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MS 43: Book of Hours (Use of Sarum), c 1500

Identifier: MS 43
f. 25v
f. 25v

Scope and Contents

Book of Hours in Latin from the turn of the 15th century, following the Use of Sarum. Executed in France for a Scottish owner.

Kalendar: starts on f. 1r. Contains commemorations of Saints and Martyr, and other festivities. Miniatures illustrate activities linked to the season and Zodiacal signs. The Kalendar shows clearly English, French, and Scottish connections, but the arbitrary arrangement of the colouring (alternate blue and red) destroys some of the significance of the names.

The Scottish saints commemorated are: 9 January: Sancti Felani Confessoris (Saint Fillan, originally from Ireland, was a hermit in Scotland; one of his relic was said to have granted victory to Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn); 13 January: Sancti Kentigerni (Saint Kentigern, also known as Saint Mungo; he was a missionary in the Kingdom of Strathclyde, founder and patron saint of Glasgow); 5 March: Sancti Baldredi Episcopi (Saint Baldred, Bishop of Strathclyde and successor of Saint Mungo); 17 March: Sancti Patricii Episcopi (Saint Patrick Bishop); 24 March: Sancti Dongardi Episcopi vel Confessoris (Saint Domangard Bishop or Confessor, also known as Saint Donard, hermit in Ireland); 31 August: Translationis Sancti Niniani Episcopi (Translation of Saint Ninian); 16 September: Sancti Niniani Episcopi (Saint Ninian Bishop, missionary in Scotland). The English names include the ordinary Sarum saints in gold, together with Saint Oswald (Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York; 29 or 18 February), Saint Wulfram (Worcester; 15 Ocotber), and Saint Wilfrid (Archbishop of York). The French names are mainly connected with Northen France, especially with Angers.

Sequences of the Gospel: start on f. 13r (wants 1 folio at the beginning). A series of passages from the Gospels. The readings are not arranged according to the liturgy, but in chronological order, so that the events of the life of Christ are narrated in their correct chronological sequence. They do not normally include stories from the Passion. This manuscript includes: Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 2:1-12; Mark 16:14-20.

Obsecro te (masculine form): starts on f. 16r. This is a special prayer dedicated to the Virgin Mary, beginning with the words Obsecro te ('I beseech you'). It is normally present in Book of Hours.

O intemerata (masculine form): starts on f. 18v. This is a special prayer dedicated to the Virgin Mary, beginning with the words O intemerata ('Oh immaculate Virgin'). It is normally present in Book of Hours.

The Seven Joys of Our Lady (on earth): starts on f. 22r. This set of prayers (usually fifteen, but sometimes only five, seven or nine) often accompanies Books of Hours. It celebrates happy moments of the life of Mary. It is introduced by the rubricated words Septem gaudia beate marie que habuit in terris. Prosa and it begins with the prayer Virgo templum trinitatis.

The Seven Joys of Our Lady (in Paradise): starts on f. 25v. Specular to the previous set of prayers. It is introduced by the rubricated words Secuntur septem gaudia beate marie virginis spiritualia que modo habet in paradiso composita a beato thoma martyre on f. 25r, and begins with the prayer Gaude flore virginali.

Prayer of Saint Bernard on the Virgin: starts on f. 27r and begins with the words Memento obsecro dulcis mater.

Hours of the Virgin: start on f. 28r. They are combined with the Hours of the Cross and are divided in: Matins (ff. 28r-33v), Laudes (ff. 34r-46v; recited upon rising together with 'Matins'), Prime (ff. 47r-50r; the first hour, around 6 A.M.), Terce (ff. 50v-52v; the third hour, around 9 A.M.), Sext (f. 54r-54v; the sixth hour, around noon), None (ff. 53r-53v and 71r; the ninth hour, around 3 P.M.), Vespers (ff. 71v-73r; evening), Compline (ff. 73r-74v; recited before retiring to bed).

Several folios are missing from Sext, None and Compline, and some folios have been misplaced. Some sections of None precede Sext, while the rest of it, together with Vespers and Compline, has been moved between the Litany and the Office of the Dead.

Memoriae (of Suffrages) are contained within the Laus: Holy Spirit (f. 40r-40v), Holy Trinity (f. 40v, incomplete), Saint John the Baptist (f. 41r, incomplete at the beginning), Saints Peter and Parul (f. 41r-41v), Saint James (ff. 41v-42r), Saint Stephen (f. 42r-42v), Saint Laurence (f. 42v), Saint Thomas of Canterbury (f. 43r), Saint George (f. 43r-43v), Saint Nicholas (ff. 43v-44r), Saint Mary Magdalene (f. 44r-44v), Saint Margaret (f. 44v), Saint Catherine (f. 45r), All Saints (f. 45r-45v), Peace (ff. 45v-46r). Onoe folio is missing.

