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A Litany, In The Egerton Psalter

A Litany, In The Egerton Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1280

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 1066

Item number: f.113v

Length: 30.2

Width: 18.4

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A psalter's origins can often be 'tracked' by the saints' names given 'red-letter' treatment in its calendar, because regions and towns commemorated their local saints. Other features of a psalter, such as types of prayers and styles or types of pictures, can connect it with a location. The Egerton Psalter, however, tells us little. Some link with Norwich is indicated by the calendar's special treatment of Felix of Dunwich, and more clues are given by another kind of evidence, later ownership. Its calendar notes deaths of members of the Holbrook and King families in the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as of William Pepyr, Vicar of Metyngham in the 14th century, supporting its early connections with East Anglia. Medieval psalters were used in church services as hymnals and by individuals as personal prayerbooks. In either capacity, they included further prayers, such as this litany in the Egerton Psalter. It begins with a Kyrie, or plea for mercy and peace, followed by a list of saints whose aid is implored. This list of saints, like the calendar, offers nothing that would help localise the psalter's origins, but it gives a good example of how these prayers were written in 13th-century psalters.

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