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Psalms 124 (125), 125 (126) in a Psalter

Psalms 124 (125), 125 (126) in a Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1210

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 157

Item number: f.104v

Length: 29.1

Width: 19

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Used as a prayerbook as well as a book of hymns for church services, the psalter in the later middle ages was often produced with a calendar and additional prayers. Eventually it was combined with an abridged version of the breviary, the prayerbook used by monks, to form the special lay prayerbook, the book of hours. This psalter represents an important stage in this development as it took place in England. It is one of the earliest psalters to include the Hours of the Virgin, a special set of devotions taken from the breviary. Also it is the earliest of a line of richly decorated psalters which were probably made at Oxford, in the workshops by lay scribes and artists, an industry which grew out of book production for the university. Every psalm in this book begins with an historiated initial. Many of the smaller decorated initials, however, present subject matter which has only a tenuous relationship if any with the psalm. Psalm 124 (125, "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Sion") has a picture of an imaginary creature who carries a fishing net or basket over his shoulder while riding backwards on a goat. Below, Psalm 125 (126) begins with an initial depicting a man carrying a simian creature on his shoulders.

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