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

St John's College MS 131

Psalter and Hours of the Virgin


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1–6v:

the calendar, use of Rome, with numerous additions s. xvi3/4 and ex. (see Provenance below). References to popes routinely cancelled but Becket rewritten after being erased. On fol. 6v, a catch-rubric to connect to item 2.

2. Fols. 7–89v:
Rubric: Incipit psalterium dauid prophete psalmus
Incipit: Beatus uir qui non abijt in consilio impiorum
Explicit: in cymbalis iubilationis omnis spiritus laudet dominum

The Psalter, in an order which is partly liturgically based. I am grateful to Cristina Dondi, of the Bodleian Library Incunable Project, for sharing information about the MS.

3. Fols. 89v–93:
Rubric: ymnus trium puerorum
Incipit: Benedicite omnia opera domini domino
Explicit: Et ne nos inducas in tentationem Set libera nos a malo

The canticles: Benedicite, Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis, the Athanasian creed, Te deum, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Paternoster.

4. Fols. 93–5v:
Incipit: Kyrieleyson Cristeleyson Criste audi nos Criste exaudi nos
Explicit: confitebor illi salutare uultus mei et deus meus Gloria patri etc

The litany, with associated prayers. Included under martyrs are Eadmund and Ansane?.

5. Fols. 95v–102v:
Rubric: Incipit psalterium gloriosissimum HYERONIMI exceptum […]
Incipit: Psalmorum istorum decantatio purificet me indulgentia tua deus […]
Rubric: [fol. 96v, the text] Incipit psalterium antiphona
Incipit: Ne reminiscaris domine Verba mea auribus percipe domine
Explicit: perducere digneris in requiem sempiternam saluator mundi Qui cum patre [form ending] Amen

With two additional prayers at the end. Fol. 103rv is blank, except for a catch-rubric to connect to item 6, but ruled.

6. Fols. 104–12v:
Rubric: Incipit officium gloriosissime uirginis marie secundum consuetudinem ordinis hospitalis sancti iohannis ierusalemitam […]
Incipit: Domine labia mea aperies
Explicit: Salue regina oratio ut supra Omnipotens sempiterne deus etc.

Fol. 113rv is blank but ruled.

7. Fols. 114–18:
Rubric: In agenda omnium fidelium defunctorum obsequium incipit et prima ad uesperas
Incipit: antiphona Placebo domino in regione uiuorum
Explicit: Amen Versus Requiescant in pace Responsus Amen

Fol. 118v is blank but ruled.

8. Fols. 119–33v:
Rubric: Incipit officium trium dierum tenebrarum […]
Incipit: In primo nocturno antiphona Zelus domus tue comedit me et opprobria exprobantur
Explicit: cuncta cristi armatura ut nos saluent ut futura perfruamur gloria Amen

The explicit occurs in an added ‘Oratio ualde vtilis’ (fol. 132v), ‘Colter qui circumdisti sacrosanctam carnem cristi reseca nocentia […] ’ Fol. 134rv is blank but ruled.

9. Fols. 135–41:
Rubric: Sequitur officium corporis cristi a beato THOMA DE AQUINO ordinis predicatorum edito quod sit in ecclesia hospitalis sancti iohannis Iherusalemita in totum dupliciter et prima Ad uesperas
Incipit: antiphona Sacerdos in eternum cristus dominus secundum ordinem melchisedechi panem
Explicit: glorie nobis pignus datur alleluya psalmus Magnificat oratio Deus qui nobis sub sacramento Ad completorium per omma ut supra

Fol. 141v is blank but ruled.

10. Fols. 142–9:
Rubric: Incipit hic commemoratio sancti iohannis babtiste que fit media hospitalis eiusdem […]
Incipit: Priusquam te formam in utero noui te et antequam exiret
Explicit: tu uides necessitatem nostram miseserere[sic] nostri Qui cum patre [form ending] Amen

The explicit occurs in an ‘oratio ualde utilis’, ‘Domine ihesu criste salus mundi qui elegisti et constituisti religionem nostrum […] ’ Fol. 149v is ruled but blank.

11. Fols. 150–4v:
Rubric: Ab octauis penteconstes usque ad aduentum dominiferia vja. fiunt ix. lectiones de cruce in qualibet ebdomada […]
Incipit: Cristus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem mortem autem crucis
Explicit: in tuis hodie laudibus congregatam psalmus Magnificat require capitulo lxxxiiij. oratio Deus qui unigeniti Ad completorium ut supra

Fol. 155rv is ruled but blank.

12. Fols. 156–7:
Rubric: Incipit officium uotiuum sanctorum angelorum Ad matutinas
Incipit: Versus Domine labia mea aperies Responsus Et os meum annunciabit laudem
Explicit: Pro me ut assidua intercessione Rogetis absque aliqua intermissione Amen

Most of fol. 157 and fols. 157v–9v are blank but ruled.

