A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

St John's College MS 94

Hours of the Virgin and Middle English devotional texts


Language(s): Latin and Middle English. The scribal dialect is Northern, but ‘with a component firmly localised along the Salop—Herefords border, suggesting that John Lacy was perhaps connected with Lacy of Weobley’ and noting family properties near Ludlow (LALME, 1:153). Lacy’s unusual devotion to Winifred, a Shrewsbury saint, would also support such a suggestion.

1. Fols. 1va–9vb
Rubric: De trinitate
Incipit: antiphona libera nos salua nos iustica nos o beata trinitas versus sit nomen
Explicit: solempnia colimus eius apud te patrocinia senciamus Per cristum dominum nostrum Amen

Suffrages for thirty-one saints: the Trinity the Annunciation, Anne, Mary, Michael, Peter, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, James, James the Less, Andrew, Bartholomew, George, Dionysius [‘\cum socijs suis/’, later in the margin], [four further suffrages missing on a lost leaf], Cosmas and Damian, Vincent, Giles, Martin, Nicholas, Anthony, Alexis, Germaine, Leonard, Paul, Katherine, Margaret, Barbara, Mary Magdalene, Winifred, Zithe, Apollonia, Agnes.

2. Fols. 10–15v:

calendar, with entries in green and gold, additions in blue (as well as the expected red and black), including astrological signs, information on the length of days; a note on humours and seasons (fol. 10v, lower margin). Included, none among the specially coloured days, are Chad and Cuthbert (2 and 20 March); Dunstan (19 May); Medard and Botulph (8 June); Swithin (15 July); Oswald (5 August); the translation of Cuthbert (4 September); Winifred (3 November).

3. Fols. 16ra-vb:
Rubric: De sancto ignacio antiphona
Incipit: Iste est qui pro lege dei sui morti se tradidit
Explicit: dignum sancti spiritus habitaculum fieri meriamur Per cristum dominum nostrum amen

An annex to item 1, suffrages for Ignatius and Agatha, with additional prayers: ‘antiphona Aue ihesu rex celorum fili regis angelorum […] ’, ‘oracio Domine ihesu criste fili dei viui rex foster […] ’, ‘Omnipotens mitissime deus respice propicius […]

4. Fols. 17–38v:
Rubric: Matutin’ de beata uirginis
Incipit: Domine labia mea aperies Et os meum annunciabit
Explicit: ab instantibus malis et subitante morte atque perpetua liberemur Per cristum dominum nostrum Amen

The Hours proper, those of the Virgin with the Hours of the Cross intercalated (the explicit). Suffrages after Lauds for the Trinity, Cross, John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, Laurence, Nicholas, Katherine, Winifred, All Saints, and for peace.

5. Fols. 39–45:
Rubric: septem psalmos
Incipit: Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me neque in ira tua corripias me
Explicit: qui tribulant animam meam quoniam ego seruus tuus sum
Penitential Psalms
6. Fols. 45–50v
Rubric: Hic incipiunt quindecim psalmos
Incipit: [fol. 45v] Ad dominum cum tribularer clamaui et exaudiuit me Domine libera animam
Explicit: Benedicat te dominus ex syon qui fecit celum et terram antiphona Ne reminiscaris domine delicta nostra uel parentum nostrorum neque vindicatam sumas de peccatis nostris
Gradual Psalms
7. Fols. 50v–6v:
Incipit: Kyrieleyson cristeleyson Criste audi nos Peter de celis deus miserere nobis
Explicit: viuis ac defunctis in terra viuencium uitam et requiem eternam concede Per cristum dominum nostrum Amen

The litany; it includes Cuthbert, Gildard, Medard, Albinus, and Swithin among confessors; Genevieve, Praxed, and Winifred among virgins.

8. Fols. 57–91:
Incipit: Placebo Amen Dilexi qui exaudiet dominus uocem oracionis mee
Explicit: animam meam ad confitendum nomini tuo me expectant iusti donec retribuas michi
The Office of the Dead,

with musical settings.