Penitential Psalms: start on f. 55r. These seven Psalms (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142) are particularly connected to King David, who allegedly composed them as an atonement for his sins (David therefore is normally represented at the beginning, as in this case).

Gradual Psalms: start on f. 62r. This is the name given to fifteen Psalms (119-133) which all begin with the Hebrew words for 'Song of Ascent'. They are introduced by the rubricated words Sequuntur quindecim psalmi de beata maria qui dicuntur sub una antiphona. On f. 62r, the scribe has copied the beginning of each Psalm from 119 to 125, then Psalm 129 and Psalm 130. These beginnings are followed by the complete text of Psalm 131, 132 and 133. Psalms 127 and 128 are omitted altogether.

Litany: starts on f. 63v. It consists in the hypnotic invocation of a list of saints; each invocation is followed by the answer Ora pro nobis (with the plural variation Orate when more than one saint is invoked). The list begins with Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison ('Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy'). It is followed by prayers.

The Litany shows only English and French influences. There are no names of Scottish saints.

Office of the Dead: starts on f. 76r (the first folio is missing). This office was intended as an intercession on behalf of the dead, in order to help them to reduce their term in Purgatory. A series of readings for this office are taken from the Book of Job and the sufferings of Job became an allegory for the trials endured by the penitent souls in Purgatory.

Commendation of Souls: starts on f. 94r (incomplete).

Fiteen Os: start on f. 102r (the first folio is missing). These fifteen prayers often appear in late Medieval Books of Hours. They all begin with the exclamation O (hence their name) and are attributed to Saint Bridget of Sweden, although almost certainly they were not written by her. They are introduced by the rubricated words and begin with . After each prayer a Pater Noster and Ave Maria would be recited.

Psalms of the Passion: start on f. 107v with the words Deus Deus meus. It includes the Psalms 21, 25, 27, 28, and parto of 30.

Prayer: starts on f. 112v with the words Domine Deus omnipotens, creator caeli et terre.

Prayer of Saint Augustine: starts on f. 114r with the words Dulcissime Domine Jhesu Christe. It is introduced by rubricated words beginning at the bottom of f. 113v: Oratio edita a beato augustino si quis habeat tribulationem vel paupertatem aut sit in ira dei sive detentus in carcerem aut in quacumque tribulatione et si per triginta dies dicat hanc orationem certus sit quod dominus totaliter eum exaudiet et tribulatio eius vertet in gaudium.

Prayers of Saint Gregory: start on f. 117r with the words O Domine Jhesu Christe adoro te in crucem pendentem. A set of seven prayers attribute to Saint Gregory the Great. They all consist of a short invocation addressed to Christ, followed by an Our Father and Hail Mary.

Prayer (incomplete): starts on f. 118r. It begins with the words O bone Jesu o dulcissime Jhesu o piissime Iesu; the end is missing. This prayer is found in a number of Books of Hours. Its text derives from the second meditation of Saint Anselm, Bishop of Canterbury, but it is commonly attributed to Saint Bernardinus of Siena in manuscripts. There are two versions of this prayer, but this is the version most weidely found in Books of Hours produced in France.

Gospel (incomplete): starts on f. 119. The text is that the Gospel of John and it starts from John 18:1 with the words in quem introivit ipse et discipuli eius. It covers all the story of the Passion and ends at John 19:42 with the words Ibi ergo propter parasceven iudeorum quia iuxta erat monumentum posuerunt iesum.

Memoria of the Holy Face: starts on f. 125v with the words Salve sancta facies nostri redemptoris in qua nitet species divini splendoris.

Prayers for use during the Mass: start on f. 126r with the prayer Ave verum corpus natum de maria virgine. They are followed by a blank folio with the nomen sacrum ('sacred name') IHS on the verso.

Psalter of Saint Jerome: starts on f. 130r (the first folio is missing). A collection of verses from the Psalms, allegedly put together by Saint Jerome, mostly with a penitential character. The dedicatory prayer has the masculine form.

