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les Enluminures

Gradual (Augustinian Use)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Southern Germany (Bavaria) or Lower Austria (?), likely Passau (?), c. 1300-1325

TM 637

214 ff., lacking at least one leaf at the end and 2 leaves between ff. 13-14 (collation: i10, ii8, iii-xiv10, xv8, xvi10, xvii8, xviii-xxi10, xxii9 (of a quire of 10, wanting last leaf of quire)), written in a rounded gothic liturgical script, catchwords (some decorated with doodles), guide words for rubricator, medieval foliation in upper margin in Roman numerals (I-CXLVIIII; I-IX), German hufnagel musical notation on four-line staves traced in red (justification: 170 x 110 mm), rubrics in bright red, initials in red (one to two-stave high), numerous cadels some with grotesque faces, including tonsured monks (e.g. f. 69), profiles with hats (f. 105), acorns (f. 78v; f. 105; f. 111v), larger initials parti-colored in blue and red or brown and red at opening of codex (f. 1) and again marking the major divisions of the text (ff. 12v, 17v, 26v, 73v, 89v, 104, 105v, 109, 128v, 131, 147), some with bestiary or foliate motifs (e.g. see winged dragon on f. 19v), numerous later (15th and 16th c.), marginal and sometimes interlinear annotations, offering alternative chants (15th and 16th c. hands). Bound in a restored brown calf binding, partly with blind-stamped leather from the original 15th c. binding remounted over wooden boards, partly with modern back and joints in imitation of a 15th c. binding, back sewn on 4 raised thongs (modern), blind-stamped motifs on the back, boards decorated in blind to a saltire pattern with stamps of fleur-de-lys, rosettes and fleurons, modern brass bosses on the covers, modern leather and brass claps, upper pastedown from a medieval 15th c. missal, lower pastedown with pentrials, ownership and random inscriptions and doodles (Restorations to the parchment, manuscript generally well-thumbed, overall in fine condition). Dimensions 225 x 165 mm.

Likely made in Passau, this Gradual includes texts that venerate Saint Nicholas, who was not only the patron of the house of the Augustinian Canons of St. Nikola, but also patron of the diocese of Passau. The first votive mass is fttingly dedicated to Saint Stephen, patron saint of the Cathedral in Passau. The library of the Canons Regular of St. Nikola was famous for its vast collection, now largely housed in Munich. Augustinian Use is also confirmed by the inclusion of the text and chant “De profundis tenebrarum” (f. 190) sung for Mass for the Feast of Augustine, patronal saint of the Order of the Augustinian Canons.


1. Copied and decorated in Germany based on script and liturgical elements and datable to the first quarter of the fourteenth century, based on script. Further, we may tentatively suggest that it was written for use in the diocese of Passau (Eastern Bavaria, on the border between Germany and Austria). A suggestion (and basis for future inquiry) is that this Gradual was copied for use in the Augustinian canonry of St. Nikola (or St. Nicholas) in Passau founded in 1070 by Saint Altmann of Passau (who is venerated as a saint although not officially canonized). An earthquake destroyed the church in 1348 and the church was rebuilt. This thriving canonry came to a brutal end with its secularization in 1803. St. Nicholas is well honored in this Gradual: the saint was not only the patron of the canonry of St. Nikola in Passau, but also the more general patron of the diocese of Passau. Also noteworthy, the first votive mass is dedicated to Saint Stephen (ff. 166v-167). St. Stephen is the patron saint of the Cathedral in Passau (Stephansdom). 

The Canons Regular of St. Nikola of Passau were active producers of manuscripts (on the library and books of the Augustinian Canons of Passau, see “Passau. Augustinerchorherrenstift St. Nikola” in Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge. Deutschlands und der Schweiz...Bistümer Passau und Regensburg, Munich, 1977, pp. 47-56). A great number of codices once in the library of the Augustinians of Saint-Nicolas near Passau are now housed in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich: “Codices latini ecclesiae collegiatae Lateranensis ad S. Nicolaum prope Passavium” – MSS 16001-16232 (see Catalogus codicum latinorum Bibliothecae regiae Monacensis...Tomi II Pars III, Munich, 1969, pp. 45-64).

2. Numerous pentrials and inscriptions (16th and 17th c. hands) on the lower pastedown, including the date “Anno domini 1553”; the name “Leonardus Hainer (?) de Peillstain (?).” There is a town called Peilstein im Mühlviertel (Upper Austria); some German names on lower pastedown, inscribed upside down, such as “Steffel Choll. fr. [ho]spitall.”; “Hennsel von Perger”; “Her Steffan Kreuzer unser pharrer” [Sir Stephan Kreuzer, our pastor] (15th c. hand).

