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Psalm 1, in a Psalter and Prayerbook

Psalm 1, in a Psalter and Prayerbook

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1490

Shelfmark: Harley MS 487

Item number: f.7r

Length: 17.2

Width: 11

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

This psalter and prayerbook belonged to the English nuns of St Brigitta (or Brigittines) whose house, Syon, was originally located near Twickenham. After Henry VIII dissolved Syon in 1539, the Brigittines relocated in the Netherlands but then returned with the accession of Queen Mary (1557) only to be exiled again after her death. After wandering in France and Spain, they settled in Lisbon. Syon was the only Brigittine house in medieval England. This prayerbook was probably made in a London workshop.

Used in the daily prayer services of the nuns, this manuscript has a calendar, the Book of Psalms, hymns (canticles) from the Bible, a litany or prayer asking God and the saints--one by one--for help, and other prayers, including a set of prayers of devotion to the Holy Spirit. Psalm 1 ("Blessed the man") usually received the most decoration of any part of a prayerbook or psalter. The richly decorated border resembles decoration being made in London late in the 15th century.

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