This is a set of two volumes, one a facsimile reproduction of Codex 121 of the monastery library at Einsiedeln and the other, its accompanying commentary volume. Codex 121, a calligraphic treasure and now extremely fragile, dates from some time in the 10th century and is the oldest complete manuscript of Gregorian chant missal in existence. Manuscript 121 of Einsiedeln is unique and precious in that its neume script (exhibiting calligraphic poise and animation) is among the most refined of the St Gallen scripts among which it is numbered. It is small, about the size of a pocket-book, indicating that it was most probably intended for use by the conductor of a group of singers as a personal record of the melodies sung. It may also have been used as a kind of aide-memoire at a time when the need to record melodies in writing was already being felt, because after more than 100 years of oral transmission, doubts and uncertainties had arisen. The facsimile comprises 600 pages and measures 105 by 153/6 millimetres (it is, however, placed on pages of 115 by 165 millimetres). There is evidence of restoration and insertion of different pages at different times.
Along with the facsimile, in a slipcase, is a volume of commentary which carefully details and explains the neumes and the text and also offers a musicological description of the contents. The original manuscript is now so fragile that it will soon no longer be accessible to scholars.show more