[Officium tenebrae]


"Fisher Add.Ms. 335 is a vellum choir book of 48 folios measuring 41 x 30 cm. This volume has a full contemporary brown morocco binding over wooden boards, with blind stamped decorations around the sides with four brass studs, and a brass boss in the centre surrounded by blind stamped flowers. The edges are decorated with twenty-eight brass nails and reinforced with brass corners. The entire volume is devoted to the readings (lectios) for Matins in the triduum sacrum and includes chant for the Lamentations of Jeremiah, notated in square notation on a five-line stave. Seventy decorated initial letters (thirty-five in red, three in black, and twenty-one in red and blue) are scattered throughout the book...It contains part of the material normally found in a lectionary, passional or officium hebdomadae sanctae. That is, it is comprised of texts and music for the first Nocturn of Matins (lectios 1-3) and the texts for the second and third Nocturns (lectios 4-9) for each of the three days of tenebrae (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday). There are no Responsories. This identifies Fisher Add.Ms.335 as a book for practical use by a choir or choirmaster, from which the musical material for the Lamentations (Nocturn I lectios 1-3) would have been learned and the texts for the lectios of the second and third Nocturns read. Since it contains only a small part of the full Matins services for each of the three days it would have been used along with a breviary, a full antiphonal or the full officium hebdomadae sanctae. The format of chant for the readings of the first Nocturn (lectios 1-3) and text only for the second and third Nocturns (lectios 4-9) might indicate that the first Nocturn only was to be sung."

"The manuscript contains music written on a red five-line stave. This is typical of chant manuscripts of Spanish origin, part of a tradition of Spanish manuscript production that can be seen from at least the fourteenth century. The notation is a common version of square chant notation containing some possibly mensural (rhythmic) signifiers that also appear in manuscripts from Toledo and elsewhere in Spain from the thirteen hundreds to about sixteen hundred. The style and colours of the decoration too are seen in manuscripts of known Spanish origin from the thirteenth century on, and of wide geographic dispersion."

Hardie, Jane Morlet "Salamanca to Sydney: A Newly-Discovered Manuscript of the Lamentations of Jeremiah". In Music in Medieval Europe: Studies in Honour of Bryan Gillingham. Edited by Terence Bailey and Alma Santosuosso. Great Britain: Ashgate, 2006.




View the manuscript Add.Ms. 335 images

Listen to a sample of the chant from this manuscript sung by the St Laurence Chamber Choir.

Order the cd Commemoration, Ritual and Performance : The Iberian Connection : Medieval and Renaissance music from The St Laurence Chamber Choir (recorded at St Scholastica´s Chapel, Glebe, New South Wales, February 2005, directed by Dr Neil McEwan) from the Centre for Medieval Studies.




Further reading:
The Lamentations of Jeremiah: Ten Sixteenth-Century Spanish Prints. Edited by Jane Morlet Hardie. Ottawa: Institute of Mediaeval Music, 2003. View the online catalogue entry.

In this publication the liturgical chant has been transcribed into modern notation from the print of Mathias Gast (Salamanca, 1582). This chant is practically identical to that of Fisher Add.Ms. 335.