TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Antiphonal with Blessing of Palms for Palm Sunday, and Divine Office for Holy Thursday (In coena domini), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday in Holy Week

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Spain (Toledo), 1618

TM 955

106 folios on parchment (quite even, with a few original sewing repairs, and a pronounced difference between hair and flesh side) plus one added paper leaf (not numbered), original foliation in Arabic numerals in red ink top outer corner recto, complete (collation i-xiii8 xiv2), no catchwords or signatures, ruled in lead (justification c. 470 x c. 240 mm.; measuring from the top staff line), each page is framed with double rules in dark red/purple that enclose the running title, and five lines of very large script and red five line staves with square notation, this framed area measures c. 500 x 258 mm., written in a clear, controlled rounded gothic book hand (using e cedilla), with square musical notation on a red five-line staff, rastrum 68 mm., red rubrics, divisions within the music marked by narrow vertical lines in  yellow, green, and blue, large strap-work cadel initials (black with touches of yellow), numerous penwork initials, alternately red and blue, equivalent to one line of text and music, infilled and on grounds of purple or red, THREE VERY LARGE INITIALS WITH ANGLE BORDERS, initials are blue, green, or orange, composed of lush leaves, equivalent to two lines of text and music, on elaborate penwork grounds of contrasting colors (red or purple) in narrow gold frames, with elaborate penwork borders fully enclosed in narrow frames in the outer and top margins, a green and brown palm tree on f. 1, f. 1v, INITIAL WITH FULL BORDER (described below), in very good condition overall, dirt at corners through long years of use, f. 41, later correction, and a small paper fragment glued on with a few words and musical notation (remains of a more extensive sheet with corrections/ additions?), stains ff. 45v-46.  ORIGINAL BINDING of very thick wooden boards covered with brown leather, stamped in blind with an outer border (a rectangle divided in the middle to form two large squares) of ‘s’-shaped flourishes and fleurons, bounded on both sides by three fillets, this same border used to form large diamonds within each square with fleurons at each point and “IHS” monograms stamped in the center, larger corner bosses and center boss, with a border of thin metal, decorated with stamps and nailed on, extending over the fore edge, and two round metal stops at the bottom (one attached to the upper board, one to the lower) to support the book block, flat cloth place markers sewn through head band (also known as a register book mark, Online Resources), spine with five raised bands, now covered with cloth, which is attached with nails, in very good condition, leather on front cover splitting in a few places, once fastened front to back, massive decorative metal catches lower board, and once with straps (now missing) upper board, remains of paper label on spine, front and back hinges reinforced with cloth and paper,   Dimensions 585 x 392 mm.

Many features of special interest characterize this enormous music manuscript.  It was made for a nun, as confirmed by a colophon signed and dated by the monastic scribe.  Its large regular script, accomplished penwork initials, and illuminated initials are worthy descendants of Toledo’s well-known fifteenth-century illuminated manuscripts.  Complete and in its well-preserved original binding (with rare features, such as book stops and a bookmark), this Choir Book survives as an excellent example of the continuation of scribal culture well into the age of print. With its unusual, specialized text it promises further research potential to students of Spanish liturgy.


1. Written in 1618 in Toledo for a nun.  The colophon on the last leaf, f. 106, states (in a roundabout way) that brother Francis finished writing the book paid for by sister Jerónima Cannavata’s in Toledo on the kalends of January [presumably December 28], 1618: “Sumptibus sororis [erased, or worn, but legible, GieronimÄ™  Cannauate] huic libro finem imposuit fr. Franciscus Toledo Quinto Kalendas Januarii anni 1618” (literally, “At the expenses of sister Hieronyma Cannavata, Brother Francis set an end to this book, at Toledo, 5 kl. Jan. 1618”).  This does not state which convent sister Hieronyma lived in, and neither she, nor brother Francis, have been identified in other sources.  It is probably fanciful to suggest that, given her religious name, she was a Hieronymite nun, but it is possible.  The Spanish Hieronymite order began in Toledo in 1374; the female branch of the order was founded by Maria Garcias (d. 1426). 

2. Evidence of use for centuries: later notes in blue pencil, including indications of the tone, and notes in black in a cursive 18th-century(?) script on ff. 41v, 50, 59v, and 70v-71.

3. Bookseller’s note, inside front cover in pencil, circled, “ÜGF/ 219.”


ff. 1-8v,  Dominica In Ramis Palmarum, Completa Sexta et facta Aspersione Aque more solito, procedit Sacrerdos ad benedicendum ramos et Primo cantatur a Choro sequens Antiphona, incipit, “Hosana filio Dauid ….”; [between ff. 5v-6, an added unnumbered paper sheet includes Responsorio, incipit, “In monte Oliveti oravit ad Patrem …”] …;

Blessing and distribution of the Palms on Palm Sunday.

ff. 9-39v, Feria Quinta In Coena Domini. Ad Matutinum.  In Principio Nocturno Antiphona, incipit, “Zelus domus tue comedit me …”;

ff. 39v-72v, Feria Sexta, in Paraceue [sic], Ad Matutinum, In primo nocturn Ana., incipit, “Astiterunt reges terre …”;

ff. 72v-106, Sabbato Sancto, ad Matutinum. In Primo Nocturno Antiphona, incipit, “In pace in idipsum dormiam …”; [ff. 76- 84v, Oratio Ieremie Prophete lectio iii caput V, incipit, “… Recordare domine …”]; f. 106v, blank but ruled.


