TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Processional (Secular Use?)

In Latin, manuscript on parchment, with musical notation
Spain, c. 1500-25

TM 650

51 +i (paper) folios on parchment (prepared in the manner of southern Europe, some folios quite thick), modern foliation in pencil bottom outer corner in pencil, probably missing the first paper flyleaf (stub visible) (collation i-iv8 v8 +3 [quire of eight, with bifolium, ff. 36-37, added after 2, and one leaf, f. 33, added before 1] vi8), no catchwords or signatures, script copied on lines ruled in lead, with decorative rules added in red or purple ink, red staves (justification, 115-110 x 80-78 mm.), copied in a late rounded gothic bookhand, with square musical notation on five-line red staves (only five pages have script only and lack musical notation), majuscules touched with pale yellow, red rubrics, elaborate cadel initials text ink, brushed with pale yellow wash, equivalent to one line of text and music, one- to two-line alternately red and blue initials with contrasting pen decoration, nineteen large initials, equivalent to one-line of text and music, or three-lines of text, alternately red and blue, with fine contrasting penwork in violet or red, in sound condition but with some stains throughout, usually minor (more significant on ff. 33-34), a few folios affected by damp so the ink has partially smudged, ff. 4, 16v-17, 32v-33, 34v-35. Bound in its original sixteenth-century very dark brown / black leather binding, blind stamped with two sets of triple fillets, framing a narrow outer floral border, and a large rectangular center panel, stamped with six diamond-shaped fleur-de-lis and four floral stamps in the shape of a cross, and with floral stamps at each corner, spine with four raised bands, with one floral stamp in each compartment, fastened front to back clasp and catch fasteners (one strap missing), both covers and spine worn with scuffs and small tears and worm holes, head band and top of the spine missing, tail band partially detached, but still in useable condition. Dimensions 158 x 112 mm.

This volume, copied in a small, portable format, is evidence of the continuity in the copying of musical manuscripts from the central Middle Ages into the sixteenth century and later. Note the use of the five-line staff, still used today. Still in its original binding, this attractive manuscript displays calligraphic cadel initials and decorated pen initials that are distinctively Spanish. The liturgical directions included seem to make sense for a secular church; texts are specified for the canto (or cantors, up to four), the priest, and “omnes” (or all = the congregation?).


1. Copied in Spain, in the opening decades of the sixteenth century as suggested by the script, pen decoration, and musical notation. The wording of the liturgical directions lack any mention of places within a monastery (such as the refectory or cloister), and mention the priests, cantor, and “omnes” (the congregation?), suggesting this was copied for use in a secular church.

2. Verso, back flyleaf, in ink, “In santa Maria almar.”

3. Inside front cover, “L’abbé Jules Bonnhomme, fevrier 1876”; The abbé Jules Bonhomme, curé de Saint-Jean Baptiste de Grenelles, Paris, and chaplain to the Fort de l’Est, Paris, was a musicologist and author of numerous liturgical studies including Principes d’une véritable restauration du chant Grégorien (Paris, 1857) and the introduction to Les principaux chants liturgiques conformes au chant publié par Pierre Valfray en 1669 traduits en notation musicale (Paris, 1875).

4. Description in French on a small piece of paper laid in, identifying it as, “Processionale Dominicarum” from the fifteenth century. The binding was described first as original; and then designated as “later.” in red, f. 1, “51 Y.”


f. 1, blank except for title in red, “Processionarum libellus”;

ff. 1v-11, Procession for the Purification; incipit, “Lumen ad reuelationem gentium …”; Omnes, incipit, “Et gloria autem plebis tue Israel”; Canto., incipit, “ Nunc dimittis seruum tuum domine …”, “Omnes, incipit, “Secundum verbum tuum in pace …”, … f. 2v, His finitis cantores incipiant, “Exurge domine …”, Canto. V., Deus auribus nostris …”, f. 4, Deinde fit processio et cantantur sequentes ant., incipit, “Adorna thalamum …”, … f. 8v, Et ingrediendo ecclesiam cantantur, R., incipit, “Obtulerunt pro eo domino …”, … f. 9v, V., incipit, “Postquam impleti sunt …”;

ff. 11- 31, Procession for Palm Sunday, In die ramis palmarum cantantur sequentes a. vel omnes vel alique quousque durat processi, a., incipit, “Cum appropinquaret …”, … f. 15, ant., incipit, “Cum audisset populus quia iesus …”, f. 18v, ant., incipit “Ante sex dies solemni …”, f. 20v, ant., incipit “Occurunt turbe …”, f. 21v, ant., incipit, “Cum angelis …”, f. 22, ant. Incipit, “Verba multa ….”, f. 23, In reuersione processionis ad ecclesiam duo vel quatuor cantores intrant et clauso ostio stantes versa facie ad processionem, incipiunt v. Gloria laus. Et totum decantant vsque ad Israel. Sacerdos vero cum aliis stantibus extra ecclesiam … Et stantes extra ad quoslibet duos versus respondent, Gloria laus et, sicut a principio. V. incipit, “Gloria laus et honor …”, f. 29, V., incipit, “Sit pie pro palme nobis victoria …”; f. 29v, Postea intrat processio ecclesiam cantando, R., incipit, “Ingrediente domino in sanctam …”, f. 30v, V., incipit, “Cum audisset populus quod iesus ….”;

