Original leaf from a large manuscript Spanish Gradual on animal parchment. (533 x 370mm – 21 x 14.5”)
The manuscript text and music (5 lines of music on a five-line stave) were beautifully executed by hand over 500 years ago in the 15th century!!!
Spain, c. 1475-1500.
Two elegant puzzle initials in red & blue with elaborate internal & external geometric "puzzle design" (in the Moorish influenced Mudejar style) in intricate red & violet penwork; Four elaborate knot-work (cadel) initials heightened with yellow - three have intricate internal design in violet.
“A pen with a long slit - half or three-quarters of an inch - was used for drawing these flourishes” (Reference: Mudejar Ornament in Manuscripts, by Frances Spalding, p. 4, Hispanic Society of America, 1953,). Aside from the pen a sizable amount of talent was also required to produce this amazing fluid puzzle design!
The elaborate illuminated “K” begins the Kyrie: “Kyrie eleyson…” (Lord have mercy).
The knot-work “X” continues “Xpriste leyson” (Christ have mercy).
The next two knot-work “K”s continue “Kyrie eleyson” (Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy).
The exceptional illuminated “G” begins the Gloria - an ancient prayer of praise to the Trinity: “Gloria in excelsis…” Glory be to God in the highest. And in earth peace to men of good will. We praise Thee; we bless Thee…). The beginning of the Gloria (Gloria in Excelsis Deo…) opens the well-known Christmas hymn of the Angels from the Annunciation of the Nativity to the Shepherds, as related in Luke 2: 8-14.
As is usual with Medieval and Renaissance parchment, the hair side of the leaf is darker than the flesh side, but may take ink somewhat better. The differences in tone caused scribes to arrange their quires so that the hair side of one sheet faced the hair side of the next, and the flesh side faced the flesh side.
Graduals contain the musical chants for the proper of the Mass: introits, graduals, tracts, alleluia, offertory and communion verses, and sequences for special feasts. They may also include chants for the ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and for the introductory ‘asperges’ rite.