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Psalm 97, In The Egerton Psalter

Psalm 97, In The Egerton Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1280

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 1066

Item number: f.72r

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. Certain psalms are highlighted in medieval psalters by having large and richly decorated first letters, a feature which expresses divisions of the psalter. A psalter's division may follow any of three different traditions, the Egerton psalter having the liturgical or eight-fold system, which accommodates the weekly schedule of prayers with a section for evening services (vespers). The first letter of Psalm 97 / 98 ("Sing to the Lord a new song ") bears a pictures of three clerics harmonising in song--which seems appropriate--and Christ teaching in the temple, which is more difficult to explain, except that it finishes the 'Childhood of Christ' cycle of pictures which is distributed over the first 97 psalms. This theme is very unusual in English psalters.

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