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Samuel and David, in the Penwortham Breviary

Samuel and David, in the Penwortham Breviary

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1310

Shelfmark: Additional MS 52359

Item number: f.245v

Length: 21.5

Width: 12.9

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. Monks sang prayers from the Book of Psalms (psalter) daily as part of the divine office. Psalm 26 begins on this page, its first letter decorated with a picture of Samuel anointing David. Images highlighting David's kingship and authorship of the Psalms were conventional in medieval psalter decoration. Musical notations, however, are rare in small breviaries.

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