9. Fols. 91–101v:
Rubric: Hic incipit commendacio animarum
Incipit: Beati inmaculati in uia qui ambulant in lege domini Beati qui
Explicit: tu ueniam misericoridissime pietatis absterge Per cristum dominum nostrum Amen

The psalm of commendation (118) and Ps. 138, followed by a brief prayer, ‘Tibi domine comendamus animas famulorum […]

10. Fols. 101v–2
Incipit: Preyeth for þe saul of frere Ion lacy Anchor and Reclused
Explicit: for diuers causes þat been good and lawful to my felynge
JOHN LACY, invocation to the volume (IPMEP 547), ed. James F. Royster, ‘A Middle English Treatise on the Ten Commandments’, Studies in Philology 6 (1910), 1–39, and 8 (1911), i–xxiii at 9; A. I. Doyle, ‘A Prayer Attributed to St Thomas Aquinas’, Dominican Studies 1 (1948), 229–38 at 230–1; OT 87. Written in gold ink.
11. Fols. 102rv:
Rubric: This prayir suinge is to be sayd wen þat aryseth a man [marked for transposition to ‘a man aryseth’] in þe morning
Incipit: Domine sancte pater omnipotens eterne deus qui nos ad principium huius diei […] Oracio Domine deus omnipotens qui nos ad principium huius diei […]
Rubric: This preyer suinge is to be sayde wen þat a man gooth to his beed
Incipit: Criste qui lux es et dies noctis tenebras
Explicit: in pace custodian et benediccio tua sit super nos semper Per dominum
12. Fols. 103ra–12vb:
Rubric: De spiritu sancto
Incipit: Ueni creator spiritus mentes tuorum visita […]
Rubric: [fol. 103rb] Ad angelum proprium
Incipit: Sancte angele dei minister celestis imperij cui deus omnipotens mei custodiam deputauit […] O bone Iesu O dulcis | [fol. 103va] sime ihesu […] [fol. 104ra] Deus qui pro nostra salute latus tuum in cruce aperiri […] [prayer ascribed to AUGUSTINE] Deus propicius esto michi peccatori et mei custos […] [fol. 104va, prayer given by BONIFACE VIII for remission of all sin] Deus qui uoluisti pro redempcione mundi a iudeis reprobari […] [fol. 105ra] Domine ihesu criste per ineffabilem pietatem tuam […] [fol. 105va, BEDE on the seven words from the cross] Domine ihesu criste qui septem uerba in ultimo uite […] [fol. 106rb prayer ascribed to AQUINAS] Concede michi queso misericors deus que tibi placita […] [fol. 107ra, prayer commended by AUGUSTINE] Dominus ihesu criste qui in hunc mundum propter nos peccatores […] [fol. 109ra] O intemerata et in eternum benedicta singularis […]
Rubric: [fol. 110ra] vij. psalmos beate marie uirginis
Incipit: Magnificat anima mea domine Ad dominum cum tribularer […] [the litany of the Virgin] Kyrieleyson Cristeleyson Kyrieleyson Criste audi nos […] [fol. 111rb] Obsecro te mater dei maria summe benignitatis per illam inestimabilem leticiam […] [fol. 111va] Protege domine famulos tuo subsidijs […] [fol. 111vb, BERNARD’s seven Psalter verses] Illumina oculos meos [altered from ‘meus’] ne vmquam obdormiam […]
Rubric: [fol. 112ra] De vij. dormientibus oratio
Incipit: Isti sunt sancti qui pro dei amore […] Deus qui gloriosos resurrexio | [fol. 112rb] nis eterne precones […]
Rubric: Vndecim Milium uirginum oracio
Incipit: Antiphona corpora sanctarum in pace sepulta sunt […] Deus qui sanctam huius diei solempnitatem […]
Rubric: memoria de sanctis
Incipit: Tanquam aurum in fornace probauit electos […]
Rubric: Oratio
Incipit: deus qui sacratissimis martiribus suis | [fol. 112va] Blasio Cristoforo Georgio […]
Rubric: Oracio bona de sancta maria
Incipit: sancta maria mater domini nostri ihesu cristi in manus tuas
Explicit: ut dormiam in pace et vigilem in te domina mea sancta maria. Amen

Latin prayers, including that of AQUINAS (fols. 106–7), ed. Doyle, 234–6.

