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

St John's College MS 179

Breviary, Sarum Use


Language(s): Latin with an added text in Middle English

1. Fols. 1ra–252ra:
Incipit: Dominica prima aduentus domini ad primas vesperas pulsatis campanis more solito accensisque luminaribus in ecclesia
Explicit: fuerat glorificabant deum et dicebant quia hic est saluator mundi Psalmus M
Breviary, Sarum Use

The temporale, ending in the 25th Sunday after Pentecost; ed. BrevSar, vols. 1–2.

2. Fols. 252ra–63ra:
Incipit: In dedicacione ecclesie ad primas vesperas super psalmos hec sola antiphona O quam metuendus est locus
Explicit: Hugonis episcopi Edmundi regis Cecilie uirginis et sancte Katerine uirginis

The dedication of a church, a list of subsidiary blessings, and notes on specific services for various feasts. Fols. 263rb–64v blank but fully bounded and ruled. In the gutter of the final (blank) leaf a co2 mark, i.e. ‘corrigitur’.

3. Fols. 265ra–66vb:
Incipit: primus mensis Ianarius dicitur a lano cui fuit consecratus et dicitur ianuarius eo quod
Explicit: abundunciam et pacem inter gentes et omnia prospera designat adesse

Calendar prognostics

4. Fols. 267–72v

The calendar. Includes among red-letter feasts, ‘Cathedra sancti Petri’ (22 February), Richard of Chichester (3 April); and the translation of Edmund Rich (9 June). Among other English saints (not Cuthbert), are the translation of Swithin and an added entry for Frideswide (19 October). Fols. 273–4v are blank but ruled.

5. Fols. 275ra–337va:
Incipit: Beatus uir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum et in uia peccatorum
Explicit: Omnes sancti orate pro nobis Propius esto per se uobis domine et cetera ut supra

The Psalter with interspersed prayers, and the canticles to ‘Nunc dimittis’, followed by a litany. There are only three lines on fol. 337v and fol. 338rv is blank but ruled.

6. Fols. 339ra–522vb:
Incipit: In uigilia sancti andree apostoli ad vesperas super psalmos hec sola antiphona Unus ex duobus qui secuti sunt dominum erat andreas
Explicit: fac nos eius mentis in sanctorum tuorum societatem transferri Per dominum’.

The Sanctorale, Andrew–Katherine, ed. BrevSar, vol. 3. Following Katherine, at fol. 522rb, the service for Saturinus and Sisininus, followed by ‘de deposicione sancti Erkenwaldi’ and ‘translacione eiusdem’ (which may be added).

7. Fols. 523ra–51rb:
Rubric: In natale unius apostoli siue euangeliste […]
Incipit: Lux perpetua lucebit sanctis tuis et eternitas temporum alleluia
Explicit: sponso et sponse Cum Gloria patri Prudentes Versus Adducentur regi uirg’

The common of saints, ending in the service for more than one virgin. Fols. 551v–3v were originally blank but ruled.

Added text

a. Fols. 551va–3rb
Rubric: In commemoracione omnium sanctorum
Incipit: Ad vesperas antiphona ..... dei omnes qui estis consortes supernorum
Explicit: iusti in domino secretum et post communione sicut in die omnium sanctorum

Added s. xv ex., in gothic textura quadrata.

Added flyleaf texts

b. Fol. iii:
Incipit: Whan a man shal do homage to his chief lorde of whom he holdeth his chief maner
Explicit: I owe to oure souuerain lord the king so god me helpe and his saintes

secretary, s. xv ex.

c. Fol. viii:
Incipit: ⟨B⟩eata appolonia virgo fuit inclita cuius in honorem […]

a suffrage for St Apollonia, largely as a charm against toothache (anglicana formata, s. xv2).

d. Fol. viiiv:

prayers and notes on the Virgin and her descent from David, texts of ‘Alma redemptoris mater’ and of ‘Speciosa facta es et suauis in deliciis’ (bastard secretary, s. xv2).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: -atur per totum
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. v + 553 + v (numbered fols. vi–x).
Dimensions (leaf): 192 × 130 mm.


18+1 (+1) 2–238 248 (–2) 25–338 [fol. 264, a booklet boundary] │ 3410 [fol. 274, a booklet boundary] │ 35–428 [fol. 338, a booklet boundary] │ 43–658 [to fol. 522, probably a booklet boundary at the end of the annual sequence] │ 66–688 698 (–8, a blank). Catchwords in scrolls. All leaves in the first half of each quire signed (many cut away) with a quire letter, usually in red, and an arabic number for the leaf. In this system, quires 5–19 = d–s; quires 22–33 = a–M; quires 36–42 = b–h; quires 43, 45–51 = +, b–h; quire 52 has three dots and 53 a line; quires 54–62 = h–q.


In double columns, each column 130 × 35–7 mm. , with 9 mm between columns, in 36 lines to the column. No prickings; bounded and ruled in violet ink.


Written in gothic textura semiquadrata. Punctuation by point, double point, and punctus elevatus.


At major divisions, champes in blue on gold leaf with magenta, on bar borders with corner geometric knot and flower designs, in blue, magenta and gold leaf, full borders at the nocturns of the Psalter.

At minor divisions, alternate lombards in navy on red flourishing and gold leaf on purple or navy flourishing.

Smaller 1-line examples usually include red on purple in alternation with blue on red, as do the paraphs.

Fol. 1 has a full-page illumination: within a Lancastrian S collar, with the S’s in gold leaf, and attached to an inscription, ‘Salue Saluatore Spes Sol Sapiencia Splendor...’ with floral sprays, on a blue ground a shield noir, the five wounds gules and the four clous argent with the name ‘ihu’ or. The device is identified on banderoles as ‘Nomen saluatoris’ and the wounds described there as five different springs, e.g. ‘fons vite sempiterne’ for the wound in the side. Below, a distich ‘O qui cuncta regis mile fortissime uere│Collarium regis es dignum dignus habere’. Scott cites our MS as an example of the common use of the holy monogram in artistic contexts (1:76 n. 16); she associates the floral sprays in the frontispiece, which she identifies as ‘added’, with ‘border artist B’ of the Lydgate MS BL, MS Royal 18 D.ii, probably London work of 1516 x 1523. His hand appears again in our MS 187.

See AT no. 393 (39).


Sewn on seven thongs. At the front, a marbled paper leaf, a modern paper flyleaf, and three medieval vellum flyleaves; at the rear, three medieval vellum flyleaves, a modern paper flyleaf, and another marbled paper leaf (vi–x).


Origin: s. xv in. ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

The decoration on fol. 1 implies a royal provenance, certainly before 1461.

The calendar suggests Westminster Abbey / London, like the provision of a feast of Erkenwald at the end of item 6.

‘Found by me ⟨hughe⟩ fortescu In the howse of Iohn Robartes of Combmartyne’ (fol. 1v, s. xvi2: the first word written by the same hand on fol. v).

The old shelfmark ‘Abac: ij. N. 65.’ (fol. iii).

‘Liber Collegii Divi Ioannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Stephani Pott ... Bibliopolae Londinensis Anno Domini 1610’ (fol. 1).

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).
    Proctor, Francis, and Christopher Wordsworth (eds.), Breviarum ad usum insignis ecclesiae Sarum, 3 vols. (Cambridge, 1882–6).
    Scott, Kathleen L., Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390–1490. 2 vols. (London, 1996).

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

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