Memoriae (or Suffrages): start on f. 141v. Each one of them is dedicated to a Saint or Martyr and consists of three short utterances (antiphon, versicle, response) and a longer prayer which normally contains details of the life of the Saint to whom each particular memoria is dedicated. In this manuscript we find: Saint Jacob (ff. 141v-142v), Saint Christopher (ff. 142v-143v), Saint George (ff. 144r-145r), Saint Adrian (f. 145r), Saint Thomas of Canterbury (ff. 145v-146v), Saint Sebastian (ff. 147r-148r), Saint Erasmus (ff. 148v-149v), Saint Francis (f. 150r), Saint Barbara (f. 150v-151r).

The Suffrages include Saint Thomas of Canterbury (twice), and a rubric for Saint Ninian (bottom of f. 149v), though the Service itself is missing.


The script is Gothic, good and uniform.


The ornament consists of illuminated initials, line-endings, borders, and miniatures. Verse initials are dull gold on square grounds of blue or red with gold penwork. Psalm initials are greyish white on dull gold grounds with a single flower in the centre. Sectional initials are larger, but of the same type. The line-endings are composed of plain bands of blue and red with gold line tracery.


Each page has a partial border down the outer margin, consisting of flowers and fruit in natural colours and acanthus foliage in blue and gold, arranged occasionally in geometrical designs with flat gold background. Where there is a miniature, large or small, there is always a full border similarly executed, but with birds, animals, and grotesques occasionally introduced, and sometimes conventional acanthus foliage in greyish white.


Miniatures of the Kalendar:

  1. January (f. 1r) – (a) Man feasting at a table. (b) Aquarius pouring from two pitchers.
  2. February (f. 2r) – (a) Man sitting by a fire, servant bringing a bundle of wood. (b) Pisces, in stream.
  3. March (f. 3r) – (a) Two men pruning vine. (b) Aries, starry background.
  4. April (f. 4r) – (a) Young man and maiden in walled garden pulling flowers. (b) Taurus, against red and gold scroll ground.
  5. May (f. 5r) – (a) Young man and maiden riding. (b) Gemini.
  6. June (f. 6r) – (a) Hay harvest, man with scythe, woman with rake. (b) Cancer, against red and gold scroll ground.
  7. July (f. 7r) – (a) Corn harvest, reaper and binder. (b) Leo, against red and gold scroll ground.
  8. August (f. 8r) – (a) Threshing with flail. (b) Virgo, maiden with flowers.
  9. September (f. 9r) – (a) Treading grapes. (b) Libra, maiden with scales.
  10. October (f. 10r) – (a) Sowing. (b) Scorpio, against red and gold scroll ground.
  11. November (f. 11r) – (a) Man feeding swine, maiden with distaff. (b) Sagittarius, centaur with bow.
  12. December (f. 12r) – (a) Killing a pig, three figures. (b) Capricornus, springing up hillside.

Miniatures: (the beginnings of Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline are missing)

