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les Enluminures

AMBROSIUS LOBWASSER, Psalmen Davids nach Frantzösischer meloden und Reymen art in Teutsche Reymen verständlich und deutlich gebracht with translation by MARTIN LUTHER; CHRISTOPH REICHELDT, Calendarium biblicum perpetuum

In German, manuscript on parchment with musical notation The Netherlands (The Hague), dated 1629

TM 634

i (parchment) + 180 + i (parchment) folios on parchment, original pagination in Arabic numerals within the ruled space for the running titles, two unnumbered folios + pp. 1-243, 144bis-223bis, p. 223bis, blank and unnumbered) + one unnumbered folio + pp. 1-30, modern foliation top outer corner recto, complete (collation, i-xv4 xvi6 xvii-xl4 xli2 xlii-xlv4), signed, in the manner of a printed book at the bottom of the first three leaves in each quire, with a letter designating the quire and an Arabic numeral, the leaf, A-Z, Aa-Rr, (omitting J and V) with the last four quires designated by stars, catchwords at the bottom of each page, apparently unruled apart from a frame of double ink rules dividing the text space into two vertical columns, with additional spaces for running titles at the top and signatures and catchwords at the bottom (justification 120 x 83-82 mm.), copied by one scribe in a Fraktur script in up to 34 lines in two columns, with musical notation on five-line staves, larger calligraphic initials at the beginning of Psalms, decorative head and tail pieces on four pages (f. 3, 162v, 164, and 165v), five pages with full penwork borders (f. 1rv, 2rv, and f. 165) with delicate foliate designs, three full-page diagrams of the compass and winds, ff. 166, 178v, 179, overall in very good condition, slight stain upper outer corner first nine leaves, some folios creased, and quires 22-24 loose. Bound in the Netherlands in its original elaborately gold-tooled pointillé red leather fan binding over wooden boards, with an outer border bounded by double fillets enclosing two rows of small stamps, separated by triple fillets, with two sets of double fillets enclosing a chain of tiny diamond stamps, forming a rectangular center rectangular, decorative stamps at each corner, with a center fan-roundel and half-fan at the top and bottom, smooth spine with gilt border and three roundels, gilt edges, once fastened back to front, remains of straps, lower board, and pins in the outer edge of the upper board, spine cracked along the center and fragile, and joints beginning to crack, slight scuffing to both covers. Dimensions 161 x 100 mm.

This outstanding example of seventeenth-century calligraphy is signed by the scribe, “A. W.”, almost certainly Andre Wecheln, a German who became the first Postmaster-General of Sweden (his work is known in one other manuscript of Protestant texts). Ambrosius Lobwasser’s metrical version of the Psalms (intended for congregational singing), based on a printed book, is accompanied by Martin Luther’s translation, along with the version of the Ten Commandments from Luther’s Catechism. The accompanying calendar guided systematic reading of the Bible.


1. Copied in The Hague in 1629, dated on the title page, ff. 1 and 165; f. 2v, the preface supplies a date, September 20, 1629, and notes it was copied in The Hague, or Graffenhag, by a scribe who signs his name “A.W.” on the title page of the first text, f. 1, “A.W.S.” after the preface, f. 2v, and “A.W.F.S.” on the title page of the second work, f. 165. The scribe can almost certainly be identified as Andre Wecheln, or, in some sources, Anders Wechel, based on the similarities of script, layout, and decoration in a manuscript of Protestant texts copied in Sweden and dated 1636-37 that Wecheln signed with his full name (TM 514 on this site). The addition of F. S. after his initials, if this identification is correct, may possibly stand for “fecit et scripsit” (made and written). In his preface to the Lobwasser Psalter, the scribe uses the phrase, “auff Pergamen abschreiben wollen”, echoing the language used TM 514. Both manuscripts interestingly include Calendarium biblicum perpetuum by Christoph Reicheldt.

