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Beginning of the Book of Psalms, in the Penwortham Breviary

Beginning of the Book of Psalms, in the Penwortham Breviary

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1310

Shelfmark: Additional MS 52359

Item number: f.239r

Length: 21.5

Width: 13

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A breviary is a prayerbook giving the prayers, hymns, and readings for the divine office, the cycle of devotions which monks recited daily. They can vary in size, this one being on the small side and so considered a 'portable breviary.' Its origins are uncertain, although heraldry of the Despenser, Warren, and other families were added to it soon after its manufacture. In 1486 Thomas Harwode, chaplain, gave it to the parish church of Penwortham, Lancashire. The Penwortham Breviary preserves one of the oldest, most complete examples of the divine office according to Sarum Use, or as recited in much of medieval post-Norman England. Each day monks sang hymns from the psalter (Book of Psalms). A small picture of David composing the psalms on his harp introduces this breviary's psalter. On the right, a horn-blowing monk emerges from the border to accompany him. The first letter of Psalm 1 bears a portrait of King David.

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