Please Pass the Psalt!

Dame Aoife discusses Medieval Psalters in this week's edition of Aoife's Links.

Hello my faithful readers!

I wish upon you all the joys of a MILD winter such as we are NOT experiencing here in the (modern) Pocono Mountains! I've got snow up to my unmentionables! My Dogs Samwise and Legolas refuse to go outside except for the direst of emergencies (most of which involve chasing wildlife and wrestling in the snow). The upside of horrible winter weather, however, is that there's plenty of time for leisure pursuits that require us to be indoors. So now it's time to turn our attention towards two articles many of our personae might possess, though scribes, historians and artisans will also find these links useful for other reasons. Courtesy of an avid reader, Ro, this week's Links List is about Psalters and Rosaries.

Medieval Psalters were named because they contained the Psalms, which are certain poetic and allegorical portions of the Bible well known for the beauty of their language. They also contained a religious calendar, and certain other articles a religious person might use in everyday life. They were often lavishly illustrated in multiple colors and personalized for the person who sponsored their creation. A great many Modern Medieval Illumination works are based upon the work of real medieval scribes who created these Psalters. Psalters aren't just for Catholics. At least one Hebrew Psalter is shown in a link below, from Parma Italy.

Of course, Rosaries are prayer beads combined in certain ways so that devout persons could remember their prayers in a certain order and thus easily recite them or repeat/reflect on them throughout the day.

Stay warm, my friends, and share this missive wherever you will find a ready audience.



Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
Canton of Riverouge
Barony of Endless Hills
Kingdom of Aethelmearc

Byzantine Medieval Hypertexts: Theodore Psalter
(Site Excerpt) The Theodore Psalter (British Museum Add. 19.352) remains one of the most significant representations of the Byzantine manuscript tradition, a masterpiece of art that exceeds the span of medieval time and space. Experts consider the Psalter a watershed document because of its fixed and documented date and authorship, attested to in its colophon. The colophon reveals that Abbot Michael of the Stoudios Monastery received the Psalter as gift from the scribe Theodore, a priest in the same monastery. The Stoudios Monastery, near the Byzantine capital Constantinople, was founded circa 454 A.D. after the rules established by St. Basil the Great for Eastern monasticism, later augmented by its abbot Theodore the Studite (759-826), known also as Theodore of Stoudios.

The Christ Church Psalter in Context: Manuscripts from the Medieval Priory
A special exhibition in the Crypt of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

The Luttrell Psalter 1345 ... lutt/The%20Luttrell%20Psalter%201345.html
(Site Excerpt) The Luttrell Psalter was the work of many calligraphers and artists, all working for many months on sheepskin vellum or parchment. Each page is beautifully painted in a style known as illumination. The first capital letter of each page is usually decorated.

Last Chance To Save Recently Discovered Illuminated Medieval Manuscript -
The Macclesfield Psalter
(Site Excerpt) Arts Minister Estelle Morris has placed a temporary export bar on an outstanding illuminated manuscript known as the Macclesfield Psalter. The work, thought to be the most important discovery of any English illuminated manuscript in living memory, was until earlier this year, unknown and unrecorded. Its discovery adds hugely to our knowledge of English fourteenth-century art, of which very little survives elsewhere.

Medieval psalter presented to King's College By Jim Anderson
(Site Excerpt) The psalter, believed to originate from Flanders in the late 14th or early 15th centuries, is a millennium gift to the college from retired Chief Librarian Elizabeth Russell and current Chief Librarian John Clouston. They acquired the book from local antiquarian book dealers who purchased it from a private collector in Halifax. The manuscript originally was found in South America. How it got there from Flanders remains a mystery, but it may have traveled to the New World with the Conquistadors or early Spanish missionaries.

Medieval Manuscript Leaves: Fifty-one Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts from Western Europe: 12th - 16th centuries
.......Including 8 psalters

University of London Library: Psalter Fragment
(Site Excerpt) A medieval psalter usually comprised a Calendar, the 150 Psalms, and a collection of canticles and creeds. The three text-types worked together in the practice of the Divine Office, the Church's daily public prayer. When a psalter-book was intended for private use as well, other texts, such as prologues, hymns, or favourite prayers were added.

looksmart: The Luttrell Psalter and the making of 'Merrie England' - Cover Story History Today, Sept, 1998 by Michael Camille
(Site Excerpt) There are many reasons why this particular manuscript has played such an important role in the English national consciousness -- most obvious is the superb quality of its illumination. The naturalistic detail and inventive fantasy are the credit of its major artist who, inspired by the words of the Psalms, started work on the manuscript in the late 1320s but left it mysteriously unfinished, even before the death of his patron, Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, in 1345.

University of Aberdeen: Burnet Psalter
(Site Excerpt) Welcome to the online version of the Burnet Psalter. This fifteenth-century manuscript (AUL MS 25) was bequeathed to Marischal College, Aberdeen by one of its most famous graduates, Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715), Bishop of Salisbury, historian, theological writer, and adviser to William III. This site provides full-page images (text and illustration) and details from the manuscript.

The Parma Psalter
(Hey, who could afford this georgous facsimile edition? But we can drool.....several pages are shared online. Site Excerpt) Of all medieval Hebrew manuscript psalters, one of the earliest and most important to survive is the masterpiece Ms. Parm. 1870 (Cod. De Rossi 510), the treasure of the Palatina Library in Parma, Italy. This profusely illuminated book of Psalms was written and decorated in about 1280, probably in Emilia in Northern Italy. Its 452 pages contain the biblical text in a clear, large vocalised Hebrew hand.