3. European Continental Collection.


ff. 1-125v, Temporale from the first Sunday of Advent, Easter through the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost, incipit, “Ad te levavi animam meam deus meus...”; rubric, Dominica secunda (f. 2); rubric, Lucie virginis (f.3); Ad missam publicam (f. 12v); De sancto stephano (f. 13v); Sillvestri pape (f. 15); Ad missam introitus (f. 35v); Ad crucem versus (f. 84), with Pange lingua; In die sancto pasche (f. 89v); last rubric, Dominica xxiii (f. 124v);

ff. 125v- 156, Sanctorale, rubrics (note how the rubric often is copied with the last words above the first ones in disorder, e.g. “Paulo de sancto”; “Urbani papae et martiris chosten lectio in vigilia pente” [proper order of words should read: “In vigilia pentechosten lectio urbani papae et martiris”] (f. 105)): Martirum Primi et Felici (f. 125v); Martirum Petri et Marcellini [sic, Marcelli] (f. 126); Cyrini et Naboris (f. 126v); Martirum Marci et Marcelli (f. 127); Gervasii et Prothasi (f. 127v); In vigilia Johannis Baptiste; In die sancto (f. 128v); In vigilia Petri (f. 130); De sancto Paulo (f. 132); Processi et Martiniani (f. 133); In translacione sancti Nycolai episcopi; Translacione sancti Benedicti (f. 134); Apollinaris martiris (f. 134v); Felici Simplici Fausti et Beati (f. 134v); Stefani pape; Afre martiris (f. 135v); Cyriaci et sociorum eius (f. 136); In vigilia sancti Laurentii (f. 136v); Tiburcii martiris (f. 138); Ypoliti et sociorum (f. 138v); In nativitate sancti Gorgoni martiris (f. 141v); In dedicationis ecclesie (f. 147); Elizabeht (f. 155);

ff. 156v-166, Ordinary Chants including Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei;

ff. 166-214v, Votive Masses, rubrics include, Ad publicam missam (f. 166); De sancto stephano (f. 166v); De sancto johanne (f. 167); De innocentibus (f. 168); In epiphanie domini (f. 168v); In conversione sancti pauli (f. 170); In purificacione sancte marie (f. 171); De sancta trinitate (f. 178v); De sancto petro (f. 189); De sancto laurencio (f. 188); De sancto augustino, “De profundis tenebrarum” (f. 190); In decollacione sancti johannis (f. 191); De sancta elizabet (f. 196v); De sancto nycolay, “Laude christo debita celebremus...” (f. 198v); De beate virgine (f. 203v); Item alia sequencia “Verbum bonum et suave..” (f. 205); followed by a series of Ave; Salve mater (ff. 207v-214v, copied in a different hand, with the original hand beginning again on f. 210v).

This is a Gradual, a liturgical chant book that compiles the chants for the Proper of the Mass (the texts that change daily or seasonally which are known as Propers) and the chants for the Ordinary of the Mass (set of texts that are generally invariable, although of course the melodies of the chants vary). A Gradual is generally distinguished from the Missal by omitting the spoken items and including only the texts for the sung parts. It includes both the Ordinary and Proper, as opposed to the Kyriale, which includes only the Ordinary, and the Cantatory, which contains only the responsorial chants. A full study of Graduals as a liturgical chant book is still needed as well as a census of Graduals amongst institutional holdings.

This most interesting codex, which merits a full study, includes chants and texts in honor of Saint Nicholas, in particular a votive mass on the occasion of the Translation of Saint Nicholas. This saint was the patron saint of the diocese of Passau, which encompassed much of what is now Austria. An Austrian origin for this Gradual is therefore worth exploring. There is moreover another clue, the inclusion of the chant “De profundis tenebrarum” (f. 190), typically included in choir books which follow the Augustinian tradition, that connects the codex to an Augustinian foundation located in the diocese of Passau. In Passau itself, there was a house of Canons Regular of St. Nikola, founded in the eleventh century by Altmann, Bishop of Passau. The Canons Regular of Passau were culturally and economically influential and early on St. Nikola became renowned for its promotion of music and the other humanities: the Canons of St. Nikola founded St. Florian, the oldest canonical house in Austria and also canonries at Göttweig and St. Pölten (Austria). These foundations might also be explored as possible places of origin for this codex. The tie to Passau (at the very least to the diocese if not the Augustinians of St. Nikola) is confirmed by the mass in honor of St-Stephen, patron saint of the Cathedral of Passau (Stephansdom). Also noteworthy, are the musical settings in honor of Saint Elizabeth (twice): there is an important chapel dedicated to Elizabeth (Elisabeth-Kapelle) in St-Stephan's cathedral. The liturgical importance of Saint Elizabeth is underscrored by an alternative chant that has been copied interlinearly by a sixteenth century hand as a second (or renewed) chant for the votive Mass in honor of Saint Elizabeth (ff. 196v-197).

