The antiphoners from the monastery of SS Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg represent the oldest complete Office chant tradition of the so-called Melk Reform. Several are preserved in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, while others are now in the Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg. (The later antiphoner Clm 4306 was chosen as a source for the summer temporale, despite curtailment of the Office, because apparently no other codex has survived.)
Otherwise the tradition can be found in books produced only later, from the monastery of Ebersberg (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 5801) and (much abbreviated) from the monastery of Lorch (Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Mus. I. 63+64). Only one witness to this late medieval monastic reform of the liturgy is known from the monastery of Melk itself: an antiphoner for the day hours only, Melk 756.
In the antiphoners from SS Ulrich and Afra, apart from the Offices for the local saints Afra, Ulrich and Simpert, there are two rhymed offices typical of the Melk tradition, for Benedict and the Visitation of Mary. Also typical of this tradition is the announcement of the Roman origin of the chants "secundum rubricam romanam". All these 'Melk' codices are exactly concordant in the order of chants and the melodies. This is not a typical South German tradition (like, for instance, the Hirsau tradition in Karlsruhe LX and many other manuscripts) but a Roman tradition from the early 13th century. The tradition adopted by the reformers at the monastery of Melk was that of the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco. They took over not only the consuetudines but also the liturgical tradition of the Office and the Holy Mass. This tradition is completely different from South German traditions (and also presumably from the tradition of SS Ulrich and Afra before the Melk reform was introduced). Nor is the Subiaco tradition an old Italian, Benedictine tradition such as that preserved in the Lucca antiphoner (Lucca 601), but one based on the usage of the papal court in the Lateran church, which seems to have been instituted in the early 13th century during the pontificate of the popes Innocent III (1198-1216) and Honorius III (1216-1227). (The question of how far the canons of St. Fridian in Lucca influenced this tradition remains to be answered.)
This train of events explains the closeness of the Augsburg codices in the Melk tradition to early Franciscan codices. (Much the same pattern is to be observed in books of the Olivetan reform, beginning in the year 1313, which have the same order of the chants and the "rubrica romana"). There are some small differences in the melodies, but not many. All these reforms are marked by an adaptation of the secular to the monastic cursus, an abbreviation of the Office, a uniform practice of modal assignments and differentiae, and, finally, a limitation of the ambitus.
All the chants, provided with note incipits and integrated in a web database, can be researched on www.cantus-augusta.de.
Differentiae have been provided with a two-character code within each mode; the letter indicates the final pitch and the number has been assigned arbitrarily. All chants not found in CAO have been assigned numbers prefixed by "ulr".
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