MS. Germ. e. 23
Summary Catalogue no.: Not in SC (late accession)
Andächtiges Myrrhenbüschlein; Prayers, including texts by Johannes von Indersdorf and Johann von Neumarkt. Germany (Swabia), 16th century (c.1520–1550)
Language(s): Middle High German
Each to be followed by three recitations of the Salve regina, hence the total 15, calling on Mary to aid the petitioner at the hour of her death and to save her from tribulation (Anfechtung).
These prayers are also found in a second manuscript written in Eastern Swabian dialect that formed part of Schöber’s collection: now Augsburg, UB, Cod. III. 1. 8º 43, fols 19r–31v, a manuscript of c.1545 from a Swabian Dominican nunnery (Maria Medingen?). In that manuscript they are presented for recitation upon death, whereas here the rubric explains that Mary will not abandon the petitioner who recites them every Saturday.
Begins with three that continue the theme of the previous set. They call upon Mary’s intercession to aid the petitioner, explicitly identified in the female voice (fol. 11r), upon the instant of her death, as signalled explicitly by the rubric to the third in the set here. These first three prayers show evidence of intensive use, as does the set on fols. 1r–9v that precedes them, as is to be seen from the dirt and wear evident at the lower outer corners. The fourth and longest prayer in this set is of a different character. Here the penitent lists to Mary the sequence of her joys, and calls on her aid in protection. This text concludes the first section of the manuscript, which occupies the first three quires (fols. 1–24), and is copied entirely by the first hand.
With this short text a new section of the manuscript begins: the second hand enters the larger part of this text (fols. 25r–26r), with which a new quire is started. The two hands were working together, as demonstrated by the change between hands in the final line on fol. 26r.
The conceptual link to the previous confessional formula, to be used prior to sleep, is evident. The third prayer (fols. 33v–35v), to the penitent’s guardian angel, is by Johann von Neumarkt (d. 1380), the long-serving imperial chancellor to Charles IV and noted humanist; the text ed. Joseph Klapper, Schriften Johanns von Neumarkt. 4. Teil: Gebete des Hofkanzlers und des Prager Kulturkreises (Berlin, 1935), no. 23, pp. 176–79. This prayer to the guardian angel was very widely transmitted, and is found in other East Swabian manuscripts from Schöber’s collection: Augsburg, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. III. 1. 8º 11, fols. 328v–332r, a manuscript dated 1490, provenance unknown, and Cod. III. 1. 8º 50, fols. 191v–193r, a manuscript of the second quarter of the 16th c., from the same Dominican nunnery as Cod. III. 1. 8º 43 discussed above, and later in Kirchheim.
Focusing in turn on Christ’s nocturnal prayer and inner suffering in Gethsemane as he submitted his human will to his divine father, and then on the suffering he experienced on his willing submission to suffering in his crucifixion. The two prayers are entered by the two different hands, but here working together on the same quire.
Each prayer to be followed by recitation of the Latin sequence Veni sancte spiritus. This set of prayers is known from other late medieval prayerbooks from southern Germany, e.g. Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cgm 845, fols. 119r–121r, a manuscript from c. 1469–70 written in a central Bavarian dialect, and Cgm 4637, fols. 41v–44r, a manuscript copied in the 1490s in a south-eastern Bavarian dialect.
in German translation
This text, initially an antiphon from the Hymni et Psalterium de sancta virgine Maria by Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1109), was circulated in translation quite widely in late medieval prayerbooks from the German south-east. Six copies were already assembled by Georg Steer (see Steer, ‘Anselm von Canterbury’, Verfasserlexikon, vol. 1, Berlin/New York, 1978, cols 380–81); the text is edited from a single manuscript, in parallel to the Latin original, in Klapper, 1935, no. 119, p. 379. In this manuscript, it is coupled by means of a rubric to a second short Marian salutation.
ed. Klapper, 1935, no. 24, pp. 180–81.
