A Christmas Day Gregorian Chant - 1846 - Cistercian Manuscript


Original leaf from a Gradual hand-stenciled in red, and black. Six and eight lines in black and red ink with text and musical notation in black ink on a four-line stave, on hand-made paper.(586 X 443 MM – 23 1/8 X 17 3/8’’) 

Scribed in the Abbey of Notre-Dame d’Oelenberg, France, 1846. This ancient abbey, founded in 1046, was re-inhabited in 1825 by Cistercian monks who returned from exile in Germany, known as “Trappists” (a cloistered order which followed strict observance to the rule of St. Benedict). The monks started farming the land and though they encountered difficult times - famine in 1846, fires and epidemics - they nevertheless became prosperous. In addition to the farm and the mill, there was an extensive library, brewery, cheese factory, bakery & printing press.

The elaborate illuminated "D" begins the introit for Christmas Day:  “Dominus dixit ad me…” (The Lord hath said to me: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. Why have the Gentiles raged and the people devised vain things?  Glory be to the Father…).

This is a remarkable artifact, in excellent condition. It shows the tradition of monastic hand work and the use of  four-line music staves for Gregorian Chant still being honored in the mid-nineteenth century. It is an unusual production – entirely done by hand, not in a printing press.  The staves are hand ruled and penciled guidelines can still be seen on the text block. Lettering and designs are a combination of meticulously cut stenciled elements and freehand. 

Shipped unmatted

  • Inventory Number: IM-12058