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 the Nativity, St. Matthew, chapter 2. Beginning on recto at top, the text translates into English as:
"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' "
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
Light soiling with one tiny hole in decorative floral panel.