13. Fols. 112vb–19vb:
Rubric: Incipit psalterium beati IERONIMI […]
Incipit: Suscipe digneris domine deus omnipotens omnes hos psalmos et oraciones
Explicit: et perseuerancia usque in finem in bonis et amor uite eterne Prestante domino nostro ihesu cristo qui cum patre [form ending] Amen

The abbreviated Psalter

14. Fols. 120ra–7va:
Rubric: Incipit prologus id est prelocusio
Incipit: Takuth heed and ȝe mow vndurstonde þat god has gifen vs ten commawndementis
Explicit: Si vis ingredi ad uitam serua mandata Qui nobis concedat qui uiuit et regnit
A Middle English tract on the decalogue (IPMEP 650), ed. Royster, 9–35
15. Fol. 127vab
Rubric: The seuifne deedly synnes
Incipit: Pryde Couetise lechere And Glotene
Final rubric: þe tolue articuls of oure feithe
Explicit: Been rehersud in oure comyn crede
Middle English instructional lists,

ed. OT 87–8 (items 3–12), arguably added as a filler later on a blank leaf. Such mnemonics, often without protracted explanation, are frequent features in instructional MSS, e.g. BodL, MS Lyell 29, fols. 99v–104; or those ed. George A. Plimpton, The Education of Chaucer (London, 1935), plate ix.3–11; or Curt F. Bühler PMLA 69 (1954), 686–7 New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS M 861, fols. 1–7).

16. Fols. 128va–41va:
Rubric: Hic incipit Heer begynneth þe pistyll of seint Ierom þe wiche he wrotte to a mayden dematriade þat had voued chastyte to oure lord ihesu criste
Incipit: And ȝe mowe vndurstonde and fynde
Explicit: þe reste is endeles To þis reste brynge vs he þat for vs died on þe roode tree Amen
Jolliffe H.5 (six MSS total, a translation from PL 30:24–45 and 33:1105–20, chapter 9 of the Latin onwards), partially edited in modern English by [Clare Kirchberger], ‘From the Epistle of St Jerome to Demetriades’, The Life of the Spirit 5 (1951), 400–6. The text is preceded (fol. 128ra-va) by a table listing 18 chapters, of which this text forms the first 14, the next two items the remainder.
17. Fols. 141va–4va:
Rubric: how þat a man or a woman schal doo when þat deuocion is withdrawen and how þat þai schul stonde stabul in þe loue of god Qui autem perseuerauerit usque in finem vel sustinuerit hic saluus erit Capitulum xv
Incipit: Hit is not for to prey þe lasse ne for to faste
Explicit: and peynful And he schal not wanten of suspicius obseruans gregorius in moralibus Suspicio non est sine tribulacione et angustia
WALTER HILTON, Eight Chapters on Perfection (IPMEP 677), chs. 2, 3, 5, 8, ed., with collations from our MS, Fumio Kuriyagawa, ‘The Inner Temple Manuscript of Walter Hilton’s Eight Chapters on Perfection’ (reprinted from Studies in English Literature 1971) (Tokyo, 1971).
18. Fols. 142va–3ra:
Incipit: We reden in uitas patrum of two birþ eren and þe alder
Explicit: it wol brynge þe to behaldyn of contemplacion and to grace [added] seint gregor seith Preuynge of loue is castinge forthe of þe werke

An exemplum from the Vitae patrum, unique and unpublished, inserted at the end of the first chapter (xv) of the preceding item.

19. Fols. 144va–50va:
Rubric: Heer begynneth þe trety þat pertyneth to confession
Incipit: Confession may nouȝth been departith for to telle to oon prest
Explicit: brynge to mynde of foretyn [sic] þinges Now god grantes \vs/ vere contricion Amen Amen
A Middle English form of confession (Jolliffe C.4), unique and unpublished.
20. Fols. 150va–1ra:
Incipit: Vbi maior contricio ibi major ve\nia/ Gregorius Prauis moribus semper grauis est uita bonorum
Explicit: Multos enim post aurum et argentum et usque ad cor regis extendit et subuertit

Notes added by Lacy.

