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This manuscript was written by hand on parchment and contains written text as well as notated music. Red and blue capitals are decorated with flourishes. It was rebound in 1981, when the worm-holed, 17th-century binding was removed and preserved separately.
The image depicts one of the songs: Laeta lux est hodierna (“Joyful is the light of this day’s feast”).
Plainchant, (also called Plainsong; Latin: cantus planus), is a body of chants used in the liturgies of the Western Church. Plainsong is monophonic, consisting of a single, unaccompanied melodic line.
Plainchant is still in use in the Catholic Church, both in churches and monasteries. Its role in church music has diminished compared to the Middle Ages but larger parishes often still provide a Latin service on Sundays and/or other feast days of obligation.
The Dublin Troper was produced in the 14th century to be used for liturgical observance in the Catholic Church. In the earlier Middle Ages, the Celtic Rite was most prominent in Ireland. In 1186 however, under Anglo-Norman influence, it was decided Sarum use should be adopted in Dublin.
The Dublin Troper is an example of Sarum use in Ireland and one of the few surviving sources containing notated music. It was intended to be used on a daily basis, so the musical pieces follow the order of the liturgy. It contains Irish as well as English influences and some from mainland Europe.
The manuscript was produced by at least two 14th-century scribes, but also contains 15th- and 16th-century additions.
Plainchant is still in use in the Catholic Church, both in churches and monasteries. Its role in church music has diminished compared to the Middle Ages but larger parishes often still provide a Latin service on Sundays and/or other feast days of obligation. Many sung church services will nowadays provide a mixture of plainchant, polyphonic music and more recent hymns and music using different languages. The aim however remains the same; music is an act of divine worship.
Are there links to current religious practices or a modern equivalent?
Many sung church services nowadays use a mixture of plainchant, polyphonic music (music for several voices or parts), and more recent hymns and music, using different languages. The aim however remains the same; music is an act of divine worship.
Music plays an important part in religion. In the early church, music was part of an oral tradition. It is only with the development of Western music notation from the eighth century onwards, that we can study this part of the religious experience in more detail.
The Dublin Troper shows us how liturgy was performed in 14th-century Ireland. It provides a historic perspective and helps us understand how mass was celebrated at the time.
The musical pieces in this manuscript tell us even more: they range in date from the 10th to the 14th century and are either of French, German, Italian, English or Irish origin, which is reflected in their musical style but the texts are all in Latin.
“Laeta lux est hodierna” [Joyful is the light of this day’s feast] talks about the life of Saint Patrick, so we can learn the story as it was told in the 14th century. The text talks about different miracles and stages of the life of Saint Patrick. For example, it recounts how Patrick was captured by pirates and had to guard pigs (verse 5) and his banishing of all snakes from the island (verse 13). Verse 10 tells us how Saint Patrick was later sent to evangelize Ireland by Pope Celestine I.
A description of the Dublin Troper.
2004, Boydell Press