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Advent hymns and prayers, in the Penwortham Breviary

Advent hymns and prayers, in the Penwortham Breviary

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1310

Shelfmark: Additional MS 52359

Item number: f.1r

Length: 21.6

Width: 13.1

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. The first page has the prayers and hymns for the first Sunday in Advent, as the heading in red tells the reader. The beginning of the text is decorated with a picture of the Annunciation, with the words of Gabriel, the prayer 'Hail Mary full of grace,' on a scroll. The musical notations are rare in small breviaries.

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