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Prayers and Hymns for Christmas Day, in the Stowe Breviary

Prayers and Hymns for Christmas Day, in the Stowe Breviary

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1325

Shelfmark: Stowe MS 12

Item number: f. 16v

Length: 29

Width: 24.6

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

Called the 'Stowe Breviary' because it was in the collection at Stowe House, this prayerbook may have belonged to a member of the clergy in the Diocese of Norwich. The exceptional quality of its handwriting and decoration suggest that the original owner was an important person. Two artists painted the pictures within letters (historiated initials) and another artist created the decoration. Their work resembles other East Anglian art, showing the superb skills of the region's 14th-century scribes and artists. Several parts, however, are lost from it, and a section at the end was added later in the 14th century. It has the prayer services used in much of England after the Norman invasion (Sarum usage).

The clergy, monks and nuns used the breviary in their daily prayer services. On this page, the prayers and hymns for Christmas Day are given, along with instructions (written in red) for the choir, in one case here with five boys dressed in white with candles. The picture of the Nativity decorates the first letter of the response sung by the choir at morning prayers (lauds).

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