Core Curriculum : Contemporary Civilization

Bibles > Related Religious Texts

Canon Missae

Canon Missae

Mainz: Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer, 1458
Columbia RBML Goff M736

Click here for item information


The production of the first book printed with movable type demanded an enormous outlay of capital and in the process of producing his Bible, Johann Gutenberg borrowed money from Johann Fust. Gutenberg was not able to turn a profit in time and his equipment defaulted to Fust, who with the assistance of Gutenberg’s assistant Peter Schoeffer founded his own printing house, also in Mainz. In 1457, they printed a Psalterium latinum, the first printed book to list its date of publication and the name of the printers, and from the same type in 1458 they printed this parchment Canon missae, the section of the missal with the consecration prayers.

The 12-leaf edition of the Canon missae was designed to be inserted into other missals and that is precisely the case with RBML’s copy. The 1484 Missale Cravoiense (Missal for use in Krakow, Poland) surrounds the Canon missae, which has been inserted into the center. The match between  sizes and the harmony of page layouts between the two independently produced works reveals an impressive degree of coordination within the first few decades of printing. Click through for an image of the first page of the Canon Missae not part of Columbia's copy, but reproduced here from a fascimile of the copy at the Bodleian Library (M-284) from Irvine Masson's The Mainz Psalters and Canon Missae, 1457-1459 (London: 1954). Reproduced with permission of the Bodleian Library.

This book came to Columbia with the American Type Founders Company Library and Museum, where it was a prize piece in a collection devoted to this history of printing and typefounding.

African Union Hymn Book

The African Union Hymn Book

Wilmington: Published by P. Spenser, for the African Union Church, 1822
Columbia Burke Library (Union Theological Seminary) VQMjx 1822S

Click here for item information


The Union Church of Africans, also referred to as the “African Union Church” was chartered by Peter Spencer (1782-1843) in Willmington, Delaware, in 1813.  Now known as the African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church, or the A.U.M.P. Church, it is the oldest independent black denomination in the United States.

Early hymnals from African-American congregations are extremely rare. This is the only copy in national databases.

Columbia University Libraries / Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Butler Library, 6th Fl. / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-5590 /