Tiny manuscript Book of Hours leaf. Italy, c.1480.

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The Song of the Three Children.

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. Four Lombard-style coloured initials alternating in red and blue.  A scribal error - a missed word.

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.

The first  blue initial  ‘B’ on Recto begins the verse:

Benedicite imber,* et ros Domino: benedicite omnes spiritus Dei Domino. Benedicite ignis, et aestus Domino: benedicite frigus, et aestas Domino.  Benedicite rores, et pruina Domino: benedicite gelu, et frigus Domino. Benedicite glacies, et …

(Shower and dew bless ye our Lord: every spirit of God bless ye our Lord. Fire and heat bless ye our Lord: cold and summer bless ye our Lord.Dews, and hoar frost bless ye our Lord: frost, and cold bless ye our Lord. Ice, and snow…)

(the Song continues on Verso):

* the scribe has left out this word imber (shower).

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:  MBH171

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