The first text in the volume on f. 1v begins with a charming initial with a full floral border.  The very large ‘h’, measuring 178 x 174 mm., is equivalent to two lines of text and two lines of musical notation, and is constructed from orange and blue acanthus-like leaves with the bow of the initial made from an orange and green fish, infilled and surrounded by green and orange flowers, with a crown and feathery palms below (a reference to Palm Sunday), all on a parchment ground with a narrow frame.  The page is framed with a full border of delicate green leaves and orange flowers bounded on both sides by double fillets filled with pale yellow.  The three successive main textual divisions begin with very large and skillfully executed penwork initials with angle borders.  The penwork decoration in these initials and borders, as well as in the numerous smaller initials, are excellent examples of the continuation of the traditional Spanish style of initials into the early seventeenth century.  Toledo was an important center of illumination in the fifteenth century during the episcopacies of Archbishop Alfonso Carrillo (elected 1446-1482) and Cardinal Pedro González de Mendoza (elected 1482-1495) (Bosch, 2000); Choir Books were copied for use in the Cathedral of Toledo in a continuous tradition as late as the nineteenth century (Noone and Skinner, 2006).

The very large format of this manuscript is commonly found in liturgical manuscripts copied for use in the choir, since it enabled a whole group of singers to share one manuscript. Choir Books such as Antiphonals, with the sung texts for the Divine Office, and Graduals, with the sung texts for the Mass, were very large, encompassing very lengthy texts copied in many volumes.  The contents of this manuscript are more specialized, confined to four days during Holy Week, beginning with the blessings of the palms on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter), and continuing with the sung texts for the Divine Office on the three weekdays before Easter: Holy Thursday; Good Friday; and Holy Saturday. 

Liturgical manuscripts including just texts for Holy week were especially common in Spain.  A “Passionarium” or “Passional” typically contained all or some of the texts and music for either (or both) the Office and the Mass from Palm Sunday to Easter Day.  Since Holy Week is such an important period of commemoration in Spain, and its attendant rituals are so rich and complex, it made sense to isolate this material in a separate book (Hardie, 2007 and 2008, pp. 211-214). The importance of books such as these for musicologists is amply demonstrated by Jane Morlet Hardie’s investigations of the chant tradition of the Lamentations of Jeremiah (Hardie, 2002, and many earlier studies, cited therein).


Bosch, Lynette M. F. Art, liturgy, and legend in Renaissance Toledo: the Mendoza and the Iglesia primada, University Park, Pennsylvania, 2000.

Cruz, Anne J. “The Walled-In Woman in Medieval and Early Modern Spain,” Gender Matters: Discourses of Violence in Early Modern Literature and the Arts, ed. Mara R. Wade, Amsterdam, 2013, pp. 349-366.  

Hardie, Jane Morlet. “Lamentations Chant in Spain before 1568,” in Fuentes musicales en la Península Ibérica (ca.1250–ca.1550), Lérida, Spain, 2002, pp. 271-297.

Hardie, Jane Morlet. “Salamanca to Sydney: A Newly-Discovered Manuscript of the Lamentations of Jeremiah,” in T. Bailey and A. Santosuosso, ed., Music in Medieval Europe. Studies in Honor of Bryan Gillingham, Aldershot, England and Burlington, Vermont, 2007, pp. 11-22.

Hardie, Jane Morlet. “Spanish Liturgical Music Manuscripts at the University of Sydney: A Preliminary Report,” Fontes artis musicae 55 (2008), pp. 205-220.

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.

Huglo, M. Les livres de chant liturgiques, Turnhout, 1988.

Lehfeldt, Elizabeth. Religious Women in Golden Age Spain: The Permeable Cloister, Aldershot, UK and Burlington, VT, 2005.

Noone, Michael, and Graeme Skinner. “Toledo Cathedral's Collection of Manuscript Plainsong Choirbooks: A Preliminary Report and Checklist.” Notes, vol. 63, no. 2, 2006, pp. 289–328. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4487771.

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

Weber, Alison. “Recent Studies on Women and Early Modern Religion in Spanish,” Renaissance Quarterly 52 (1999), pp. 197–206.

Online Resources

Jenneka Janzen, “Mark Their Words,” Medieval Fragments (blog), with examples of “Register” Bookmarks

Susan Boynton and Consuelo Dutschke.  “Celebrating the Liturgy’s Books” (Introduction to liturgical manuscripts)

TM 955