TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Office Lectionary for the Temporale

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment with musical notation
Southern Europe (Spain?), c. 1275-1325

TM 621

144 folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, top outer recto, 1-144 (collation i-ii12 iii10? [-5 -6, missing at least one bifolium from the center of the quire, with loss of text] iv10 [-1, -10,  with loss of text] v12 vi12 [-6 -7,  with loss of text] vii12 [-9, with loss of text] viii10 ix12 x10 xi-xii12 xiii10 [-4 through 7, with text lacking] xiv10 [-1, with loss of text]), horizontal catchwords written faintly (in crayon?) center lower margin in quires i-ii, vii-viii, xi-xii and in the scribe’s hand lower inner margin of quires iii and xiii, parchment reinforcement strips, two cut from other manuscripts, inside and outside the first bifolium, quire one, and outside quire three, ruled faintly (in metal point?) with full-length horizontal and vertical bounding lines, prickings occasionally visible in the upper and lower margins (justification 199-200 x 130-131 mm.), text written in a round Gothic bookhand in two columns of thirty-four lines, some guide letters for initials and guide notes for rubrics, red rubrics, capitals touched in red, two- to four-line plain initials in red, blue, or purple, with contrasting pen decorations on ff. 63, 73v, 96, 105v, 118, and 120, two ten-line parted initials, red and purple (f. 1v) and blue and purple with pen decoration (f. 118), square musical notation on four-line red staves (ff. 51v-54, 55-57v, 58r-v), the first column of f. 122v has been left blank, perhaps to accommodate a rubric that was never added, some slight imperfections in the parchment and tears along the edges of some leaves or from their outer corners, large tears in the lower margins of ff. 1, 51, 52, 55, 60, 87, 95, 141, 142, and 143 patched with parchment (the parchment patches on ff. 51, 52, and 95 are fragments from another manuscript, possibly the same used for binding reinforcements, noted above), major losses to ff. 136 and 144 with corresponding losses to the text on those leaves, flaking of text on f. 69 with some loss of legibility.  Bound in quarter dark brown leather, blind-tooled with triple fillets and blind-stamped with lozenges and six-petalled flowers, restored and remounted over the original beveled wooden boards, with two fore-edge clasps of tooled brown leather and brass fastening back to front, one of the clasp attachments remains on the upper board and there are traces of the second, f. 144 has been pasted down on the inside of the lower board and a parchment leaf from a sixteenth-century Spanish manuscript has been pasted down on the inside of the upper board, some slight cracking and worming on both boards.  Dimensions 317 x 220-223 mm.

The High Middle Ages saw the division of the daily office into more manageable sections of text:  for the night, morning, and day offices.  This manuscript contains only the readings for Matins, including biblical readings, homilies, and some musical notation.  It also includes an early copy of the complete and carefully corrected Office for the Feast of Corpus Christi composed by St. Thomas Aquinas and authorized only in 1264.  Large and impressive, copied in a careful script, and in a substantial early binding with wooden boards (possibly original) and Spanish pastedowns, this Lectionary is comparatively rare, especially of Spanish origin at this early date.


1. Written in Southern Europe, probably in Span, c. 1275-1325.  Southern abbreviations and rotunda script suggest an origin in Southern Europe; the general roundedness of the letters, as well as the use of the Italian abbreviation for “qui” point in this direction, though the matter warrants further study, particularly in light of the manuscript’s later presence in Spain (see below).  Internal liturgical evidence supports a date in the final third of the thirteenth century or early fourteenth century, given its inclusion of Thomas Aquinas’s Office of the Feast of Corpus Christi (see Text below for particulars).  The evidence of decoration tends to suggest a date at the earlier end of this range; the style of pen-flourishing in this manuscript is still in evidence in the early fourteenth-century (see, for example, Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson C. 889, an Italian manuscript dated to 1325), but it was more prevalent in the thirteenth century.

This is a Lectionary for secular use that includes three readings for each nocturn; Sundays and feast days are celebrated with three nocturns with a total of nine readings, and ferial offices with one nocturn.  We know therefore that it was not copied for use within a monastery.  It could have been used at a cathedral or another secular church, or by a non-monastic regular order, such as one of the mendicant friars – in this case, quite possibly, by Dominicans.  There is, however, one puzzling exception here, since there are twelve lessons for the first Sunday following Corpus Christi rather than the usual nine.

2. Evidence for use includes marginal additions and corrections in at least three medieval hands, one of which writes over erasures in the text and one of which has left a substantial note on f. 92v; the correct initials have been written in ink where the wrong ones were painted on ff. 84, 90, and 93v.