The second prayer by the imperial chancellor and humanist Johann von Neumarkt (d. 1380) to be included in this manuscript, alongside the prayer to one’s guardian angel at fols. 33v–35v above, this is formulated as an address to one’s guardian apostle. This prayer enjoyed a very wide transmission, and the text in this manuscript shows the effect of multiple copying in its form when compared with the version in the critical edition. In the left-hand margin of fol. 49v, the nun who copied this prayer (our ‘second hand’) has entered the name of her own guardian apostles, SS. Philip and James, in red ink: an indication, perhaps, that the manuscript was intended for her personal use.
Prefacing a very short prayer to Christ to ask for his protection from erroneous belief and assistance at death. These are followed by a much longer prayer (fols. 52v–57v) to ask for Christ’s mercy and support, concluded by a request for his special attention to the souls of the petitioner’s parents and all of her lineage. The final text in this set, entered on the final verso of the seventh quire and immediately before a change from the second back to the first hand, asks for the petitioner to enter Christ’s wounds and be bathed in his redemptive blood to participate in his merits (fol. 57v). It is to be found in a second Swabian prayerbook from Schöber’s collection, Augsburg, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. III. 1. 8º 53, fols. 37v–38r, in this case of the later 15th c.
Commenced by the first hand returning to begin a new quire, but completed by the second hand from fol. 61r onwards. The initial prayer on fols. 58r–v is a tripartite petition to request mercy in recognition that man is created in God’s image. It is followed by a sequence of five prayers (fols. 59r–66r) for recitation after confession, as the petitioner offers her penance to Christ and seeks his merits in securing her salvation. This sequence of five prayers was printed at the start of the 1520 edition of the Gilgengart by Hans Schönsperger in Augsburg (the edition is unpaginated; see Online Resources below). Whether the text in this manuscript was copied from the printed edition, which would supply an important terminus post quem for this manuscript, or whether the Gilgengart drew on textual material that had earlier circulated in manuscript form, is uncertain.
The first 18 preparatory prayers for recitation prior to sacramental reception, followed by an adapted version of Mt 8,8 for recitation at the moment of reception, and a further seven prayers for recitation after reception, the final two addressed to Mary. Two blocks of prayers, nos. ix–xii and xix–xxi, are by the Augustinian canon Johannes von Indersdorf (d. 1470), being nos. 1–4 and 7–9 of his cycle of ten eucharistic prayers from the so-called ‘Gebetbuch I. für Elisabeth Ebran’, written 1426 (see Franz Xaver Haimerl, Mittelalterliche Frömmigkeit im Spiegel der Gebetbuchliteratur Süddeutschlands, 1952, pp. 152–57, with incipits of the eucharistic prayers given at p. 153 n. 946; for the author see Bernhard D. Haage, ‘Johannes von Indersdorf’, Verfasserlexikon, vol. 4, Berlin/New York, 1983, cols 647–51, and on this prayerbook and its known manuscript transmission Haage, Bernhard, Der Traktat ‘Von Dreierlei Wesen der Menschen’ (Diss. Heidelberg, 1968), pp. 49–59, 64–97, and 533–34). Some others can be identified elsewhere, although this particular arrangement of 25 prayers appears to be unique to this manuscript.
No. xiv was presented in a critical edition by Klapper, 1935, no. 46, pp. 216–18, where it is termed a ‘Reuegebet vor Christus.’ No. iv is transmitted in several late medieval manuscripts from southern Germany (e.g. Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. 0737, fols. 94v–96r; Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cgm 744, fols. 1v–2v; Munich, Universitätsbibliothek, 8º Cod. ms. 258, fols. 22r–24r and again at fols. 74r–78r). No. xviii, a prayer which begins with the petitioner asking to be washed in Christ’s blood as she enters the depths of his wounds, is known from two other manuscripts in Schöber’s collection (Augsburg, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. III. 1. 8º 6, fol. 154v, this section written in an Eastern Swabian dialect and dated 1459; and Cod. III. 1. 8º 53, fols. 37v–38r, a late fifteenth-century manuscript in Swabian dialect) and elsewhere besides (see Haimerl, 1952, pp. 48–49 n. 247, p. 53 n. 267, and p. 143 n. 897). No. xxii, which follows the second block of prayers by Johannes von Indersdorf, is also known in other manuscripts (see Haimerl, 1952, pp. 48–49 n. 247, p. 53 n. 267, and p. 143 n. 897).
