[RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH] Okhtaik, rekshe osmoglasnik [Part I]

[Moscow], [Pechatnyj Dvor], 1638]


Folio. ff. 459 + 2 ms. ll., lacking 3 blanks, ll. 1-11 of second quire misbound, Part I of II, each printed separately. Old Church Slavonic, in red and black. Decorated initials and headpieces. Slight age browning, heavy marginal oilstaining and thumbing, scattered wax stains, occasional minor marginal tears, last gathering mounted on stub, some early marginal repairs, small worm trails to gutter of first gathering. An intensely but carefully used copy in contemporary goatskin over bevelled wooden boards, two clasps, double blind ruled to a panel design, outer border with leafy tendrils in blind, central panel of upper cover with large fleurons at head and foot and rhombus-shaped floral centrepiece within lozenge-shaped frame, lower cover with large fleurons at head and foot and double blind ruled grille de St Laurent with tendrils, a.e.r. Spine in five compartments, each with three large fleurons in blind, raised bands, covers scuffed. Early inked numbers, Russian inscription and pencilled amateur portraits of Mar [Mary?] and Sts Fëdor, Aleksej, Vladimir and Aleksandr to fly, later pencilled inscription ‘‘милостивому государю (?)’’ (‘to the egregious Master’) and numbers to rear pastedown, later inscription ‘ ‘креснѧ марia сидоровна преставласъ кд ïюнѧ 1882’’ (‘Kresna [surname?] Maria Sidorovna died on 29 June 1882’) to ep.

The austere binding reprises the design and structural elements of those produced for liturgical books at the Monastery of the Trinity and St Sergius in Zagorsk, c.50 miles north-east of Moscow, which set a standard for the genre from the 1560s (Klepikov, ‘Russian Bookbinding to 1750’, 417-18).

An intensely but carefully used copy of the first part of the ‘Okhtaich’ (or ‘Okhtoich’ or ‘Охтаикъ, рекше осмогласникъ’ or ‘Октоих, Осьмогласник’) published in Moscow in 1638 by the Pechatnyj Dvor—the printing house where the first book in Cyrillic movable type was produced in 1564. The second part was printed separately in the same year and usually bound separately. Derived from the Greek ‘Ochtoecos’, the ‘Okhtaich’ was a liturgical text of the Russian Orthodox rite. It features pieces to be sung at services each day of the week. The number ‘eight’ in the title refers to the subdivision into eight sections—of which this volume includes the first four; each identified by a letter (‘a’ to ‘и’) corresponding to the ‘glas’ (musical mode) in which the songs were sung, as Russian liturgical chant constructed melodies around individual tones. Part I contains modes 1 to 4 (‘a’ to ‘д’). The texts for daily vespers or matins include ‘stichiry’ (in psalmodic hexameters, some attributed to John of Damascus), antiphons, ‘kanoni’ (odes with a more complex verse structure), ‘pesni’ (songs) and ‘troparia’ (hymns on the liturgical theme of the day). At the end is additional material often found in the ‘Okhtaich’, including Resurrectional Exaposteilaria and the Gospel Stichiry, and ‘troparia’ for the Trinity and by Gregory of Sinai In this copy, there are two additional ms. leaves containing four ‘kondiaki’ (modes ‘a’ to ‘д’)—short hymns with a main body and a refrain (‘ikos’)—celebrating the Resurrection and sung at the Sunday morning service. This edition of the ‘Okhtaich’ does not contain the ‘kondiaki’, as sometimes happened when they were very similar to the ‘tropar’’ for the same day.‘Kondiaki’ for the Resurrection were used for the Paschal service and the owner of this copy probably wished to have them readily available.

No copies recorded outside Russia except BL (also Part I only). We have traced 5 copies in Russian libraries.Zernova, Knigi kirillovskoj pechati,142; Cleminson, Cyrillic Books, 87; Pozdeeva, Katalog knigi kirillicheskoj pechati, 285-87.
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