‘Our History in Manuscripts’ performance by Marquette University Chorus, Oct. 7

The Marquette University Chorus will perform “Our History in Manuscripts,” on Friday, Oct. 7, at 5 p.m. at the Haggerty Museum of Art.  

Taking inspiration from “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript” and the Haggerty Museum of Art’s collection of Spanish Antiphonals (medieval choir books), the Marquette University Chorus will explore various choral styles throughout history during this performance. “Puer natus est” (A Boy is Born for Us), the introit for Christmas Day, from Volume 1 of this 12-volume set, is one of the chants that will be presented. 

The performance is free and open to the public.

Jointly owned by the Haggerty Museum of Art and Marquette University Libraries, the antiphonals were commissioned for use at the Monastery of the Order of San Jeronimo in Alcala la Real in the Archdiocese of Granada.  

The Gregorian chants were prepared on vellum with examples of Mudejar ornamentation. The chants were used by monks throughout the liturgical year. Measuring as large as 40 inches by 30 inches, each set of manuscripts remains bound in the original oak boards.

The books are believed to have been completed in 1562. A century earlier, the introduction of the printing press had resulted in a rapid decline in handwritten texts. Spanish monasteries remained a bastion of older methods, however, where cloistered monks prepared handwritten antiphonals well into the 18th century.

The antiphonals were rescued from a monastery in Burgos Las Hulegas in 1931, as mobs began destroying churches and convents in anti-religious rioting. Colonel Howard Greene secured the manuscripts and presented them to Marquette University in 1952.