Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music



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The Eton Choirbook (GB-Eton, Eton College Library, MS 178)

This MS is a rarity since it is still in the institution for which it was written - the only English MS to do so. It was written for Eton College chapel between around 1500 and 1504. As the chapel is dedicated to the Virgin Mary the MS contains many Marian works and antiphons to be performed at the services of the College. One reason that the MS has survived is that it was lost and forgotten for many years in a chest in an unused loft, and only rediscovered in 1895. The book is published in facsimile by DIAMM Publications, but images of the whole book can also be examined on this website. The original choirbook is over a metre in height and was designed to be placed on a large stand and read from by the whole choir, so the writing had to be very large. The music is all sacred, and copied in black and red, indicating different rhythms. Each voice part was copied in a different place on the opening, starting with a beautifully decorated initial at the beginning of a piece, and 'lesser' initials for continuations after page-turns.