Tiny Book of Hours leaf. The Song of the Three Children.

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Hair follicles in the vellum clearly visible.

The "Song of the Three Children", also called "A Song of Creation" or simply The Benedicite, is a canticle taken from the book of Daniel in the Apocrypha. (The Greek translation of Daniel contained material not in the original Hebrew.) The three children, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego recite or sing this song as they stand in the flames of Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace.

Recto:  11 lines of text in Latin written on vellum in a rounded Italian humanist script. Three Lombard-style coloured initials alternating in red and blue. 

Verso:  As Recto with another three coloured initials.

Origin:   Italy.

Date:  c.1480

Content:  The text is from The Office of Our Blessed Lady at Lauds. It is a section of the “Song of the Three Children” (Daniel 3) on both Recto & Verso.

Recto begins:

[Benedicite montes et colles Domino: benedicite] universa germinantia in terra Domino. Benedicite fontes Domino: benedicite maria, et flumina Domino. Benedicite cete, et omnia quae moventur in aquis, Domino: benedicite omnes volucres caeli Domino.

(Mountains and little hills bless ye our Lord): all things that spring in the earth bless ye our Lord. Bless our Lord ye fountains: seas, and rivers bless ye our Lord.

Whales, and all that move in the waters, bless ye our Lord: bless our Lord all ye fowls of the air. All beasts and cattle bless ye our Lord: sons of men bless ye our Lord.

Let Israel bless our Lord: let it praise, and extol him for ever. Priests of our Lord bless ye our Lord: servants of our Lord bless ye our Lord.

Condition:  This leaf is in excellent condition.  One tiny stain on the top edge is masked off by the mat, otherwise the vellum, script and coloured initials are in fine condition.  Archivally mounted.  The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.

Size:  Leaf: approx. 80x60 mm.  Please note that shipping is invoiced separately.

Notes:  The extremely small size of this leaf can be explained thus: Medieval piety involved substantial elements of public display, and the small but emergent urban bourgeoisie, mostly merchants or administrators in the growing royal bureaucracies were intent on imitating their superiors.  So it is not surprising that the Book of Hours became something of a chic devotional accessory, especially for women, an incongruity that occasionally attracted disapproving comment. Eustache Deschamps, the great French poet of the late 14th century, put his satire into verse when he imagined the thoughts of a bourgeois wife who yearns for a Book of Hours that  "is as graceful and gorgeous as me... So the people will gasp when I use it,That's the prettiest prayer-book in town’.”

Item No:  MBH168

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