TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Miniature Psalter and Canticles

In Latin, manuscript on parchment
[Germany, Rhineland?, c. 1400-50]

TM 147

190 ff., on parchment, originally in quires of 12 (collation i5, ii-iv12, v11 [12-1], vi12, vii11 [12-1], viii10 [12-2], ix12, x11 [12-1], xi10, xii-xvi12 (lacking folios after ff. 78, 88, 94], written in a cursive bookhand, copied in brown ink by a main scribe with additions or corrections by other hands, on up to 16 long lines (justification 35 x 50 mm.), ruled in brown ink, some prickings still visible, some catchwords, initials or capitals in red, 2-line high initials in red. CONTEMPORARY BINDING OF dark red-stained sheepskin over wooden boards, spine sewn on 3 raised thongs, thick headbands, brass fore-edge catchplate with clasp, blind-tooled with double fillets, compartments and intersection filled with blind-stamped impressions of small circular rosettes and quadrifoil motifs (stamps are similar to those found on a binding in Schmidt-Künsemüller, Corpus der gotischen Lederschnitteinbände aus dem deutschen Sprachgebeit, Stuttgart (1980), no. 394, “Rhenish,” first half of the 15th century) (Binding a bit darkened with age, upper joint a bit cracked but preserved in its original condition). Dimensions 55 x 75 mm.

Small portable Psalter with canticles and hymns, as well as some liturgical lessons, designed to be easily portable for personal worship and well-preserved in its contemporary binding blind-stamped with small tools found in Rhenish bindings.


1. Script and contemporary binding strongly suggest a Germanic origin for this small portable Psalter. The tools used resemble those found on bindings of Rhenish origin, although further research is needed to confirm localization and date. An ownership inscription, near contemporary to the manuscript, is left incomplete (f. 190v): “Dies buch gehört mir…”.


ff. 1-4v, Liturgical lessons for sext and beginning of none, rubric: lectio .ii. [secunda]; incipit, “Melius est non…”; f. 4v, rubric: nona [thus lessons copied before are likely for sext];

ff. 5-5v, Added Prayer, in a slightly later hand (early sixteenth century?): “O Domine Jesu Christe guberna cunctis […] vocationis mea…” [not recorded in Chevalier, Repertorium hymnologicum… (1897)];

ff. 6-172v, Psalter: “Beatus vir…”; missing folio between ff. 77-78, breaking off at: “…populorum ut exludant […],” starting again at: “[…] Confortati sunt qui…” (lacking Ps. 67, 31-68, 5); missing folio between ff. 87v-88, breaking off at ”…et exaltabuntur cornua […],” starting again at “[…] [vi]gilias oculi mei turbatus sum…” (lacking Ps. 75, 1-76, 5); missing folio between ff. 93-94, breaking off at “…Sed elegit tribum Iuda […]” starting again at “[…] salutaris noster propter…” (Ps. 77, 68-78, 8); ff. 167v-169, Psalm 144, “Exaltabo te Deus meus rex…”; ff. 169-169v, Psalm 145, “Lauda anima meainci…”; ff. 169v-170, Psalm 146, “Laudate Dominum quoniam…”; ff. 170v-171, Psalm 147, “Lauda Ierusalem Dominum…”; ff. 171-172, Psalm 148, “Laudate Dominum de celis…”; f. 172 Psalm 149, “Cantate Domino canticum novum…”;

ff. 172v-190v, Selection of Canticles: Canticum (Isaiah 12, 1-6); incipit, “Confitebor tibi Domine quoniam iratus es mihi…”, with the following inscription in lower margin ”Laudate cum tympano et choro laudate cum in [?] cordis et organo” (ff. 172v-173); Canticum (Isaiah 38: 10-20), incipit, “Ego dixi in dimidio dierum meorum…” (ff. 173-174v); Canticum [Canticle of Anna] (Samuel 2: 1-10), “Exultavit cor meum in Domino…” (ff. 174v-179); Canticum [Canticle of Moses] (Deuteronomy 32: 1-43), “Audite celi que loquar…” (ff. 179-183v); Canticum [Canticum trium puerorum or Song of the Three Children], “Benedicte omnia opera Domini…” (ff. 183v-184v); Hymn, “Te Deus laudamus…” (ff. 184v-186v); Canticum with rubric: Canticum Zachariae [Canticle of Zachariah] (Luke 1: 68-79), “Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel…” (ff. 186v-187v); Hymn, “Nunc dimittis…” (f. 187v); Canticum or Creed of Saint Athanasius: “Quicumque vult salvus esse…” (ff. 187v-190v).

The Book of Psalms, otherwise known as Psalterium Davidicum ("The Davidic Psalter"), Liber Psalmorum (Vulgate), Tehillim (Hebrew, "The Book of Praises"), Psalterion (Greek) is a book of poems, lyrics, of set structure meant to be chanted (the word "psalterion" implies that they may once have been accompanied by a stringed instrument). The added inscription on f. 172v in the lower margin reminds us of the musical function of the text: ”Laudate cum tympano et choro laudate cum in [?] cordis et organo.” The present copy was designed to be easily transportable, undoubtedly for use in private devotion.


Kyriss, Ernst. Research in Bookbinding, II, [Lexington], 1953.

Kyriss, Ernst. Verzierte gotische Einbände im alten deutschen Sprachgebiet.. ., Stuttgart, 1951-1956.

Leroquais, V. Les Psautiers manuscrits latins des bibliothèques publiques de France…, Macon, Protat frères, 1940-1941.

Schmidt-Künsemüller, F. A. Corpus der gotischen Lederschnitteinbände aus dem deutschen Sprachgebeit, Stuttgart, 1980.