DCL MS. A.IV.2Psalter and Canticles with gloss
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Psalter and Canticles with gloss, written in England or France at the end of the 12th century

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2m8049g518q.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment: modest quality, smooth texture but yellowish with prominent follicle marks and some imperfections; signs of use. Arranged: HF, FH.

Extent: i+150+i f
Size: 277 mm x 177 mm


Modern pencil pagination (first leaf only) then foliation

Secundo folio: erudimmini qui iudicatis

two preliminary leaves (the folio paginated ‘1’, ‘2’, and that foliated ‘3’), probably singletons. I-XVI8, XVII7 (= 8 lacks leaf 2), XVIII8, XIX5 (= 8 with leaves 6-8, probably blank, cancelled or lost)


Written area: text-block as a whole, generally approximately 195 x 155 mm but up to 225 x 155 mm; biblical text column, 183 x 66 mm. Glossed book design with the biblical text written on widely-spaced lines in an invariable central column, the gloss written on narrowly-spaced lines to either side of it and between its lines. f.3r-v: 222 x 155 mm. Two columns (width, 75 mm). Lines: 21 of biblical text (space, 9 mm; height of minims, 2 mm [gloss space, 3 mm; gloss minims, 1 mm]). f.3r-v: 54 (space, 4 mm; height of minims, 1+ mm). Pricking: awl and knife. Prickings survive in all three outer margins. Prickings were supplied for the verticals and for the 21 horizontals supporting the biblical text. Ruling: lead and ink. Pairs of verticals to either side of the central (biblical) text column; single verticals define the outer edges of the gloss columns. 21 horizontals for the biblical text; other horizontals added as required in all three columns for the gloss, occasionally continuing into the upper and lower margins.


Written in ProtoGothic. The main text of (b) and (c) is the work of a single hand who typically places his letters 1+ mm above the rulings. The gloss is seemingly the work of several contemporary hands including that of the main text scribe. The script of item (a) is closely akin to that of the gloss on many pages of (b). Item (d), written to a slightly large gauge and in a more formal protoGothic than the main text of (b) and (c), may be the work of a different hand or of the same scribe cultivating a more formal manner.


The major initial for Psalm 1, heading item (b) was never supplied; stains suggest that its outline (10-12 lines high) may have been sketched in lead (in order to calculate the position of the coloured display script, ‘eatus uir’, which was furnished) and then erased. The spaces, 5+ lines high, that were reserved for initials plus display script for Psalms 26, 38, 51, 68, 80, 101, and 109 remained unfilled. (Psalms 52 and 97, start with a 2-line-high coloured initial akin to that of every other psalm.) The loss/excision of the folio (between 132 and 133) which bore the start of item (c) suggests that a fine initial may have been supplied to head the Canticles.
Item (d) is headed by a 4-line-high arabesque ‘K’ in green ornamented with red and blue. Each psalm in (b) and each Canticle etc. in (c) is headed by a capital, 2+ lines high, in red, green or blue, generally embellished in one of the other colours, occasionally by two of them. Each Psalm and Canticle verse and each litany entry on f.146v is headed by a 1-line-high capital, generally alternating red, blue, red, green, etc. with occasional slips. The spaces reserved for subsequent litany entries (1 line high) and for the prayers (2 lines high) in (d) remained unfilled (no colour was supplied in the final quire, XIX). No decoration or rubrication was planned or executed in (a).


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century)

Manuscript history

Written in France or England, end of 12th century.


Inscription: “.X. liber Sancti Cuthberti de dunelm'”, earlier 14th century, f.5r, top. To which was added “psalterium glosatum”, start of 15th century, and then “de le splendemen”, 15th/16th century by Thomas Swalwell.
Possibly one of those listed in the mid 12th century catalogue; listed in Spendement catalogue.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.3r-v
Modern title: Prefatory texts
Language: Latin

Excerpts from Augustine and Ambrose. Presented as one continuous text, one subsection running on from the next, marked only by a discreet paraph (and, in the few, a rubric. f.4r-v, blank.

(b)     f.5r-132v
Modern title: Psalms, with gloss
Incipit: Beatus uir qui non abiit
Explicit: Laudate eum in tympano
Language: Latin

Marginal and interlinear glosses. Breaks off imperfect at 150.4, owing to loss of one leaf.

Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.18
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.19
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.20
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.21
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.22
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.23
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.35
(c)     f.133r-139v
Modern title: Canticles, with gloss, Pater Noster, Gloria, Creeds, etc.
Language: Latin

Starts imperfectly due to loss of leaf. All 14 items were set out with space for glossbut only added for 1-5 and 14

Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.5.5
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.5.6
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.6.1
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.6.3
(d)     f.146v-151v
Modern title: Litany and Prayers
Language: Latin

8 items. Litany includes a group of Cluny’s saints on f.148v.

(e)     f.151v
Modern title: Sententiae
Date: added later 12th century
Language: Latin

Six lines of tiny, semi-documentary script, the start heavily abbreviated.

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS. A.IV.2 - Psalms and Canticles with gloss
Digitised June 2019 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated Project


Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

de Hamel, Christopher, Glossed books of the Bible and the origins of the Paris book trade   OCLC citation, (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Boydell Press, 1984)

Mynors, R.A.B., Durham Cathedral manuscripts to the end of the twelfth century. Ten plates in colour and forty-seven in monochrome. With an introduction [including a list of all known Durham manuscripts before 1200]   OCLC citation, (Durham: 1939)

Stegmüller, F., Repertorium biblicum medii aevi   OCLC citation, (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1950-1961)

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