Fragments from a Gradual
May 18, 2009
Fragments from a gradual
Burgundy, France, ca. 1475
Script: Gothic bookhand
Parchment with ink and paint
This book is a compilation of eighteen leaves taken from the same medieval gradual. It has been suggested that the pages are from the same Carthusian house in Dijon as the Morgan Library’s M. 115: the calligraphic decoration is quite possibly by the same hand.
The opening shown here is to a page of music with a facing page of a liturgical calendar. The music is from Psalm 78: “Attendite popule meus legem meam: inclinate aurem vestram in verba oris mei…” (Hear my law, O my people: incline your ears unto the words of my mouth). This text is used for the Masses for the Nineteenth through the Twenty-first Sundays after Pentecost. Two inhabited initials adorn the page: one is a caricature of a bishop wearing tinted glasses.
The facing page is an excellent example of a medieval liturgical calendar. It is graded: more important days or feast days are written in red ink; the rest are written in black. The red days are so-called “red-letter days,” and the term survives to our modern day. The KL at the upper left-hand side of the page is for the kalends of the month. Kalends was the term used by the ancient Romans for the beginning of the month, and the word calendar is derived from it. The columns on the left-hand side of the page contain the Golden Numbers, the Dominical Letters, and a countdown to the next month. Golden Numbers and Dominical Letters enable the medieval calendar user to calculate the date of Easter each year.
There is an added bonus in the post in that images have been added of the penwork on a page prior to the opening exhibited. The penwork includes a man in the moon.
Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E 8