3. The sixteenth-century Spanish manuscript pastedown on the inside of the upper board appears to have been extracted from a legal record and identifies a litigant, Pero Martinez. Though this name is not uncommon enough to aid in dating or localizing this fragment, the presence of this leaf in this manuscript’s binding suggests that the book probably was in Spanish hands at some point, possibly from its origin.


ff. 1-7, [Liturgical lections for the Temporale, beginning with those for Nativity and the feasts within the octave of the Nativity] beginning imperfectly, “//tem uisionis omni carni. Haec(?) dicit dominus”; f. 1, incipit, In vigilia natalis domini lectio j uel uija si fuerit dominica. Secundum Matheum. In illo tempore. Cum esset desponsata mater ihesu maria ioseph ... tollende preuaricationis prime gratia posita est”;

ff. 7-28v, [Liturgical lections for Epiphany and the period following] In uigilia Epyphanie si fuerit dominica sermo fausti episcopi de Natali. Lectio prima, incipit, “Qvis tantarum rerum uerborumque copia instructus existat ... nec fatigeris dum ab eo argueris. Quem enim//”;

Ends imperfectly in the middle of the first reading for the Thursday after the fifth Sunday after Epiphany.

ff. 29-33, [Liturgical lections for the two weeks preceding Lent] beginning imperfectly, “// christi quam iniciavit nobis uiam nouam et uiuentem per uelamen ... et qui remanserant fugerunt ad montem”;

Begins imperfectly in the middle of the first reading for the Wednesday following Septuagesima Sunday.

ff. 33-59v, [Liturgical lections for Lent] Feria iiija in Capite Ieiunij lectio ja. Secundum Mattheum, incipit, “In illo tempore. Dixit ihesus discipulis suis ... et firmo ac stabili pede uestigium non ponebat”;

For the Tenebrae services for each of the three days of the Triduum the three lections of the first nocturn are taken from Lamentations of Jeremiah and are accompanied by musical notation written on four-line staves (see ff. 51v-54, 55-57v, 58r-v). The Lamentations sung at Tenebrae were sung to a special tone, which may account for the inclusion of musical notation in this instance.  In each case the beginning of each verse is marked with its respective initial Hebrew letter, spelled out and rubricated.

ff. 59v-76, [Liturgical lections for Easter and the variable period following] In die sancto .Pasce. lectio ja. Secundum Marcum, incipit, “In illo Tempore. Maria magdalene et maria iacobi et salome et merunt aromata ut uenientes ungerent ihesum ... perfidie uirus aculeum desperationis auferat et absque ulla dubietate quod petimus accipiemus”;

ff. 76-81, [Liturgical lections for the Ascension and the period following] In vigilia ascensionis lectio prima. Secundum Johannem, incipit, “In illo Tempore. Subleuatis ihesus oculis in celum ... Et cecidit sors super mathiam annumeratus est cum undecim apostolis”;

ff. 81-85v, [Liturgical lections for Pentecost and the period following] In vigilia pentecostis lectio prima. Secundum Johannem, incipit, “In illo Tempore Dixit ihesu discipulis suis ... ut fructum facerent mortis seruiant iusticie in uitam eternam”;

ff. 85v-88, [Liturgical lections for Trinity Sunday and the period following] In festo sancte trinitatis lectio prima, incipit, “Credimus sanctam trinitatem idem patrem et filium et spiritum sanctum ... et cum patre et filio uniuersa moderantem in secula”;

Trinity Sunday was established as an obligatory feast relatively late in the Middle Ages in 1334, but it was observed in some dioceses earlier.

ff. 88-92v, [Office for the Feast of Corpus Christi] Incipit officium Corporis christi ad vesperas super psalmo, incipit, “Antiphona. Sacerdos in eternum christus dominus secundum ordinem melchisedech panem et uinum obtulit ... et future glorie pignus datur alleluia. Prima. Magna”;

The incipit of the first antiphon of this Office, “Sacerdos in eternum,” identifies this as the official Roman Office for the Feast of Corpus Christi, composed by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in the final years of his life and undertaken at the behest of Pope Urban IV (sedit 1261-1264).  Aquinas wrote this Office for secular use in city churches and cathedrals.  The Feast of Corpus Christi was formally authorized in 1264 and this Office came into widely accepted practice in the early fourteenth century (for further discussion of this Office, its contents, and its composition, see Walters et al., 2006, pp. 57-76).

ff. 92v-117v, [Liturgical lections for the ten Sundays following Corpus Christi] Incipiunt lectiones in occasione(?) lectio prima [in margin in notes for rubricator: “Dominica prima occasionis(?)”], incipit, “De tocius mundi operibus legisti ... et dabatur ei a rege per singulos dies omnibus diebus uite sue”;

