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Single Leaf from a Missal: Initial F beginning the last verse of the Praeconian Hymn  or Exultet (Easter Vigil)

Flanders, 15th century

Script: Gothic bookhand

Notation: Hufnagel

Parchment with ink and paint


This leaf is a from a missal and is an example of music from the Exultet or Easter Proclamation: “Flammas eius Lucifer matutinus inveniat, ille inquam, lucifer, qui nescit occasum” (May the morning-star find its flame alight, that Morning-Star which knows no setting…). The Proclamation would be intoned during the Easter Vigil, or the night before Easter Sunday.


Missals were usually in two-column format: most missals did not contain music.  This leaf has been simply rubricated (initials drawn in blue and red ink for delineation and ease of reading). Additionally, it is clear that there are many erasures and rewritings of the music in this leaf. Erasing parchment involved scraping the page (which is animal skin) with pumice or other scraping tools. It is possible or even probable that the leaf was meant to be decorated in the borders and that it was never completed. This leaf and the other leaf in this case are wonderful artifacts that allow us to see some of the stages of manuscript preparation from the Middle Ages.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis Text Leaf 17:468


Palm Sunday

April 24, 2009

Click on image for a link to a catalog record and higher resolutions.

Click on image for a link to a catalog record and higher resolutions.


Initial I with David in Prayer

Bologna, Italy, 1300-1338

This initial begins the first response of the first nocturn of Matins for Palm Sunday, “In die qua invocavi te domine ….” (On the day that I called out to you, Lord).  Lewis E M 73:7-9 and  several other leaves in the Free Library’s collection were illuminated by Neri da Rimini, a Riminese illuminator whose activity can be documented from 1300 to 1338. 

The text in the leaf is from the Prophet Jeremiah: David is shown in the iconography in an advanced age, a penitent to God for his sin in youth of committing adultery with Bathsheba and sending her husband to his death.  The quote from Jeremiah continues: “You judged my case, and You freed me, O Lord my God.”

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E M 73:8