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les Enluminures

Antiphonal-Gradual (Dominican Use)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Spain (Valencia?), c. 1460-1500

TM 384

32 folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, top, outer corner recto (collation, i4 [original structure uncertain, but all leaves now single, possibly originally a quire of 8, -2, 4, 6, and 8, with loss of text] ii10 [-10, following f. 13, with loss of text] iii-iv8 v3 [all single, original structure uncertain]), horizontal catchwords, middle, lower margin, in quires four and five (now erased), no leaf or quire signatures, ruled very lightly in lead, full-length vertical bounding lines, layout varies, quires 1, ff. 1-4v, and 3-5, ff. 14-32v, (justification 378-365 x 240-230 mm.), written in a formal southern gothic liturgical bookhand in forty-two lines, with seven lines of text and seven lines of musical notation (square notation on red five-line staves), with prickings in the outer margins for the lines of text, and sometimes along the vertical bounding lines; quire 2, ff. 5-13v, (justification 400-375 x 273-269 mm.), written in a formal southern gothic liturgical bookhand in forty-six to fifty-two lines, usually with eight lines of text and eight lines of musical notation (square notation on red five-line staves), decoration varies, quire 1, ff. 1-4v, red rubrics, small initials, alternately red and violet, with contrasting pen decoration, similar large initials, equivalent to a line of text and music, alternately red and violet with contrasting pen decoration, some black strap-work initials of the same size, infilled with pale yellow and with decorative pen infilling in black, f. 1, more elaborate red initial with white void spaces within the initial (now damaged); quire 2, ff. 6-13v, red rubrics, red initials equivalent to a line of text and music, black strap-work initials of the same size, infilled with pale yellow wash; quires 3-5, ff. 14-32v, rubrics in text ink, a few undecorated red or purple initials, equivalent to a line of text and music, and numerous strap-work initials of the same size with decorative infilling (two with grotesque faces in profile, tongues protruding, ff. 15 and 17), a very handsome red initial, equivalent to a line of text and music, f. 14, infilled with dense pen spirals in purple, and with purple pen decoration, f. 32, five-line red and purple parted initial, with purple pen decoration, overall in good condition, although with many signs of wear, ff. 1 and 32v, darkened and damaged by dampness, spots from candle wax, ff. 14v-15, repairs to bottom margin, ff. 15 and 17, and outer margin, f. 30, outer corners of each leaf have been rounded. Bound in Spain, probably in the sixteenth century, in black goat-skin over pasteboard, spine with five raised bands, decorative headband in green and brown (tailband not present), silk ribbon, blind-tooled with four frames bounded by triple fillets, with alternate frames filled with a dense interlace pattern of rosettes and s-shaped scrolls, enclosing a rectangular center panel with a center piece flanked by two smaller stamps, and with filigree corner ornaments, the general layout of the binding may be compared with a fifteenth-century Spanish binding in Henry Thomas. Early Spanish Bookbindings, XI-XV Centuries, London, Bibliographical Society, 1939, plate XVIII (Gregory the Great, mid-fifteenth century), but the style of the interlace and the stamps in the center panel in our manuscript are not directly comparable to those illustrated in Thomas; front and back covers worn, corners worn and repaired with leather, joints cracked and reinforced by leather strips. Dimensions, 460 x 332 mm.

Choir manuscripts form a distinctive category of medieval liturgical manuscripts. Most were copied in a very large format that enabled a group of singers to share one manuscript. This unusual manuscript contains texts both for the Divine Office and the Mass. The argument that the present manuscript, although seemingly incomplete but in a contemporary binding, may actually have contained supplementary Offices and Masses to update a set of larger Choir Books—Antiphonals and Graduals—already in use in a Spanish Dominican house is compelling.


1.Written in Spain in the second half of the fifteenth century for Dominican Friars, based on the script, decoration, and contents of the manuscript. The style of the penwork initials betrays both Spanish and Italian influence; the initial on f. 14, may be compared with the style of initial found in Spanish manuscripts, especially from Castille, beginning in the thirteenth century, characterized by very intricate and dense spiral infilling (cf. Avril, et al., 1982, plates cvii and cviii); other penwork initials are executed in an Italian style, suggesting that this manuscript may have been copied in Catalonia or Valencia. Given the prominence of St. Vincent Ferrer, who is the patron of Valencia, it seems possible that the manuscript was copied there, although further research would be necessary to confirm the possibility.

