Summary description

Franciscan antiphoner

US-CHNbcbl 097 (Siglum)

MS. 1996.097, John J. Burns Library, Boston College

Office antiphoner, sanctorale (proper and common of saints), with added sequences; square notation; Franciscan (curial cursus); probably South Germany (or Austria, Switzerland), 1300s; appended manuscript with tones for the invitatory psalm.


119 folios, vellum; 300 x 250; no original foliation, Arabic-numeral foliation in pencil added in a modern hand; main manuscript, fols. 1-114 (11 gatherings); part 1: fols. 1-90, proper of the saints (gatherings 1-8); part 2: fols. 91-114, common of the saints (gatherings 9-11); added manuscript, fols. 115-119 (gathering 12).


Part 1: gatherings 1 (12 folios, 1-12), 2 (10 folios, 13-22), 3 (10 folios, 23-32), 4 (12 folios, 33-44), 5 (10 folios, 45-54), 6 (12 folios, 55-66), 7 (12 folios, 67-78), 8 (12 folios, 79-90); part 2: gatherings 9 (8 folios, 91-98), 10 (8 folios, 99-106), 11 (8 folios, 107-114); appended ms.: gathering 12 (5 folios, 115-119).


(Re-)bound, 16th or early 17th century, blind-tooled calf covers, over (? original) beveled wooden boards.


Main manuscript (gatherings 1-8), part 1A: Andrew (30 Nov.), fol. 1r; Lucy (13 Dec.), fol. 4v; Thomas Apostle (21 Dec.), fol. 5v; Agnes (21 Jan.), fol. 6r; Conversion of Paul (25 Jan.), fol. 9v; Purification (2 Feb.), fol. 10r; Agatha (5 Feb.), fol. 13v; Chair of Peter (22 Feb.), 17r; Annunciation (25 Mar.), fol. 17v; Saints in Eastertide, fol. 18r; Philip and James (1 May), fol. 20v; Invention of the Cross (3 May), fol. 21r; John at the Latin Gate (6 May), fol. 23r; Nativity of John Baptist (24 Jun.), fol. 23r; John and Paul (26 Jun.), fol. 27v; Peter and Paul (29 Jun.), fol. 28v; Commemoration of Paul (30 Jun.), fol. 32r; Mary Magdalen (22 July), fol. 36r; Laurence (10 Aug.), fol. 37v; Assumption (15 Aug.), fol. 42v.

Main manuscript, part 1B: Corpus Christi, fol. 46r; Beheading of John Baptist (29 Aug.), fol. 49v; Nativity of Mary (8 Sep.), fol. 51r; Exaltation of the Cross (14 Sep.), fol. 53v; Michael (29 Sep.), fol. 54v; Francis (4 Oct.), fol. 59r; All Saints (1 Nov.), fol. 67r; Martin (11 Nov.), fol. 71r; Cecilia (22 Nov.), fol. 75r; Clement (23 Nov.), fol. 79r; of the dead, fol. 80v; Clare (12 Aug.), fol. 84r; [added later] sequences: Caeli solem imitantes (Apostles), fol. 89v, with added second polyphonic voice in stanza 1 only; Veni sancte spiritus (Holy Spirit), fol. 90r; Orbis totus gratuletur (Mary), fol. 90v.

Main manuscript, part 2: (gatherings 9-11): common of saints, fol. 91r; dedication of a church, fol. 110r; [added later] sequences: Hodierna lux diei (Mary), fol. 113v; Caeli cives in colono (Francis), fol. 114r.

Added manuscript, 9 tones (modes 2-7) for the invitatory psalm (Venite exultemus domino) at matins; [added later] antiphon: Sancta Maria succurre miseris (Mary), fol. 119v; sequence: Caeli regem attollamus (Anne), fol. 119v.

Copying and decoration

Main manuscript, parts 1 and 2, dry point guidelines, 10 staves per page (black-ink square notation on 4-line red-ink staves, ruled separately with single nib, not rastrum) with text underlay (black ink, gothic minuscule liturgical book hand, textualis); rubricated; simple large initials in red ink (on fols. 1-12 only, elaborate in red and blue inks, with pen work hairline detailing); small initials in black ink, with red ink highlighting.

One main text scribe executed the main contents of part 1A and part 2 of the main manuscript, each part copied in order, with two different music scribes entering the notation. Another pair of text and music hands was responsible for part 1B. The office of Corpus Christi was copied in two other different text hands and two other music hands, and appears to have been inserted as a unit, between parts 1A and 1B. There are a few only slightly later erasures, corrections, additions, and alterations to text and music; but no major text or music revisions; and no liturgical alterations to suggest that the book remained in use later than the mid-16th century. Another pair of hands copied text and music of the sequences added later at the ends of parts 1 and 2 of the manuscript, on pages left empty after the completion of copying of their main contents; at end of part 1, 10 staves per page; at end of part 2, 10 staves and 9 staves per page.

Added Venite manuscript (fols. 115-119), 9 staves per page, 12 staves on final verso, copied much later; black-ink square notation on pre-ruled 4-line red-ink staves; text underlay, black ink, gothic minuscule liturgical book hand; no rubrics; large and small initials in red ink.

