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Psalm 52 With The Annunciation to the Shepherds, In The Egerton Psalter

Psalm 52 With The Annunciation to the Shepherds, In The Egerton Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1280

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 1066

Item number: f.43r

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. In the middle ages, Christian theologians understood the Book of Psalms as prophecy of Christ and the church. This is why medieval psalters often have pictures of the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Besides promoting Christian understanding, the pictures also offer devotional aids to readers, for whom the psalter was a personal prayerbook as well as a hymnal for church services. The Egerton Psalter has pictures of the 'Childhood of Christ' (a conventional series of scenes of Jesus before his baptism and public life) in the first letters of several of its psalms, but several of these scenes, including this one of the Shepherds and the Angel, are virtually unknown in English psalters.

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