Title:AntiphonaryArtist:Artist UnknownDate:1439Creation Place:Europe, Germany, WestphaliaCredit Line:Gift of Herschel V. JonesAccession Number:21.1
An antiphonal (or antiphonary) contains the sung portions of the Mass and the Divine Office, the cycle of daily devotions performed by the clergy, members of religious orders and devout lay persons. These huge volumes were produced in sets corresponding to the divisions of the liturgical year for use in cathedrals, abbeys, and major churches.
The verses were sung in a response format by a cantor and a small choir. Since antiphonals had to be legible at a distance by a group of persons gathered around a lecturn, they were written in large script. The musical notations are of a type called hufnagel (hobnail) peculiar to German manuscripts. The last word on each page is a catchword that repeats the first word on the following page. Catchwords facilitated the sequential compilation of pages during the binding.process.
An inscription on the last page informs us that this volume was written in the convent of the Congregation of Fontissalientis (Springborn, in north-western Germany) in 1439. The sturdy binding appears to be original to the manuscript.