Original leaf from a manuscript 18th century Gregorian chant in two colors 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”).
Two large illuminated initials (3 1/4’’ square) in red or golden with a red interior. One is surrounded by flowers, the other by flowers and stars within a golden half circle and both have two prancing deer! The initials are within borders having black stars and flowers on red and gold ground.
The leaf continues the Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The elaborate illuminated "O" begins the 5th century hymn: " O Gloriosa Domina...'' (O heaven's glorious mistress, enthron'd above the starry sky! thou feedest with thy sacred breast thy own Creator, Lord most high. What man had lost in hapless Eve, thy sacred womb to man restores, thou to the wretched here beneath hast open'd Heaven's eternal doors. Hail, O refulgent Hall of light! Hail Gate august of Heaven's high King! Through thee redeem'd to endless life, thy praise let all the nations sing...).
The elaborate illuminated "B" begins: "Beata..." (Blessed Mother of God, Mary ever virgin...).
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.