DCL MS. A.III.10Gilbert de la Porée, Gloss on the Psalter
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Gilbert de la Porée, Gloss on the Psalter and anonymous commentary on the Canticles, written in England in the late 12th century.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t1mjd472w620.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment: stout, even-toned.

Extent: ii+155+i f
Size: 324 mm x 236 mm


Modern pencil foliation of medieval leaves: 2-156 (a miscounting at 96 led to every subsequent number being wrong; however, this has been corrected throughout, though the 105 (for 106) was not properly rectified).

Secundo folio: cum ore confessus

I-XIX8, XX3 (= 4 with leaf 4, probably blank, excised as the transmitted cut line on f.156 demonstrates).

Signatures: Contemporary signatures (Roman numeral flanked by dots, final verso, lower margin, centre) survive from quire IV onwards (.IIII.-.XIX.); two IIII’s were supplied on quire IV, one being erased.

Condition of manuscriptf.2r discoloured and darkened. Localised liquid staining on f.121-123. Glue stain on f.57 from a (removed/lost) parchment tab.

Written area: 238-243 x 168-170 mm. Two columns (width, 74-5 mm). Lines: 35 (space, 7 mm; height of minims, 3+ mm).


Written in Transitional Romanesque Caroline-Protogothic, neat and regular. One scribe.


A 12-line-high decorated initial marks the incipit (the commentary on Psalm 80) on f.2r: the letter is constructed of tubes and foliate curls, with dragon head terminals (a human head in their jaws); done in red and green with touches of ochre and highlights in leaf gold, set against a blue ground. Decorated initials, 10 lines high head(ed) the commentaries on Psalms 101 (f.36r) and 109 (f.59v): the latter has been excised; scoring around the former indicates an abortive attempt was made to cut it out too. The surviving letter is constructed from panels and tubes, with foliate sprouts and two dragon heads, coloured red, green and ochre with gold leaf highlights, set against a blue ground. Arabesque initials, generally 7+ lines high, in up to three colours (red, green and blue) head all other commentaries in (a), the incipit of (b), and the first and each subsequent canticle within (c). Inventive and varied, their generally symmetrical designs appear to have been carefully planned: detailed preliminary sketches in lead are often visible (from which the final design sometimes departed: e.g. on f.81v, not all of the sketched elements were, in the event, supplied in colour; on f.151v a curvilinear limb was sketched but a straight one supplied in red). Some colour notes were supplied in lead, defining the principal colour (e.g. on f.32v, 49r and 107v, ‘a’ for blue; f.114v, ‘G’ for green). The initial heading (b) is small (4 lines high) but very striking, being filled with spiraling zones of red, green and blue. That heading (c) (8 lines high) uses brown ochre as well as red, green and blue.


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) 17th century metal clasps, themselves perhaps incorporating older metalwork on their underside. Rust stains from the ?chain staple on an earlier binding on f.156, lower edge, about 70 mm from the fore-edge.

Manuscript history

Written in England, late 12th century.


Inscriptions: “Liber sancti Cuthberti de Dunelmo”, approximately 1200, f.2r, top right.
“L Secunda pars psalterii de psalmo 80 usque in finem”, early 15th century, f.2r, top, left.
Shelfmarks: ‘P [K/L]’; ‘Pi.[K/L]’, 15th century, f.2r, top left, top right (with the ‘K’ in both altered to ‘L’).
In the late 12th century book-list and the 1392 and 1416 Spendement catalogues.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.2r-137v
Original title: In Psalmos 80-150
Author: Gilbert, de La Porrée, approximately 1075-1154
Incipit: Exultate deo. Titulus. In finem pro torcularius psalmus ipsi asaph, quinta sabbati. Quinto die de aquis creata
Explicit: totam istam armoniam spiritualiter uolens intelligi, ita conclusit.
Language: Latin

Lemmata are written in red; the names of authorities (Am′, Au′ or Aug′, Cas′, Hy′, Ier′) are supplied in the margins in red Rustic capitals; original Nota marks in red (especially numerous on f.112v-113r - the end of Psalm 135 and the start of 136. Later Nota marks added in lead.

(b)     f.137v-138r
Modern title: On the Hebrew alphabet in Psalm 118
Author: Jerome, Saint, -419 or 420
Incipit: Omnis moralis locus in hoc psalmo comprehensus est, factus est autem secundum ordinem hebreorum elementorum, ita ut ex singulis, octo uersus incipiant, et secundum interpretationem singulorum debent intelligi que sequuntur.
Explicit: et hec in exordium habuimus, secundum quod propheta dicit, Amandatis tuis intellexi, quia uidelicet post opera cepit habere scientiam secretorum
Rubric: Ieronimus, Ad paulam et eustochium de Beati immaculati
Language: Latin

Reordered excerpts from Jerome, epistle 30

Edited: Peter Lombard, Commentarium in Psalmos
(c)     f.138r-156r
Modern title: Anonymous Commentary on Old Testament Canticles
Incipit: Confitebor tibi domine. Prophetauerat ysaias de egypto, quod deus percuteret flumen egypti
Explicit: si aliqua macula erit in populo suo, misericordia condonabit. AMEN.
Language: Latin

The order in which the canticles are treated and their rubrics are: f.138r, Confitebor; f.139v, Canticum ezexhie regis iuda, Ego dixi; f.141v, Canticum anne, Exultavit; f.143r, Canticum moysi et filiorum isrl′,Cantemus; f.145v, Oratio abacuc pro ignorantibus. Domine audiui; Carmen moysi, Audite celi. Lemmata are written in red; no marginalia. F.156v, 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.10 - Gilbert de la Porée, Gloss on the Psalter etc.
Digitised February 2019 as part of the Durham Priory 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)

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