Wecheln was a native German from Hamburg. Unfortunately nothing seems to be known of his early career, but by April 1632, he had entered Swedish royal service as military postmaster in Leipzig following the victory of King Gustavus Adolphus over the German imperial forces at Breitenfeld on 7 September 1631.  In subsequent years he established a postal system which handled not only military correspondence, but also general letter traffic; published a newspaper (of which two issues from 1632 survive); and engaged in a regular correspondence as an informant on German political and military affairs with Axel Oxenstierna, the Lord High Chancellor of the Swedish Empire.  After the peace of Prague (30 May 1635), when Saxony joined the imperial alliance, Wecheln lost his post. At Oxenstierna’s recommendation he was called by the Swedish Parliament in October 1635 to establish a postal system in Sweden. He is regarded as the founder of the modern Swedish postal service and was the first Postmaster-General in Sweden, but died after only two years in Stockholm in 1637 (on Wecheln, see Heurgren, 1961, pp. 26-43, and Linnarsson, 2010, pp. 76-92).

It appears that Wecheln’s early life has yet to be investigated. This manuscript is therefore of particular interest as evidence that he was in The Hague in 1629. His skill as a scribe was notable, certainly suggesting he studied with a writing master as some point, and this manuscript and TM 514 are evidence that he was devout. Both manuscripts are meticulous reproductions of printed Protestant texts, and TM 514 displays his interest in theological speculation (see TM 514). In his preface to the reader, he describes the act of copying Lobwasser’s Psalms as an act of devotion, and as he says, a way to avoid melancholy and an unquiet heart. There is no mention in his preface of a patron, and it seems likely that Wecheln copied the manuscript for himself.

2. Front flyleaf, verso, “527”; front flyleaf, P. Müller Simonis, 1887. Th. G.

3. Private European Collection.


ff. 1-164; f. 1, Title page, incipit, “Psalmen Davids/ Nach Fran-/tzösischer meloden und/ Reymen art in Teutsche/ Reymen verständlich und/ deutlich gebracht/ Durch/ Ambrosium Lobwasser D/ Sampt dem ad marginem darzue geseszten text des Psalter Davids/ Wie auch zu end der Psalmen die Zehen Gebotte und de Lobgesange/ Simeonis so in den kirchen und gemeinden/ zusingen gebrauchlich seynd dar-/zue gesestzt und mit allem fleisz geschrieben/ wor/-den durch A.W./ anno/ MDCXXIX”;

f. 1v, Prayer, “Dem konig aller konige und Herrn aller herren dem vnwergänglichen vnd unsichtbarn vnd aller weisen ehre und ewiges Reich, Amen”; (List of Psalms with complete melodies), Psalmen so einer meloden oder tons sind, 5 and 24 …”;

f. 2rv, Vorrede an der Christlichen Leser, incipit, “Lieber christliche Leser es haben billich vel hocherlenchtete und mit Gottes Geist sonderlich beatbte menschen uber den Psalters … auch einem jeden wahren Christen von grund des hertzens wündsche und von Gott embsiglich erbitte. Amen. Amen. Gott mit uns. Geschehen ins Graffenhag dem 20. Septemb. 1629. A. W. S.”;

ff. 3-161v, Psalmen Davids, Psalms 1-150, ending, Ende der Psalmen Davids, in two columns, in the main column, the metrical Psalm in Lobwasser’s translation, and in a narrower outer column the Psalms in Martin Luther’s German translation; with only a few exceptions, all the Psalms include musical notation (the few that do not, include directions to the reader indicating another Psalm with the appropriate melody). 

f. 161v-162, Die zehen Gebott Gottes, In der meloden des CXL Psalmen. Incipit, “Erhev dein hertz …”;

The Ten Commandments; in the outer margin the version from Luther’s catechism (see https://www.ekd.de/glauben/zehn_gebote.html).

ff. 162rv, Der Gesang Simeonis, incipit, “Lass deinen knecht nu mehr …”; with musical notation [ending top f. 162v, below a decorative tailpiece];

The Canticle of Simeon (the Nunc dimittis), Luke 2:29-32.

ff. 163-164, Register uber die Psalmen, Der leser sol wissen dass die ziffer oder zahl anzeigen eines jeden Psalmens zahl ob er der 1. 2. 3. 4. oder etc. in der ordnung sene, … Ende des Registers [followed by decorative tailpiece, with initials A.W.”; [f. 164v, blank];

Alphabetical table of first lines, with references to the number of the Psalm.

