Psalm 97: Cutting from a breviary

•December 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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Initial C with a choir of Franciscan monks

Lombard, Italy, ca. 1450

Script: Gothic

Parchment with ink, paint, and gold

Notation: Square

This initial begins Psalm 97, “Cantate Domino canticum novum …” (Sing to the Lord a new song), marking one of the eight liturgical divisions for the weekly recitation of the Psalms.  This psalm is typically illustrated by a group of monks singing.  Here, the monks are Franciscan friars, identified by the color of their robes and the visible first of three knots that symbolize the Order’s vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The words inscribed on the open book are the same words that originally followed the initial.  The illumination has been attributed to the anonymous Master of the Franciscan Breviary, so-called after a breviary dated to 1446 in the Biblioteca Universitaria in Bologna, Italy.

Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E M 28:13

Psalm 1

•June 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Click on image for a link to a catalog record and higher resolutions.

Click on image for a link to a catalog record and higher resolutions.

 

Initial B with David as a musician

Ferrara, Italy, ca. 1453-1482

Script: Rotunda

Parchment with ink, paint, and gold

Notation: Square

Illuminator (Artist): Franco dei Russi

This initial begins Psalm 1, “Beatus uir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum …” (Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly), which was read at Matins on Sundays. The illumination has been attributed to Franco dei Russi, a Mantuan artist who spent a good portion of his career in Ferrara. Among his patrons was Borso d’Este, the half-brother of Ercole I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara.
This leaf has a discoloration in the parchment, probably owing to use. In addition, there appears to be evidence of acidic ink in the script, which in the case of one “O” has eaten through the parchment, creating a round hole.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E M 70:3

Office of the Dead

•June 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

Click o image for a link to the catalog record and higher resolutions.

Click o image for a link to the catalog record and higher resolutions.

 

Leaf from an antiphonary: Initial C with a funeral scene

Northern Italy, c. 1450

Script: Rotunda

Parchment with ink, paint, and gold

Notation: Square

 

This initial begins the first response of the first nocturn of Matins for the Office of the Dead, “Credo quod redemptor meus vivit …” (I believe that my redeemer liveth).  As a series of prayers recited to help speed the soul to heaven, the Office of the Dead was usually illustrated with scenes from contemporary medieval funerary practices.  In this initial, the priest sprinkles holy water with an aspergillum on the corpse as two mourners kneel beside the bed. 

The Office of the Dead consists of four hours: First Vespers or Placebo, Mass, Matins or Dirige (from which the term “dirge” is derived), and Lauds or Exultabunt.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E M 68:14

Calligraphy book bound in an antiphonal leaf

•June 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

Click on image for a link to a higher resolution.

Click on image for a link to a higher resolution.

 

Calligraphy book bound in an antiphonal leaf

Italy, 1774

Script: Gothic

Parchment with ink and paint

Notation: Square

 

This book of calligraphy samples is bound in an antiphonal leaf inscribed with Psalm 85. Medieval music leaves were frequently used for scrap from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century. Liturgical decisions would be made in a monastic community, rendering some parts of services useless and the pages would be used as binding and scrap material or even as scratch materials for jotting down recipes and the like. The person who used this book for calligraphic practice probably felt that the antiphonal leaf was attractive and chose to use it for the binding itself.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E 55

Leaf from a polyphonic choir book

•June 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

Click on image for a link to higher resolutions.

Click on image for a link to higher resolutions.

 

Leaf from a polyphonic choir book

England, ca. 1400

Script: Gothic

Parchment with ink and paint

Notation: Black mensural notation

 

This leaf is from a choir book: the verso is from a Te Deum, and the recto has part of an Agnus Dei and Sanctus. The recto (shown) is the countertenor part from an Agnus Dei. The notation indicates that the music is mensural, which is to say that each note has a specific value, much like our modern notation. Coloration in the notes designates particular values: notes after 1400 could be black-full, black-void, red-full, red-void. This leaf uses many black-full notes and is probably English.

From about 1225, vocal scores for polyphonic music were written so that each different voice part was written on different fields of the page.  This leaf appears to be from such a manuscript, as the verso has the high part of a Te Deum (which would have been in the upper left-hand quadrant of the page or at the top) and the recto has the countertenor part of an Agnus Dei (the upper right-hand quadrant of the page).  The first version of a vocal score as we know it, with all the parts stacked on top of each other in descending registers, did not appear until the mid-sixteenth century. 

Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis Text Leaf 12:385

Fragments from a Gradual

•May 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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lewise8maninmoon1lewise8gradual

 

 

 

 

Fragments from a gradual
Burgundy, France, ca. 1475

Script: Gothic bookhand

Parchment with ink and paint

Notation: Square

This book is a compilation of eighteen leaves taken from the same medieval gradual. It has been suggested that the pages are from the same Carthusian house in Dijon as the Morgan Library’s M. 115: the calligraphic decoration is quite possibly by the same hand.
The opening shown here is to a page of music with a facing page of a liturgical calendar. The music is from Psalm 78: “Attendite popule meus legem meam: inclinate aurem vestram in verba oris mei…” (Hear my law, O my people: incline your ears unto the words of my mouth). This text is used for the Masses for the Nineteenth through the Twenty-first Sundays after Pentecost. Two inhabited initials adorn the page: one is a caricature of a bishop wearing tinted glasses.

The facing page is an excellent example of a medieval liturgical calendar. It is graded: more important days or feast days are written in red ink; the rest are written in black. The red days are so-called “red-letter days,” and the term survives to our modern day. The KL at the upper left-hand side of the page is for the kalends of the month. Kalends was the term used by the ancient Romans for the beginning of the month, and the word calendar is derived from it. The columns on the left-hand side of the page contain the Golden Numbers, the Dominical Letters, and a countdown to the next month. Golden Numbers and Dominical Letters enable the medieval calendar user to calculate the date of Easter each year.

There is an added bonus in the post in that images have been added of the penwork on a page prior to the opening exhibited. The penwork includes a man in the moon.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E 8

Link to larger image of gradual side of opening (verso).

Link to larger size of calendar side of page (recto).

Link to close-up of bishop grotesque.

Link to close-up of man-in-moon penwork.

St. Augustine, August 28

•May 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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Click image for a catalog record and to see the image at a higher resolution.

Leaf from an Antiphonary: Initial L with St. Augustine blessing three acolytes

Germany–Regensburg, ca. 1300

Script: Gothic

Parchment with ink, paint, and gold

Notation: Square

 

Begins the first antiphon of first Vespers for the feast of St. Augustine (Aug. 28), “Letare, mater nostra ierusalem …” (Rejoice, our Mother Jerusalem). Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was a Doctor of the Church and became Bishop of Hippo in North Africa in 396. His writings include Confessions and City of God  and have dominated Western Christian theology since his lifetime. This leaf can be dated to ca. 1300-1310.

Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E M 42:13

 
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