Vellum leaf from an illuminated Medieval Manuscript
Latin Text; Rotunda Gothic Script, Gregorian Notation
The chanting of hymns during ecclesiastical rites goes back to the beginning of Christian services. Antiphonal or responsive singing is said to have been introduced in the second century by St. Ignatius of Antioch. According to legend, he had a vision of a heavenly choir singing in honor of the Blessed Trinity in the responsive manner. Many of the more than four hundred antiphons which have survived the centuries are elaborate in their musical structure. They were sung in the medieval church by the first cantor and his assistants. Candle grease stains reveal that this small-sized antiphonal was doubtless carried in processions in dimly lighted cathedrals. In this example the notation is written on the four-line red staff which was in general use by the end of the 12th century. The script is the usual form of Italian rotunda with bold Lombardic initial letters.