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MS 57: Psalter, 1300-1330

Identifier: MS 57


The manuscript is an English Psalter that was created in the 14th century, between 1300 and 1330, possibly in Worcester.
There is a Title Page on f.1r. There is some custodial history information, as well as some scribbles and drawings, dating from later than the rest of the manuscript.
The Litany of the Virgin starts on f.2r.
The Virtutes Psalmorum Psalterii hec sint start on f.3r. This section begins with Canticum psalmorum animas decorat and ends on f.3v with animam ejus vivificabit.
The Hymn of Saint Mary Magdalene is on f.4r. This section was inserted in the 15th century. It begins with Dum Magdalena [sic] peccanti sum via vera.
The Liber de Gradibus Virtutum a Sancto Ambrosio ordinatus starts on f.5r. This section begins with a rubricated section starting with Incipit liber de gradibus virtutum a sancto Ambrosio ordinatus, continuing with Tamen in ecclesia Sarum legitur Haymo, sed qui illum non habent possint legere gradus scale virtutum a sancto Ambrosio compositus, and ending with et tunc reincipiatur. The section itself starts with Primus gradus hujus sacratissime scale and ends on f.13v with — feliciter ascendere valeatis. Amen.
The Dicta Augustini de laude Psalmorum starts on f.14r. This section begins with Si vis pro peccatis tuis penitentiam agere.
A rubricated section starting Quicunque luget Sancti Oswaldi regis et martyris jejunaverit in pane et aqua quotannis is on f.15v. It ends with set id ab eo qui a mortuis resurrexit testificatum est .
The next section starts on f.16r with Hic incipiunt Psalmi quos sanctus hillarius episcopus ordinavit ad creatorem suum et salvatorem deprecandos.
The Modus vivendi ad nobiles et potente starts on f.16v. This section begins with Ne pauperes per potenciam suam oprimant, and ends on f.19r with vel festinando vel retardendo.
The Kalendar starts on f.20r.
The Psalter starts on f.26r. It is missing Psalms 28:12-Psalms 29:1; Psalms 51:19—Psalms 53:1; Psalms 68:22—Psalms 69:1; Psalms 93:1—Psalms 103:15. Folio 26 seems to have been added at a later date.
The Canticles and Quicunque vult start on f.148r.
The Litany starts on f.161r.
The Service of the Dead starts on f.168v. In this section, the prayers have both masculine and feminine forms.
Writing The writing is large and rather coarse, the vellum not of the best quality. The Kalendar and Psalter are by one scribe, the earlier portions by another contemporary hand. The ornament consists of red and blue filigree initials to verses and Psalms and historiated initials at the regular divisions of the Psalter.
Illumination To each historiated initial a partial border of blue and lake, cusped and ending in branches of ivy and vine foliage or grotesque half-human figures or heads, is attached. But all save four of these initials have now disappeared. The work, on the whole, is rather poor for this period.

List of illuminations:

  1. Fol. 46v: Dominus illuminatio. David crowned, pointing to his eye, kneels before an altar vested in a pleated frontal with a deep fringe hanging from the very narrow frontlet. Upon the altar stands a cross. Burnished gold ground.
  2. Fol. 93v: Exultate Deo. David, crowned, plays on four bells. Burnished gold ground.
  3. Fol. 116v: Dixit Dominus. Trinity. Father and Son, both crossnimbed, both holding orb in left hand and blessing with right, seated on a long bench. The Dove rests above them. Burnished gold ground.
  4. Fol. 148r: Confitebor tibi Domine. Figure kneeling in prayer before similar altar with cross. Both frontal and cloth which covers the mensa of the altar are represented as being of rich figured material. Burnished gold ground.
  5. The beginning of Beatus vir (f.26) with initial has been inserted by a modern owner, with some attempt at imitation, but in penwork only.


  • 1300-1330

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

The Kalendar of this Psalter shows direct connection with Worcester. It contains the Translation of Saint Oswald, Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York, on 8 October, and the Translation of Saint Wulstan on 7 June. The only other unusual saint is Saint Thomas of Canteloup, 2 October (Bishop of Hereford 1275, canonised 1317 and 1320).
However, the book was probably not made for Worcester Priory itself: the litany bears little relation to that in Oxford (Bodleian Library MS Bodley 862). The rubric to the Gradus Scale Virtutum (f. 5) could show that, though English, the book was written for a church which did not follow Sarum Use. However, despite this, the Office of the Dead is Use of Sarum, and not of Worcester.
The Litany is not of special interest, but it has, in addition to the usual collects, the following: Per horum omnium sanctorum Angelorum; Gloriosa passio domini nostri Jhesu Christi; Deus qui es sanctorum tuorum.
There is an inscription of the 15th century on f. 168, as follows: Memorandum quod istum Psalterium cum Kalendario et aliis in principio praescriptis cont[inet] usque huc XXI quatemiones diplomatum et X capitales littere de auro.
Of its later history we learn from notes on f. 1 that in 1810 it was in the possession of William Mavor, LL.D. (Legum Doctor, Doctor of Law), Rector of Stonesfield, Oxfordshire (see the Dictionary of National Biography). He seems to have procured it from the Wenman Library, Thame Park, Oxfordshire, when it was dispersed in the beginning of the 19th century. Laing acquired it in 1866.

Previous reference

Laing 10

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Oak boards covered pigskin, lettered 'Psalterium cum Praecibus MS.' (modern)

Collation: a3 (wants 1, 2, and 6), b10, c6, d6, e8 (+1), f8, g8, h2, i7 (wants 3), k7 (wants 8), l8, m7 (wants 5), n8-y8, z11 (+8, 9, 10), A4=175.


23.50 cm x 15.88 cm


Secundo folio: pax inter
Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 175, 18-22 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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