"[Antiphonal Leaf]", Anon.
Period: 1550 (circa)
18.2 x 25.7 inches
46.2 x 65.3 cm
The origins of liturgical music traditionally date back to St. Gregory the Great (d. 604), who was inspired by the Holy Dove to record the principles of 'Gregorian' chant. The Gradual contained the musical parts of the Missal and was sung from the steps (gradus) of the altar. The Antiphoner contained the musical sections of the Breviary. These terms have become interchangeable in modern times. Because of their size and complexity, these manuscripts were still being handmade in the traditional way for centuries after the introduction of printing. They were boldly hand-written and illuminated on large sheets of sturdy vellum so that the entire choir could read from one book.
A very large vellum leaf from an Italian Antiphoner containing five staves of four-line music. The recto is fully decorated with garlands of flowers with vignettes of saints and angels at bottom. Verso is undecorated except of a large initial. The decorations were added in the 19th century.
Minor discoloration at leaf edges.