The "Te Deum". French m/s Hours leaf, c.1500.

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Book of Hours leaf c.1500 with intricate illuminations.

The Te Deum is an ancient Christian hymn traditionally ascribed to Saint Ambrose (died 397) or Saint Augustine (died 430), but with antecedents that place it much earlier.  The petitions at the end of the hymn (beginning Salvum fac populum tuum), all of which are on this leaf, are a selection of verses from the book of Psalms, appended subsequently to the original hymn.

The text has been set to music by many composers, with settings by Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, Bruckner, Dvoƙák, Britten and Kodály.  Jean-Baptiste Lully's inglorious death came about as a result of striking his foot with his long conducting staff during a performance of his Te Deum to celebrate Louis XIV's recovery from surgery. He refused treatment to his leg so he could continue to dance and subsequently died from gangrene.

Recto:  24 lines of text in Latin written on vellum in black ink. Ruled in red. Numerous one-line illuminated initials and line fillers alternating in red and blue with very fine penwork decoration. A panel of illuminations beside the text includes colourful acanthus leaves and other flowers & foliage.  A blue and two red sections have exceptionally fine internal foliate designs in gold ink.  The illuminations are set on a ground of shining liquid gold.

Verso:  As Recto with different flowers in the illuminated panel.

Source:  France.

Date:   c.1500.

Content: The text is from the Hours of the Virgin 1, Matins. A section of the the text on Recto, beginning at the top of the page, Verse 12, reads.

venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;

Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.

Tu rex gloriae, Christe.

Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.

Tu, ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.

Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.

Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.

Judex crederis esse venturus.

Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni, quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.

Aeterna fac cum Sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.

Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.

Thine adorable, true: and only Son;

Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.

Thou art the King of Glory: O Christ.

Thou art the everlasting Son: of the Father.

When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man: thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.

When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death: thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.

Thou sittest at the right hand of God: in the glory of the Father.

We believe that thou shalt come: to be our Judge.

We therefore pray thee, help thy servants: whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.

Make them to be numbered with thy Saints: in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save thy people: and bless thine heritage.

The hymn continues to its conclusion on Verso.

Condition:  The leaf is in excellent condition, apart from a few spots in the inner and bottom margins, well away from the text and illuminations.  Some edge browning. The beautifully executed illuminations retain their original bright colours and lustrous gold. The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.

Size: Leaf: c.180x130 mm. Text and illuminated area : c.125x100 mm.

Notes:  Books of Hours were prayer books designed for the laity who wished to emulate the cycle of daily devotions followed by the clergy but without taking actual vows.  The contents grew out of the psalter but included a mixed variety of other types of material - hymns, lessons, biblical readings, calendars etc. 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.

Item Number:  MBH138

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