An extended prayer that focuses on Christ’s coronation with thorns, paying especial attention to the blood that ran down Christ’s body as the thorns penetrated his head, the damage inflicted on his brain as the thorns were pressed into his skull, and further despoliation afflicted upon his face in the course of his crucifixion. This prayer shows indications of intensive use; the lower outer corners of the pages are almost translucent from repeated handling. On the narrative elaboration of the coronation with thorns in later medieval texts from the German-speaking lands see Tobias A. Kemper, Die Kreuzigung Christi. Motivgeschichtliche Studien zu lateinischen und deutschen Passionstraktaten des Spätmittelalters (Tübingen, 2006), pp. 199–207.
Prayer to the Apostles, which consists in large part of an extended praise of the apostles, expressed as a series of apostrophes (‘O, you twelve gemstones on Aaron’s priestly robe’, etc.). This prayer is quite widely transmitted, and is also found in two other south-eastern German prayerbooks of a similar period: Augsburg, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. III. 1. 8º 55, fols. 157r–160v, a late fifteenth-century manuscript in central Bavarian dialect with Eastern Swabian features, and Cod. I. 3. 8º 1, fols. 117r–121r, a manuscript of the first quarter of the sixteenth century from Nuremberg.
This work, an extended Passion narrative known as the Devout Bundle of Myrrh, forms the quantitative core of the manuscript. It belongs to that medieval tradition of interpreting Christ’s Passion in relation to Ct 1,12 (‘Fasciculus murrae dilectus meus mihi inter ubera mea commorabitur’), first developed at length by Bernard of Clairvaux in his 43rd sermon on the Song of Songs. Bernard’s approach to contemplation of Christ’s Passion by means of mental recapitulation of a series of episodes of suffering from the course of Christ’s life was highly influential for the later medieval tradition: as, for example, for the Arbor vitae crucifixae of the Franciscan Spiritual Ubertino da Casale (see Stephen Mossman, ‘Ubertino da Casale and the Devotio Moderna’, Ons Geestelijk Erf 80 (2009), pp. 229–34).
The Andächtiges Myrrhenbüschlein is one of a number of late medieval German and Dutch treatises that adopt the Bernardine premise of interpreting Ct 1,12 in relation to the contemplation of Christ’s Passion (for a conspectus see Kemper, 2006, pp. 161–63). It was hitherto known in just six other manuscripts (see Dietrich Schmidtke, ‘Myrrhenbüschel-(Fasciculus-myrrhae-)Texte’, Verfasserlexikon, vol. 6, Berlin/New York, 1987, col. 835 [his no. III. A. 2], and Online Resources below). To judge on this evidence, it is a later fifteenth-century composition from the German south-east, and one that has received no scholarly attention whatsoever. It begins with a short prologue, in which Bernard’s 43rd sermon on the Song of Songs is quoted directly and extensively, and then proceeds to narrate episodes of suffering from Christ’s life, beginning with Christ’s cognition of the weight of human sin while he was still as yet unborn in Mary’s womb (for this tradition of extending Christ’s suffering across the length of his life, see Stephen Mossman, Marquard von Lindau and the Challenges of Religious Life in Late Medieval Germany. The Passion, the Eucharist, the Virgin Mary, Oxford, 2010, pp. 67–102).
