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Bedtime Prayers for the Hours of the Holy Spirit, in a Book of Hours

Bedtime Prayers for the Hours of the Holy Spirit, in a Book of Hours

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1260

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 1151

Item number: f.93v

Length: 16

Width: 10.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Early books of hours have types of pictures and decoration which tend not to appear in ones made later on, after the programme of subject matter for pictures and decoration became established. This book of hours includes unusual pictures and texts, such as the Hours of the Holy Spirit and of the Passion, which were exceptional in a prayerbook of the mid-13th century. Some of the texts were recommended in contemporary treatises for the devotions of anchoresses, suggesting that it was made originally for such a religious woman. Its calendar of saints' feasts include many that were associated with the West Midlands. The Hours of the Holy Spirit are short, consisting of only a hymn, an antiphon (a verse sung in response) and a short prayer: This page begins the hour of compline, or bed-time. Its historiated (bearing a picture) letter shows a man making a bed while the Holy Spirit descends from the picture's upper corner. The picture's subject is typical of this book's scenes from daily life, a theme which differs from the later standardised programme decorating initials of the hours. The bizarre human-headed creatures in the margins, however, are typical of mid- to late-13th century manuscript decoration.

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