Original leaf from an 18th century Gregorian chant on fine hand made paper. Latin text with black square-note music on a red four-line stave. (480 x 330mm - 19 x 13’’)
An unusual production – entirely done by hand, not in a printing press. The staves are hand ruled and penciled guidelines can still be seen on the text block. Lettering and designs are a combination of meticulously cut stenciled elements and freehand.
From an Antiphonal produced at a religious commune in Olbia, Italy, c. 1778 (dated and signed elsewhere in the manuscript by the scribe “J. Coudounel”).
One large illuminated initial (4 3/8’’ square) in red surrounded by three deer, stars and flower blossoms with a border of flower blossoms and stars on a golden ground. Beneath the title are two additional deer facing each other!
The elaborate illuminated "I" begins a 4th century hymn attributed to St. Ambrose - Jesu Corona Virginum: ''Jesu...'' (Jesu, the virgins’ Crown, do Thou Accept us as in prayer we bow,
Born of that virgin whom alone The mother and the maid we own. Amongst the lilies Thou dost feed, And thither choirs of virgins lead, Adorning all Thy chosen brides With glorious gifts Thy love provides. And whither, Lord, Thy footsteps wend, The virgins still with praise attend; For Thee they pour their sweetest song, And after Thee rejoicing throng. O gracious Lord, we Thee implore Thy grace on every sense to pour; From all pollution keep us free, And make us pure in heart for Thee...).
Antiphonals contain chants for the canonical hours of the Divine Office: first vespers or the vigil of great feasts, matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers and compline. They were used by priests, monks and nuns in churches and religious enclaves. The large size allowed them to be seen by multiple members of a choral section.