  1. Sequences (f. 13r-15r) – Picture of Saint John missing. Pictures of the other evangelists with their symbols inset in the text: Luke (f. 13r), Matthew (f. 14r), Mark (f. 15r).
  2. Obsecro te (f. 16r) – Three-quarter-page Pietà with Saint John, Mary Magdalene and two other Maries. Cross with landscape and city in the distance behind.
  3. O intemerata (f. 18v) – Inset in text. Half-length Virgin nourishing Child.
  4. Virgo templum (f. 22r) – Virgin and Child enthroned. Winged angels with harp and lute kneeling on either side.
  5. Gaude flore virginali (f. 25v) – Coronation of the Virgin. Virgin and Child in gold mandorla against azure sky with stars, crowned by two flying angels.
  6. Matins of the Blessed Virgin Mary (f. 28r) – Annunciation. Within a Gothic-arched chamber Virgin kneels at desk on the left. Gabriel, winged, with scroll, wearing an apparelled amice, alb, and large rich cloth of gold dalmatic with bold pattern, kneels on the right, a lily pot between them.
  7. Lauds (f. 34r) – Visitation. Mary and Elizabeth greet one another; two angels in cloth of gold follow the Virgin; hilly landscape, city and lake in distance.
  8. Memorie at Lauds (all inset in text). The Holy Spirit (f. 40r) – Descent of the Dove, nimbed with flame, upon the Virgin and the Twelve in the upper room.
  9. Trinity (f. 40v) – The Father, with cross-nimbus of rays, orb and cross in his left hand, right hand blessing, seated with the Son, cross-nimbus of rays, bearing the Cross and showing wounds in hands and side; the Dove, with a circular nimbus enclosing a cross, between them.
  10. Saint John the Baptist (f. 41r) – The saint, nimbed, bearing the lamb in his arms, in a rocky, hilly region.
  11. Saints Peter and Paul (f. 41r) – Two saints, nimbed, with their emblems, keys and sword, each carrying a book.
  12. Saint James (f. 41v) – The saint, nimbed, with staff, satchel, and open book.
  13. Saint Stephen (f. 42r) – Vested as a deacon, in amice with gold apparel, alb, and blue and gold shot dalmatic, stoned by two men.
  14. Saint Laurence (f. 42v) – Vested similarly, but with red dalmatic, carrying a book of the Gospels in one hand and a gridiron in the other.
  15. Saint Thomas Martyr (f. 43r) – His martyrdom. Saint Thomas in amice with gold apparel, alb, and blue chasuble with gold orphrey, stands on a wooden footpace in front of an altar which has a plain grey front, apparently without a frontal, but with a deep scarlet frontlet embroidered with gold. The mensa is covered with a fair linen cloth which hangs down over the south end of the altar. On the middle is spread the corporal, and upon it stands the chalice, in front of which lies the paten. An open book lies on the south side of the altar. Behind the altar is a low reredos consisting of a large panel on which are two images. At each end of the reredos red riddel curtains, powdered with gold spots or stars, hang from rods which are turned up at the ends. A clerk in alb and amice is at the south end of the altar. Two murderers in armour, one cleaving the saint's skull.
  16. Saint George (f. 43r) – Saint in gold and silver armour with red cross, mounted on white charger, attacks dragon with his spear. Princess kneels in the distance beside a lamb grazing, castle in background.
  17. Saint Nicholas (f. 43v) – Vested as bishop, in amice and alb, red dalmatic, blue cope with gold orphrey, white mitre, holds in his right hand a crosier, while with his left he blesses the three attendant children.
  18. Saint Mary Magdalene (f. 44r) – Saint bearing her alabaster box of ointment.
  19. Saint Margaret (f. 44v) – Saint clad in blue and red, holding a gold cross, is represented in the jaws of a green and gold dragon.
  20. Saint Katherine (f. 45r) – Saint crowned, bearing palm branch, wheel behind her, transfixes the Emperor Maximian, who lies prone beside her, through the head with a sword.
  21. All Saints (f. 45r) – Deity with orb and cross, enthroned, surrounded by a red and blue cloud of cherubim and seraphim. The Virgin and Saint John on raised dais at either side. A crowd of saints of every type around, including the Saints Peter, Paul, Stephen, Mary Magdalene, Katherine, Barbara; a pope, a cardinal, a soldier, a bishop, etc.
  22. Peace (f. 45v) – Deity in triple tiara, nimbed, with jewelled robe, bearing orb and cross; angels on either side.
  23. Matins of the Cross (f. 46r) – Inset. Crucifixion.
  24. Prime (f. 47r) – The Nativity. Virgin and Saint Joseph adoring the naked babe in a mandorla of rays on the ground. Two gold angels kneel behind, the ox and the ass in manger on the left, two shepherds looking over wattled enclosure.
  25. Terce (f. 50v) – Angel and shepherds. Three shepherds, two with crooks, one with bagpipes, a woman fondling a sheep, a dog, groups of sheep. Gold angel in cloud above with scroll; city, river, and hills in the distance.
  26. Penitential Psalms (f. 55r) – David praying beside a throne on the right, his hat and harp on the ground nearby, Nathan addresses him on the left. Head and shoulders of Deity, cross-nimbed, in the cloud above, bearing orb in the left hand, sword, spear, and scourge in the right.
