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.
This superb vellum leaf was part of a small book of hours with text in black ink and eight illuminated initials in red, blue and burnished gold ink. Several decorative line fillers were also added in blue and burnished gold. Beginning with the large initial "I" on recto, the text includes Luke 1:75-79 (part of Zechariah's Prophecy), which translates as:
In holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit usfrom on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
Light toning and soiling with small remnants of hinge tape along the top edge of the sheet on verso.