Academic journal article Studia Musicologica

The Processional Oct. Lat. 794 of the Budapest National Széchényi Library. A Re-Identification

Academic journal article Studia Musicologica

The Processional Oct. Lat. 794 of the Budapest National Széchényi Library. A Re-Identification

Article excerpt


Unexpected insights can suddenly change the objective of a scholarly investigation relegating the original aim of study to a secondary place. This happened to me during the examination of a notated manuscript that is widely known, survives intactly, is available at its repository, and has earlier been registered in literature with a byname referring to its alleged place of origin. The manuscript Oct. Lat. 794 held at the collection of the Budapest National Széchényi Library is dated 1644 and called Pauline Processional of Újhely in the shop language of Hungarian chant research.1 The naming reflects the self-definition of the Processional that seems to be unambiguous. Albeit the title-page is missing, the possessor's entry in cursive handwriting at the beginning of the book hints at the place and community of its use: an apparently authentic contemporaneous inscription in ink on the recto of folio 1 names the Pauline convent of Újhely - i.e. Sátoraljaújhely, a town in the historical Zemplén County in northern Hungary, since 1920 on the Hungarian side of the border to Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia, see the map in Appendix 1) - as its owner (Plate 1).2 In the body of knowledge on Hungarian chant collected to date conspicuously little relevant information on the volume can be found. The reason for the lack of interest lies presumably in the year 1644 indicated in the possessor's entry.3 It was probably due to the late date of its compilation, which is confirmed by the examination of its appearance and contents that the Processional was omitted from Hungarian source catalogues, bibliographies and monographs as these focused for the greater part on listing and exploring the medieval liturgical manuscripts from before 1526.4

Of course the Processional was registered by Janka Szendrei, who entered it in her catalogue of notated manuscripts from medieval Hungary under C 107 with the following fundamental data:

UJHELYI PÁLOS PROCESSIONALE [PAULINE PROCESSIONAL OF ÚJHELY] - 1644 - OSzK Oct. Lat.794 - 143 fol - Processional chants, a Tonary, funeral, selected Vespers antiphons and hymns, the Te Deum, invitatories, lamentation, suffrages, a Passion in Slovak - with Hungarian notation - Hungarian, for the Pauline monks of Újhely. 5

Apart from this succinct enumeration of data, Szendrei only dwelt on the Processional in passing. When commenting on the single items in the catalogue's introduction, she mentioned it as one of the late sources of the Gregorian chant repertory in Hungary that deserve scholarly interest.6 Szendrei also enumerated the Processional among the retrospective sources of the Hungarian Pauline notation in the first volume of Magyarország zenetörténete [The Music History of Hungary].7 However, the manuscript has neither been fully treated by Szendrei nor has anybody undertaken a more profound analysis later.

The procrastination of scholarly treatment is all the more regrettable as a first survey already evidences the uniqueness of this collection of chants. Since no notated medieval Processional or Gradual from the use of the Hungarian-founded Order of St. Paul the First Hermit survive, the examination of any document of relevant contents opens up new vistas for the research of the Pauline liturgy in general. Experience shows that this observation holds also true for such particular cases when the content of the source is not medieval per se but reflects - as in this instance - the state of liturgical music after the reform of the Council of Trent.

In recognition of this I have in recent years devoted several studies to the reconstruction of the late (post-Council) Pauline music tradition, analyzing the specific features of its retrospective repertory, melodic style and notation.8 My investigations have borne out that the Order of St. Paul belonged to the most conservative church communities after the Council of Trent in Europe. The introduction of the liturgical reforms in the Order of St. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.