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Cantica Natalia - Christmas Carols

 The Library has recently acquired a beautiful and rare book of Christmas Carols. The Cantica Natalia Viginti Hymni in Honorem Nativitatis Domini nostri Jesu Christi is a work of the St. Dominic's Press in Ditchling, Sussex and was printed in 1926. The press was founded in 1915-1916 by Hilary Douglas Clark Pepler and published, amongst other books, important editions for the Ulysses Bookshop including pirate editions of works by James Joyce.

St. Dominic's Press is most famous though for its music printing. The familiar carols in this publication are transposed into a medieval style, four line stave format having more a look of an illustrated manuscript making this one of the most elaborate and beautiful books of Christmas Carols ever produced. Of special note are the beautiful wood engravings by David Jones, Philip Hagreen and Desmond Chute such as the example to the left. The art work attempts to capture a medieval imagery feel while incorporating an art deco sensibility.

The book is one of only 95 copies and was originally printed in unbound sheets. These have been expertly bound together in full leather with gilt border and lettering by Newbold & Collins of Glebe, Sydney. This book can be found in the Mitchell Library at F/1964.

Alexander Sussman

Coordinator, Collection Development & Acquisitions