DCL MS. A.III.8Manuscript probably written in England at the start of the 13th century, made up of two contemporary parts: (A) f.2-172 and (B) f.173-184, both written by the same scribe to slightly different designs.Contains Psalms with gloss and Cantica canticorum with gloss.
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Psalms with gloss. Cantica canticorum with gloss

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2m1n79h4478.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment: low quality throughout, with clear contrast in tone between H and F, pronounced follicle marks, scars, edgecuts, and early repairs (e.g. f.5, 45). Arranged: HF, FH in (A), FH, HF in (B).

Extent: ii+184+i f
Size: 325 mm x 225 mm


The modern pencil foliation counts unfoliated medieval flyleaf as 1 and then runs 2-185. Initially, the foliator had erroneously used 175 twice and had stopped with 183 on the last leaf with text; all these numbers were then struck through and the correct ones supplied above, continuing to 185.

Secundo folio: Dominus dixit originally probably Beatus vir but opening two pages do not survive.

flyleaf (f.1) singleton; (A): I1 (original structure uncertain), II7 (=8 lacks leaf 1 before f.3), III8, IV7 (=8 lacks leaf 7 after f.23), V-VII8, VIII7 (=8 lacks leaf 3 after f.50), IX8, X7 (=8 lacks leaf 2 after f.64), XI8, XII7 (= 8 lacks leaf 4 after f.81), XIII8, XIV-XV10, XVI9 (=10 lacks leaf 4 after f.116), XVII-XXI10. (B): XXII8, XXIII4, endleaf, f.185 singleton. The removed leaves all included the incipit of a psalm at a liturgical division (no doubt marked by an illuminated initial).

Catchwords: Contemporary catchwords (often cropped away; surviving examples on quires II, IV-VI, VIII and XVIII).
Signatures: Roman numerals ‘xx’-‘xxiiij’ were written in the manner of signatures on the first rectos, lower margin, of quires XVIII-XXII; another (‘xxx’) in exactly the same style was added to the second leaf (f.182r) of quire XXIII.

Condition of manuscriptStrips have been excised from the side margin of f.39 and the lower margins of 40, 86, 93, 99, 115, 119, 126, and 161. Glue stain on f.95 from a lost tab.

Written area.(A) central text plus flanking columns of gloss: approximately 222 x 190 mm. Biblical text alone (written above top line): 220 x 90 mm. (B) central text plus gloss: 220 x 215 mm. Biblical text (written above top line): 220 x 72 mm. Prefaces to both parts (f.2r, f.173r): 238 x 152 mm; two columns (width, 70 mm). Lines: (biblical text) 20 (space, 11-12 mm; height of minims, 5-6 mm); prefaces (f.2 and 173) 42 (written above top line).


The scriptural texts in both (A) and (B) are written in Textualis semi-quadrata, grand in scale and elongated; they are the work of the same hand. The variable, sometimes poor quality of the parchment surface has caused the ink to bleed in certain areas (e.g. f.170r-171v). The prefaces and gloss in both parts are probably the work of the biblical text scribe but, as the scripts are less formal and more compressed, it is difficult to be certain.


The leaves with the incipits of Psalms 1, 26, 51, 52, 68, 80 and 109, plus that with the start of the Song of Songs were doubtless removed on account of their decorated initials, though to judge by Psalms 97 and 101 these may not have been particularly fine. Psalms 97 and 101 (f.99r and 101v) are headed by 6-line high pen-work initials in red and blue with ornamentation in red, yellow and green, set against a green panel; qualitatively mediocre. The green, presumably copper-based, has penetrated the parchment. Other psalms, canticles etc., the litany and the prayers that follow it and the start of the Psalm preface are headed by 2- to 3-line-high initials, alternately red then blue, simply flourished in the other colour. Psalm and canticle verses etc. plus litany entries are headed by 1-line-high capitals, alternately red then blue. The Preface to Song of Songs and one of the subsections therein are headed by 2-line high green initials, simply flourished in red.


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 England?, start of 13th century.


Pressmark: .b., mid 14th century, f.2r, top right. Recorded in the Spendment Catalogue of 1392.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1v
Modern title: Calendrical Verse etc.
Date: [added 15th/16th century]
Language: Latin

An addition made to the verso of the flyleaf by a single 15th/16th century cursive hand akin to that of Thomas Swalwell; it consists of three parts. 1. A, B, C, sunt extra, D, E, F, infra, G quoque supra. 2. Adam degebat ergo cifos adrifex | Cur confles adam flebis egens coeas. [Walther 490; here with abbreviations for the 12 months written above each syllable of the first line: Aiadamfe demgeapbatmay, etc.] 3. aIac, dfec, dmarf ...dnouember, fdecember. [The names of all 12 months, each with one letter above it and one letter below it, these corresponding to the relevant syllables in the first and second lines respectively of the verse that is item 2.]

(b)     f.2
Original title: In Psalmos
Author: Peter Lombard, Bishop of Paris, approximately 1100-1160
Incipit: Cum omnes prophetas sancti spiritus reuelatione constet esse locutos
Explicit: Peccatur autem cogitatione, actu, uerbis, docendo
Language: Latin

Breaking off, owing to the loss of a leaf or leaves, a couple of sentences before the end.

Edited: Peter Lombard, Commentarium in Psalmos
(c)     f.3r-153v
Modern title: Psalter with gloss
Language: Latin

Starts acephalus at Psalm 2.7, and lacks all or part of 25.1-26.3, 50.19-52.1, 67.29-68.6, 79.8-80.6 and 108.24-109.5 owing to the removal of leaves from between f.2/3, 23/24, 50/51, 64/65, 81/82 and 116/117. Psalm 118 is divided into the 22 sections of monastic usage. The glosses are keyed into place by lines and sigla.

(d)     f.154r-169r
Modern title: Canticles, Te deum, Benedictus, Gloria, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis, Quicumque vult.
Language: Latin

All the items are set out, as (c), for a gloss but none was supplied.

(e)     f.169v-172r
Modern title: Litany and Prayers
Language: Latin

Litany: the only entries distinguished by captials are BVM and the apostle Mark; among the martyrs the only English ones (nos. 19-21 of 21) are Edmund, Edward and Oswald; there are 10 confessors with Augustine doubled [Cuthbert is not included]; the only English virgin (no. 11 of 14) is Etheldreda. Prayers break off at the end of column 2, line 8, leaving the rest of the page and all of f.172v blank. Subsequently, 6 further lines of text were added in a poorly-formed, difficult-to read cursive hand, offsets and smudging indicating that the volume was shut while the ink was still wet.

(f)     f.173r-184v
Modern title: Song of Songs with gloss
Language: Latin

There are no contemporary chapter numbers. Standard Parisian chapter numbering in Roman numerals was added as a running heading, 13th/14th century, the actual chapter incipit within the text being left unmarked.

Cited: Stegmüller, 11804.2
Cited: Stegmüller, 11804.3
Cited: Stegmüller, 11804.4
Cited: Stegmüller, 11804.6
Cited: Stegmüller, 11804.7
Cited: Stegmüller, 11804.8
Cited: Stegmüller, 11804.22
(g)     f.185r
Modern title: Incipits
Date: [13th century]
Language: Latin

A list of 40 incipits/cues, jotted on the flyleaf by a 13th century hand. f. 185v, blank

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.8 - Psalms with gloss. Cantica canticorum with gloss
Digitised March 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]).

Peter Lombard, Bishop of Paris, approximately 1100-1160, Commentarium in Psalmos   OCLC citation, Library of Latin Texts A (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010)

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

Index terms