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 (3 3/8’’ square) in black surrounded by stars and flowers on a red ground and within a delicate black floral border on golden ground. Beneath the title are four deer prancing across the page!
The elaborate illuminated "U" begins a hymn for the Office for the Dedication of a Church: "Urbs..." (Blest Jerusalem, God's city, Vision, named, of Peace, most true: For, in heaven above constructed, Made of living stones are you; And with angel cohorts circled, As a bride with retinue. Newly coming down from heaven, To the marriage she is led; As a bride adorned for bridegroom, To the Lord let her be wed; Made are all her streets and ramparts, From the purest gold 'tis said, Bright with pearls the portals glitter, They are open evermore; And, by virtue of his merits, Thither faithful souls may soar, Who on earth for name of Christian, Pain and tribulation bore).
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.