21. Fols. 151–3:
Rubric: how þat a man sall knowen þe perelles þat longeth to schrifte
Incipit: Now to þe honur of god and of þe blessud uirgine marie
Explicit: for forgifnes and mercy For to deliuer vs from þe paynes of purgatory Amen Amen Now I pray ȝow be way of charite and mercy and gras þat ȝe wolde prey for þe saule of him þat maad þis book saaf lacy Or makith it saaf’
A treatise on Shrift

IMEV 2372, unpublished and, as IMEV Suppl. indicates, ‘sometimes falling into prose’.

22. Fols. 153ra-vb:
Incipit: Actiua uita est panem esurientem tribuere Verbum sapiencie nescientem docere
Explicit: suspiciones de fratre suo indicet et sic ab illo implicatus absorbeatur

More notes added by Lacy: active and contemplative life, charity, contemplation, etc.

Added texts:

One should note the explicit to item 18 above: production of the MS went on over a protracted period, and its continuous form substantially belies the compiler’s method of working. Indeed, as noted in Textual Presentation below, fol. 144va exists in a state suggesting that the volume was never formally completed. Thus, odd portions of the text, especially at booklet ends, look as if they were provided to avoid blank spaces. Potential evidence confirming such a view come from many Latin theological notes, usually written in a smaller script, often in unruled portions of the page foot. Telling examples (for a full account is not provided) include material ascribed to Gregory the Great on the originally blank fol. 1 or materials on fasting added among the prayers on fol. 109vb. Especially interesting in this regard are sequences of such added Latin oddments in the midst of the English texts 16 and 19.

Given this progressive production, only one item truly qualifies as an ‘added text’: on fol. 153vb, an anglicana hand of s. xv med. has written in a form of absolution.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: inferni
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. iv + 154 (numbered fols. 1–153, v, the last formerly used as a pastedown) + iii (numbered fols. vi–viii).
Dimensions (leaf): 265 × 180 mm.


18(–1, –6, a stub with painting) 210 | 3–48 56 | 6–138 | 1410(–3, a stub after fol. 104) 158 | 168 | 178 1812 198(–8, probably blank). No catchwords or signatures.

The MS was produced as a series of six booklets, as marked above, and ending at fols. 16, 38, 102, 119, 127, and v respectively. Fol. 38 is packed with text, in a frame 210 mm x 130 mm, 26 lines on the recto and 33 on the verso. In conjunction with the short quire 5, this textual presentation points to a booklet boundary. Like the scribal invocation at the end of booklet 1 (see the description of the illumination programme below), item 10 appears to be planned as conclusive. The final page and one-half of the quire, like that at the end of booklet 1, appears packed with text. In fact, item 11 may represent materials added later in a blank space. The inscription on fol. 102 includes, in part, the injunction that ‘neuer man ne woman lete departe þe engeliche from þe latyn’, indicating separate production of the Latin and English portions—the split falling between fols. 119 and 120—and that they are equally integral to the composition, as much so as the Psalter to the Hours in MS 82.


Two leaves damaged by cut-out illuminations, the Trinity on fol. 1 and a piece of a floral spray on fol. 29.


Written in varying formats: (a) the Hours proper, fols. 17–102: writing area 195–200 × 120 mm. . In long lines, 20 lines to the page;

(b) fols. 103–19: in double columns, each column 190 × 58 mm. , with 8 mm between columns, in 30 lines to the column;

(c) the English, fols. 120–50: a bit variable, but typically in double columns, each column 202 × 55–60 mm. , with 8 mm between columns, in 56 lines to the column;

(d) fols. 151–3: writing area 195 × 120 mm. (with frequent run over past the bounds). In long lines, 42 lines to the page.

Prickings: bounded and ruled (often with double line rules) in reddish-brown ink.


