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Lot 0245

Medieval Antiphonary bifolium with Hymns handwritten and rubricated on vellum. [Italy, XVI century].

Vellum bifolium (474x327 mm), handwritten in brown ink with rubrications in red. Gothic letter, text in Latin. With musical notation in neumes on pentagrams.

Nice manuscript coming from a medieval Liturgy of the Hours of the Catholic Church, containing the medieval music of Gregorian Chant in square notation.

- The recto of f. 1 contains the psalm 8:6-7 Gloria et honore coronasti eum: et constituisti eum super opera manuum tuarum, meaning "Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: and hast set him over the works of Thy hands". A brief indication in red set this psalm as a offertory chant.

- The verso of the same leaf quotes another psalm (20:6), to be sung before Communion: Magna est gloria eius in salutari tuo gloriam et magnum decorem inpones super eum, i.e. "Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand".

- At f. 2, the psalm 138:1-2: Mihi autem nimis honorati sunt amici tui, Deus: nimis confortatus est principatus eorum., that is "To me Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened". This psalm is used to open the mass for the Feast of the Apostoles and it is often used in the feasts of single saints, giving the rituals the name of Mihi autem nimis Missa. It is followed by the Gloria.

- The last two lines of the bifolium contains the beginning of the Confitebuntur Caeli mirabilia Tua, meaning "Alleluia, the Heavens shall confess Thy wonders". It is the starting of a famous Alleluja passage, set to music among the others by the Austrian classical composer Michael Haydn (1373-1806).

GREGORIAN CHANT is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services. It is named after Pope Gregory I, Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604, who is traditionally credited for having ordered the simplification and cataloging of music assigned to specific celebrations in the church calendar. The resulting body of music is the first to be notated in a system ancestral to modern musical notation. In B-Continental, the chants were learned by the viva voce method, that is, by following the given example orally, which took many years of experience in the Schola Cantorum. Gregorian chant originated in monastic life, in which celebrating the «Divine Office» eight times a day at the proper hours was upheld according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. Singing psalms made up a large part of the life in a monastic community, while a smaller group and soloists sang the chants. In its long history, Gregorian chant has been subjected to many gradual changes and some reforms.

GREGORIAN CHANT HAD A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MUSIC. Modern staff notation developed directly from Gregorian neumes. The square notation that had been devised for plainchant was borrowed and adapted for other kinds of music. Certain groupings of neumes were used to indicate repeating rhythms called rhythmic modes. Rounded noteheads increasingly replaced the older squares and lozenges in the 15th and 16th centuries, ALTHOUGH CHANTBOOKS CONSERVATIVELY MAINTAINED THE SQUARE NOTATION. By the 16th century, the fifth line added to the musical staff had become standard. The bass clef and the flat, natural and sharp accidentals derived directly from Gregorian notation.

GREGORIAN MELODIES PROVIDED MUSICAL MATERIAL AND SERVED AS MODELS FOR TROPES AND LITURGICAL DRAMAS. Vernacular hymns adapted original Gregorian melodies to translated texts. Secular tunes such as the popular Renaissance In nomine were based on Gregorian melodies. Beginning with the improvised harmonizations of Gregorian chant known as organum, GREGORIAN CHANTS BECAME A DRIVING FORCE IN MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE POLYPHONY. Often, a Gregorian chant (sometimes in modified form) would be used as a cantus firmus, so that the consecutive notes of the chant determined the harmonic progression. The Marian antiphons, especially Alma Redemptoris Mater, were frequently arranged by Renaissance composers. The use of chant as a cantus firmus was the predominant practice until the Baroque period, when the stronger harmonic progressions made possible by an independent bass line became standard.

The Catholic Church later ALLOWED POLYPHONIC ARRANGEMENTS TO REPLACE THE GREGORIAN CHANT of the Ordinary of the Mass. This is why the Mass as a compositional form, as set by composers like Palestrina or Mozart, features a Kyrie but not an Introit. The Propers may also be replaced by choral settings on certain solemn occasions. Among the composers who most frequently wrote polyphonic settings of the Propers were William Byrd and Tomhas Luis de Victoria. These polyphonic arrangements usually incorporate elements of the original chant.

REFERENCES: J. WARD, The Reform of Church Music, in «Atlantic Monthly», April 1906. R. CROCKER, The Early Medieval Sequence. University of California Press, 1977. K. LE MeE, Chant : The Origins, Form, Practice, and Healing Power of Gregorian Chant. New York, 1994.

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Usual traces of use, but fine.

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[Manuscripts] Antiphonary Bifolium, sec. XVI

Estimate €500 - €700
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