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Psalm 26, in a Psalter and Prayerbook

Psalm 26, in a Psalter and Prayerbook

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1490

Shelfmark: Harley MS 487

Item number: f.33v

Length: 17

Width: 10.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: 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. Psalters used for the daily prayer services (divine office) usually were divided into eight or ten sections, indicated by large, decorated first letters, with a section for each weekday plus others for evening prayer (vespers). Psalm 26 (27) began the second section. The richly decorated frame resembles a decoration in a group of manuscripts made in late 15th-century London.

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