As mentionned above, there is an important nucleus of codices from the house of the Canons of St. Nikola and from Passau in general at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich. Amongst these, there is a secular Antiphoner from Passau (Münich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 16141: Antiphonae et responsaria per annum) which has been dated to late thirteenth and early fourteenth century, much like the present Gradual. Another codex that should be seen and studied is Münich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 16137, a Psalter for the use of the choir (fourteenth century), also related to Canons of St. Nikola of Passau (Catalogus codicum latinorum Bibliothecae regiae Monacensis...Tomi II Pars III, Munich, 1969).

The system of musical notation used here in the processional hymns is noteworthy. The notator wrote out the melody for just one or two strophes of the processional hymns (Gloria Laus, Crux fidelis, Pange lingua, Inventor rutili, and Salve festa dies) then added neumes to isolated syllables later in the text that served as cues to indicate which half of the two-part melody was to be sung with a particular phrase of text.  Strophes of hymns are sung in alternation with a half-strophe refrain, and the scribe included these one-word cues for the refrains between the complete strophes, thus showing which parts of the melody are to be sung to which parts of the text. For example, “Inventor rutili”, on f. 86v, includes music for just the first two strophes and the beginning of the third, and then no more staff lines. On f. 73, the “Gloria laus”, is written with the same format with the cues (Cui and Gloria) for the two halves of the “Gloria laus” strophe (“Gloria laus” and “Cui puerilis decus.”). In this way the presentation of the hymn demonstrates which parts are sung to which sections of the melody, even though the melody is only provided for the very first strophe.

This was a book that was well used by several generations of singers. In other parts of the manuscript, later cursive annotations in the margins next to chants that are given only in part provide the folio number where a user of the manuscript could find the complete chant. Such cross-referencing is a common occurrence in liturgical books, where a chant is written out in full the first time it occurs in the book.

Continued use of the manuscript is also clear in the sequence repertory at the end, which includes several later additions that span generations. (There are also a few marginal additions of notation; an even later use of the same notational style is seen in a single leaf of paper that is inserted in the manuscript with some additional chants.)  Besides adding entire sequences at the end the users of this book have also written new texts in between the lines of the existing sequences in the original corpus. Presumably these texts would then be sung to the preexisting sequence melody to create a contrafact (a new composition based on an existing one, created by replacing the original text with a new text). Yet another sign of use is the occasional (not systematic) introduction of vertical lines separating sections of the chant to show more clearly which notes go with which words.

Overall, this codex certainly merits further study, in particular in relation to a larger study dedicated to thirteenth- and fourteenth-century manuscripts originating in the diocese or in the city proper of Passau. The decorated initials of very fine quality, the calligraphic penwork and animated cadels with amusing hatted profiles and grotesques will offer some points of comparison with other similar liturgical codices. Finally musicologists, liturgists, and historians of the book will all find in this codex matter for research and comparative studies with other extant chant books for the Augustinians.


Backmund, Norbert. Die Chorherrenorden und ihre Stifte in Bayern. Augustinerchorherren, Prämonstratenser, Chorherren von Hl. Geist, Antoniter, Passau, 1966.

Bauer, Hermann und Anna. Klöster in Bayern. Eine Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte der Klöster in Oberbayern, Niederbayern und der Oberpfalz, Munich, 1985.

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

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

Hiley, D. Western Plainchant: A Handbook, Oxford, 1993.

Hughes, A. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology, Toronoto, 1982.

Huglo, M. Les livres de chant liturgiques, Turhout, Brepols, 1988.

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

Röhm, Johann Baptist. Das Historische Alter der Diözese Passau in ihrem gegenwärtigen Umfange, Passau, J. Bucher, 1880. 

Online resources

On the Augustinian Canons of St Nikola in Passau

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

Klöster in Bayern, Passau Passau, St. Nikolaus (St. Nikola)