Martinellus (Ms. 122)

Music between the lines

In Utrecht, various manuscripts have been made which we call ‘Martinellus’. A Martinellus is a manuscript in which several writings about Saint Martin are collected. Ms. 122 is the oldest Martinellus in Utrecht University Library (UBU) and was written in the late 11th or early 12th century. Its origins probably lie in the Utrecht Dom Church (Van der Horst 1989, 3). There is another 12th-century Martinellus from the Dom Church, UBU Ms.124. However, Ms. 122 is a collection of manuscripts (convolute) of which the Martinellus is the oldest part. Besides writings about Saint Martin, we also find other stories about saints within the bookbinding of Ms. 122, in particular about Willibrord and Barbara, which were added later on.

The division of the hands

The fact that several texts from various manuscripts have been joined together may be concluded from a number of things. For instance, the folios 75v and 76r are left blank and the quire in question has been shortened. The next part starts with a new signature mark on fol. 83v. Furthermore, it looks like the manuscript contains texts written by a total of five different hands (cf. Van der Horst 1984, 163).

  • Hand 1: Sulpicius Severus, Vita sancti Martini (fol. 1v-22r), Sanctus Martinus, Liber de Trinitate (fol. 22r-23r), Gregorius Turonensis, Sermones IV de transitu sancti Martini (fol. 23r-26v), Sulpicius Severus, Epistolae III (de eodem argumento) (fol. 26v-31v), De transitu sancti Martini (fol. 31v-33v), Sulpicius Severus, Dialogi III sive vitae sancti Martini liber II-IV (fol. 33v-68v), Vita sancti Briccii (fol. 68v-70r).
  • Hand 2: Sermo in festivitate omnium sanctorum (fol. 70v-75r).
  • Hand 3: Alcuinus, Vita sancti Willebrordi (fol. 76v-97v).
  • Hand 4:Beda Venerabilis, Homiliae II in vigilia Sancti Andreae apostoli et in vigilia apostolorum Petri et Pauli (fol. 97v-104r), De sancta Trinitate (fol. 104r-109v).
  • Hand 5:Passio sanctae Barbarae virginis (fol. 110r-112r), Historia beatae Barbarae virginis (fol. 112r-113v).

Hands 1 and 2 look very similar and the same goes for hands 3 and 4. The way in which the texts are divided over the folios suggests that the texts by hands 1 and 2 were written in the same period, as were 3 and 4 (maybe somewhat later), and probably in the same scriptorium. Hand 5, beginning at the Passio S. Barbara, with its 13th-century Gothic script clearly differs from the earlier hands that are writing in a Late-Carolingian script that already slightly leans towards the Pregothic. Hand 4 can even be regarded as Pregothic.

Hymns with or without musical notation

An interesting part of this manuscript is formed by the responsories. A responsory is a hymn that is performed by way of questions and answers: the cantor leads by singing a line and the choir answers with the following line. In this manuscript we find responsories in the margins of the Sermo in festivitate omnium sanctorum (All Saints’, fol. 70v-75r). The lines are not fully written out and can therefore only be used as prompts. Besides prompts for the words, we also see prompts for the course of the melody: above the words neumes are written. Neumes are signs which were used before the invention of the five-line staff notation to represent several tone combinations. The responsories of the All Saints’ text can also be found as part of the antiphonary UBU Ms.406 of the chapter of St. Mary, where they can all be found (whether or not complete) on fol. 190v (see Downey 1997, 84-85). This does not always apply to the accompanying versicles (verses) which in Ms. 122 usually differ from the one following the responsary in Ms. 406.

As first musical notation in Ms. 122 the first words of the responsary Benedicamus and the versicle Benedic[tus es] are noted down on fol. 71r, in the margin where the first lecture (lectio) ends and the second begins. This continues in this fashion up to the end of the sixth lecture on fol. 75r where we find the first words of the responsary Isti sunt sancti and the versicle Tradiderunt co[rpora sua] in the margin. All this is added in the period of (and maybe by) the scribe of the main text. This musical notation, however scanty it may be, belongs to the oldest notation in the Northern Netherlands now extant.

A second section with hymns is at the end of the Passio S. Barbara (fol. 112r-113v, this time with text only. The title tells us that it starts with the hymns for the vespers, the first one being the antiphonary Barbara virgo Dei virtute probata. The whole section ends with the hymns for the matins, with O virgo cuius magna devotio. In Ms. 406 there is only one hymn to be found for Barbara, also added in the 13th century (fol. 228r). This gives us an immediate clue about how these texts were used and included in the liturgy in Utrecht.

Liturgical use

The liturgical notes in the margin give additional clues about the use of the texts (fol. 7r-11r, 25v-26v, 91r-93v en 96v-97r, 110r-111v). Fol. 94r refers to the next part of the text to be read, three folios farther down. So notes like this tell us something about the life and the liturgical use of the manuscript. The meaning of the notes in the margins such as asterisks and lines and notes in pencil as can be found on fol. 220v is not always clear to us, but also suggest long-term and intensive use of the manuscript.

Hs. 122, fol. 76v: the beginning of the Vita Sancti Willibrordi

In the 15th century these unrelated texts were probably bound in the current bookbinding (Van der Horst 1989, 3). We still see signs of this process because some folios have been cropped. The older folios were probably cut to the size of the Passion of Barbara, because in this part of the manuscript the puncture holes and some remarks written by the scribe in the margin can still be seen. The one who joined the parts together probably did so because he thought they belonged together. Some connections are quite understandable, for instance the Martinellus and the Vita S. Willibrordi are a good match. In the Middle Ages Willibrord was also known as the person who dedicated the first church in Utrecht to Saint Martin (Broer en De Bruijn 1995, 37-41). So this later addition to the Martinellus can be well explained.

A text that cannot be so easily explained at first sight is the Life of Barbara. There does not seem to be a clear connection between Barbara and Saint Martin. In the Middle Ages and later on, Saint Martin remained popular thanks to his role as patron saint of Utrecht. Barbara only became popular in the later Middle Ages (Lockwood, 1953). There was a Saint Barbara chapel and cloister in Utrecht and we know that an altar was dedicated to her in Oudmunster as early as the 14th century (Utrecht Archives, access 223 (Chapter of Oudmunster in Utrecht), Vicary on the St. Barbara altar). In the 15th century the Saint Barbara hospital was founded. So this manuscript is even older than our documentation regarding the hospital and the altar. The connection between the texts in Ms. 122 could originate from the popular status of these saints.


Jackie Burema

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