sheet music and lyrics of hymn, illustrated with words and various scenes

14th century
Ink, paint, and gold leaf on parchment
6 5/16 × 4 3/4 in. (16 × 12 cm)
Bibliothèque Municipale, Douai
© Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes


This songbook is one of the only illustrated manuscripts that survives from Genadedal’s former library. The double page provides the score and lyrics for the introductory chant to the mass of the Virgin, which was celebrated most Saturdays. Appropriately, the Virgin and Child appear enthroned on the historiated “S” initial. The holy figures are heavily abraded from generations of monks touching and kissing the image. The margins are enlivened with carefully observed birds and other drolleries that contrast heavenly music with profane clatter. For all its liveliness, this pre-Eyckian decoration would have paled in comparison to the visual wonder of the Frick and Exeter Virgins when they entered Genadedal a few decades later.

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