TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Missal (part) with musical notation

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Germany (Western?), c. 1150-75

TM 577

65 folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, 1-65, now missing f. 17 and with f. 48bis, early pagination in ink, middle upper margin, pp. 65-214, reflects the original contents, incomplete, with pp. 1-64, 85-86, 99-100, 103-4, 107-8, 113-4, 119-126, and 179-80, and an unknown amount of text at the end now missing (collation, i10 + 1 [+ one leaf, f. 8, added after 7] ii10 [-2, following f. 10, and -9, f. 17] iii8 [-1, following f. 19, -3, following f. 19 and -6, following f. 21] iv8 [3, f. 26 and 7, f. 30 are single] v10 [-2, following f. 32 and -9, following f. 38, cancelled with no loss of text, 4, f. 34 and 8, f. 38, single] vi6 [2, f. 41 and 5, f. 44, single] vii6[-5, following f. 48bis] viii-ix8), no catchwords, leaf and quire signatures (probably added by a later binder) in quires one, two, five and nine, with a letter designating the quire and roman numerals, the leaf, beginning with “g” in the present quire one, since the first six quires of the manuscript are now missing, ruling is general indiscernible, but ff. 10v-11 and ff. 23v-24, appear to be ruled in hardpoint, with double vertical bounding lines, row of prickings lower margin ff. 4-9, suggesting these folios were intended for a larger format manuscript (justification, 137-133 x 90-88 mm.), written by several scribes in an upright twelfth-century bookhand in seventeen long lines, musical notation of staffless neumes above the line of text on ff. 30v, 31, 41v, 47rv, and 48bis rv, red rubrics, small red dots occasionally highlight majuscules, for example, ff. 24 and 26, green highlights, f. 42, one-line red initials within text, two- to three-line red initials, sometimes alternating with black initials or pale yellow initials (faded), many with decorative flourishes or blank spaces within the initials, or with simple contrasting pen decoration and arabesques in red or black, four-line monogram “Te igitur,” on f. 11v, with decorative pen embellishments, signs of use throughout, but generally legible, ff. 4-10, especially wrinkled and worn from exposure to damp, ff. 4v, 7v, 9v, faded rubrics, ff. 7v-8v,21, 22, 23v,58v, 59, initials faded, ff. 20v-21, very dark brown stain over text (still legible), f. 23, slit inner margin, ff. 47, 48bis, 51, damaged and missing parts of the outer margins, no loss of text. Bound in modern vellum over pasteboard, smooth spine, in good condition, slightly soiled and covers slightly bowed. Dimensions 175 x 125 mm.

Twelfth-century Missals are always of interest, and examples have infrequently been available for sale in recent decades. Although this twelfth-century Missal, probably from a monastery in Western Germany, is no longer complete, it is an important manuscript, with interesting features, including its exceptionally small size; there are only two Missals from the twelfth century or earlier of comparable size in the Schoenberg Database. The presence of musical notation in the form of staffless neumes is also of special interest.


1. Features of the script and decoration suggest an origin in Western Germany in the Middle Rhineland; there are general similarities with the script in London, British Library, MSS Harley 2803-2804, the “Worms” Bible, from the monastery of Frankenthal, MSS Harley 2798-2799, and MSS Harley 2800-2803, a Bible and Passionary from Arnstein (see online resources, BL, Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts), Harvard University, Houghton Library, MS Typ 444, a Lectionary, possibly from Oberwesel (probably somewhat later in date (Light, 1988, no. 11), and Berlin, MS Theol. Lat. fol. 279, from Maria Laach (see Fingernagel, 1991, no. 56, fig. 171), and the arabesque initials and pen decoration in Maria Laach manuscripts have some similarities with those in this manuscript. A date in the third quarter of the twelfth century, c. 1150-75, is cautiously suggested, supported by the frequent use of e-cedilla, the probability that it was ruled in hardpoint, the round “r” only after “o,” use of straight “s”; aspects of the script that might support a slightly later date include the use of both round and straight “d”, and the abbreviation of “et” by both an ampersand and the tironian “7.”

The manuscript was copied for use in a monastery (prayers usually in masculine form (for example, ff. 2v-3), the abbot is mentioned (f. 1v and 57v), and on f. 57, “in hoc monasterio.” Its unusually small format suggests this was a Missal used primarily for special occasions, such as funeral masses and burial services and for private Masses.

