Book of Hours were prayer books designed for the laity, but modeled on the Divine Office, a cycle of daily devotions, prayers and readings, performed by members of religious orders and the clergy. Its central text is the Hours of the Virgin. There are eight hours (times for prayer ): Matins, Lauds. Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. During the Middle Ages, the leaves making up a Book of Hours were written by hand on expensive parchment and beautifully illuminated with jewel-like pigments and gold leaf. These illuminated manuscripts combined the collaborative efforts of an array of highly skilled craftspeople; requiring the joint labors of the parchmenter, professional scribes to write the text in Gothic script, artists to illuminate the pages with decorations, and masterful binders to complete the process.
A nice vellum manuscript from a French Book of Hours, in the style of a Rouen scriptorium. Written in brown and red ink, the leaf has two large initials and numerous small initials and line fillers in red and blue and burnished gold leaf, as well as a decorative panel in the margin on both sides with ivy and flowers. The text is from Psalm 113, beginning with the large "L" on the recto. The beginning of the text translates in English as:
Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, from henceforth now and for ever.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.
The Lord is high above all nations; and his glory above the heavens.
Toned with some soiling and a short tear in left blank margin.