John Cassian, Collationes

Description

The main text of this 11th-century manuscript from the monastery of St Wandrille in Normandy is John Cassian’s Collationes, an influential work on monasticism. Soon after it was made, a group of otherwise completely unknown verses for the feast of the Trinity were added to its first leaf.

The music is written using an unusual method that combines neumes with alphabetic notation. Neumes are an early form of notation that indicate the direction of the music, up or down, while alphabetic notation means writing the name of each note above the relevant syllable of the text. The combination of these two systems allowed the writer to represent the melody in all its detail.

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Full title:
John Cassian, Collationes
Created:
1st third of the 11th century, Saint-Wandrille
Format:
Manuscript
Language:
Latin
Creator:
John Cassian
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Shelfmark:
Latin 2136

Full catalogue details

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Writing music

Article by:
Nicolas Bell
Theme:
Christian religion and belief

Music played a central role in Christian liturgy throughout the Middle Ages. Nicolas Bell describes the evidence for this music in manuscripts made before 1200.

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