This was probably never a lavishly illuminated, expensive volume. The use of single leaves within quires, the original holes in the parchment, and the possibility that ff. 4-9 were intended for use in a larger-format manuscript (suggested by the row of prickings in the lower margin) all are in keeping with a modest manuscript. Nonetheless, this manuscript was copied by skilled scribes, and decorated with attractive and carefully executed initials. It was certainly a liturgical book that was actively used. There are slits in the outer margins on ff. 24, 47, and 49 for tabs (also in the bottom margin of ff 27 and 46, possibly from tabs?). Ff. 4-10v, with the text for the burial service, are particularly wrinkled and worn from exposure to the weather outside the church.

2. Marginal additions on ff. 24v-25 and 26 suggest that this early Missal was still being used in the fourteenth and fifteenth century.

3. Inside front cover in pencil, modern note “8277.


ff. 1-9v (pp. 65-82) incipit, “Omnes sancti orate pro eo. Propicius esto parce ei domine. Propicius esto libera eum domine …,” His expletis si adhuc non migrauit iterum canendi sunt psalmi .. Deinde abbas dica orationes has, incipit, A porta inferi …; [concluding prayer] Deus cuius miseratione animê fidelium requiescunt famulis et famulabus tuis .. per eundem dominum nostrum ihesum christum”;

Burial Service in the church and at the grave; note the folios from the outside service, ff. 4v-9v, are especially worn and show signs of damage from the weather; text originally written for monks (cf. the rubric on f. 1v, mentioning the abbot).

f. 10 (pp. 83-84) prayers added on blank leaf; f. 10v, prayers added in two thirteenth-century hands;

[missing pp. 85-86]

ff. 11-16v, (pp. 87-98), incipit, “Per omnia secula seculorum, amen. .. Perceptio corporis et sanguinis tui domine ihesu christe quam indignus sumere presumo non michi proueniat in iudicum et condempnationem”;

Common Preface and Canon.

[missing f. 17, pp. 99-100]

f. 18rv (pp. 101-102), incipit, “//[ve]ro genitum non factum consubstantialem patri …”; Lectio ysaiê prophete, incipit, “Hec dicit dominus. Propter hoc sciet populus …”;

Creed and Epistle reading.

[missing pp. 103-4]

f. 19rv (pp. 105-6), “//pre participibus tuis. Et tu in principio domine ..”; Inicium sancti euangelii secundum Iohannem, incipit, “In principio erat uerbum … In propria uenit et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot//”

Hebrews 1:9-12, response, and Gospel reading (John 1:1-1:12).

[Missing pp. 107-8]

ff. 20-21v (pp. 109-112), “//omnes fines terrê salutare dei nostri”; Post co, incipit,
”Presta omnipotente deus ut natus hodie .. ueniens staret supra//”;

Beginning in the Post communion prayer for Christmas, followed by Epiphany (collects and readings), ending imperfectly in Gospel reading.

[Missing pp. 113-4]

ff. 22-23v (pp. 115-118), “//ni cêlebramus officio …”; In purificatione sancta marie, Suscepimus deus misericordiam tuam …cui nomen simeon. Et//”

Texts for the Purification (February 2) including tractus (not noted) between the Epistle and Gospel readings (ending imperfectly in Gospel reading).

[Missing for folios, pp. 119-120, 121-122, 123-4, 125-6]

ff. 24-48bis v (pp. 127-178), “//fecti predicauerunt ubique domino cooperante et sermonem … (note with proper preface and post communion prayer), .. De sancto spiritu .., f. 31v, In commemoratione sancta trinitatis …; f. 35, Peter and Paul, f. 37v, Transfiguration, f. 40v, Assumption; f. 42, Nativity of Mary, f. 44v, Michael archangel, f. 46, All Saints; f. 47v, Martin; f. 48bis, In dedicatione ecclesie, ending imperfectly, v., incipit, “Domum tuam domine de//”

[Missing pp. 179-80]

ff. 49-60 (p. 181-203), beginning imperfectly in the preface, incipit, “//per frui mereantur tabernaculis beatorum ….”; Pro patre et matre, … Post communionem, incipit, “Cêlesti participatione quesumus … confortem esse patiaris. Per”;
Votive Masses, de sancta cruce, de sancta maria, In septenariis, In anniuersariis, pro episcopis, pro uiris et nuper defunctis, pro fratribus, pro feminis, pro his qui in cimiterio sunt, pro parentibus, pro communis, concluding with three Masses, generalis, f. 57, mentions “abbates nostros.”

ff. 60-63v (pp. 203-210), Lessons from Thessalonians, Gospel of John, Maccabees, Gospel of John, Apocalypse, Gospel of John, Corinthians, and concluding with two lessons from the Gospel of John.

ff. 63v-64 (pp. 210-211), incipit “Requiem eternam dona eis domine …”;

Texts for a Requiem Mass.

ff. 64v-65v (pp. 212-214), Post aspersionem aque benedicte et post letaniam cum vii palmis specialibus decantata reconciliatio ecclesie ubi homicidium uel aliud criminale peccatum perpetratur, incipit, “Deum indultorum criminum …; Deus cuius bonitas ut non habuit principium …” …. ; Missa in eadem reconciliatione, incipit “Deus qui dixisti …, ending imperfectly in the Post communion prayer, incipit “Percipientes domine munera salutes ê//”

for the reconciliation of a violated church; the first two prayers found in the Romano-Germanic Pontifical, eds. Vogel and Elze (1963-72), I:183-4.

