"[Antiphonal Leaf]", Anon.
Period: 1580 (circa)
15.2 x 21.1 inches
38.6 x 53.6 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 fine vellum leaf from a French manuscript containing six staves of five-line music. Written in a fine hand with black and red ink. Recto includes a large initial "I" decorated in the shape of a granite capitol. Verso contains a large initial "S" and a historiated initial containing a drollery. Sometimes the text or melody of a hymn was changed and the monks or priests made the changes in the Antiphoner themselves. This leaf has been so modified by the addition of pieces of paper glued onto two staves on the recto.