In a peculiar departure from practice elsewhere in this manuscript, for the first Sunday of these ten, a sequence of twelve lections, rather than nine, has been provided.  Twelve lections are typical within monastic Lectionaries, but not of Lectionaries prepared for secular use, as this one otherwise appears to have been.  Only six lections are provided for the rest of the Sundays in this section (with the exception of the seventh Sunday, for which nine are provided); the final three lections for these occasions are provided separately further on (see below).

ff. 117v-142v, [Liturgical lections for the rest of the liturgical year] Dominica prima augusti de inceps usque ad primam dominica Septembris legatur de libris salomonis hoc ordine ...; f. 118, incipit, “Parabole salomonis filij dauid regis israel ad sciendam sapientiam et disciplinam ... quia magnum est in gentibus dicit dominus exercituum”;

These readings are keyed to particular months, from August to November, and to the particular books of the Bible from which the daily readings are derived (for a list of these, see Hughes, 1982, p. 11).

ff. 142v-144, [Additional liturgical lections for at least four Sundays following Trinity Sunday] Dominica prima post festum trinitatis lectio. Secundum Lucam, incipit, “In illo tempore. Dicebat ihesus turbis iudeorum et phariseorum ... quasi generans sibi auram dicitur. //”

The readings in this final section appear to have been intended to supplement those provided for the Sundays following the Feast of Corpus Christi (see ff. 92v-117v), most of which were only provided six readings.  In most cases, the readings have been numbered as the seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively, for each Sunday identified.  The final text, a homily of Bede, most likely ends imperfectly; it is not possible to consult f. 144v since this leaf has been pasted to the lower board and losses to the second column of text obscure the occasion for which the final reading and homily were provided, but the pattern in the preceding pages suggests that this was likely the seventh reading for the fifth Sunday following Trinity Sunday, along with an accompanying homily.

Matins, the night Office, was said in the dark hours following midnight and included Psalms with antiphons, responsories, and other chants, along with a varying number of readings, or lections, from the Bible and patristic authors. The text for these lections was read or chanted either from Lectionaries like this one, which includes both biblical and patristic readings, or from books with specialized contents, such as Bibles, Homiliaries, collections of works by particular Church Fathers, or – especially in the thirteenth century and later, from Breviaries, which contained the complete text for the Office.  Indeed, it is probably because so many other kinds of books could be used as sources for the lections that Office Lectionaries are a relatively rare type of liturgical manuscript.

This Office Lectionary contains the readings for Matins for nearly the entire Temporale (Proper of Time) and is organized according to the feasts of the liturgical year.  The book has suffered significant losses at its beginning, as well as some occasional losses of text within its contents and some losses at its end; no doubt it once included the entire Temporale.  This Lectionary for the Temporale would formerly have been one of a pair, the second volume of which would have contained readings for the Sanctorale, with similar texts for the feasts of various saints.

The lections from the Bible (including the Gospels, Pauline Epistles, Apocalypse, and Old Testament) occupy only a portion of this volume.  Other reading are from early sermons, notably those of Pope Leo I, Augustine, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Peter of Ravenna (probably Peter Chrysologus), and Bishops Faustus, Fulgentius, and Maximus.  Lections from the Bible are also accompanied in many instances by homilies explaining the particular Biblical passages. These include homilies by Bede, Pope Gregory I, Jerome, Ambrose, and Origen. One sermon of Bernard of Clairvaux (ff. 5v-6, for the Feast of the Circumcision) stands out within the manuscript as a comparatively recent composition.

In its rather prominent inclusion of Trinity Sunday (with additional lections for the Sundays following this one added at the end of the manuscript) and the Feast of Corpus Christi, this Lectionary accommodates relatively recent changes formalized within the liturgy.


Fassler, Margot E. and Rebecca A. Baltzer, eds. The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages: Methodology and Source Studies, Regional Developments, Hagiography: Written in Honor of Professor Ruth Steiner, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Grégoire, Réginald. Homéliaires liturgiques médiévaux: analyse de manuscrits, Spoleto, Centro italiano di studi sull’alto medioevo, 1980.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Introduction and Guide for Students and Musicians, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1991.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A guide to their organization and terminology, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1982.

Palazzo, Eric. Histoire des livres liturgiques. Le Moyen Age. Des origines au XIIIe siècle, Paris, Beauchesne, 1993.

Walters, Barbara R., Vincent Corrigan, and Peter T. Ricketts, eds. The Feast of Corpus Christi, University Park, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006.

Online Resources

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

Mershman, Francis. “Feast of Corpus Christi,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 4, New York, 1908

Thurston, Herbert. “Lectionary,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 9, New York 1910

TM 621