TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures


In Latin, manuscript on paper with musical notation
Western Germany (Mönchengladbach), c. 1700-1730

TM 993

i (paper) + 104 folios (208 pages) on paper, watermark too fragmented for identification, with early pagination in ink top outer corner recto 1-196, and modern pencil pagination, 197-208, complete (collation i6 ii-xii8 xiii4 xiv6), no catchwords or signatures, ruling is usually indiscernible, but there are occasional traces of ruling in blind (justification 90 x 172 mm.), most pages with four musical staves and four lines of text, written in an upright Roman script and in a cursive script, headings in decorative capitals (e.g. pp. 1, 42, 147), square musical notation on red four-lines staves, red rubrics, one-line red initials, overall good condition, with edges darkened, some browning and show-through from the musical notation, some pages rather fragile at the gutter, occasional repairs to reinforce the paper at the gutter (e.g. pp. 110-111 and 122-123, 125, 156-157), outer edge of pp. 197-204 trimmed (no loss of text). ORIGINAL binding of thin wooden boards covered with brown leather, once fastened back to front, straps now missing, boards warped, top of the spine missing, but in sound condition.  Dimensions 116 x 203 mm. (longer than it is tall)                                                                              

This striking manuscript stands out for its unusual “album” format and its distinguished provenance from the famous Benedictine Abbey of St. Vitus in Gladbach.  It is the product of a flowering of liturgical manuscript production at the Abbey in the early eighteenth century, one of a discrete group of Processionals made and used there.  Its text and music, centered on the liturgy at the monastery also offer insights into the relationship between the Abbey and the town in the last century before the secularization of the monasteries in Germany.


1.Copied early in the eighteenth century, c. 1700-1730, at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Vitus in Mönchengladbach (formerly simply Gladbach), a town in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. The Abbey, founded in 974 by Archbishop Gero of Cologne, flourished during the Middle Ages; in 1802 it was occupied by the French army and secularized, and its great library was dispersed.  Numerous manuscripts from Gladbach’s library survive (see Kottje, ed., 1998 and Krämer, 1989, pp. 293-295, listing over 50 manuscripts from the fifteenth century and earlier).

2.In 1800 belonged to the Vicar of the church of St. James and St. Agatha in Mönchengladbach, Christian Nover or Noever (title page, before f. 1, “Christianus/ Nover Vicarius/ Sancti Jacobi et Agathae/ Gladbaci/ 1800”); he also owned another Processional from Gladbach now in Aachen, Bischöfliches Diozesanarchiv (no shelfmark) (see Kottje, 1998, cat. 2).

3.Additions(?) in a small cursive script, pp. 9, 11, 129, possibly dating after the book was acquired by the church of St. James and St. Agatha.

4.Hand-written slip cancel on p. 117 where corrected text was copied on paper and glued over the original text.

5.Bookseller’s notation in pencil, inside front cover.


pp. 1-6, In die purificationis BMV post candelarum benedictionem ad initium processionis …;

Processions for the Purification, with the opening antiphon, “Adorna thalamum …”

pp. 6-24, In die palmarum finitis sextis fit processio ex nostra ecclesia ad parochiam ecclesiam et cantor incipit …, incipit, “Cum appropinquaret dominus …”;

Palm Sunday, p. 14, Sequence sung while leaving the church; p. 16, Ad coemiterio ad salutandam crucem …; p. 17, Antiphon sung while re-entering the monastery; p. 20, Sequens hymnus decantandus est per scholars …, incipit, “Gloria laus et honor ….”; p. 21, in the nave of the church; p. 22, the Abbot is mentioned.

pp. 24-42, Feria quinta in coena domini …;

Maundy Thursday, with the washing of the feet (the mandatum) of the poor beginning on p. 26; p. 30, the mandatum of the brothers (… ad mandatum Fratrum). Following the mandatum is the stripping of the altars, beginning p. 39.

pp. 42-62, Feria sexta paresceveos itur ad altares S. Stephani aut larentii cum silentio …, incipit, “Hoc corpus quod pro vobis ..”; [p. 43], In reditu ad chorum …, incipit, “Vexilla regis …”;

Good Friday, including the washing of the altars, as in Mönchenglandbach, Münsterarciv, HS 27 (Kottje, 1998, cat 53; in many rites, this is part of the preparation on Holy Thursday following the stripping of the altars), here beginning p. 50 with the altar of St. Vitus, Et statim sequuntur vespera sine cantu sicut praecedenti die lecta sunt Horam quondam datur signum pro ablutione altarium …  de S. Vito , followed by St. Benedict “our holy father,” Sts. Catherine and Scholastica, St. Stephan, St. Lawrence, the Apostles, and St. Martin.

pp. 62-72, In sabatho sancto eudo ad fontes …, incipit, “Sicut cervus desiderat …”;

Holy Saturday, with the litany of all saints (no local saints included, with the possible exception of Anastasia among the virgins).

