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les Enluminures

HILARIUS [OF ANGERS (?)], Hymnal with Commentary (Expositio hymnorum)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper
Italy (Tuscany), c. 1400-1415

TM 556

i (paper) + 44 + i (paper) folios on paper, watermark, same type as Briquet 15,581, tête de chien, Cortona 1400, Utrecht 1401, Palermo 1403, Sienna 1410, Pistoia 1415, modern foliation in pencil, bottom outer margin, complete (collation, i-iv10 v4), horizontal catchwords, center lower margin, decorated in quire four, no leaf or quire signatures, frame ruled in lead with full-length single vertical bounding lines only, (justification 158-157 x 97 mm.), written in a rounded upright well-spaced gothic bookhand by two scribes, the second beginning on f. 15v, and in two sizes, the text of the hymn in a larger script, interspersed with blocks of commentary copied in a smaller script in fifty-two to forty-one long lines, lemmata within commentary underlined in red or brown ink, hymn-verses through f. 15 begin with a paragraph mark, brown ink, possibly added, red two-line initial, f. 3, two-line initials, brown ink, added in blank spaces at the beginning of hymns through f. 15, thereafter, blank spaces for two-line initials, one large yellow four-line initial, f. 1, extending an additional nine lines, with red pen decoration, many small holes in the first four leaves (now carefully restored with modern paper), ff. 1-2, lower outer corners damaged, f. 1, outer margin damaged, purple spotting throughout, slightly trimmed with slight loss of added glosses in the top margin on ff. 1 and 6v, and bottom margin on f. 3, quires reinforced with parchment strips at the beginning and end, and some of the paper leaves are cracking slightly along the parchment. Bound in modern (eighteenth-century?) vellum over pasteboard, now partially covered with nineteenth-century marbled paper leaving the spine uncovered, marks from a leather label near the top of the spine, now missing, edges marbled in green, in good condition, slightly bowed. Dimensions 210 x 148 mm.

Hymns, verse compositions for use during the Divine Office, are the only chant texts, apart from the Psalms, that circulated with a glossed commentary during the Middle Ages. This is a manuscript of an important text that has never received a modern critical edition. Its importance is attested by the number of surviving manuscripts and numerous printed editions, all of which await careful study. This text has rarely been on the market; only one recorded sale since 1950 in the Schoenberg Database signals a manuscript that may include a similar text (Hartung, 1994).


1. The script, decoration and watermark together suggest that this manuscript was copied in Northern Italy in Tuscany, perhaps in Cortona, Siena, or Pistoia, at the very end of the fourteenth or beginning of the fifteenth century. The watermark is a very unusual type of two opposed animal heads, presumably dogs, found in a single example in Briquet.

Short notes, supplying information that would probably have been included in rubrics at the beginning of most hymns, and an additional hymn with commentary for the feast of St. Agatha were added soon after the manuscript was completed in a humanist noting script. Another Italian hand, slightly later, added marginal notes on ff. 6v, 7, 9, 10, 11v, 12, and 26, including a list of the attributes of God, lists of planets, notes on the definition of words etc. These are of particular interest, since they provide insight into the topics that were of interest to a student who used this text.

2. Later ownership mark, “K” in ink, added on the spine.

3. Belonged to Joseph Pope of Toronto (d. 2010), investor banker and prominent manuscript collector, who purchased it from Galassia Gutenberg in December, 1985; Bergendal Collection MS 79 (described in Pope, Bergendal Catalogue, 1999; brief notice in Stoneman, 1997, p. 197; an account of the collection is given in Pope, 1997; see also Online Resources, Bergendal Collection).

4. In pencil, inside front cover, “15075,” and inside back cover, “63XST.”


ff. 1-42v, Seventy-two hymns with commentary:

ff. 1-3, incipit, text, “Primo dierum omnium quo mundus extat conditus uel quo resurgens conditor …; f. 1, accessus, incipit, “Primo dierum, etc. Liber iste dicitur liber ymnorum. Ymnus dicitur laus dei cum cantica facta. Quatuor autem fuerunt doctores qui ymnorum composuerunt. S. Gregorius, Ambrosius, Prudentius et Sedulius. Sed quidem uir prudens nomina ylarius uidens eos …; In hoc ergo principio, id est in ymno isto primo dierum <?> Ambrosius siue Gregorius … uitam eternam amen. Et est ad uerbum affirmandi ut in euangelio frequenter inuenitur. Amen.