  27. Office of the Dead (f. 94r) – The interior of a church, showing Mass for the Dead. In the foreground the coffin, with a pointed top, is covered by a blue hearse-cloth powdered with gold flowers and marked with a large gold cross extending its whole length and breadth. At the intersection of the arms of this cross a plain rectangular yellow panel, which may be an additional cloth separate from the hearse-cloth, is marked with a cross. Four lighted tapers of yellow wax stand in brass candlesticks, two on either side of the coffin. At the west end of the coffin is a large wooden book desk at which four clerks, in full surplices with narrow sleeves, and embroidered copes with gold orphreys, two of which are red and one blue with a green lining, are singing the service. In the background on the left is the altar. It is without a frontal, and the grey front of the altar is visible, having a plain sunk panel. There is a deep blue frontlet embroidered with gold, but without fringe. On the mensa can be seen the chalice. Behind is a low reredos with the central part raised and a sunk panel carved with a crucifixion and attendant saints. At the south end a blue riddel curtain, powdered with gold spots or stars, is pushed back to make room for the deacon who is standing at the south end of the altar with one arm resting upon it. Before the altar is a wooden footpace, on the middle of which stands the celebrant, and at the north end of which the subdeacon is kneeling facing south. The sacred ministers are vested in amices with gold apparels, albs, dalmatics and tunicles, which are plain except that the chasuble has a narrow Ψ cross orphrey.
  28. Domine Deus Omnipotens (f. 112v) – Father, seated with Son upon his knees, naked and showing wounds. The Dove rests on their shoulders.
  29. Mass of Saint Gregory (f. 117r) – Saint Gregory kneels before an altar on which stands the Image of Pity, supported from behind by an angel. The altar is without a frontal, and is of plain grey material, presumably stone, with a moulded plinth, the front and end having single plain sunk panels. There is a deep blue frontlet embroidered with gold without a fringe. The mensa is covered with a linen cloth which hangs about halfway down the end, is not fringed, but appears to be embroidered with plain bands. On the middle of the altar is the corporal on which stands the chalice, and an open book lies on the south side. There is a low reredos with a sunk panel, on which is a series of small carved figures. At each end of the reredos pink riddel curtains powdered with gold rings hang from brass rods turned up at the ends. On the footpace Saint Gregory is kneeling, vested in amice with gold apparel, alb, blue dalmatic, pink chasuble lined with green, with narrow Ψ cross orphrey, white tiara with three crowns. Behind him kneel deacon and subdeacon in amices with gold apparels, albs, and plain blue tunicles. Two cardinals are behind them, and the instruments of the Passion are in the background.
  30. Memoria of the Holy Face (f. 125v) – S.aintVeronica with the Holy Face, rayed, on a white cloth.
  31. [Saint Jerome Psalter – The beginning is missing]
  32. Rhymed Memoria of Saint James (f. 141v) – Saint seated with book, staff, and wallet.
  33. Saint Christopher (f. 142v) – Saint in midstream with Christ-Child on his shoulders. The Child holds orb in left hand and blesses with right. Ferryman on right bank holds lantern.
  34. Saint George (f. 144r) – Saint in gold armour, silver shield with red cross, white charger, smiting a green dragon. The princess kneels behind with lamb beside her. King and queen look down from battlements behind.
  35. Saint Adrian (f. 145r) – Saint in golden armour with blue cloak, red cap, sword, silver anvil in left hand, lion at his feet.
  36. Suffrage of Saint Thomas Martyr (f. 145v) – Same treatment as on f. 43, but a larger and finer picture with a little more detail.
  37. Saint Sebastian (f. 147r) – Saint in the act of being bound to a tree, two men shooting at him with arrows.
  38. Saint Erasmus (f. 148v) – His martyrdom. He lies naked, fastened in a windlass, which is worked by two men, while the king and three nobles look on; hilly scenery.
  39. [Picture of Saint Ninian missing].
  40. Saint Francis (f. 150r) – Saint in brown robe receiving the stigmata, scarlet-winged, crucified Christ suspended above.
  41. Saint Barbara (f. 150v) – Saint with palm branch standing beside tower.
  42. [Probably at least six more miniatures are missing].

Compare these miniatures with those of MS 44.


  • Creation: c 1500

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

External evidence shows the manuscript to be of North French execution, possibly from Rouen or its proximity; its contents, however, notably the Kalendar, Litany and Suffrages, are fundamentally English with strong French influences, and the Kalendar has a number of Scottish names. The Hours are according to the Sarum Use. One may conclude that the book was executed in France for a Scottish owner.

It was bound and presented to the library by George Mosman, Stationer, 16 July 1692.

Previous reference

D. b. IV. 1.

Existence and Location of Copies

A colour microfilm is at Nic M. 1754.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern.

Collation: a12, b7 (wants 1), c8, d8, e7 (wants 6), f8, g4 (wants 4 folios), h8, i8, k5 (wants 3; this whole gathering is misplaced, it should follow g), l7 (wants 1), m8, n8, o3, p7 (wants 1), q6, r7 (wants 5), s8, t7 (wants 1), v8, x7 (wants 6) = 151.


20 cm x 13.65 cm


Secundo folio: text vocatur sterilis.

Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 151, 20 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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