13. Fols. 160–8v:
Rubric: Incipit officium beate marie uirginis secundum consuetudinem sancti YHERONIMI quod ordinatur secundum curiam romanam Ad Matutinas
Incipit: versus Domine labia mea aperies Responsus Et os meum annunciabit laudem
Explicit: resurrexit sicut dixit alleluya Ora pro nobis deum Alleluya
Final rubric: Explicit officium [as the initial rubric]

In this portion, ochre-slashed capitals. The remainder of the MS, fols. 169–72, v–vi were originally blank but ruled. Fol. viv is unruled and shows signs of having been a pastedown in an earlier binding.

Added material:

a. Fols. 169ra–70ra:

an index for the psalms, keyed to the MS foliation (italic, s. xvi in.);

b. Fols. 170v–2:

five prayers (italic-tinged secretary perhaps English, s. xvi med. or xvi2).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Marcius (fol. 2, calendar)
Secundo Folio: dominus (fol. 8, text)
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. iv + 174 (numbered fols. 1–172, v–vi) + iii (numbered fols. vii–ix).
Dimensions (leaf): 225 × 155 mm.
Dimensions (written): 145 × 80 mm.
Foliation: A scribal foliation on versos in red roman numerals, accompanied by an early one in ink, accurately numbering fols. 7v–95v as 1–89.


16 2–128 138+1 (+9) [fol. 103, a production boundary] │14–218 228 (–8, a stub). Catchwords centred, no signatures.


In long lines, 31 lines to the page. No prickings; bounded and ruled in violet ink.


Written in gothic textura rotunda. Punctuation by point and double point.


In the Psalter, which provides the decorative standard for the whole, headings in red; individual psalms introduced by alternating 2-line lombards, gold leaf on purple flourishing and blue on red flourishing.

Verses divided by similar lombards, 1 line high.

Larger psalter divisions are marked by champes with floral sprays (more colourful than English examples).

These also appear at the head of the abbreviated Psalter (fol. 96v), of the Hours (fol. 104, etc.), and of the Offices for specific hours within the various sets.

After fol. 114, a floral column border typically accompanies such initials at major breaks.

There is one fully illuminated page, at the head of the Psalter (fol. 7): a full border of lacy foliage and flowers, with putti hunters (one certainly an angel with trumpet) and animals; a historiated initial with David and his harp; and two roundels, one unfilled, the second David beheading Goliath.

Six historiated initials with bar borders the height of the page in the style of fol. 7; these initials, all but the first and last lines high, alternate with the champes in marking divisions of the Psalter into nocturns: David with his harp (fol. 19, 8 lines); similarly (fol. 26v); fool with a watching angel (fol. 34); David calling from the waters (fol. 41v); David with his harp (fol. 51v); the enthroned Virgin and child with a kneeling suppliant in sackcloth (fol. 160, 9 lines).

See AT, no. 967 (101) and plate lxviii (fol. 7), ascribing the work to the Neapolitan painter Cola Rapicano.


Modern replacement. Bound on three thongs. At the front, a marbled paper leaf, two modern paper flyleaves, and a medieval vellum flyleaf at the rear, two modern paper flyleaves and another marbled paper leaf (vii–ix).


Origin: s. xv2 ; Italy

Provenance and Acquisition

Additions to the calendar, associated with the recusant Westons of Buxton (Leics.), presumably in the hand of William Weston. He married in 1560 Helen, daughter of John Story who was executed in 1571 (see 13 May and 1 June); their child Edward Weston, a Catholic writer, was still alive in 1633 (his birth in 1566 under 30 October). These added entries cover 1557–96 (the last, under 21 November, for the death of William Weston). These relationships are explicated by s. xix notes, based on Antony Wood’s researches (fol. iirv). An earlier William Weston (d. 1540) had been a knight Hospitaller, who fought in the siege of Rhodes 1522 and was Lord Prior of the order in England 1527–40.

Latin verses ‘debetur summo gloria summa deo’; ‘A domino solo pendet mea vita salusque │ ipse regat solus me ac mea cuncta sibi’ (fol. iiiv, s. xvi ex.; the second distich repeated at the top of fol. 1), neither in Walther.

‘Liber Collegij Divi Johannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Domini Gulielmi Paddei Militis et ejusdem Collegij olim Convictoris 1634’ (fol. 2, upper margin).

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna, A descriptive catalogue of the western medieval manuscripts of St. John's College, Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)


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


    Alexander, J. J. G., and Elźbieta Temple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries, the University Archives and the Taylor Institution (Oxford, 1985).
    Walther, Hans, Initia carminum ac versuum Medii Aevi posterioris Latinorum, 2nd edn (Göttingen, 1969).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2023-07: First online publication

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.