DCL MS. A.III.9Psalter and Canticles, glossed
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Psalter and Canticles, glossed, written in Northern France or England in the later 12th century.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t1m0k225b20r.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment: moderate to low quality, generally yellowish, pronounced follicle marks, with noticeable contrast between H/F sides. Arranged: HF, FH.

Extent: iv+120+ii f
Size: 300 mm x 190 mm


Modern pencil foliation runs, -, 2-32, 32*-124.

Secundo folio: mee, non est salus

flyleaves (f. I-3)3 (a bifolium with a singleton [f.2] glued into it), I8, II9 (probably 8+1 [f.20, a final singleton], III-XI8, XII9 (= 8 + a singleton [f.93] between leaves 1 and 2), XII-XIV8, XV6 (= 8 lacks leaves 7 and 8)

Signatures: Contemporary signatures on quires XIII and XIV (i.e. the stint of Scribe 3).

Condition of manuscriptWeathered from use; lower margin of f.83 sliced off; scars on f.67 and 75 from lost tabs.

Written area: 210 x 165 (text and gloss); 210 x 70 (main text). Biblical text generally written above the main top ruled line. Lines: generally 24 (occasionally 25) of biblical text.


Written in Transitional Romanesque Caroline Minuscule-Protogothic, relatively spacious for the biblical texts, more compressed for the gloss. The biblical text was the work of at least three hands:
(1) f.4r-87v. On f.20v (the final leaf of quire II), the scribe spaced-out his work and left the last five lines vacant, doubtless in order that the major initial for Psalm 26 could have adequate space and a prominent place at the top of f.21r.
(2) f.88r-100v; 109r/lines 12-24.
(3) f.101r-109v/line 12; 109v-122v


Decorated B, 10+ lines (of biblical text) high, for Psalm 1 (f.4r): interlace terminals to the upright, a beast head at the joint of the bows, spiraling tubes and foliate curls filling the bowls; red and green details against blue and pale yellow grounds.
Arabesque initials, 4+ lines high, red, green and blue, head Psalms 26, 38, 51, 52, 68, 80, 97, 101, and 109 (f.21r, 31v, 40v, 41r, 51v, 64r, 75v, 77r, 87v). They are the work of two hands with distinct styles and talents; the better artist did those for Psalms 26, 80, 97 and 101, the first (Psalm 26, f.21r) being his largest (10+ lines high) and finest work.
All other Psalms and the Canticles are headed by a coloured initial, 2+ lines high, red, green or blue, often embellished in a second colour. Each verse is headed by a 1-line-high coloured capital: from f.4r-91v (the end of quire XI) these are alternately red then green, from f.92r-100r (all but the final page of quire XII) they are alternately red then blue.
Small decorative motifs (foliate tufts, human faces) head the first blocks of marginal gloss on f.21r and 21v, doubtless drawn by the scribe.


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 Northern France or England, mid-late 12th century.


Inscription: “.A.A. liber Sancti Cuthberti de dunelm′”, earlier 14th century, f.2v, top. To which was added, “de le splendement”, 15th/16th century, by Thomas Swalwell, monk of Durham.
Pressmark “.A.A.”, late 14th century, f.4r, top right.
One of the three items in the mid 12th century catalogue; in the Spendement catalogue.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.[1]r-2r
Modern title: Added Prayer, Liturgica
Date: added 12th - 13th century
Language: Latin

Prayer; schedules of Psalm incipits; prayers; schedule of Psalms for days of week. The first is written in an early Textualis semi-quadrata, small but neat, the rest in a Documentary Cursive, flowing and variable found also in item (d). f.2v-3v are blank, bar the Durham ex libris added to f.2v.

(b)     f.4r-112r
Modern title: Psalms with gloss
Incipit: Beatus vir qui non abiit
Explicit: omnis spiritus laudet dominum
Language: Latin

With multiple marginal and interlinear glosses. Further glosses were inserted by informal 12th and 13th century hands (one small, using very dark ink, another larger, using brown ink, often now very faint) into available spaces, regularly on the first ten folios, more intermittently thereafter. Above the first marginal gloss on f.4r, the dark-ink hand added: “Dicit ieronimus quod titulus psalmi clauis est ipsius psalmi ... proemium est ad alios psalmos”.

Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.18
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.21
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.22
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.23
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.20
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.35
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801.41
(c)     f.112r-122v
Modern title: Canticles, etc., with gloss
Language: Latin

1. f.112r, Confitebor tibi [Isaiah 12.1-6]
2. f.112r, Ego dixi [Isaiah 38.10-20]
3. f.113r, Canticum anne. Exultauit cor meum [1 Samuel 2.1-10]
4. f.113v, Canticum moysi. Cantemus domino [Exodus 15.1-19]
5. f.115r, Canticum abacuhc, Domine audiui [Habakuk 3.1-19]
6. f.116r, Canticum deuteronomi. Audite celi [Deut. 32.1-43]
7. f.118v, Benedicite omnia opera [Daniel 3.35-66]
8. f.119v, Te deum laudamus
9. f.120v, Benedictus dominus [Lk 1.69-79]
10. f.121r, Quicumque uult
11. f.122v, Magnificat anima mea ... Quia respexit//. [Luke 1.46-55 – here breaking off in verse 48]
The items were set out for glossing, but such was only supplied for nos. 1-6.

Cited: Stegmüller, 11801,5.5
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801,5.6
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801,6.1
Cited: Stegmüller, 11801,6.3
(d)     f.121r and 122v
Modern title: Antiphons, Offices, etc.
Date: added 12th and 13th century
Language: Latin

5 pieces. Additions made to the margins of f.121r-122v by at least two hands.

(e)     f.123-124
Modern title: Chirograph
Date: 1204
Language: Latin

Charter, reused as endleaves; cropped, the top and bottom folded over. Agreement dated 1204 between Bishop William of St Andrews, the Prior and Convent of Durham, and the church of Coldingham concerning the jurisdictions of church pertaining to Coldingham: unexecuted chirograph as DCD Misc.Ch. 1317.

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.III.9 - Psalter and Canticles, glossed
Digitised February 2019 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project. Due to the binding, there are many images throughout the volume with marginalia and text not visible in the image because they are too far into the gutter. There are two f.32r and v. The second has been marked with a cross on the manuscript and has had a cross (x) added to the foliator. Folios 123 and 124 are a Chirograph which has been folded in half.


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 Cientificas, 1950-1961)

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