Written in gothic textura semiquadrata (universal anglicana g). Punctuation by low and medial point, double point, punctus elevatus, and punctus versus. See Watson, DMO, no. 873 (146–7) and plate 290 (fol. 16v, which separates fols. 1–9, 16 as the only precisely datable portion of the MS, 1420.


At major textual divisions in booklets 2 and 3, at the head of ‘O intemerata’ and the litany of the Virgin (within text 12) and at the head of text 16, 3- to 5-line champes, some with painted floral centres, and full bar borders in blue and violet with floral clusters, twenty in all. Item 10 (fol. 101v) has a half-border with 3-line champe and arms (see Provenance) at the page foot. In booklets 5 and 6, 6-line champes with flower and leaf ornament and demivinets at chapter heads; on fol. 144va, the demivinet has not been completed, and the 13-line champe has neither gold nor internal painting.

At subsidiary divisions and in booklet 1, 2- to 4-line champes with floral sprays. Calendar pages are headed by a champe, and all have demivinets in blue and violet with floral sprays. In the Office of the Dead, the musical settings are introduced by swag capitals in text ink with faces, some bird and animal forms, and plant designs in pink and green.

Minor decoration includes red rubrics, alternate 1-line lombards (gold leaf on violet flourishing and blue on red flourishing), alternating blue and gold leaf paraphs and line-fillers of the same. In the Middle English, some green-washed marginal pointing fingers.

There are thirty-seven surviving miniatures of an original set of forty-two. In items 1 and 3, each suffrage is allotted a quarter-page miniature, two to the page, side by side above the prayers. See Scott, 2:32 on the wave of such introductory full-page sections in MSS s. xv in. A miniature to illustrate the Trinity has been cut out of fol. 1va, and a lost leaf following fol. 4 probably had four miniatures.

The survivors are: the Virgin as queen of heaven, with sceptre and holding a scroll with the Aue; the Annunciation with Mary and a dove; Jesus marked from his crucifixion emerging from the tomb; Anne holding the infant Virgin with a horn-book; Mary with three red roses holding the infant Jesus; Michael armed above the dragon; Peter holding a church and key; John the Baptist, in a skin, holding lamb and cross; John the Evangelist holding his eagle; James holding a staff; James the Less, in a similar posture; Andrew with his cross; Bartholomew holding a book and a knife; George spearing the dragon; Denis with a crosier and his decollated head; Cosmas and Damian with poor people and dogs (Scott, 2:364 identifies but a single English analogue, in BL, MS Egerton 2572); Vincent with a ladder and T-square; Giles with a crosier and a wounded doe tugging at his skirt; Martin with a crosier being blessed by a hand coming out of a cloud; Nicholas with a crosier and three naked women in a tub; Antony blessed by a hand coming out of a cloud, in grey and black hermit garb holding a book, with a pig at his feet; Alexis as a pilgrim with staff and scrip, holding a book; Germaine with a crosier blessing a kneeling congregation; Leonard holding a link of chain and a crosier; Paul holding a sword and a book; Katherine holding a sword beside her wheel; Margaret holding a sword and letting a sheep suckle at her breast, an incision all along her front, other sheep at her feet; Barbara holding a wool-carding comb by her tower; Mary Magdalene with an ointment jar; Winifred, with a red line on her neck, holding a sword and a book; Zitha with a gold band round her hair, a gold-coloured book at her belt and holding a bag; Apollonia with pincers and a book; Agnes naked in a fire with a descending dove; Ignatius with a crosier, a pair of lions pawing at him; Agatha with exposed bloody breasts and holding a knife and a book.

The two remaining miniatures each take up half a page. On fol. 16v, John Lacy, in his barred anchorhold, watches the crucifixion (defaced) with Mary and John, a partly defaced scroll from his mouth (see Provenance below), beneath the picture ‘Anno domini MCCCCxx.’. The only known English analogue for a portrait of the limner is the one probably John Siferwas in BL, MS Harley 7026 (Scott, 2:62).On fol. 56v, across the page-foot, the Last Judgement, with the dead arising to trumpeting angels, and a hell-mouth at the right foot; the image of God in the centre defaced.

