Document Type



Fall 1992


Chant Books, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Saints, Mass, Saints' Feasts




Arts and Humanities


LATE IN 1989 the Syracuse University Library received a manuscript volume of ecclesiastical chant (Syracuse University Library, Ms. I I) as part of a bequest from Barbara Weiss of Detroit, Michigan. No information about its history accompanied it. The purpose of this paper is to provide an introduction to this important addition to the rare books and manuscript collections of Syracuse University's George Arents Research Library.

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance there were many kinds of chant books, such as Antiphonals and Graduals (which contain the chants used throughout the year in celebrating, respectively, the Divine Office and the Mass). This particular manuscript at Syracuse University contains the equivalent of what came to be known during the sixteenth century as a Gradual of Saints, which provides Mass chants used in celebrating saints' feasts and other holidays of the church calendar. This form of choir book came into use after the advent of printing, so that finding a manuscript version is somewhat unusual. However, the most unusual aspect of this manuscript, as I will show, is the age of the chant tradition it preserves: a Dominican tradition, which predates that religious order's reform, finalized in 1256 under the supervision of Humbert of Romans.


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