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

MS. Lat. liturg. e. 1

Summary Catalogue no.: 29739

Portable psalter; Germany (Hildesheim?), 13th century, first half


Language(s): Latin

(fols. i–2)
paper flyleaves
(fols. 1r–2r)
description of the manuscript by W. H. Black, dated ‘10/3/50’.
(fols. 3r–8v)
Calendar of Hildesheim,

laid out one month per page, written in red, blue and brown, not graded, including the translation of Godehard, bishop of Hildesheim (4 May), his deposition (5 May) and three feasts of Bernward, bishop of Hildesheim, buried at the Abbey Church of St Michael (15 January, 16 August, 20 November), all in red. Also contains Epiphanius (22 January), Cantianus (31 May) in brown, Oswald (5 August) in red (see Kroos, 1972, p. 118), and added obits: ‘O(bitus) Gertrudis mater mea’ (28 March; a near-contemporary addition); ‘obiit Cord leybe(n) [anno] domini mcccio […]vo dominica die […] adancsi(?) obiit’ (30 August; early 15th century). The months are headed by verses on the ‘Egyptian’ days, which correspond to Hennig’s (1955) set I. Fol. 9r–v is blank apart from ‘Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis …’ (psalm 17: 5) added on the recto in an early modern hand.

(fols. 10r–119v)

Fol. 10r is occupied by a miniature (see ‘Decoration’), followed by 150 psalms, laid out as prose, without titles or numbers. Punctuated throughout with punctus used to mark the ends of verses and minor pauses, and colon used to mark metrum. The psalms are in the biblical order; a subdivision is marked with a larger initial at 67: 20 (fol. 56v) and psalm 118 is subdivided into twenty-two 8-verse units. There are textual divisions at psalms 26, 38, 51, 52, 68, 80, 97, 101 and 109. Fragments of tabs at liturgical divisions.

(fols. 119v–126r)
Weekly canticles, without titles

  • Confitebor tibi domine (Isaiah 12);
  • Ego dixi (Isaiah 38: 10–21);
  • Exultauit cor meum (1 Samuel 2: 1–11);
  • Cantemus domino (Exodus 15: 1–20);
  • Domine audiui (Habakkuk 3);
  • Audite celi (Deuteronomy 32: 1–44).

(fols. 126r–129v)
Daily canticles, prayers and creeds, without titles
(fol. 126r)
Benedicite omnia opera
(fol. 126v)
Benedictus dominus deus
(fol. 127r)
(fol. 127v)
Nunc dimittis
(fol. 127v)
Athanasian Creed
(fols. 129v–131v)

Opening words erased, including Tiburtius and Valerian among the martyrs, Simeon (second), Epiphanius and Godehard (last) among the confessors, and Speciosa and Honesta among the virgins. Disagreement between the calendar and litany (the absence of Bernward and Oswald) may suggest a lay patron (see Kroos, 1972, p. 119). The litany is followed by petitions, one beginning ‘Ut antistitem nostrum’ and collects (fol. 131v), ending imperfectly because of the loss of leaves:

  • Omnipotens sempiterne deus dirige actus nostros in beneplacito tuo …
  • Deus a quo sancta desideria recta consilia et iusta sunt …
  • Deus omnium fidelium pastor et rector famulum tuum quem pastorem ecclesie tue presse uoluisti … ending at ‘preest proficere’.

Fols. 132r–137v
blank paper flyleaves

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: qui non abiit (fol. 11r)
Form: codex
Support: parchment; modern paper flyleaves
Extent: iv + 137 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 183 × 134 mm.
Foliation: Modern foliation in purple pencil; i–iv + 1–137.


(fols. i–iv, 1–2) paper flyleaves | (fols. 3–8) I (6) | (fols. 9–10) II (2) paper and parchment leaves | (fols. 11–20) III (10) | (fols. 21–76) IV–X (8) | (fols. 77–83) XI (8−1) 8 cancelled | (fols. 84–131) XII–XVII (8). One or more quires missing at the end; psalm 101 starts at the beginning of a new quire.
Secundo Folio: ‘qui non abijt’ (psalter, fol. 11r).


Ruled in ink with single vertical and double horizontal bounding lines, extending the full height and width of page; two horizontal lines in the middle of each page also extend its full width; 22 lines per page; written above the top line; written space: 158 × 96 mm.


Formal Gothic book hand, black and brown ink.

Musical Notation: Antiphons are added in the margins in 14th-century hands, some with musical notation for the incipits.


