Miniature of monks in choir opposite text of Psalm 96 (folios 197v-198r)

Miniature of monks in choir opposite text of Psalm 96 (folios 197v-198r)

Psalm 96 (folio 198r)

Psalm 96 (folio 198r)

(folio 156v)

(folio 156v)

(folio 168v)

(folio 168v)

Books of Hours are compendiums of devotional texts designed for the laity to use in private prayer. At their centre is a series of prayers and psalms known as ‘The Hours of the Virgin’, to be recited daily at set ‘hours’ to aid salvation. Books of Hours were extremely popular throughout the Middle Ages and more were produced than any other type of book. Many were personalised and lavishly illuminated to the further glory of God. This combined Book of Hours and Psalter boasts eighteen full page pictures on single leaves, painted separately and inserted into the completed volume at the beginnings of major sections of text. The border decoration of the pictures is matched on the facing page in a single unified design; the unstinting use of incised gold leaf truly illuminates the text.

The miniature depicts monks singing in choir. The second text is appropriately that of Psalm 96, ‘Sing to the Lord a new song: sing to the Lord, all the earth’. By the Fourteenth Century, complex polyphonic settings had extended to all sung parts of the Mass resulting in the music usually being left to the choir, who sang on behalf of those present. The difficulties of this outstanding music required an ability to read musical notation, as intimated by this illustration.

The other illustrations are also from the psalter section of the volume. That on folio 156v is set before Psalm 52 (‘The fool said in his heart: There is no God’) and that on folio 168v refers to Psalm 68 (‘I am come into the depth of the sea: and a tempest hath overwhelmed me’).

1 thought on “

  1. aghworldhistory1

    Wonderful choices of art to comment on. Your post is very informative and picking pages (which no one has chosen yet) is good pioneering on your part. Your explanation of the pairing of text and drawings is good, but your post could do with a hieghtened attention to detail. For example, are any of these figures historic or mythological figures? Are these colours easy to come by (in terms of paints, but also as dyes for clothes of these people?)
    Question every choice the artist makes is how i want you to “consume” art.

    Like

    Reply

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