Of particular note amongst the medieval manuscript collection at the Cathedral is MS F.160, or the Worcester Antiphoner. A liturgical service book dating from the 1230s, and written here at Worcester, it offers us a glimpse into what religious services in the medieval period would have been like. It contains an early form of musical notation (which can still be interpreted to this day), and it may well represent a tradition of sacred music that stretches back as far the Anglo-Saxon period. What makes it especially significant is that it is the only book of its kind that we know of from a Benedictine monastery to survive the Reformation in the United Kingdom.
Henry VIII, in order to secure a divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon, and as a result of a political dispute with The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, began a process of separating the Church in England from Rome, and transferring the Pope’s authority unto himself. A long, complicated process that took over a decade to complete, Henry sought to consolidate his power by dissolving the monasteries in his realm, appropriating their property, and destroying material considered subversive to his new regime. Catholic service books, like antiphoners, would have been particularly at risk, as Henry’s agents systematically plundered and burned monastic libraries.
For some reason, Worcester’s edition survived. It seems unlikely that this would have been result of a mere oversight on the part of the King’s men – we do know that a large number of books were burned at Worcester in 1549 during the reign of Henry’s son, Edward VI. It seems more likely that it was deliberately hidden, and remained so until conditions were safe enough for it to reappear in to the open. What is clear is that we owe someone a debt of gratitude for preserving this remarkable and unique manuscript.
Thomson, R.M., A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts in Worcester Cathedral Library, Cambridge, 2001
 Thomson 2001: 109
 Thomson 2001: 109