Gradual Manuscript leaf on parchment
Siena, Italy, mid 14th century
Plimpton MS 040i
The Adoration of the Magi adorns the opening of the mass for the Epiphany (6 January); it’s painted in a style similar to that of Lippo Vanni. The musical notation, overshadowed in our modern eyes by the splendor of the illumination, was to its original users so important that a specialized scribe was frequently hired to copy it. He was a practioner of the art, not a theoretician, so he may not have followed the formal course of the trivium and the quadrivium to learn his music. But as far back as the year 789, Charlemagne issued an edit ordering that only adults could work on the production of liturgical books, no young people, no beginners, to avoid mistakes that might impede our proper praying to God.
Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Francis T. P. Plimpton in 1995