no. 21039]; [f. 46], Deus salus credentium quem nulla vox mortalium … [John the Baptist]”; [f. 47], Felix per omnes festum mundi [Peter and Paul, June 29, lacking music and staves]; …; [f. 50], Assunt festa iubilea in marie nunc … [Visitation, July 2]; …; [f. 56], Gaude visceribus mater … [Assumption of Mary, August 15, empty staves]; f. 57, Sacerdos christi materne doctor orbis treuerite … [Maternus, September 14, Chevalier, 1892-1921, no. 17616]; …; [f. 71v  ], Urbs beata iherusalem … [Dedication, Chevalier, 1892-1921, no. 20918]; [f. 72v], Christe cunctorum dominator … [Dedication]; [f. 73v], Christe celorum habitatorum [Dedication, without musical notation]”; 

Hymns (text and musical notation) for the Sanctorale from John the Baptist (June 24) through Nicholas (December 6), concluding with the Dedication of a Church; including Visitation, three hymns; Maternus (September 14), bishop of Cologne and Trier, founder of the diocese of Tongeren, Maurice (Sept 22), three hymns, Michael, Dionysius, Ursula (October 21), All Saints, Martin, Elizabeth, Catherine (November 25), and Andrew (30 Nov).

ff. 74-78v, incipit, “Exultet celum laudibus … [ Chevalier, 1892-1921, no. 5832]; …; [f. 78], Virginis proles … [Chevalier, 1892-1921, no. 21703]”;

Hymns (text and musical notation) for the Common of Saints for apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins.

ff. 78v-91, Hec cantica tenenda sunt de sancta trinitate et de angelus et in omnibus die huius dominicis, incipit, “Domine miserere nostri te enim expectavis esto …; Audite qui longe estis …; Miserere domine plebi tue …”; f. 80, Hec cantica tenenda sunt in aduentu domini singulis diebus dominicis et in annunciatione beate uirginis, incipit, “Ecce dominus deus …; Cantate domino canticum nouum …; Hec dicit dominus redemptor …”:; f. 82v, Hec cantica teneda sunt in die nativitati christi …., incipit, “Populus qui amubulabat …; Letare ierusalem et die festum …; Urbs fortitudinis nostre syon …”; [f. 84v], Hec cantica tenentur per totam quadragesima singulis diebus dominicis, incipit, “Deducat oculi mei lacrimas …; Recordare domine et uide ….; Tollam vos de gentibus …”; [f. 86v], Hec tenentur tempore paschali, incipit, “Quis est iste …; Venite et reuertamur …; Expecta me …”; [f. 88v], De apostolis et pluribus matiribus …, incipit, “Uos sancti domini …; Fulgebunt iusti …; Reddet deus mercedem …”; [f. 89v], De uno martire et confessor …, incipit, “Beatus uir qui insapientia …; Benedictus uir …; Beatus vir qui inuentus est …”; [f. 90], In assumptione et natiuitate beate uirginis marie et in festo unius uirginis, incipit, “Audite me diuini …; Gaudens gaudebo in domino ….; Non uocaberis ultra gentibus ….”; [ff. 91v-92v, blank but ruled].

Monastic Canticles (Mearns, 1914, p. 87-92); text only: Sundays (set one); Advent (second set); Christmas (set one); Lent; Easter (set one); Common of apostles (set 9); martyrs (set 1); virgins (set 2).

Hymnals (or Hymnaries) were the liturgical volumes that contained hymns, poetic texts that were a special feature of the Divine Office, the daily and nightly round of prayers said by monks, nuns, friars, and the secular clergy. The prayers of the Divine Office, beginning with Matins, said during the night, and continuing through the day, beginning at dawn with Lauds, continuing with Prime, Terce, Sext, None, and Vespers, and concluding with Compline, were essential features of the life for monks and clerics, throughout the Middle Ages, as they are today. The special place of hymns in the Office is reflected in the modern General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours (Online Resources): “A very ancient tradition gives hymns the place in the Office that they still retain. By their mystical and poetic character, they are specifically designed for God’s praise…. [and] more often than the other parts of the Office the hymns bring out the proper theme of individual hours or feasts and incline and draw the spirit to a devout celebration. The beauty of their language often adds to this power. Furthermore, the Office hymns are the main poetic element created by the Church.”  The core of the hymns in the late Medieval Church, known to musicologists as the New Hymnal, date from the reforms of St. Benedict of Aniane (d. 821), although many of the hymns were written much earlier than the ninth century and go back to the early days of the Church.

This example is carefully arranged beginning with hymns for the daily Offices, followed by the Temporale, Sanctorale, and Common of Saints for part of the liturgical year. It concludes with monastic canticles, biblical texts that were also sung during the Divine Office.  Independent Hymnals such as this manuscript are much more common early in the Middle Ages. Beginning in the thirteenth century, Hymns were more likely to be included within different types of liturgical books, such as Antiphonals, Breviaries, and Psalters. There were, however, a number of independent Hymnals printed in the fifteenth and early sixteenth century (Moss, 1987). Our volume may be a copy of a printed edition, but we have been unable to identify its exemplar if so.

This manuscript offers a wonderful example showing how medieval manuscripts were made. 

Prickings remain in the outer margins, showing it has never been trimmed; the parchment has been repaired in several places; holes from two sewn repairs remain (e.g. f. 62). The binding is original, offering opportunities to study its decoration (the stamps are quite legible) and structure, including the sewing which is now visible, and the parchment guards used to reinforce the quires in two places.


Chevalier, U. Repertorium hymnologicum, catalogue des chants, hymnes, proses, séquences, tropes., 6 vols, Louvain, 1892-1921.

Dreves, G. M. and Blume, C. Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi, 55 vols., Leipzig, 1886-1922.

Mearns, James, The Canticles of the Christian Church, Eastern and Western, in Early and Medieval Times, Cambridge, 1914.

Messenger, Ruth Ellis. The Medieval Latin Hymn, Washington D.C., 1953.

Moss, A. “Latin Liturgical Hymns and their Early Printing History, 1470-1520,” Humanistica Lovaniensia 36 (1987), pp. 112-137.

Reynolds, William J. A Survey of Christian Hymnody, revised and enlarged by David Music and Milburn Price, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1999.

Szövérffy, J. Latin Hymns, Typologie des sources du Moyen Age occidental fasc. 55, Turnhout, 1989.

Walpole, A. Early Latin Hymns with introduction and notes, Cambridge Patristic Texts, Cambridge, England, 1922.

Online Resources

Cantus Manuscript Database: Inventories of Chant Sources

The General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours

TM 1070