Psalm 51 (52), in a Psalter With Old English Translation
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Psalm 51 / 52 ("Why do you boast of evil") begins with a large, decorated letter. Not all the psalms got such special treatment, but Psalm 51 stood at the beginning of one of the divisions of the psalter. There were several traditions of psalter division, the most commonly used being an eight-part division designed to accommodate the weekly recitation of the psalms in the daily prayer services of monks (one section for each weekday plus one for evening prayer services). The Old English translation can be seen between the lines. At one point, the scribe wrote it over the body of the dragon forming part of the 'Q', evidence that the gloss was added after the manuscript was finished. The tolerant dragon and the animal head who has patiently held the top of the letter together are in the style of mid-11th century Anglo-Saxon decoration.