Metrical translation into German of the Genevan Psalter with musical notation by Ambrosius Lobwasser (1515-1585). This was certainly based on a printed book; the title page is almost identical with the title page of the Lobwasser Psalter printed in Hanau by Johann Cause in 1614 (VD 17:612588X), but with important differences. The wording (and even spacing of words) of the two title pages is almost identical in the first eight lines, but beginning with “Sampt …”, the two differ, with the wording in the manuscript accurately reflecting its contents (most notably the inclusion of the Psalter text in the margin). The text on f. 1v with the prayer and list of Psalms appears identical to the printed edition. The printed edition, however, is arranged in two columns, and includes only Lobwasser’s metrical translation and the accompanying music. The manuscript is copied with Lobwasser’s translation and the musical settings in a larger central column, with Martin Luther’s translation of the Psalms copied alongside in a smaller script in a separate column. No printed edition of the Lobwasser Psalter with this layout has been identified (although one might exist), and it seems possible that the addition of Luther’s translation may have been Wecheln’s innovation; alternatively, he may have been copying a printed edition that is no longer extant. The preface addressed to the “Christian reader” is certainly unique to this manuscript.

Other editions with similar title pages, include Amberg 1610 (VD 17 547:651657K) (not as close to the manuscript in line breaks and layout), and Neustadt an der Hardt, 1606, with similar decoration, although the wording of the title is not as close (VD 17 1:053093T).

ff. 165-180v, f. 165, title-page, incipit, “CALENDARIUM BIBLICUM/ PERPETUUM/ Das ist / Ein Immerwehren/-der Biblischer Calender Darinnen zu/ sehen nicht allein wie man täglich in der H. Bibel gewis/-se Capitel lesen daß man dieselbe innerhalb Jahres frist a/-bsolviren vnd hinauß bringen sondern auch wie man ihm/ die Concordantias der Historien des Alten vnd New/-en Testamentes bekannt vnd geleufftig machen/ könne. / Beneben anmeldung der Sontäglichen E/-vangelien vnd wie sich der Mensch in die jahrzeit/ …/ Mit sampt dem Römischen Calender so mit seinen/ Calendis, Nonis, vnd Idibus auch darben zu sehen ist wie/ mit weniger der Newe vnd Vollmondstage iedes Monats/ durchs ganze Jahr in suchung der golden zahl des iars/ … Auch ist der Sontags Buchstabe und Son[n]en zei/-ger im hier vor angesetzeten Sonnencirkel …/ Wie dann auch in dem zum Ende des Calenders/ angechengten Mons …/ Mit noch etlich schönen anmerkungen Figur der/Winden Berzeichnus aller Bücher vnd Capiteln Altes vnd/ Newen Testaments vnd der Planeten mit fleiß beschreiben/ Durch A.W.F.S. “

f. 165v, An den Christlichen gut hertzigen Leser, incipit, “Kein Kurtzweil mich dahin getriebn/ Alß den Calender Ich geschribn/ … Ihm sen lob Ehr vnd Prieß gesgagt. Amen”;

Verse preface addressed to reader.

f. 166, Full-page diagram, with a Calendrical roundel, Sonnen Circkel, with the dominical letters to find the Sundays in the years 1629-1656 (constructed around a picture of the sun with a face); and below, a compass roundel with the indictions;

ff. 167v-178, Calendar, January to December, with Bible readings for each day (morning, noon and evening), together with other information found in liturgical calendars (the Golden numbers to find Easter, the Dominical letters, and the Kalends, Ides and Nones of the Roman calendar, etc.), and verses for each month;

f. 178v-179, Full-page diagram, with a calendrical roundel, Mond Circkel, with the date of Easter according to the old and new calendars from 1629-1647 (constructed around a picture of the moon with a face), followed by instructions on calculating the date of Easter and the divisions of the liturgical year;

f. 179rv, Von den Winden VIII, Morgen Winde I, incipit, “Ostnordost Ost vn Ostsudost/ Heist der Wind so vem Morgen stost …”; with a diagram, Figur der XXXII Winden, below

f. 180rv, Summarische Verzeichnus aller Bücher und Capitel in der H. biblia und Newen Testaments …, incipit, “1. Genesis. Das I Buch Mosis hat Cap. 50, 2. Exodus. Das II Buch Mosis hat Cap. 40 … 27. Apocalipsis. Die Offenbar Jo. 22. Summa zusammen ist 1335 Cap.”; Followed by a table, Tag und Nachtstunden der Planeten, with the signs for each planet.

