Exceptionally Rare Fragment of the Liber sequentiarum by Notker Balbulus and Ekkehard I of St. Gall
Type: Leaves & Fragments
Liber sequentiarum of Notker Balbulus (and Ekkehard I), including the sequence “Dilecte deo” for St. Gall, founder of Notker’s own abbey. Most of a bifolium on vellum. Germany, ca. 1100: 170 mm x 195 mm. This is an early and rare witness to the Sequences, only eight manuscripts of which pre-date ca. 1000. Double column, 24 lines ruled in dry-point. Late Caroline Minuscule in brown ink. Decoration: Rubricated initials, several of three lines. The format closely resembles manuscripts of the tenth-century, such as St. Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, Codd. Sang. 376 and 381, in which the neumes have been written in the margins. Text: Notker Balbulus (“The Stammerer”) was born to a prominent family in the region of present-day Switzerland and pursued a monastic vocation at the Abbey of St. Gall. He died in 912, widely recognized for his scholarship and teaching. For liturgical innovation generally, but especially in Germany, Notker is a figure of unparalleled importance. Between 881 and 887 he composed sequences, a genre beginning to emerge in the ninth century. About fifty circulated in a compilation called the Liber sequentiarum or Liber Hymnorum, although other sequences also circulated as Notker’s, as here. The texts were not initially neumed, but many came to be. Jonathan Davis-Secord describes them as “mnemonic devices for melodies that spun off melismatically from the final syllable of the Alleluia … into what was known as the jubilus” (“The Sequences of Notker Balbulus,” Journal of Medieval Latin 22 (2012) 117-148, at 117). Contents: This is an inverted bifolium, since the feasts on fol. 2 end at 15 August and begin again on fol. 1 with 29 August. It may be possible that there was a contiguous bifolium with feasts for the intervening two weeks between 15-29 August, but it seems unlikely. Fol. 1r. 24 lines from a sequence for the Feast of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist, 29 August (Ekkehard I); 8 partial lines from a sequence for the Feast of the Nativity of the BVM, 8 September (uncertain authorship); 13 partial lines of the entire sequence for the Feast of St. Mauritius, 22 September (Notker); rubric and first few words of a sequence for the Feast of St. Michael, 29 September (Notker). Fol. 1v. 28 partial lines from a sequence for the Feast of St. Michael, 29 September (Notker); rubric and 20 lines of a sequence for the Feast of St. Gall, 16 October (“Dilecte deo” by Notker). Fol. 2r. 7 lines from a sequence for the Feast of the Holy Spirit, late May-June (attrib. Notker); 17 lines of a sequence for the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, 24 June (Notker); 20 lines from a sequence for the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul, 29 June (Notker); rubric and 4 partial lines from a sequence for the Feast of St. Benedict, 11 July (Ekkehard I). Fol. 2v. 15 lines continuing from the same sequence of St. Benedict, 11 July (Ekkehard I); rubric and 8 lines from a sequence for the Feast of St. Laurence, 10 August (Notker); 24 complete lines from a sequence for the Feast of the Assumption of the BVM, 15 August (Notker). Condition: A lifted pastedown, hence defective on one side, yet legible in most places and quite readable under UV light. The whole bifolium has been edged with paper. Browned overall and slightly stained and abraded here and there, with some minor holes. Because of the way the fragment was cut down, the outside columns have lost the most text.