The Liturgy and the Offices
At the Fitzwilliam Museum
Liturgical books were central to religious practice and ceremony
throughout the Christian world. By the twelfth century, the variety
of early medieval texts were amalgamated into two volumes, the Missal
and the Breviary, which became indispensable for the celebration
of the Mass, the Eucharistic liturgy, and the Divine Office, the
services for the eight hours of daily prayer. The musical parts
of the Mass were contained in the Gradual and those of the Office
in the Antiphonal and Hymnal.
High-ranking ecclesiastics, such as bishops and popes, also needed
books for the services only they could perform. The Pontificals,
Benedictionals, and Coronation Orders made for them, together with
the Graduals and Antiphonals commissioned for wealthy religious
houses, are among the most splendidly illuminated liturgical manuscripts
to survive from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.