Red and blue penwork KL monograms in the calendar; gold architectural arches framing pages and subdividing them into two columns; medallions with miniatures on gold background, depicting the Signs of the Zodiac and the Labours of the Months:

  • January: man with a drinking bowl warming legs by the fire (damaged); Aquarius
  • February: man digging with a spade; Pisces
  • March: man pruning a tree; Aries
  • April: man grafting (?) plants; Taurus
  • May: man on horseback with a hawk; Gemini
  • June: bird feeding its young in a nest; Cancer
  • July: man mowing hay with a scythe; Leo
  • August: man reaping grain; Virgo
  • September: man cutting grapes; a basket of grapes in his hand; itembra
  • October: man sowing; Scorpio
  • November: man slaughtering a pig; Sagittarius
  • December: Janus feasting; Capricorn.

11-line initial infilled with Archangel Michael piercing a dragon (almost completely rubbed off) with a spear at psalm 51 (fol. 47v).

Full-page Beatus-initial (fol. 10v), decorated with interlace, animal figures, human and animal heads, floral and geometric designs on gold background. Similar initials, normally 11 lines high, at liturgical divisions, at psalms 26 (with nude human figure, fol. 27v), 38 (fol. 38r), 52 (7-line, fol. 48r), 68 (13-line, fol. 58v), 80 (12-line, fol. 71r), 97 (fol. 82v), 101 (fol. 84r), 109 (fol. 95r).

3-line blue initials with red penwork, alternating with gold initials with red and blue penwork at the beginnings of psalms.

1-line plain alternating red or blue initials at the beginnings of verses and periods.

Added full-page drawing (fol. 10r) in brown and red ink, and red, blue and yellow wash, depicting Christ rising from the tomb, holding a standard in his left hand, with the words ‘O data est mihi om[nis] …’ emerging from his right hand (late 13th or early 14th century).


Brown leather over wood boards.

Rebacked in the Bodleian with fragments of the earlier spine pasted to the new, including a black leather title-piece lettered in gilt ‘PSALTERIUM’. The base of the spine is lettered in gilt ‘MS. || Lat. liturg. || e. I’; a circular paper label at the top is inscribed ‘935’.


Origin: German, Hildesheim (?) ; 13th century, first half (after 1194)

Made for a lay patron (?) for use in Hildesheim: evidence of the calendar and litany. The miniature on fol. 47v portrays St Michael slaying the dragon, but this is common at psalm 51 in German psalters (Büttner, 2004, p. 24 and n. 98) and does not necessarily suggest that the psalter was made for the Abbey Church of St Michael, Hildesheim. St Michael is not emphasized in the litany, the calendar is not graded, monastic subdivisions are not marked in the psalter, and the litany disagrees with the calendar and is followed by a petition beginning ‘Ut antistitem nostrum’. St Godehard is the only Hildesheim bishop in the litany. The lower margin of the first leaf is excised, presumably to remove an ownership inscription (fol. 3).

Provenance and Acquisition

Owned by the Leyben family in Hildesheim in the 15th century: obit in the calendar; Henning Leyben, his widow and children are mentioned in charters from Hildesheim (see Kroos, 1972, p. 129).

Belonged to ‘chapel children in common’, presumably in Hildesheim, in the 17th century: inscription on the inside of the upper board and a note on fol. i recto by Lee (see below), stating that on the old binding was a note: ‘Dieser salter horett den Cappen kinderen ins gemein undt ins gemein der dess will lehren der must den erst zum besten keren undt must er sich rutten weren’ and on the outside of the cover were the letters and figures: ‘DEM. || 16xx’.

William Henry Black (1808–72), c. 1850 (fols. 1–2).

John Lee (formerly Fiott) (1783–1866), antiquary and astronomer, see ODNB, of Hartwell House near Aylesbury: inscribed ‘J. Lee, Doctors Commons. R[e]paired 8. January 1836, No 10/97 London’ (fol. i recto); ‘10/97’ in pencil (fol. 3r); armorial bookplate with the motto ‘Verum atque decens’ (fol. i recto).

Bought at an auction at Messrs. Puttick and Simpson’s, 14 July 1887 (lot 935, cf. label on spine) for £2 4s (as recorded on fol. i recto); ‘127’ (fol. i recto).

Record Sources

Description based on Elizabeth Solopova, Latin Liturgical Psalters in the Bodleian Library: A Select Catalogue (Oxford, 2013), pp. 425–8; additions by Andrew Dunning. Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (130 images from 35mm slides)


    Online resources:

    Printed descriptions:

    A. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries (1984), no. 544
    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 2: Office Books (typescript, 1957), p. 83
    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 6: Fragments - Office Books, Rituals, Directories (typescript, 1957), p. 117

Last Substantive Revision

2020-12-02: Andrew Dunning Encoded/updated description by Solopova.