Note, the text here begins with the procession and omits the usual distribution of the palms; text is very close to Franciscan Use, see Van Dijk, 1963,vol. 2, p. 235, but instead of “fratres” (brothers), the rubrics here mention “cantores.”

ff. 31v-34v, Feria sexta in parasceue in processione spine, Resp., incipit “Egressus iesus de pretorio …”; … f. 33v, V., incipit, “Ait illis Pilatus ….”; ff. 33v-34, hymn, “Vexilla regis”, not noted, ending with direction, Predictus hymnos uteretur si opus fuerit;

Procession for Good Friday, here mentioning the “spine” or Thorn (from the Crown of Thorns), and with the Hymn, Vexilla regis, here with the second verse: “Confixus clauis innocens/ Mortem peremit moriens/ sensum tyrannum vinciens/ et nos ab illo liberans” (see online resources for the Latin text of the hymn with English translation), written by Venantius Fortunantus (530-609), in honor of a relic of the True Cross.

ff. 34v-37v, Sabbato sancto et vigilia penthecostes eundo ad fontes. Cantantur sequens Tractus, incipit, “Sicut ceruus desiderat ad fontes aquarum …”;

Baptismal procession for Holy Saturday and the Vigil of Pentecost. Holy Saturday and the Vigil of Pentecost were the only feasts on which baptism was permitted in the early church, and they both are liturgically distinctive.

ff. 37v-51v, Facta benedictione dicitur sequens litania, incipit, “Kyrie …”; ff. 39v-41, litany, with Joseph added on f. 39 (“Omnes sancti beatorum spiritum ordine [+sancte Josephi] orate pro nobis”; f. 40, Andrew added to the Apostles and Evangelists; f. 40v, includes Benedict, Dominic, and Francis [Anthony added before Benedict]; includes Mary Magdalene, Agnes, [Cecelia added]; Agatha, (followed by Anastasia, added), ending, incipit, “Agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis domine; Agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos domine/ Agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi miserere nobis. Christe audi nos. Christe exaudi nos.”

Litany for Holy Saturday and the Vigil of Pentecost.

Although the modern liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church preserves only a few processions, processions were an important part of the liturgy during the Middle Ages and into the early modern era in both secular churches and within religious orders. Processions, for example, were preceded the celebration of the Mass on each Sunday, were an important part of the liturgical observances on saints’ days and on other important liturgical occasions, and were assembled in times of need, to ask for rain, avert famine, or in the face of other catastrophic events. The Palm Sunday procession reenacting Christ’s entry into Jerusalem is a notable example that is still celebrated, albeit usually in abbreviated fashion, in churches today. Rites of death and burial were also accompanied by processions.

Processionals are the books that include the texts and chants necessary for liturgical processions. They are of particular interest to musicologists, since they can sometimes contain text and chants not found in other liturgical manuscripts. This manuscript includes the two processions, for the Purification of the Virgin (Candlemas, on 2 February) and Palm Sunday, found in manuscripts following Roman Use, including Franciscan processionals (see Huglo, 1999, p. 38* and table VIII, p. 54), followed by a procession for Good Friday, in honor of the Holy Thorn (that is a relic from Christ’s Crown of Thorns), and noted texts from the baptismal services celebrated on Holy Saturday (or the Easter Vigil) and the Vigil of Pentecost, including the Litany.  

The liturgical directions included in this book seem to make sense for a secular church. In the Palm Sunday procession, for example, there is no mention of the cloister or refectory (common in monastic manuscripts). Instead, the rubrics merely indicate when the procession is outside the church, when it is returning and standing before the doors of the church, and when it enters again. Texts are specified for the cantor (or cantors, up to four), the priest, and “omnes” (“all”, the congregation?). The litany does include St. Francis, but also includes St. Dominic and St. Benedict – an inclusive approach that does not seem to indicate this manuscript was copied for any one particular order.


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

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

Huglo, Michel.”Processional”, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie, London, 1980, vol. 15, 278-281.

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.

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

van Dijk, S.J.P., ed. Sources of the Modern Roman Liturgy: The Ordinals of Haymo of Faversham and Related Documents, 1243-1307, 2 vols. Leiden, 1963.

Online resources

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

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

Latin text of the hymn, “Vexilla regis” with English translation