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

St John's College MS 208

Office of the Dead, Psalms, Suffrages


Language(s): Latin with some Middle English

1. Fols. 1–6v:
the calendar,

including verses, inc. ‘Prima dies mensis et septi | tima truncat vt ensis […]

Walther, no. 14563. The calendar includes red-letter feasts for Dunstan, Augustine of Kent, Edmund Rich, the translation of Edward the Confessor, and king Edmund; references to Becket and to popes erased.

2. Fols. 7–65:
Rubric: In uigilia mortuorum
Incipit: antiphona Placebo domino Dilexi quoniam exaudiet dominus uocem oracionis mee
Explicit: et a peccatis omnibus exuas et tue redempcionis faciat esse participes Qui cum deo patre [form ending] amen
Office of the Dead

The explicit in one of a series of added prayers. Several additions written in the lower margins, e.g. fol. 46v. Fols. 65v–7v are all blank, but ruled.

3. Fols. 68–91:
Rubric: Hic incipiunt commendaciones animarum
Incipit: Beati immaculati in uia qui ambulant in lege
Explicit: admiserunt tu uenia misericordissime pietatis absterge Per eundum cristum dominum nostrum amen

Fol. 91v is blank.

4. Fols. 92–110v:
Rubric: Hic incipiunt psalmi de passione domini nostri ihesu cristi
Incipit: Deus deus meus respice in me quare me dereliquisti
Explicit: commendo spiritum meum redemisti me domine deus ueritatis
5. Fols. 110v–11:
Incipit: A thousande tymys Aue maria etc. ȝe schul sey and they schall be sayde
Explicit: and after seyeþ this oryson wyth goode deuocyoune
An English rubric to the next; see OT 91 for more extensive quotation.,

6. Fols. 111–23v:
Incipit: Oracio Adonay domine deus magne et mirabilis qui dedisti salutem
Explicit: purgans ornes uirtutibus angelicis et cetibus coniungas in celestibus Per dominum nostrum ihesum cristum [form ending] Amen
Suffrages (a second English passage fols. 111v–12, following the prayer): to the Trinity, the Cross, Becket (much defaced), the Virgin, Anne, and Joachim.
7. Fol. 124rv:
Incipit: Dominus ⟨papa⟩ Innocencius quartus concessit cuilibet […] Auete omnes fideles \anime [later] / in sancta pace requiescite qui uos redeunt
Explicit: per dei misericordiam requiescant in perpetua pace amen
A prayer for peace.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Primus (fol. 2)
Secundo Folio: dominus (fol. 8)
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (HSOS/HFFH).
Extent: Fols. i + 124 + ii (numbered fols. ii–iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 128 × 85 mm.
Dimensions (written): 85 × 54 mm.


16 [fol. 6, a booklet boundary] | 2–88 96(–6) [fol. 67, a booklet boundary] | 10–128 [fol. 91, a booklet boundary] | 13–158 168 (+9). Catchwords centred, some later additions, but many in text hand; no signatures.


Some pages here and there through the book rubbed almost to the point of illegibility.


In long lines, 14 lines to the page. No prickings; bounded and ruled in red ink.


Written in angular gothic textura semiquadrata. Punctuation by point and double point.


At major divisions, 4-line champes with floral painting (the last such initial within text occurs at fol. 46); at minor divisions, 2-line standard champes.

Verses set off with 1-line lombards, alternate blue on red flourishing and gold leaf on blue flourishing; plain blue and gold leaf line-fillers.

There are five illuminated leaves, ascribed to ‘the master of Sir John Fastolf', at work in England from mid-century. Our MS is noted in a catalogue of his work, J. J. G. Alexander, ‘A Lost Leaf from a Bodleian Book of Hours’, Bodleian Library Record 8, v (1971), 248–51 at 251 and n. 6. Scott indicates (2:337) the Fastolf Master’s connection with several London Chaucerian and vernacular devotional books of the 1470s (see Provenance below).

Fol. 7, half-page: the funeral service, with the corpse, a gravedigger at work, and three clerics with service book; with a 4-line gold leaf and blue champe with painted flower infill and full vinet with bud and flower design. Scott notes (2:310) that this outdoor scene is distinctively French in style; English examples usually occur in church settings.

Fol. 23, at the head of the first lection, ‘Parce michi domine’ a 4-line historiated initial: Jesus appearing in a starry night-sky mandorla and a praying naked dead man arising from the tomb.

Fol. 32v, at the head of the fourth lection, ‘Quantas habeo iniquitates’: the same Jesus in a mandorla and Job, clothed in white, looking up to him in prayer. Scott calls attention (2:338) to another illumination of Job in BodL, MS Douce 322, another MS produced for the Barons (see Provenance below).

Fol. 68, half-page: two angels lifting the soul above the tomb in a blanket, with floral painted champe and vinet.

Fol. 92, half-page: the deposition, a bleeding Jesus entering the tomb, with cross and implements of the Passion in the background, with the floral painted champe and vinet.

See AT, no. 763 (75) and plate xlvi (fol. 1).


Brown leather over millboards s. xvii, gold- stamped with a central ornament, Celtic circle and line border, also gold-stamped on the edges. Sewn on five thongs. Holes for ties on both boards. Gold ‘208’ at the head of the spine, in black ink with contents description ‘Missale Romani’ on the leading edges. Leading edges red-specked. Pastedowns old vellum, the visible rear pastedown a waste-leaf from the MS itself, a College bookplate on the front pastedown. At the front, a medieval vellum flyleaf (ruled in purple ink for a book with a few more lines per page than this one); at the rear two modern paper flyleaves (ii–iii, mostly stuck together).


Origin: s. xv3/4 ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

Pen-trials (the rear pastedown).

A blazon: ‘gules, a chevron azure, between three garbs or’ (fol. 91v, lower margin, perhaps added). These arms are associated in various forms, as Alexander and Temple see, with a Baron family, perhaps that of Bradwell and Skirmby (Essex) (with the chevron ‘ermine’, although recorded temp. Edward IV as ‘argent’). On William Baron and the production of the related BodL, MS Douce 322, see A. I. Doyle, ‘Books Connected with the Vere Family and Barking Abbey’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society 25 (1958), 222–43 at 228–9.

‘Liber Collegii Divi Ioannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Magistri Henrici Warner Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaurei et Collegij Socij 1636’ (fol. 1, 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) (with corrections of typographical errors in the transcription for item 5)


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


    J. J. G. Alexander, ‘A Lost Leaf from a Bodleian Book of Hours’, Bodleian Library Record 8, v (1971), 248–51.
    J. J. G. Alexander and Elźbieta Temple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries, the University Archives and the Taylor Institution (Oxford, 1985).
    A. I. Doyle, ‘Books Connected with the Vere Family and Barking Abbey’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society 25 (1958), 222–43.
    S. J. Ogilvie-Thomson (ed.), The Index of Middle English Prose VIII: Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in Oxford College Libraries (Cambridge, 1991).
    Kathleen L. Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390–1490. 2 vols. (London, 1996).
    Hans Walther, 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

2022-05: First online publication

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