For a closer examination of the text and music hands in each part of the book, see Summary of contents, structure, and copying.

Dating and provenance

The style and format of the square-note musical notation of the main manuscript, and the gothic minuscule text hands, are consistent with a date of copying in the fourteenth century (1300s). There are no unequivocal internal indications of the date, geographical, or liturgical provenance of the volume, or its constituent parts. A single rubric in German or Flemish/Dutch (“der ander nocturnus”) (fol. 7r) suggests German provenance (probably south German, Austrian, or Swiss).

The inclusion of proper offices for Francis (words and music largely by Julian of Speyer, c. 1232) and Clare, together with a sequence for Francis, probably indicate that the book was copied for use by members of a Franciscan order, despite the absence other internal evidence of provenance within the order. Though it is perhaps more likely that the volume was created by and for (male) members of the Order of Friars Minor, there is nothing to preclude absolutely the possibility that it was created and owned by (women) Clarissans. The presence of the Clare office (a contrafactum of Julian’s Francis office, c. late 1200s) supports a date for copying of the proper to at the very earliest c.1300, but probably closer to the middle of the century.

A distinctive musical feature of the manuscript is a polyphonic second voice added to the first stanza only of the sequence Caeli solem imitantes (fol. 89v) in very simple organum. Also distinctive liturgically and musically are the rarely encountered Magnificat antiphon at first vespers of Clare, O decus et gaudium (fol. 85r), a contrafactum of the Francis antiphon O stupor et gaudium (fol. 59v), and, in the sequence for Francis, Caeli cives in colono, music and words of a previously unreported extra double verse, Jam depulsa carnis mole (fol. 114v). An unusual feature, liturgically and codicologically, is the apparent insertion of the recent office of Corpus Christi, Sacerdos in aeternum into the proper of the saints calendar (rather than into the temporale as later became usual).

The added manuscript, with nine tones for the Venite at matins, and text entered for a tenth whose music was never copied, is perhaps slightly earlier than the main manuscript. Though it is probably also of curial-Franciscan provenance, there is nothing to indicate that its production was related to the main manuscript. Folio fragments of a manuscript copy of the Opus libellorum super jure pontificio by Roffredo Benevento (copied perhaps before 1300), used as materials in binding the outer folios together, are clearly visible glued to the gutter edges of fols. 115r and 119v.

The curial-Franciscan sanctorale cursus of this manuscript and textual and melodic details of individual chants may be usefully compared with those in other Franciscan manuscripts indexed in the CANTUS database:

CH-Fco 2: Fribourg (Switzerland), Bibliothèque des Cordeliers, 2
D-Ma 12o Cmm 1: München, Franziskanerkloster St. Anna - Bibliothek, 12o Cmm 1
H-Bu lat 122, 121: Budapest, Egyetemi Könyvtár (University Library), lat. 122, 121
I-Ac 693, 694: Assisi, Biblioteca comunale, 693, 694
I-Ad 5: Assisi, Cattedrale San Rufino - Archivio e Biblioteca, 5
I-Nn vi.E 20: Napoli, Biblioteca nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, vi. E. 20
I-Rvat lat. 8737: Città del Vaticano (Roma), Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, lat. 8737
US-Cn 24: Chicago, Newberry Library, 24
US-NYcub Plimpton 34: New York, Columbia University, Plimpton MS 034

The selection of the 9 tones for the Venite in the added manuscript may be usefully compared with that of later printed editions of the curial office, notably Antiphonarium Romanum (Venice: Giunta, 1596): fols. 2r-11v.

Later preservation and ownership history

There is no indication of major alterations or additions reflecting later liturgical usages or revisions, and it therefore seems unlikely that the book was still in use after the promulgation of Pius V’s Breviarium Romanum in 1568. This may perhaps suggest that the church or chapel to which the book belonged came under Protestant control during the Reformation. A very large painted ink letter F, on the inside front cover, is of late design, and may have been a shelf mark of some sort. The firm of J. and J. Lubrano, music antiquarians, acquired the book from a private collection and sold it to Boston College in 1998 (not 1996 as the shelf mark might seem to suggest). In response to a request in 2016, the vendors were unable to provide information on previous owners, any data they once had having been lost in a failed computer data migration.

Bibliography, weblinks (this manuscript only)

  • O'Neill, Robert Keating et al. (Jörn-Uwe Günther, Axel Bender, Lorenz Reibling). The art of the book from the early middle ages to the renaissance: a journey through a thousand years. Boston: John J. Burns Library, Boston College, 2000. (No. 22, page 58-59, listed under old shelfmark as MS. 98.26).
  • Noone, Michael, and Graeme Skinner. "154. Franciscan antiphonal." In Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections, edited by Jeffrey F. Hamburger, William P. Stoneman, Anne-Marie Eze, Lisa Fagin Davis, and Nancy Netzer, 171, exh. cat. Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, 2016.
  • Skinner, Graeme. The Franciscan sanctorale antiphoner, MS. 1996.097, John J. Burns Library, Boston College, a description and commentary. Boston: John J. Burns Library, Boston College, 2016. Online version (this website).