The text of the manuscript is Dominican. The second section of the manuscript (quire 2) of the manuscript includes texts for the office of the Dominican saint, St. Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419), canonized in 1455. This section of the text includes not only a very full Office, but texts for his Mass, suggesting a date close to his canonization, when liturgical books had to be updated (usually these types of texts were in two different manuscripts). Also included in the text are St. Dominic (called “our father”) and Peter Martyr. The text of invitatory antiphons follows other Dominican manuscripts closely (although it was copied out of order).

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the manuscript is trying to understand its origin. It is composed of three sections; the first and third sections (quires 1 and 3-5) are clearly closely related, sharing the same layout, and similar, although not identical, decoration. Numerous folios have been removed from the manuscript, but even when complete, the content of these sections would not have constituted a complete Antiphonal. Since the binding dates not long after the date of the manuscript itself, these texts may have been texts intended to supplement the House’s other office books, a theory supported by the texts for the recently canonized St. Vincent of Ferrer. Alternatively, perhaps these were texts that were no longer needed, since other copies had been made (a suggestion that seems to fit the last section of the text, since it was copied out of order).

2. Harry A. Walton Jr. of Covington, Virginia; his manuscript A-1794 (pencil note, inside front cover); see C. U. Faye and W. H. Bond. Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, New York, Bibliographical Society, 1962, p. 521.


ff. 1-4v, In festo undecim milium uirginum, ad uesperas …, antiphona, incipit, “Gaudete ecclesia quam tot natalicia uirginum …”; concluding with Hymns for Vespers, “Ursula uirgo splendida orta …,” and Matins, “O lux eterni luminis mentes tuorum uisita nos in nostre uirginis laudes//”

Noted texts for the Office of the St. Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins (October 12); each leaf is single, and text ends imperfectly after f. 1v, 2v, 3v, and 4v.

ff. 5-13v, In festo beati vincentii confesoris de ordine predicatorum …, f. 11, hymn for vespers, incipit, “Alma parens eclesia [sic] sacrum laudam uincencium ….”; hymn for matins, incipit, “Letare nunc religio predicatorum ….”; f. 11rv, hymn for lauds, incipit, “Referamus deuotius laudes doctori munerum cuius ope uincencius sanctorum …”; f. 11v, hymn for the octave, incipit, “Lumen in terris populi fidelis … [Jandel, ed., Antiphonarium juxta ritum sacrum ordinis praedicatorum, p. 329]”; f. 11v, hymn for matins, incipit “Magne uincenti nova … [Jandel, ed., p. 333]”; f. 11v, hymn for lauds, incipit, “Celum iam inter …”; ff. 12, Ad missam …, incipit, “Vincenti dabo manna absconditum …”; ff. 12v-13v, Sequencia, incipit, “Gaude mater ecclesia festa ducens solempnia huius almi confessoris …”; ending imperfectly with the capitulum, ad nonas, incipit, “Spiritus domini super me … Deo gratias”, Saluatra//

Noted texts for the Office and Mass of the Dominican saint, Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419), canonized in 1455. Although there is a general similarity to the printed office in Alexandre Vincent Jandel, Antiphonarium juxta ritum sacri ordinis praedicatorum, Mechlin, Dessain, 1862-1863, pp. 324-335, the text in this manuscript is much fuller, with a number of hymns not found in the printed text.

ff. 14-32, Settings for the invitatory Psalm (Psalm 94), incipit “Venite exultemus …”; with invitatory antiphons for each tone: ff. 14-15v, Invitatoria de primo tono cum suo venite. In dominica tercia aduentum domini, incipit, Surgite [continuing, with Vincent, Conversion of Paul, Peter in Chains, Peter Martyr, Nativity of the Virgin, All Saints, Martin, Common of Saints, Apostles, and Many Martyrs]; ff. 16-17v, Inuitatoria de secundo tono cum suo venite, … [antiphons for Mary Magdalene, Augustine, Common of Saints, one martyr, Common of saints, one Confessor]; ff. 18-19v, Inuitatoria de tercio tono cum suo uenite, …[antiphons for Christmas and Sundays in the Octave of Epiphany]; ff. 19v-21v, Inuitatoria de quarto tono cum suo venite …, [antiphons for Dominica in albis, Ascension, and Pentecost]; ff. 21v-23v, Inuitatoria de sexto [sic] tono ..., [many invitatory antiphons including ferial days in Advent and Paschal time, Octave of the Trinity, John the Baptist, apostles, one martyr, one confessor and one virgin with three lessons]; ff. 23v-25v, VIo tono [sic] ..; ff. 25v-27v, … de setimo tono … [antiphons including Invention of the Cross, Andrew, and Annunciation] …; ff. 27v-29v, … de tercio tono [sic] ... [antiphons for one evangelist, “Sancti Iohannis Bamtiste [sic]” and St. Michael]; ff. 29v-32, … de iiiio tono [sic] … [antiphons for numerous feasts including Dominic, “patris nostri,” and Catherine].