ff. 3-5, incipit, text, “Eterne rex conditor noctem …;” incipit gloss, “Eterne etc. Intentio ymnifici est sicilicet betati ambrosii commendare dei sapientiam … in perpetuum, id est sine termino, amen, id est fiat”;

f. 5, incipit, text, “Nocte surgentes vigilemus omnes semper … ; incipit, gloss, “Materia huius ymni que de nocte cantatur est quod nos sed surgere et uigilare debemus ad laudandum deum …

f. 5v, incipit, text, “Ecce iam noctis tenuatur umbra …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in laudibus eius materia est talis quod tenebris noctis fugientibus aurora …”;

f. 6, incipit, text, “Iam lucis orto sidere deum …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantantur de die ad primam et est materia huius ymni inuocatio quam facit auctor …”;

f. 7, incipit, text, “Nunc sancte nobis spiritus unum patri …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in tertia, in quo inocationem facit auctor ad spiritum sanctum …”;

f. 7v, incipit, text, “Rector potens uerax deus …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste hymnus cantatur in festa. Cuius materia …”;

f. 8, incipit, text, “Rerum deus tenax uigor …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in hora nona. Cuius materia est quod non solum in hora sexta supplicandum est christo sed et in hora nona. In qua hora christus crucis …”;

f. 8v, incipit, text, “Lucis creator optime lucem …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in uesperis. In quo auctor comendat deum de opere illo quod ipse fecit …”;

f. 9, incpit, text, “Te lucis ante terminum …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur ad completorium. Et est materia eius quia sicut deprecamur …”;

f. 9v, incipit, text, “Sompno refectis artibus spreto …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur ad mactutinas [sic] de nocte. Cuius materia est quod nos membris …”;

f. 10, incipit, text, “Splendor paterne glorie …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur ad laudes. Materia cuius est habere notitiam …”;

f. 11v, incipit, text, “Inmense celi conditor …;” incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in uesperis cuius materia summitur ex illo opera …;”

f. 12, incipit, text, “Confors paterni luminis …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur ad matutinas. Cuius materia est invocatio quam facit auctor …”;

f. 12v, incipit, text, “Ales diei numptius lucem propinquam …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in laudibus. Cuius materia ex tranquilitate temporis summitur. Gallus enim quod diem nuntiat …”;

f. 13v, incipit, text, “Teluris ignes conditor …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in uesperis. Cuius materia est commendatio diuine potentie …”;

f. 14, incipit, text, “Rerum creator optime rector …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in mactutinis. Cuius materia est inuocatio quam facit auctor …”;

continuing, with glossed hymns, f. 14v, “Nox et tenebre et nubile … ”; f. 15v, “Celi deus sanctissime …”; f. 16, “Nox atra rerum …”; f. 16v, “Lux ecce surgit aurea …”; f. 17, “Magnus deus potentie …”; f. 17v, “Tu trinitatis unitas …”;

f. 18, incipit, text, “Eterna celi gloria beata …”; incipit, gloss, “Materia istius ymni est invocare christum filium beate uirginis …”;

continuing, with glossed hymns, f. 19, “Plasmator hominis deus …”; f. 19v, “Summe deus clementie …”; f. 19v, “Auroroa iam spargit polum …”; f. 20, “O lux beata trinitas …”; f. 20, “Conditor alme siderum …”; f. 21, “Uerbum supernum prodiens a patre …”; f. 21v, “Vox clara ecce …”; f. 21v, “Christe redemptor omnium …”; f. 22v, “ A solis ortu cardine …”; f. 23, “Hostis herodes impie …”; f. 23v, “Audi benigne conditor …”; f. 24v, “Iam christe sol iustitie …”;

f. 25, incipit, text, “Vexilla regis prodeunt fulget …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in dominica de passione. Cuius materia est ostendere christi passionem …”;

f. 26, incipit, text, “Pange lingua gloriosi …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur ad matutinas in passione domine et continuatur ymno precedenti …”;

continuing with glossed hymns, f. 26v, “Lustra sex qui iam …”; f. 27v, “Aures ad nostras deitatis …”; f. 28v, “Ad cenam agni prouidi …”; f. 29, “Rex sempiterne domine …”; f. 29v, “Aurora lucis …”; f. 30v, “Aeterne rex altissime redemptor …”; f. 31, “Veni creator spiritus ..”; f. 32, “Iam christus astra ..”;

f. 32v, incipit, text, “Beata nobis gaudia …”; incipit, gloss, “Ymnus iste cantatur ad laudes et continuatur duobus premissis …”

f. 33, incipit, text, “Ave maris stella Dei …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in festo beate marie virginis ad uesperos …”;

Continuing, with glossed hymns, f. 34, “Quem terra pontus …”; f. 34, “O gloriosa domina excelsa …”;

ff. 34v-(39v), Glossed Hymns for the Sanctorale, including John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, and Archangel Michael:

f. 34v, incipit, text, “Ut queant laxis resonare …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus cantatur in festiuitate beate iohannis batptiste …”;

f. 36v, incipit, text, “Petrus beatus catenarum …”; incipit, gloss, “Iste ymnus canitur in passione petri et pauli …”;

f. 37, “Aurea luce et decore [hymn for feasts of Peter and Paul] …; f. 37v, “Tibi christe splendor patris …” [for feast of Michael, the Archangel]; f. 38, “Christe sanctorum decus ..” [Michael, the Archangel]; f. 38v, “Christe redemptor omnium …”; f. 39, “Ihesu salvator seculi …”; f. 39, “Exultet celum laudibus …”;

f. 39v, incipit, text, “Aeterna Christi munera …”; incipit, gloss, “Nos canentes laudes debitas …”;

Continuing, with Hymns for the Common of Saints, f. 40, “Deus tuorum militum …”; f. 40, “Martir dei qui unicum …”; f. 40, “Sanctorum meritis inclita gaudia …”; f. 40v, “Eterna christi munera …”; f. 41, “Iste confessor domini sacratus …”; f. 41v, “Ihesu redemptor omnium …” [without glosses]; f. 41v, “Ihesu corona celsior …” [without glosses]; f. 41v, “Ihesu corona uirginum …”; f. 42, “Virgines proles optifex …”; f. 42, “Urbs beata ierusalem …”;

f. 42v, incipit, text, “Angularis fundamentum lapis christus …”; incipit, gloss, “Christus dicitur lapis angularum quia … secula, id est semper, Amen, id est sine defectu.” Explicit commentatum super ymnario.

f. 43 [added hymn with commentary], incipit, text, “Martiris ecce dies agathe uirginis ..”; gloss, “Hymnus iste canitur infestiuitate beaste agathe uirginis …” [Ends mid f. 43; ff. 43v-44v, blank].

Hymns with commentary, of the type usually known as the Expositio hymnorum or the Liber hymnorum; the accessus (beginning, “Liber iste dicitur ymnorum …”) mentions the author, Hilarius, who may possibly be identified as the twelfth-century poet, scholar, and student of Abelard, Hilarius of Angers (fl. 1125) (Szövérffy, 1964-5, p. 76; Hain identified the author as Hilary of Poitier, which is impossible given the date of the text).

This commentary seems to date from the twelfth century, and it was popular until the end of the Middle Ages, and indeed, into the sixteenth century. There is no comprehensive study of either the surviving manuscripts or the numerous printed editions (in general, see Gneuss, 1968, pp. 194-206). Studies to date each have listed different manuscripts as examples of the text’s circulation, the earliest of which date from the twelfth century, with most dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (see Blume, 1932, p. 19; Gneuss, 1968, p. 201; Allen, 1973, p. 31 and note 9; and Hunt, 1991, pp. 39-40, and notes 106-108). Taken together, these authors list around thirty manuscripts, and more copies likely survive. Moreover, since there has been almost no study of the text of these manuscripts, it is impossible to say how closely they resemble one another, and given the complexity of the printed tradition, it seems possible that they may represent a number of different commentaries, even if they begin with the accessus that mentions Hilarius.

There is no modern printed edition (part of the text of the accessus is printed in Hunt, 1991, p. 40), but numerous versions of the text were printed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; at least forty versions appeared before 1500 (eighteen in France, four in England, eleven in Germany). Between 1496 and 1527, twenty-two printed editions appeared in England alone. The sixty-two editions with the title, Expositio hymnorum, listed in the British Library Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (Online Resources), ranging in date from 1476 to 1520, also attest to the popularity of this type of commentary. As Gneuss’s study demonstrates (Gneuss, 1968, pp. 202-205), these printed books represent a number of distinct versions of the commentary; further study is needed to work out their complicated history in detail and to connect it to the manuscript tradition. For example, the text in the Expositio hymnorum, Strassburg, Joahnn Prüss, c. 1491 (also recorded as Reutlingen, Michael Greyff, c. 1495), GKW n0437, certainly differs greatly from the text found in this copy, although they do have some elements in common. Earlier, eleventh-century glossed Office hymns have been studied by Susan Boynton (Boynton, “Latin Glosses,” 2001), and commentaries from the later Middle Ages are reviewed in Allen, 1973.

In this manuscript, the text of the hymn was copied in a larger script, while the commentary was written in a smaller, less formal script, in blocks between the lines of text; a slightly later hand added a few more notes in the margin, and some interlinear glosses. Within the commentary, the lemmata (that is, the words of the hymn being discussed), are repeated, and underlined. Most hymns begin with a general accessus, discussing the liturgical occasion and the author. The commentary follows the text closely and includes definitions of words, as well as comments on the meaning of the text and other explanations.

Hymns were verse compositions for use during the Divine Office. They are the only chant texts, apart from the Psalms, that circulated with a commentary in the form of marginal glosses during the Middle Ages. Boynton has shown that the study of hymns was an essential part of the education of monastic oblates and novices in the early Middle Ages (Boynton, “Training,” 2001, and “Latin Glosses,” 2001). There has been no comparable study of the text of this commentary, but its study would certainly shed light on elementary education in the urban schools of the twelfth century and later.

The manuscript lacks rubrics listing liturgical information, although the gloss usually specifies the liturgical occasion for each hymn. The hymns follow a liturgical order, beginning with Hymns for Sunday at Matins, Lauds and Vespers, then the ferial hymns for the shorter offices, followed by the ferial hymns for Matins, Lauds and Vespers, hymns for the Temporale (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Passiontide, Easter, Ascension, Whitsuntide, ending with the Purification), a few hymns from the Sanctorale, including Peter and Paul, and Archangel Michael, and concluding with hymns for the common of saints, and a few other occasions.


Allen, Judson. “Commentary as Criticism,” in Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Lovaniensis. Proceedings of the First International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, Louvain, 23-28 August 1971, eds. J. Ijsewijn and E. Kessler, Munich, W. Fink, 1973, pp. 29-48.

Blume, Clemens. Unsere liturgischen Lieder: das Hymnar der altchristlichen Kirche, Regensburg, Friedrich Pustet, 1932.

Boynton, Susan. “Training for the Liturgy as a Form of Monastic Education,” in Medieval Monastic Education, eds. George Ferzoco and Carolyn Muessig, London and New York, Leicester University Press, 2001, pp. 7-20.

Boynton, Susan. “Glosses on the Office Hymns in Eleventh-Century Continental Hymnaries,” The Journal of Medieval Latin 11 (2001), pp. 1-26.

Briquet, Charles-Moïse. Les filigranes: dictionnaire historique des marques du papier, Hildesheim and New York, G. Olms, 1977 (reprint of second edition of 1923).

Gneuss, Helmut. Hymnar und Hymnen im englischen Mittelalter; Studien zur Überlieferung, Glossierung und Übersetzung lateinischer Hymnen in England. Mit einer Textausgabe der lateinisch-altenglischen Expositio hymnorum, Tübingen, M. Niemeyer, 1968.

Gneuss, Helmut. “Latin Hymns in Medieval England: Future Research,” in Chaucer and Middle English Studies in Honour of Rossel Hope Robbins, Kent, Ohio, 1974, pp. 407-424.

Hunt, Tony. Teaching and Learning Latin in Thirteenth-Century England, Cambridge, England and Rochester, NY, D.S. Brewer, 1991.

Pope, Joseph. One Hundred and Twenty-Five Manuscripts: Bergendal Collection Catalogue, Toronto, Brabant Holdings, 1999.

Szövérffy, Joseph. Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung, ein Handbuch, Berlin, E. Schmidt, 1964-65.

Stoneman, William P. “A Summary Guide to the Medieval and Later Manuscripts in the Bergendal Collection, Toronto” in A Distinct Voice: Medieval Studies in Honor of Leonard Boyle, O.P., eds. Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, pp. 163-206. Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 163-206.

Online resources

Susan Boynton, “Monophonic Latin,” in Warren Anderson, et al. "Hymn." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online

Erica Kihlman, “Commentaries on Hymns and Sequences,” Ars Edendi

British Library, Incunabula Short Title Catalogue