Christoph Reicheldt, Calendarium biblicum perpetuum; first published in 1620 by Johann Glück in Leipzig, in commission for the author, Christoph Reicheldt (fl. 1620-1660), a Leipzig citizen (VD17 23:280492H), and again in 1624 by Johann Meuschken in Altenburg for the Leipzig bookdealer Kaspar Klosemann the Elder (VD17 23:622306X). Both editions appear to be extant in very few copies. The title page in this manuscript resembles the 1624 edition most closely (although with a decorative border not found in this edition). The printed edition was not available for comparison, but differences in the wording of the title pages indicates that the manuscript includes only selected items found in the printed edition (and may include additional items as well). 

The Calendarium biblicum perpetuum, was principally a guide to enable the systematic reading of the whole Bible in the space of one year, although it also included other information related to the ecclesiastical calendar, and in this manuscript, a table of the Books of the Bible with the numbers of chapters in each book. This text was also included in the manuscript copied by Anders Welcheln in Stockholm in 1636-1637 (TM 514 on this site).

One of the most important innovations in the Reform church service was the emphasis on congregational singing. Luther himself wrote numerous hymns, and his conviction that believers should participate actively in the service led to a large Chorale repertoire with German texts. The text in this manuscript, the popular German Psalter by Ambrosius Lobwasser (1515-1585), with the intriguing title, the “Psalms of David according to French melodies …”, was used both in Churches and for Psalm singing in Protestant homes.

Lobwasser was a well-travelled German lawyer and scholar, who became acquainted with the French Calvinist Genevan Psalter while living in France. The Genevan Psalter, inspired by John Calvin’s desire for a version of the Psalms that could be sung by congregations, was a metrical Psalter accompanied by music in the French translation by the theologian Theodore Beza and the court poet Clement Marot. Lobwasser was so impressed by the beauty of this version of the Psalms and the accompanying music, that his translation is in fact a translation of the French, and retained the meter and versification necessary for the music.  His version, completed in 1562, was published in 1573. Although Lobwasser was criticized by some of his contemporaries for using the French Reform translation, his Psalter became an established part of German worship for centuries (and is still used in Amish congregations in the United States today).  

Even after the invention of printing in the mid-fifteenth century, the ability to copy books and documents in a formal script continued to be a valued skill, cultivated and taught by professional writing-masters, both in person, and by means of copy books and writing manuals that circulated as manuscripts and in printed copies. As mentioned above, it seems likely that Andre Wecheln copied this manuscript for himself, as an act of devotion; however, although there is no evidence that he was a professional scribe, given his skill as a copyist, one wonders whether he might have worked as a secretary or clerk early in his career. 

The question of how many seventeenth-century manuscripts of this type are extant is one for further investigation. This work, with its careful mimicry of not only the script but the layout and title pages of printed texts, seems to be a different category than the inventive manuscripts created by Esther Inglis (1571-1624) (Whalley, 1984, fig. 60); it may have more in common with the books copied by calligraphers such as Nicolas Jarry associated with the court of Louis XIV (Mediavilla, 2006; for examples see Whalley, 1984, figures 65-66).


Grunewald, Eckhard and Henning P. Jürgens, et. al., eds. Ambrosius Lobwasser, Der Psalter dess Königlichen Propheten Dauids, New York and Hildesheim, 2004.

Grunewald, Henning P. Jürgens und Jan R. Luth. Der Genfer Psalter und seine Rezeption in Deutschland, der Schweiz und den Niederlanden: 16.-18. Jahrhundert, Tübingen, Niemeyer, 2004.

Heurgren, Paul Gerhard. Svensk militärpost i krig och frid från 1600-talet fram till andra världskriget, Stockholm, 1961.

Linnarsson, Magnus. Postgång på växlande villkor. Det svenska postväsendets organisation under stormaktstiden, Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations 49, Lund, 2010.

Mediavilla, Claude. Histoire de la calligraphie française, Paris, Albin Michel, 2006.

Whalley, Joyce Irene. The Pen’s Excellence. Calligraphy of Western Europe and America, London 1980.

Whalley, Joyce Irene. The Student’s Guide to Western Calligraphy. An Illustrated Survey, Boulder, CO., and London, 1984.

Online resources

VD 17: Verzeichnis der Drucke 16. / 17. Jhd. (VD16 / VD17) (1/1)

“The Swedish Postal Experience”,