See AT, no. 418 (42) and plate xxviii (fol. 5v); all major illuminations are reproduced on Bodleian Library film roll 201G.


A modern replacement. Sewn on five thongs. At the front, a marbled paper leaf; two modern paper flyleaves, and one medieval vellum leaf (probably a former pastedown, now pasted to a vellum stub); at the rear, two modern paper flyleaves, and another marbled paper leaf (vi–viii).


Origin: 1420 x 1434 ; England (Newcastle)

Provenance and Acquisition

Both copied and illuminated by John Lacy, Dominican recluse of Newcastle upon Tyne; cf. the signature in the lower border of fol. 17: ‘lacy scripsit et illuminat’. Other Lacy references in the MS include two entries in the calendar: under 8 March (fol. 11), obits for his parents, ‘Obierunt Iohannes lacy et tylote vxor eius pater fratris Iohannis lacy Anachorete’; and in the lower margin of fol. 15, an added obit, ‘Data patris bricij qui iacet inter fratres predicatores noui castri super tynam Anno domini MCCxxxxvj.’ In addition, the miniature on fol. 16v shows Lacy with a scroll from his mouth, ‘Criste lacy fratris anime (the rest erased)’ and below the date 1420; and cf. texts 10 and 21 above: associated with the first, in the lower margin of fol. 101v, the arms ‘or on a fess gules a fleur de lis or’, identified as the arms of Lacy, by Rotha Mary Clay, ‘Some Northern Anchorites’, Archaeologist Aeliana 4th ser. 33 (1955), 202–17 at 210 n. 33., For other discussions, see Clay, ‘Further Studies on Medieval Recluses’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association 3rd ser. 16 (1953), 74–86;, Conrad Pepler, ‘John Lacy: A Dominican Contemplative’, The Life of the Spirit 5 (1951), 397–400;, Doyle. Lacy is associated with Newcastle from at least 1408; see the deeds involving a person of this name in Arthur Maule Oliver (ed.), Early Deeds Relating to Newcastle upon Tyne, Surtees Society 137 (1924), 187–9 passim., Lacy also owned BodL, MS Rawlinson C.258 (a Wycliffite New Testament). There his inscription of ownership appears on fol. 86, and an erased inscription, partly legible under ultraviolet light, associates the book with the Newcastle Dominicans (fol. 1); see Ker, MLGB 134, 284, . Another MS which he copied, now lost, contained ‘Grace dieu’, the 1413 prose translation of de Deguilleville’s Pèlerinage de l’âme; it later belonged to Henry Savile of Banke; see Watson, Savile, no. 60 (30); see further below.

In addition to Lacy’s injunctions on the use of his book (item 10), the MS also includes his bequest, indicating the conclusion of his work (fol. 1): ‘Orate pro anima fratris Iohanis lacy anachorite de ordine fratrum predicatorum noui Castri super Tynam qui hoc [later?] primarium dedit domino Rogero Stonysdale Capellano ecclesie sancti Nicholai noui Castri super Tynam ad totum tempus vite sue et post mortem predicti domini Rogeri volo ut tradatur alii presbitero dicte ecclesie secundum disposicionem dicti Rogeri ad terminum vite sue et sic de presbitero in presbiterum in eadem ecclesia remanendum dummodo durauerit ad orandum pro anima predicti Iohannis lacy Anachorite Anno domini Millesimo CCCCmoxxxiiijto.’ (Ker, MLGB 222). For further commentary on illuminated books as willed to ensure use, see Scott, 1:32 and 69 n. 18.

A list of contents, perhaps in the hand of Henry Savile of Banke (but the MS is not in his catalogue) (fol. ivv).

Ja Billingham’ (s. xvii ex., fol. iv verso).

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna, A descriptive catalogue of the western medieval manuscripts of St. John's College, Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) (with corrections of typographical errors relating to the letters wynn and thorn).


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact St John's College Library.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)


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Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Thompson Family Charitable Trust

Last Substantive Revision

2023-06: First online publication

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