Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Online Resources: The Oldest Notated Dominican Breviary

On the feast of St Dominic last year, we posted notice (via the website Dominican Liturgy) of a very high quality scan of the Humbert of Romans Codex (Rome: Santa Sabina MS XIV L1), the manuscript which served as the prototype for the medieval (and early-modern) Dominican Liturgy. (Also available at https://archive.org/details/rome_santa_sabina_xiv_l1) Our friend Fr Innocent Smith OP, a scholar of Dominican chant and liturgy has just recently posted scans of an even older breviary from the same archive, which is kept at the Order’s mother house of Santa Sabina in Rome (Santa Sabina, XIV L2). Fr Smith informs me that this is the earliest Dominican breviary, dating from the middle of the 13th century, to include musical notation of the Office chants. It therefore slightly predates the reform of Humbert of Romans, which gave a definitive stamp to the Dominican Use; there are a few other pre-Humbert chant sources for the office, but this one is especially important since it also has the breviary texts in addition to the chants. It can be seen and downloaded at the following link: https://archive.org/details/rome_santa_sabina_xiv_l2_202401

Note the file is quite large, almost 600 JPGs at 3008x2000 pixels each, totaling 2GB, so it may take some time to download. Here are a few sample pages.

The calendar pages of February and March. The entire calendar is in a different hand from the main body of the breviary, which indicates that it was added to the book later; the feast of St Thomas Aquinas has been added to March 7, sometime after his canonization in 1323. 
The beginning of the psalter; the texts of the Sunday and ferial antiphons was added by a later hand throughout.
The Litany of the Saints at the end of the psalter; the folio on the right is obviously a replacement for one that fell out.
Rubrics before the beginning of the Temporal cycle.
More rubrics, and the first Sunday of Advent, with the prolix responsory after the chapter at Vespers of the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent in chant notation. 
More chants of the first Sunday of Advent, with the readings between them.
The invitatory in various tones.
The reading of the Genealogy of Christ according to St Matthew (chapter 1, 1-16), said at Matins of Christmas before the Te Deum in nearly all medieval Uses of the Divine Office. 
The beginning of the Sanctorale, with the readings of the feast of St Andrew (Nov. 30), and St Barbara (Dec. 4). While there were, of course, many splendid things about the medieval liturgy, we should not romanticize everything about it. It has to be admitted that there was a persistent temptation, especially among busy people like the Dominicans, to shorten the Office by cropping the readings of Matins, sometimes down to an almost notional presence. So here, even if you know no Latin, you can see that the legends of both Saints have been cut down to the very barest of summaries. In this breviary, the entire Sanctoral occupies only 45 folios out of 582.  
The Office of St Catherine of Alexandria, starting with the Invitatory at the upper left hand column, and the beginning of St Thomas’ Office for Corpus Christi. These folios were also obvious added later; St Thomas composed the Office of Corpus about a decade after this breviary was originally made.  

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