In 1964 the palaeographer N. R. Ker discovered this leaf from a 12th century missal
among the fragments of Bergen University Library. The script is informal, and
the initials are plain in a fading orange red colour. It has been assumed that the
missal was written in England around the middle of the 12th century, although recently
this origin has been contested (see Origin below). This is the earliest of three 12th
century missal fragments in Norway containing prayers from the old
English ordinal Regularis Concordia (ca. 970). In England no post-conquest
missals are known to contain parts from the Regularis Concordia. Lilli
Gjerløw suggests that this missal was used in the diocese of Bergen
in the middle ages (Gjerløw 1970).
Bergen University Library, Art and Humanities Library
Bergen University Library
MS 1549, 2
MS 410, 2
Mi 51 (Gjerløw)
The Good Friday Missal Fragment
[Parchment, one leaf, 265 x 180 mm,
England or Norway(?), mid 12th
The contents of the Missal fragment has been thoroughly described by
Lilli Gjerløw (1970), and is part of the Good Friday and
Easter-eve liturgy. The text begins with the end of the big prayer of
Good Friday (Orationes solemnes). Then follows the Adoration of the
cross with the usual Improberia (Christ's hypothetical reproaches), the
seven penitential psalms and the two extraliturgical prayers for the
same ritual, then Fortunats hymn Pange lingua, and three final antiphons
for the "Burial of the cross" (Depositio crucis). Easter-eve begins with
two prayers for the blessing of the new fire (after the lights have all
been put out during Matins of Maundy-Thursday and Good Friday) and of
the incense. Then follows the blessing of the Easter candle, with
The seven penitential psalms, the two extraliturgical prayers and the
antiphons have their origin in the church ordinal Regularis Concordia
from ca 970. No known English post-conquest missal contain the Good
Friday elements from Regularis Concordia (Gjerløw 1970, pp.
Pasted to the recto side of the fragment is a white piece of paper,
reading: 410.2. Foged Vidsten. recto.
For a detailed reproduction of contents, see transcription.
Parchment, one leaf, 265 x 180 mm
Lay-out: Hardly visible dry point ruling. Full writing space is 20 x 14
cm. Two columns for each page, 6,5 cm wide, with 30 lines.
Script: Informal protogothic script. The nasal abbreviation is
cup-shaped or wavy. The insular abbreviation-sign for est (resembling a minus sign)
occurs. The ampersand is used for "et". There is fusion
of pp. Rubricated. Some capital letters are marked with red shade.
No musical notation, but the sung parts are written in smaller
letters. The script is analysed and dated by N. R. Ker to shortly after 1150
(see Gjerløw 1970, p. 88). At the fragment workshop in October 2005 Michael Gullick
also suggested that the missal was not written earlier than the middle of the 12th
Initials: Plain initials in an orange red over one or two
Condition: The fragment is somewhat stained and darkened, but
the text is easily readable. The leaf is uncropped and without
holes. The parchment is quite soft.
England (Worcester or Winchester?) or Norway(?), shortly after 1150.
There are characteristics in the contents pointing towards Worcester
or Winchester; the prayer following the first
Regularis Concordia-prayer has only been identified in the
Portiforium of St. Wulstan, written in Worcester see ca 1070 (Gjerløw 1970), and possibly
connected to Winchester (Gjerløw 1979, p. 15). However, when this fragment was discussed
at the international fragment workshop in October 2005, it was pointed out by Michael
Gullick that some German features in the writing and the pale orange hue of the red
ink would be untypical for English manuscripts. The numerous mistakes in the Latin
text (see transcription) would also normally not occur in a manuscript made at a larger
ecclesiastical centre in England at this time. The assigning of this fragment to England
is therefore uncertain. The combination of German and English influences along with
the spelling-mistakes may suggest a Norwegian origin.
Possibly used in Bergen during the Middle Ages (Gjerløw
The fragment was a gift from the bailiff Ole Vidsten (born 1787,
bailiff in Sundhordland og Hardanger 1820-1854) to the Bergen
Gjerløw, Lilli (ed.) 1961: Adoratio crucis, Oslo.
Gjerløw, Lilli (ed.) 1968: Ordo Nidrosiensis ecclesiae,
Oslo, pp. 92-93.
Gjerløw, Lilli 1970: "Missaler brukt i
Bjørgvin bispedømme fra misjonstiden til
Nidarosordinariet", Bjørgvin bispestol. Byen og
bispedømmet, Bergen, pp. 73-115.
Gjerløw, Lilli (ed.) 1979: Antiphonarium Nidrosiensis
ecclesiae, Oslo, p. 15.
Tveitane, Mattias et. al.: Bergen University Library Manuscript