Full reference manuscripts
The Hague, KB, 69 B 10 (1-10 of 33 ) ... &searchButton%2ey=10&nr=1&origin=vhoverview%2epl&isFromIcon=0&from=1 ... &Author%2c+title=psalter&iconView=IMAGELIST&isFromMan=1 ... &total=22&file=%2fusr%2fwww%2fdata%2fkb%2fmanuscripts%2ftempfiles%2f685499
Note: Copy-paste this too-lengthy URL in order to see the page. See the Images link at the bottom of the page to view the pages. [Or just click it here on, since we did the cutting and pasting for you. If you cut and paste it yourself, drop the ellipses and trailing space from each line above. —Justin]

Psalter Psalterium
(Site Excerpt) Vellum leaf from an illuminated Medieval Manuscript France; Late 14th Century Latin Text; Gothic Script 18 by 12 cm. The Psalter with its one hundred and fifty psalms is the best collection of religious lyrics which the world possesses. It is no wonder, therefore, that it forms an important part of so many medieval manuscripts. The Psalms are found not only in manuscripts of the Bible, but also in Missals, Breviaries, and Books of Hours; and, as they had to be memorized by the priests, they were also transcribed separately.

The Medieval Rosary
(Site Excerpt) The Rosary was brought to Europe by the Crusaders, and consists of a number of groups of beads. Strictly, the full rosary consisted of three Chaplets, each consisting of 5 Decades and 5 Paternosters. Each decade consisted of a number of small Ave beads (these were used to count Ave Marias.) Although a decade usually consisted of about ten beads, there was variation through the middle ages from 8 to about 15 beads. The decade was preceded by a large Paternoster (for the Lord's Prayer) bead, and sometimes followed by a Gloria bead (for Glorias) . In many cases, the Paternoster bead and Gloria bead are combined.

Historical Rosaries and Paternosters
(Site Excerpt) The practice of counting prayers using a string of beads is very old. There are legends of St. Anthony in the desert counting his prayers with pebbles in the third century, and a string of beads is preserved in Belgium that is said to have been buried with the saintly Abbess Gertrude (d. 659). Other religions use prayer beads as well, but we cannot be certain whether Christians, Muslims and Hindus invented the idea independently or borrowed it from each other.

(Site Excerpt) Different versions of the medieval rosary are often seen in paintings from the Middle Ages, and rosary beads are commonly found at archaeological excavations of medieval towns.The origin of the Christian rosary - a string of beads or a knotted cord used to count prayers, is uncertain but it may ultimately originate with the desert monastics of the early church. The widespread use of rosaries among Roman Catholic laity in medieval and modern times most likely evolved in Western Europe (possibly first on Ireland), as church developed more elaborate rituals, and its largely illiterate followers had an increasing number of prayers to count.

Stefan's Florilegium: rosaries-msg
(Site Excerpt from one message) Try contacting the Met. Museum of Art, NYC - it has a collection of central Rosary beads that'll leave you standing in front of them and staring for an hour or more in awe over their construction - the entire Crucifixion in a hinged, little (4"diam.) sphere, 30 or 40 separate layers of micro-sculpture.

SCAtoday weblink directory
Several Links pertaining to paternosters and rosaries, and e-lists to discuss them.

Prayer Beads, A Tradition of Prayer
(Site Excerpt) The idea of using beads to count prayers is ancient and rich with history. Ireland 800-900AD Historians trace the origin of the Rosary back to approximately ninth century Ireland commonly called the Celtic Rosary formed within the Community of Saint Columbia. Today, as then, the 150 Psalms of the Bible, the Book of Psalms of King David, were an important form of prayer. Monks and clergy recited or chanted the Psalms as a major source of hourly worship. People living near the monasteries/abbeys realized the beauty of this devotion but unable to read or memorize the lengthy Psalms, the people were unable to adapt this form of prayer for their use.

How We Got The Beads by By Sandra Miesel
(Site Excerpt) And, odd as it may sound, prayer beads are older than our Rosary, and our Rosary is older than the complete Hail Mary. The practice of counting prayers with beads, pebbles or other markers is not unique to Christianity. Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims also use beads. Christian prayer-counting started among the Desert Fathers around the fourth century. They let illiterate monks substitute 150 Our Fathers for the 150 Psalms normally recited. Western monastics and laity copied this. St. Gertrude of Nevelle (d. 659) sup­posedly owned prayer beads, as did England´s famous Lady Godiva (d. 1041).

Ancient Order of Hibernians
by Mike McCormack National Historian
(Site Excerpt) Theologians have traced the origin of the Rosary back to the Ninth century, and a form of prayer that evolved in the monasteries of the early Irish church. Prayer and labor filled the days of the Irish monks, and one of the most important forms of monastic prayer was the daily chanting of the 150 psalms of David. Lay people around the monastery would hear the psalms every day as they were sung or recited, and the beauty of this form of prayer intrigued them. They yearned to join in, but the psalms were too long to memorize, copies could not be found since printing was rare, and few knew how to read Latin anyway. The lay people were however, determined to adapt this prayer form for their own use.

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