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.
- Article by:
- Nicolas Bell
- 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.