Music 21: European Studies 37: Music and Culture 1

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The student research project involved the transcription and identification of two codex pages with musical notations in the Mead's collection. Working in small groups, the students first transcribed the Latin text—a task complicated not only by the particular Latin script, but also by the frequent use of abbreviations. Using computer databases, the students then identified the liturgical uses of these Latin texts, which allowed them to determine the type of liturgical books that would contain such chants. One page proved to contain antiphons, the other responsories; both were used during the Divine Offices, indicating that both pages came from Antiphonales, liturgical books with chants for the Divine Offices. The students also identified the particular feasts during which these chants were sung. They found that the anthiphons from one manuscript (AC 1952.9) were sung on the feast of St. Michael Archangel, while the responsories from the other (AC 1961.16) were sung on the fourth Sunday of Advent.

Based on the type of Latin script and musical notation, the students also tried to date the pages: one seems to derive from an early 14th-century source (AC 1952.9), while the other is probably of a later date, perhaps from the late 14th century (AC 1961.16). Since many of the same chants are found in Italian sources, the students surmised that both pages were likely made in Italian monasteries.

Having deciphered the texts, the circumstances of their creation, and earliest uses, the students turned their attention to transcribing the music. By singing the chants, they discovered mistakes in the original manuscripts (in AC 1952.9, for instance, a clef had been omitted from the middle of a line). The final element of the project was to make these pages sound again. The students performed the chants on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 5:15 p.m. in the Mead’s historic Rotherwas Room.




Page with Gregorian chant
, early 14th century
Watercolor on parchment
Gift of Mrs. Albert Fulton
AC 1952.9

This page contains five chants: two complete and one fragmentary antiphon for Lauds at the feast of St. Michael Archangel (September 29); an antiphon for the Benedictus; and an antiphon for the Magnificat. It likely comes from an Antiphonale, a liturgical book containing chants used during the Divine Offices. The Latin script and the musical notation suggest an Italian,  early 14th-century source, although melodic variants also make possible a Western or Southern European origin. Rubrics between the antiphons indicate the verses to be sung with the antiphons. Both recto and verso contain illegible notes in the margins.   



Laudes (Office of St. Michael )

ant. 3 [Archangele Michael constituti]

ant. 4 Angeli Domini Dominum

ant. 5 Angeli Archangeli throni

Ad Benedictus ant(iphona): Factum est silentium


Factum est silentium [cont.]

Vesperas 2

Ad Magnificat ant. Princeps gloriosissime Michael


Latin script: scriptura gothica textualis rotunda (used in Italy in the 13th-15th centuries)

Musical notation: notation quadrata (used in Italy in the 13th-14th centuries)

Use of Princeps gloriosissime Michael suggests Italian origin (this version is known in Franciscan and Benedictine Italian monasteries).

Transcription of Full Text

S. Michaelis archangeli (September 29)


[Archangele Michael, constitui te principem]

super omnes animas suscipientias. euouae.

Antiphon 3

Ad Laudes

Michael Archangel, I have appointed thee for a prince over the ingathering of souls.

Angeli Domini, Dominum benedicite in

aeternum. euouae.

Antiphon 4

Ad Laudes

O ye Angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord always.

Angeli archangeli, throni et dominations principatus et potestates virtutes celorum lauda

te dominum de celis alleluia, euouae. 

Antiphon 5

O ye Angels and Archangels, O ye Thrones and Dominions, O ye Principalities and Powers, O ye mighty Ones of heaven, praise ye the Lord from the heavens.

Factum est silentium in cielo

Anth. Ad Laudes

There was silence in heaven


[cont.] dum draco committeret bellum et Michael pugnavit cum eo, et fecit victoriam, alleluia. [P = psalm? ]

Ad Benedictus


as the dragon made war, and Michael fought against him, and prevailed over him.

Princeps gloriosissime Michael archangele esto memor nostri: hic et ubique semper precare pro nobis Filium Dei, alleluia,

alleluia. [euoue]

Ad Magnificat


O thou Prince most glorious Michael the Archangel, remember us and here, and everywhere, always entreat for us the countenance of the Son of God. Alleluia.




Page with Gregorian chant
, late 14th-century
Watercolor on parchment
Gift of Charles K. Alter, Jr. (Class of 1936)
AC 1961.16

This page contains an invitatorium (Rex pacificus), as well as three complete and one fragmentary responsory complete with verses for the fourth Sunday of Advent. Such long responsories (responsorium prolixum) functioned at Matins and monastic Vespers as musical postludes to the reading of lessons. This page likely comes from an Antiphonale, probably from Italy: the Latin script (scriptura gothica textualis rotunda), musical notation (notation quadrata), decoration type, specific repertory (the Rex pacificus is known only from a few Italian sources), and melodic variants all point to an Italian the source. The decorated initial “C” on the recto depicts a man with a trumpet, illustrating the text of the responsory ("Canite tuba in Sion" or “Blow the trumpet in Sion”). The chant is notated on a 5-line staff. The F-line is drawn with red. A clef is missing from the middle of the first line on the verso. Division lines between note groups might be interpreted as mensural signs, which would indicate that the page is from the late 14th century.  



Matutinum, Dominica IV Adventus (4th Sunday of Advent)

Invitatorium: Rex pacificus magnificatus est

Psalm Venite abbreviated (Psalm 114)

1. nokturnus

[The page does not contain antiphons, they should be taken from the 1st Sunday of Advent]

Responsorium (Responsorium prolixum): Canite tuba

Versus (Verse): Annuntiate infinibus

Responsorium: Vicesima quarta die


Vicesima quarta die cont.

Versus: Invocabitis me

Responsorium: Non auferetur

Versus: Pulchriores sunt oculi

2. nokturnus

Responsorium: Me oportet minui [incomplete]


Latin script: scriptura gothica textualis rotunda (used in Italy in the 13th-15th centuries)

Musical notation: notation quadrata (used in Italy in the 13th-14th centuries). Lines for F are red. Use of lines and dots might indicate mensural divisions. Use of five-line staves suggests late 14th century. Rex pacificus is known only from a few Italian sources. Melodic variants also suggests Western or Southern European origin.

Decoration is typical of codices in 14th-century monasteries in Italy (probably central or southern Italy).

Transcription of Full Text


Rex pacificus magnificat’ est cuius vultum de desiderat universa terra. P. Veit.




R. Canite tuba in syon vocate gentes annunciate populis et dicite.

Ecce deus salvator noster adveniet. V


Dominica IV Adventus, Matutinum

Apocalypsis 22:21

V Annunctiate in finibus terrae et in insulis quae procul sunt dicite. Ecce. R




R. Vicesima quarta die decimi mensis ieumabitis dicit dominus et mittas nobis

salvatorem et propugnatorem pro vobis qui vos precedat. Et introducat in terram

quam juravi


Dominica IV Adventus, Matutinum



…patribus vestris.



V. Invocabitis me et viventis et adorabitis me et ego exaudiam vos. Et.


Jeremiah, 29:12

R. Non auferetur sceptrum de iuda, et dux de femore eius donec veni at qui mittendus est. et ipse erit expectatio gentium.


Dominica IV Adventus, Matutinum

Genesis 49:12

V. Pulchriores sunt oculi eius vino et dentes eius lacte candidiores. Et.



R. Meoportet minui illum autemcrescere qui post me venit, ante mefactus est. Cujus

non sum dignus corrigiam calceamenti…


Dominica IV Adventus, Matutinum

Genesis 49:10




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