Structured around the seven processions of Christ: the first is his emanation from his Father’s heart into Mary’s womb; the second is his birth, and so on. The text is known from a second prayerbook from Schöber’s collection, a manuscript of c. 1545 in Eastern Swabian dialect (Augsburg, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. III. 1. 8º 43, fols. 1r–9v), noted earlier above in relation to the text on fols. 1r–9v of this manuscript. It is also found in Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. 0737, fols. 83r–89r, noted earlier above in relation to the prayer at fols. 72r–74v, a sixteenth-century manuscript in Bavarian dialect; and in the same collection also in Ms. 1568, fols. 74v–79r, a later fifteenth-century manuscript from Augsburg, potentially from the Dominican nunnery of St. Katharina. In both of those manuscripts this text is also accompanied by the following text in this manuscript (i.e. fols. 270v–272v), although in the reverse order.
Specified in the rubric as particularly valuable for recitation by or for a dying person. This text travels as a pair with its predecessor: it is found, as noted above, in Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. 0737, fols. 81v–83r, and Ms. 1568, fols. 73v–74v, in both cases immediately preceding the same text that it follows in this present manuscript.
A set of three prayers, each to follow recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and associated with three ‘sighs’ exhaled by Christ upon episodes associated with his Passion: his entrance into Jerusalem, his setting down of the cross at the site of his crucifixion, and his inspection of the nails that were to be used to crucify him. The rubric associates recitation of these prayers with the acquisition of a thousand years of indulgence, and God’s steadfast assistance at the hour of death.
The final text is merely the rubric to a prayer that has not been entered, and the final leaves remain blank. The rubric takes the form of an edifying exemplum: a canon whose custom was to recite this prayer on encountering a crucifix, whereupon he would also call to mind the events of Christ’s Passion, was greeted at the moment of his death with a heavenly voice that told him his petitions would be granted.
Normally on 10–12 unruled lines, on written space c. 65–70 × 55 mm.
Written in two, possibly three hands.
An irregular hybrida currens, fols. 1r–24v, 26r–39v, 58r–60v, and 272v–278r.
Semihybrida currens, with unusually elongated ascenders, 25r–26r, 40r–57v, 61r–272v, where fols. 99r–139r might conceivably be written by a distinct, third hand.
One- and two-line red penwork initials.
Bound in brown blind-tooled leather (binding stamps resist present identification) over wooden boards with paper pastedowns, sewn on three cords, with functional metal clasp. 110 × 85 mm.
Provenance and Acquisition
David Gottfried Schöber (1696–1778), his inscription on front pastedown: ‘Dieses Ms. welches ungefehr Aº1480 von einer Nonne in einem Schwäbischen Kloster geschrieben, ist der Kirschkauischen Bibliothek gewidmet. / David Gottfried Schöber / Gera A. 11 September 1761’. Schöber, a merchant who was elected mayor of Gera in Thüringen in 1760, was a noted hymnologist with a significant collection of medieval and early modern manuscripts, on which he drew for his studies and textual editions (see Online Resources below). A set of some 30 German prayerbooks in small formats, mostly from Swabian and Franconian nunneries of the Dominican Order, were acquired from his collection at auction in 1779 by Prince Kraft Ernst zu Oettingen-Wallerstein (1748–1802), and are now held by the Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg (see Karin Schneider, Deutsche Mittelalterliche Handschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg: die Signaturengruppen Cod. I. 3 und Cod. III. 1, Wiesbaden, 1988, pp. 11–12).
Kirschkau, Thüringen, Bibliothek der Jesus-Kirche. Schöber’s inscription of donation (see no. 2 above) indicates that the manuscript entered the library of the parish church in the village of Kirschkau, in Thüringen about 40 km south-south-east of Gera. That library can be documented with certainty from 1704, and the donation of this manuscript in 1761 was likely connected to the rebuilding of the church in the years 1751–53 by Count Heinrich XII Reuß zu Schleiz, who was also responsible for the copying and donation of manuscripts to the library in the years 1756–58.
Unidentified German collection, shelfmark in pencil on front pastedown: ‘Regal IX, Fach 3’.
Purchased from Les Enluminures, April 2021.
Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Last Substantive Revision
2021-05-31: Andrew Dunning Encoded description.