The text has been copied out of order and labeled incorrectly, ff. 18-19v, here labeled as the third tone, whereas in reality it contains text from the end of the fourth; ff. 19v-21v, here labeled as the fourth is actually the fifth; the sixth and seventh tone follow correctly (although the sixth tone is divided into two sections). Following the seventh tone are the texts of the third and fourth tone, with the correct rubrics, ff. 27v-32.

ff. 32rv, incipit, “Omnis cantus ecclesiasticus in medii clauibus terminator … et alleluia toni paris et//

Excerpt from Hieronymus de Moravia, Tractatus de musica; also found in the Poissy Antiphonal, a Dominican manuscript dating from 1325-45, now Melbourne, Australia, State Library of Victoria, MS *096,1 R66A, ff. 1rv.

Choir manuscripts form a distinctive category of medieval liturgical manuscripts. Most were copied in a very large format that enabled a whole group of singers to share one manuscript. (This large size and the complicated format of text and musical notation meant that they were very expensive to print, and choir manuscripts continued to be copied by hand into the eighteenth century.) Antiphonals (also called Antiphonaries, or Antiphoners), include the sung portions of the Divine Office, prayers said throughout the day and night by members of religious orders. The large size and decorative layout of choir manuscripts has also meant that they often end up as single leaves. This manuscript, although it is not complete, in contrast, is not only of visual interest, but also of interest to textual scholars and musicologists.

This manuscript now consists of very fragmentary portions of a Dominican Antiphonal. The opening four folios include parts of the Office of St. Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins. Text is missing between each folio. The longest portion of the manuscript, ff. 14-32, includes different musical settings for the Invitatory Psalm, Psalm 94, said before Matins, together with invitatory antiphons for various liturgical occasions. The middle section of the manuscript is a very complete version of the Office of one of the most illustrious Dominican Saints of the fifteenth century, Vincent Ferrer. He was canonized in 1455, and it is noteworthy that this manuscript includes texts for his office, but also the proper texts for his Mass. Mass texts would usually be included in a different choir book, the Gradual. The fact that our manuscript includes both texts for St. Vincent Ferrer’s Office and Mass suggests that it may date not long after the introduction of this feast, when liturgical books needed updating. The version of the office found here differs from the version printed in the nineteenth century edition by Father Jandel, suggesting that it is of interest.


Avril, François, Jean-Pierre Aniel, Mireille Mentré, et alia. Manuscrits enluminés de la péninsule ibérique, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, 1982.

Bonniwell, William R. A History of the Dominican Liturgy, New York, J. F. Wagner, 1944.

Faye, C. U. and W. H. Bond. Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, New York, The Bibliographical Society, 1962, pp. 517-524.

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

Jandel, Alexandre Vincent. Antiphonarium juxta ritum sacri ordinis praedicatorum, Mechlin, Dessain, 1862-1863,

King, Archdale, Liturgies of the Religious Orders, Milwaukee, Bruce, 1955.

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.

Thomas, Henry. Early Spanish Bookbindings, XI-XV Centuries, London, Bibliographical Society, 1939.

Online resources

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

Huglo, Michel and David Hiley. "Antiphoner," in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online:

Dominican Liturgy;
A Mirror for Dominican Material Published on the New Liturgical Movement:
includes a link to an online edition of Jandel (cited above):

La Trobe University Library: Medieval Music Database:

Hieronymus de Moravia. Tractatus de musica, ed. S. M. Cserba, Freiburger Studien zur Musikwissenschaft, vol. 2 (Regensburg: Pustet, 1935), 3-179, see:

Reinhart, Albert. "St. Vincent Ferrer,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 15, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912:

Mandonnet, P, “Order of Preachers,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911: