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.
Fine vellum leaf from a French Book of Hours illuminated in blue, red and burnished gold leaf with numerous large initials, line fillers and marginal pen work. The text is in a regular gothic book hand in brown/black ink with rubrics in red. The text is from Psalm 87 and starts "Intret in conspectu tuo oratio mea inclina aurem tuam ad precem meam", which translates as "Let my prayer come in before thee: incline thy ear to my petition."