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

MS. Douce 18

Summary Catalogue no.: 21592

Priest's vade medum including a psalter; English, c. 1433–1475?


Language(s): Latin with additions in Middle English

Fols. i–iii are paper flyleaves, mostly blank (see ‘Provenance’).

[items 1–3 occupy quires I–II]

1. (fols. 1r–v)
Added table of contents in English
Rubric: Theyse benn the contentes of þis boke vpponn the lettyrs of þe alphabete

With references to the sections of the book marked by red letters of the alphabet.

Final rubric: Explicit Tabula

The table lists the contents as they are now, even though the manuscript was not copied consecutively and is the work of several scribes.

2. (fols. 2r–5v)
Added masses of the Ascension, Holy Trinity and the Angels.
3. (fols. 5v–6v)
Added prefaces for masses of major feasts
Rubric: The preface propyr with þe canon of euery masse in þys boke vppon this lettyr A (fol. 1r)

[items 4–13 occupy quires III–IX]

4. (fols. 7r–9v)
Blessings at Matins for grace
Rubric: Grace þorough þe yere. (fol. 1r)
5. (fol. 10r–v)

Ruled for two columns, but blank apart from the opening lines of St John’s Gospel (partly trimmed off), written in a very small script at the top of the second column.

Incipit: facta sunt et sine ipso
Explicit: cui nomen erat Iohannes

A coloured drawing on fol. 10v.

6. (fols. 11r–36r)
Sarum Office of the Virgin for liturgical seasons, starting with Vespers from Advent to Christmas Eve

With many rubrics.

Rubric: The cotidian matens of oure lady with þe comemoracions and memory(es) of the Crosse thorough þe yere. (fol. 1r)

Blanks left probably for miniatures (see ‘Decoration’) (fols. 16v–17r and elsewhere).

(fols. 33r–35r)
Lections from four gospels.

Prayers Gloria, Credo and ‘Omnipotens sempiterne Deus accedo ad sacramentum’ (fols. 35r–36r). The last breaks off at ‘dominancium tanta reuerentia et tremore tanta susci’.

The decoration and text of the Office and prayers are left incomplete. Masses that follow are in a different hand and ink, and were added on the remaining blank leaves of the quire.

7. (fols. 36v–41v)

Added masses of the feasts of Corpus Christi, Assumption and Nativity of the Virgin, and All Saints’ Day in the same hand and ink as masses and prefaces on fols. 2r–6v.

8. (fol. 42r–v)

Introduction to the calendar

Rubric: Pro declaracione autem punctorum in principio huius kalendarii
9. (fols. 43r–48v)

Computistical calendar, laid out one month per page, written in black, red and gold (feasts which were intended to be in red are not filled in).

10. (fols. 49r–51r)
(fols. 49r–50r)
Tables and diagrams of the eclipses of the sun and moon, 1433–1462.
(fols. 50v–51r)
Astronomical tables
11. (fols. 51v–53r)
Tables for moveable feasts (fols. 51v–52r), including a table starting at 1381 (fol. 52r). Easter table for years 1386–1917 (fol. 52v). Astronomical table with dates from 1384 to 1469 (fol. 53r).
12. (fols. 53v–56r)
Notes on the Signs of the Zodiac, moveable feasts, eclipses and planets.
13. (fols. 56v–66v)
(fols. 56v–61v)
Added votive masses of the Virgin Mary, Epiphany, the Cross, the Holy Spirit, ‘in tempore belli’, for pestilence, of the Holy Name, ending imperfectly
(fols. 62r–64r)
Portion of the canon and order of the mass, beginning imperfectly
(fols. 64r and 65v)
Masses for Christmas and Easter
(fol. 66v)
Easter table for 1475–1481

Ink, hand and decoration are the same as in texts on fols. 2r–6v and 36v–41v. Some of the text is traced over in a darker ink.

[items 14–19 occupy quires X–XXVIII]

14. (fol. 67r–v)
Incipit: Suscipe sancta trinitas hos psalmos consecratos

Using masculine forms, followed by three short prayers to the Virgin Mary and Christ; spaces left for rubrics.