This Missal lacks text at the beginning, end, as well some folios in between; it now begins with funeral and burial services, followed by the Canon, and the variable texts for Masses on Christmas and Epiphany, selected feasts from the Sanctorale beginning with the Purification, and continuing through the Dedication of a Church. These texts are followed by a series of votive Masses, then readings for an unidentified feast, and the Requiem Mass. The final texts are prayers for the reconciliation of a violated church, used to restore the sanctity of a consecrated Church after a serious crime, such as murder. This last text would be a very unusual addition to a Missal dating from the thirteenth century or later, and although twelfth-century Missals more often include sacramental texts and benedictions of various types, its inclusion here is noteworthy.

This manuscript is a Missal – the liturgical book that includes the texts necessary to celebrate the Mass. Missals by the thirteenth century were the predominant book used by the celebrant during the Mass, largely replacing Sacramentaries. Sacramentaries included only the prayers said by the celebrant; Missals, in contrast also included the biblical readings, read or chanted by the Subdeacon and Deacon, as well as the texts sung by the choir. The earliest examples of Missals date from the tenth century; in the eleventh century both Sacramentaries and Missals were copied; by the twelfth century, Missals were more common, and finally, in the thirteenth-century Sacramentaries have almost entirely been replaced by Missals.

The contents of the Missal reflect changing liturgical practice during the Middle Ages; by the eleventh century the Celebrant was required to sing or say, either aloud or quietly to himself, all the Mass texts, including the sung texts and the readings. Missals also answered the need of priests saying private Masses. The private Mass was an established part of monastic life at least from the ninth century on, when monks who were also priests said Masses for the their own salvation, for the dead, and for numerous special intentions. The unusually small format of this Missal suggests that it was probably used for private Masses and for special liturgical occasions, such as the burial service, where portability was a useful feature.

Missals survive in great numbers; the Schoenberg Database, for example, yields 1,893 results under the general heading Missal. Most of these, however, are from the later Middle Ages. Some idea of the rarity of pre-thirteenth century Missals can be gained the Missals included in the catalogue of liturgical manuscripts in the Vatican library, which includes twenty-seven dating earlier than the twelfth century, thirty-three from the twelfth century, and over two hundred from the thirteenth through the fifteenth. The same pattern is seen in the numbers in the Schoenberg Database (an admittedly imprecise measure, since each entry records a sale, and many manuscripts are listed multiple times): thirty-four date before the twelfth century, sixty-seven are twelfth century, and c. 120 are from the thirteenth-century; the remaining Missals – by far the largest group – are from the later Middle Ages. Twelfth-century Missals have rarely been available for sale in recent decades (the Schoenberg Database records only four manuscripts, including one sold multiple times).


Fingernagel, Andreas. Die illuminierten lateinischen Handschriften deutscher Provenienz der Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, 8.-12. Jahrhudert, Wiesbaden, O. Harrassowitz, 1991.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy, Oxford, 1991.

Hughes, Andrews. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office, Toronto, 1982.

Jungmann, Joseph. The Mass of the Roman Rite: Origins and Development, tr. F.A. Brunner. 2 vols., New York, 1950.

Leroquais, Victor. Les Sacramentaires et les missels manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France, Paris, Protat, 1924.

Light, Laura. The Bible in the Twelfth Century. An Exhibition of Manuscripts at the Houghton Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1988.

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.

Salmon, Pierre, Les manuscripts liturgiques latins de la bibliothèque vaticane, Vol. 2, Vatican City, Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 1969.

Vogel, Cyrille and Reinhard Elze, eds. Le Pontifical romano-germanique du dixième siècle, Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 1963-72.

Online resources

British Library, Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts

Jean-Baptiste Lebigue. “Les livres de la messe. Le missel,” in Initiation aux manuscrits liturgiques, Ædilis, Publications pédagogiques, 6, Paris-Orléans, IRHT, 2007

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

British Library on the Mass

Thurston, Herbert. “Missal,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 10, New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1911

Ian D. Bent, et al. “Notation,” in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online