pp. 72-94, In die sancto paschae finitis tertiis instituitur processio ex nostram ad parochialem ecclesiam …, incipit, “Cum rex gloria Christus infernum …”;

Includes mentions of the pastor (p. 75), and the parish church (p. 77), the cemetery and the nave of the church (p. 83), and the abbey crypt, the abbot, and the brothers (pp. 88-89).

pp. 94-101, Processional texts for the feast of St. Mark, and Rogation days, including a litany;

pp. 101-104, In festo ascensione …, incipit, “Item orbem universum …”;

pp. 104-147, Feria sexta ante pentecosten …;

pp. 147-150, In Festo Pentecostes …, incipit, “Si diligeretis me …”;

pp. 151-166, In festo s. trinitatis …, incipit, “Summae trinitatis …”;

pp. 166-173, In festo venerabilis sacramenti …, incipit, “Immolabit hae dum multitudo …”;

pp. 173-180, In festo assumptionis …, incipit, “Vidi speciosam sicut columbani ascendentem …”;

p. 181, In dedicatione ecclesiae parrochialis … [cues with folio references, no notation];

pp. 182-189, In commemoratione omnium fidelium defunctorum …;

pp. 189-196, In die nativitatis domini …; Pro tempore pestis …; In die animarum redeundo ad chorum

pp. 197-204, Texts for burial of the dead [not noted];

p. 205, [added], Location list of eight texts;

pp. 206-207, [added], “Kyrie” and “Requiem eternam,” noted; [p. 208 and facing pastedown, blank but ruled for musical notation].

Copied centuries after the invention of printing, this early eighteenth-century manuscript continues the tradition, albeit with innovations, of the medieval Processional. Music played an integral role in liturgical processions throughout the year as celebrants walked from the church to the cloister, onto the grounds of their abbey complexes, and often (as here) beyond into the fields and towns of medieval and early modern Europe.  Processionals, as their name indicates, are the liturgical book that includes the chants, rubrics, and prayers needed for these liturgical processions.  They were almost always copied in a small format, designed as volumes that could be easily carried by individual members of the choir as they walked and sang.  The Processionals from the Dominican nuns of the royal abbey of Poissy are particularly well-known examples of the genre, but monks, nuns, and friars from all orders used Processionals, as did members of the secular clergy.  Processionals are of particular interest to musicologists, since they can contain text and chants not found in other liturgical manuscripts.

This Processional is from the Benedictine monastery of St. Vitus at Gladbach in Germany, home for centuries to a flourishing scriptorium and an important library. Post-medieval book production flourished in the last century of Gladbach’s existence, and in the early decades of the eighteenth century, Processionals in particular appeared to have been a specialty (see Kottje, ed., 1998, cat. nos. 1 and 2, 51-53, and 55).  The unusual majuscules used to copy the opening rubric in our manuscript are quite similar to Aachen, Bischöfliches Diozesan Archiv, HS 96 (Kottje, ed., 1998, cat. 1), copied at Gladbach in 1717, in a similar unusual format (longer than it is high).  A third manuscript copied in this format, Mochengladbach Munsterarchiv, HS 27 (Kottje, ed., 1998, cat. 52), also shares similarities in the script used for the opening rubric and some elements of the script of the main text. The format of our Processional, and these other examples from Gladbach, is striking, but not completely unprecedented.  An earlier Processional copied in this “album” format is Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, MS W.786 (now cropped and measuring 100 x 145 mm.), copied in Germany in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, and continued in use in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

This manuscript preserves precious details of the liturgy at the Abbey of St. Vitus in Gladbach in the last century of its existence.  Particularly noteworthy are the connections between the monks and the neighboring parish church (where the abbey eventually found a home); for example, the Easter procession which began in the Abbey and continued to the local parish church (see pp. 72 and 75). Reading these texts conjures vividly to mind what the secularization of the Abbey in 1802 must have meant to the surrounding town.


Andrés Fernández, David and Jane Hardie. Mapping Processions: Four Sixteenth-century Spanish Music Manuscripts in Sydney, Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen, Institute of Mediaeval Music vol. 108, Kitchener, Ontario, 2018.

Gy, P. M. “Collectaire, rituel, 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,” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 20, London, 2001, pp. 388-393.

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.

Kottje, Raymund, ed. Die Handschriften von St. Vitus, vol. 1 of Der Bücherbesitz der Klosters St. Vitus in Gladbach von der Gründung bis zur Auflösung des Klosters (974-1802), ed. Raymund Kottje and Ernst Manfred Wermter, Cologne, Rheinland-Verlag, 1998.

Krämer, Sigrid. Handschriftenerbe des Deutschen Mittelalters, Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz, Ergänzungsband I, Munich, 1989.

Palazzo, Eric.  A History of Liturgical Books from the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century, translated by Madeline Beaumont, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1998.

Online Resources

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

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

The Walters Ex Libris, Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, MS W.786

TM 993