15. (fols. 68r–203r)
Psalms 1–150
Rubric: Incipit liber psalmorum ymnorum vel soliloquiorum prophete de christo

In the biblical order, laid out as prose, with numbers in red Arabic numerals in the original hand. Most psalms are without titles, but occasionally there is a rubric: ‘Incipit secunda quinquagena psalmorum’ at psalm 51 (fol. 112v), ‘Incipit tertia quinquagena’ at psalm 101 (fol. 159r), ‘Commendacio animarum’ and subheadings at psalm 118 (fols. 177v–185v), ‘psalmi graduum’ at psalm 119 (fol. 185v), ‘psalmus 150’ (fol. 203r). At the end the last verse of psalm 150 is written out a second time in red: ‘omnis spiritus laudet dominum’ (fol. 203r). Punctuated throughout, with punctus used to mark the ends of verses and punctus elevatus used to mark metrum. There are textual divisions at psalms 26, 38, 51, 52, 68, 80, 97, 101, 118 and 119. The leaf which originally contained psalm 109 is now lost after fol. 172 (missing text 109: 1–110: 4); the second leaf of the bifolium is also lost after fol. 178 (missing text 118: 24–42). Subdivisions within psalms are not indicated, apart from psalm 118, subdivided into twenty-two 8-verse units.

16. (fols. 203v–211v)

Weekly canticles with titles containing chapter references to the books of the Old Testament:

Confitebor tibi domine (Isaiah 12)
Rubric: Canticum ysaie prophete. ysaie capitulo .12.
Ego dixi (Isaiah 38: 10–21)
Rubric: Canticum Ezechie regis. ysaie capitulo .38.
Exultauit cor meum (1 Samuel 2: 1–11)
Rubric: Canticum Anne matris Samuelis. 1o. R. 2o.
Cantemus domino (Exodus 15: 1–20)
Rubric: Canticum Moysi & filiorum israel. Exodus capitulo .15.
Domine audiui (Habakkuk 3)
Rubric: Canticum Abacuk. Abacuk capitulo .3.
Audite celi (Deuteronomy 32: 1–44)
Rubric: Canticum Moysi. Deutronomii capitulo .32.
17. (fols. 211v–217v)

Daily canticles, prayers and creeds, with titles:

1. (fol. 211v)
Te deum laudamus
Rubric: ymnus sanctorum Ambrosij & Augustini
2. (fol. 212v)
Benedicite omnia opera
Rubric: Ymnus trium puerorum Daniel .3.
3. (fol. 213v)
Benedictus dominus deus
Rubric: Canticum zacharie luce. .1.
4. (fol. 214v)
Rubric: Canticum sanctissime uirginis marie et matris domini nostri iesu christi. luce .1.
5. (fol. 215r)
Nunc dimittis
Rubric: Canticum sancti Symeonis. Luce. capitulo. secundo.
6. (fol. 215r)
Athanasian Creed (Quicumque uult)
Rubric: Simbolum sancti Athanasii Alexandrini episcopi.
(fols. 217v–226r)
Sarum litany
(fols. 224r–226r)
Collects, some with rubrics ‘oratio’
Incipit: Deus cui proprium est misereri semper et parcere suscipe
Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui facis mirabilia magna solus
Incipit: Deus qui caritatis dona per gratiam sancti spiritus tuorum cordibus fidelium infundis
Incipit: Deus a quo sancta desideria recta consilia et iusta sunt
Incipit: Ineffabilem misericordiam tuam nobis quesumus domine clementer ostende ut simul nos
Incipit: Fidelium deus omnium conditor et redemptor animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum remissionem
Incipit: Pietate tua quesumus domine nostrorum solue uincula omnium delictorum
Incipit: Per horum omnium sanctorum angelorum archangelorum patriarcharum
Final rubric: suffre
19. (fols. 226r–227v)
Short litany

[items 20–25 occupy quires XXIX–XXXIV]

20. (fol. 228r)
Incipit: Liberator animarum mundi redemptor domine deus eterne rex immortalis supplico ego te peccator

Using masculine forms.

Fol. 228v is blank.

21. (fols. 229r–239r)
Office of the Dead, use of Sarum
22. (fol. 239r–v)
Commendation of the Souls
Rubric: commendacio animarum

Rubric also appears at psalm 118, fol. 177v.

23. (fols. 239v–245r)
Fifteen O’s of St Bridget
Incipit: O domine iesu christe eterna dulcedo

ed. Wordsworth, 1920, pp. 76–80.

24. (fols. 245r–255v)
Prayers and hymns, preceded by rubrics, for indulgence
(fol. 245r)
Incipit: Obsecro te domina sancta maria mater dei pietate plenissima
Rubric: Papa Innocencius concessit cuilibet dicenti hanc oracionem quotidie deuote coram ymagine beate marie centum dies indulgencie
(fol. 247v)
To the Guardian Angel
Incipit: O Sancte angele dei minister celestis
(fol. 248r)
Hymn to the Fifteen Joys
Incipit: Gaude uirgo uirginum mater iesu christi Magnum que miraculum nobis attulisti
(fol. 249v)
Rubric: de quinque perturbacionibus beate marie
Incipit: O mater piissima celique regina
(fol. 251v)
Incipit: O crux frutex saluificus
Chevalier 21849
(fol. 252v)
Incipit: Anima domini et saluatoris nostri iesu christi anima sancta anima pia
(fol. 253r)
Incipit: O intemerata et in eternum benedicta alti regis nata
Incipit: Domine deus omnipotens pater et filius et spiritus sanctus da mihi N famulo tuo uictoriam
(fol. 255r)

Cues for five psalms.

(fol. 255v)
Incipit: Libera me domine iesu christe fili dei uiui qui in cruce
25. (fols. 256r–259v)
Added votive masses ‘pro Rege’, ‘Pro rege & regina’ and for the dead

In the hand which added masses on fols. 2r–6v, 36v–41v and 56v–66v.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment; paper and parchment flyleaves.
Extent: 265 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 111 × 75 mm.
Foliation: Two modern pencil foliations, top right, i–iii + 1–59 + 60a + 60b + 61–261 (this foliation is used for the present description) and lower left. The book is divided into sections marked by medieval letters of the alphabet (A–P) in red ink, in the upper right corner, on the rectos, which correspond to the divisions of the added table of contents (fol. 1r–v).


The collation of the first several quires is sometimes difficult to ascertain, and may not completely correspond to the medieval arrangement, but the sewing at the centre of quires is usually easily visible, and the binder’s quire numbers in pencil are also usually legible on the first leaf of each quire, on fols. [1], 4, 16, 26, 34, 42, 50, 58, 67, 76, 84, 92, etc. (fols. i–iii) fols. i–ii are paper fly-leaves, fol. i is conjoint with the upper pastedown; fol. iii is a modern parchment leaf | (fols. 1–3) I (2+1 (?)) first added (?) | (fols. 4–6) II (4−1) missing 4 (?) | (fols. 7–15) III (10−1) missing 1 (?) | (fols. 16–25) IV (10) | (fols. 26–57) V–VIII (8) | (fols. 58–66) IX (10) bifolium missing at the centre of the quire, after fol. 61 (?) | (fols. 67–75) X (8+1) first added (?) | (fols. 76–243) XI–XXX (8) | (fols. 244–253) XXXIII (10) | (fols. 254–259) XXXIV (6) | (fols. 260–261) fol. 260 is a modern parchment leaf; fol. 261 is a paper fly-leaf conjoint with the lower pastedown.
Secundo Folio: Sec. Fol.: ‘Missa de Ascensione domini’ (rubric); ‘Viri galilei quid admiramini’ (Mass, fol. 2r).


The Psalms section is ruled in ink with single vertical and double horizontal bounding lines, extending the full height and width of page; written below the top line. Fols. 1r–6v, 36v–41v, 56v–66v, 256r–259v are ruled for 27 to 33 lines, written space: c. 78–84 × 50–60 mm. .

Fols. 7r–36r, 42r–v, 53v–56r are ruled for 2 columns of 30 to 33 lines, written space: c. 84 × 50–60 mm. .

Fols. 67r–255v are ruled for 22–23 lines, written space: c. 66 × 36 mm. .


The work of several scribes; formal Gothic book hand; black and brown ink.


Rubrics in red ink.

Gold KL monograms decorated with floral sprays extending into the margins in the calendar (fols. 43r–48v).

Miniatures and diagrams:

  • fol. 10v (miniature): Annunciation to the Shepherds. The journey of the Magi: three kings on horseback with retainers (pen and wash with gold).
  • fol. 11r (miniature): Adoration of Christ: Child in manger, the Virgin Mary and Joseph kneeling, three shepherds, ox, ass and the star.
  • fol. 49r–v (diagram): Eclipses of the sun and moon.
  • fol. 217v (miniature): God-the-Father seated with feet on the Devil, holding an orb and blessing, surrounded by male and female saints, including the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, Peter with a key and John the Evangelist with a chalice.

Miniatures, initials (five lines high at psalm 1; twelve–thirteen lines high at psalms 26, 38, 52, 68, 80, 97; six–eight lines high at psalms 51, 101, 118, 119, the beginnings of canticles and litany) and full borders, decorated with floral designs and gold discs, at liturgical divisions:

  • fol. 68r Psalm 1 (miniature) King David seated, holding a harp and sceptre, flanked by two courtiers; four prophets/evangelists with scrolls and open books, writing or reading, in four corners.
  • (initial B(eatus)) Cleric in pink garb with black hood (?) hanging over his shoulder, kneeling at an altar with an open book; the head of God in rays of light above.
  • (full border) Ape holding a specimen bottle; grotesque; birds; coiled tendrils with leaves forming three roundels with David with a sling, Goliath in armour, wounded, and David decapitating Goliath (rubbed).
  • fol. 88r Psalm 26 (initial D(omine)) King David, kneeling on grass, pointing to his eyes; a blessing hand of God above in rays of light.
  • fol. 101r Psalm 38 (initial D(ixi)) King David standing, pointing to the road at his feet (‘vias meas’); the head of God above in rays of light.
  • fol. 112v Psalm 51 (Initial Q(uid)) Floral designs, gold background.
  • fol. 113v Psalm 52 (initial D(ixit)) Enthroned King David speaking to the Fool in motley with bells, holding a bladder on a stick.
  • fol. 126r Psalm 68 (initial S(aluum)) King David in prayer, crowned and nude, half-submerged in a pool surrounded by grass and trees; half-figure of God above, blessing.
  • fol. 142r Psalm 80 (initial E(xultate)) King David playing five bells.
  • fol. 157r Psalm 97 (initial C(antate)) King David, seated under canopy, watches two musicians playing horns and three clerics singing from a book, in which neums can be seen, open on a lectern. Several different types of musical instruments in gold in the outer borders.
  • fol. 159r Psalm 101 (initial D(omine)) Cleric (Augustinian canon (?)) in dark blue garb with black hood (?) hanging over his shoulder, kneeling at an altar with an open book; the face of God above in rays of light.
  • fol. 177v Psalm 118 (initial B(eati)) Floral designs, gold background. Three-sided border.
  • fol. 185v Psalm 119 (initial A(d)) Floral designs, gold background. Three-sided border.
  • fol. 203v Canticles. (initial C(onfitebor)) Floral designs, gold background. Three-sided border.
  • fol. 218r Litany. (initial K(yrie)) Floral designs, gold background. Three-sided border.

2- to 7-line gold initials decorated with floral sprays at the beginnings of texts and sections of texts; one 5-line Q with a face of a bearded man (fol. 14v); 3-line initials at the beginnings of psalms and canticles.

1-line gold and blue initials with contrasting blue or red penwork at the beginnings of periods and verses.

Decoration on fols. 2r–6v, 36v–41v, 56v–66v and 256r–259v is in a different style and includes 2-line gold initials with floral sprays extending into the margins, and 1-line gold and blue initials with penwork.

Further miniatures were apparently intended for large spaces in item 6. Next to the blank space preceding ‘Gloria in excelsis deo’ (fol. 35r) is the marginal instruction to the artist ‘Laus an[gelorum]’; presumably the Annunciation to the Shepherds was intended. In the margins next to preceding spaces, each accompanying a gospel reading, are three names of evangelists.


Brown leather over pasteboard, 19th century. Gilt border round the outer edge of both covers. Four raised bands on spine; gilt borders framing the raised bands and panels between them. Gilt lettering on spine: ‘MISSALE || MSS || SÆC. XV.’.

Evidence of the former (presumably Bodleian) paper label on spine. Double gilt fillets on turn-ins. Gilt edges of textblock. Marks from the clasps of an earlier binding on fols. 258–259 and ii (?).


Origin: c. 1433 and c. 1475 (?) ; English

Made perhaps for an Augustinian canon (depicted on fols. 68r and 159r). The motto (?) ‘suffre’ is written once in gold and once in silver next to his second ‘portrait’ (fol. 159r, psalm 101), and in plain ink (fol. 226r) at the end of a set of prayers. In the litany on fol. 219r ‘suffre’ is written in gold against the name of St Lawrence, and ‘me merci’ against the name of St Alban.

Provenance and Acquisition

Masses and other texts added c. 1475 (Easter table for 1475–1481 on fol. 66v).

In the 18th century belonged to ‘S. Cooke’ (fols. 1v, 259v).

John Cooke (1765–1795), chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford (fol. ii recto); given in 1779 to:

John Ireland (1745–1839), ‘pharmacopolæ’ (fol. ii recto).

Francis Douce (1757–1834): bookplate on the upper pastedown. Almost certainly the book described in his ‘Collecta’ (Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Douce e. 68) as having been bought from the bookseller Thomas Rodd in July 1829: ‘A small English illd psalter & masses (Rodd)’.

Bodleian Library: received in 1834 with the bequest of Douce.

Record Sources

Description by Elizabeth Solopova, Latin Liturgical Psalters in the Bodleian Library: A Select Catalogue (Oxford, 2013), pp. 241–8; adapted by Andrew Dunning (February 2022). Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (11 images from 35mm slides)


    Printed descriptions:

    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 2: Office Books (typescript, 1957), p. 63

Last Substantive Revision

2022-02-10: Andrew Dunning Adapt Solopova description.