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

MS. Lat. liturg. e. 48

Summary Catalogue no.: Not in SC (late accession)


Language(s): Latin
(pp. 1–5)
Rubric: Incipiunt dicta sancti Ieromini que sunt virtutes psalmorum
Incipit: Canticum psalmorum animam decorat. fuga est demonum
Explicit: vel compunctionis graciam infundat
(cf. Stegmüller, nos. 7211, 8542)
Language(s): Latin
(pp. 5–6)
Rubric: Incipiunt dicta sancti augustini que sunt uirtutes psalmorum
Incipit: Canticum psalmorum animas decorat Inuitat angelos in adiutorium
Explicit: et animam suam in celo mirificabit
(cf. Stegmüller, nos. 1833, 1 and 11596)
Language(s): Latin
(p. 6)
Rubric: Psalterium inquirendum est in cuius lingua dicitur psalterium gregum est

ending imperfect (at '... Psalmus a quo dicitur eo quod a psalterio no-||') due to the loss of a leaf after p. 6 (cf. Stegmüller, no. 11606).

Language(s): Latin
(pp. 7–8)
Rubric: Versus Damasi et Hieronymi
Incipit: Psallere qui docuit dulci modulamine sanctis
Explicit: Hec damasus scit sancte tuos monstrare triumphos

(cf. Lambert, vol. IIIB, no. 801).

Language(s): Latin
(p. 8)
Rubric: Devota oracio dicenda ante psalterium
Incipit: Suscipere dignare domine deus omnipotens hos psalmos tibi consecratos...ego indignus peccator

ending imperfect (at '... peccatorum et defunctis et salutem animarum ||') due to the loss of a leaf after p. 8).

Language(s): Latin
(pp. 9–213)

starting imperfect in Ps. 2:13 (at '|| ira eius: ...') due to the loss of a leaf before p. 9; Sarum antiphons added in the lower margins where appropriate (see also under Provenance).

Language(s): Latin
(pp. 213–217)

Confitebor, Ego dixi, Te deum, Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis.

Language(s): Latin
(pp. 217–225)
Hereford Litany

with Ethelberte first among 20 martyrs (pr. W. H. Frere, L. E. G. Brown, eds., The Hereford Breviary ..., I (Henry Bradshaw Society, 26; London 1904), 24–9); followed by collects.

Language(s): Latin
(pp. 225–6)
Rubric: Deuota oracio dicenda post psalterium
Incipit: Liberator animarum mundi redemptor
Explicit: necessaria sunt anime et corpori Amen
(cf. A. Wilmart, Precum libelli quattuor aevi Karolini ... (Rome, 1940), 162; p. 227 ruled, otherwise blank.
Language(s): Latin
(p. 228)
Prayer to the Virgin (unidentified)
Incipit: ||mi flagella misericordissimi
Explicit: succurrat nobis uirgo maria AMEN

consisting of just the last three lines.

Language(s): Latin
(pp. 229–230)
Prayer to St. Thomas Becket

almost entirely erased; followed by a three-line rubric, also erased; p. 231 ruled, otherwise originally blank.

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: protectio petitur
Form: codex
Support: Parchment.
Extent: i (modern paper) + i (original parchment) + 116 + i (original parchment) + i (modern paper) leaves.
Dimensions (leaf): 197 × 130 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 122 × 75 mm.
Foliation: Paginated in early 20th-cent. pencil: i-vi, 1–56, 57a-c, 58–208, '209–210', 211–234 (i.e. 209–210 is a single leaf, and an opening was skipped after p. 57).


I(6–2) (4th leaf excised after p. 6; 6th leaf missing after p. 8) (pp. 1–8) | II(8–1) (1st leaf missing before p. 9) (pp. 9–22), III-XI(8) (pp. 23–164), XII(8–1) (1st leaf missing) (pp. 165–178), XIII-XIV(8) (pp. 179–211), XV(2) (pp. 212–215), XVI(6) (pp. 216–231), XVII(8–5) (1st leaf missing, 5th-8th cancelled) (pp. 228–233)


Ruled in red ink with 25 lines, the top pair and bottom pair extending the full width of the page, single vertical bounding lines extending the full height of the page


Written in a rounded formal English gothic hand with Italian humanistic features.


Headings in red, a few capitals touched in red.

Four surviving large historiated initials; the initials in gold, infilled and entwined with Italianate white vine-scrolls sprouting brown leaves on white-dotted coloured grounds; accompanied by two sided borders of Netherlandish type, consisting of multi-coloured sprays of acanthus and other leaves and flowers (including roses) on sweeping ink stems which sprout little gold and green leaves:

  • (p. 59) Psalm 38. Initial D[ixi]: half-length figure of a tonsured cleric in a brown habit reading abook (9-line).
  • (p. 78) Psalm 52. Initial D[ixit]: half-length figure of David(?) in prayer (10-line).
  • (p. 97) Psalm 68. Initial S[aluum] bust of a bearded man (David?) in what may be a fur-lined hat with badge, or a fur-lined crown (11-line).
  • (p. 120) Psalm 97. Initial C[antate]: King David playing a harp (6-line).

There is a similar five-line initial to Ps. 80 (p. 120), and the initials are missing for Pss. 1, 26, 109.

Offsets on p. 7 suggest that a large rectangular miniature with border once faced this page.

Three- or four-line illuminated initials in gold on cusped grounds of blue and pink with white tracery; marginal extensions of gold flowers with petals (occasionally pink) on ink stems from which grow small green leaves, to psalms, prayers, etc.; one-line initials alternately blue with red flourishing, or gold with brown flourishing, to verses and other minor divisions; line-endings in blue and gold.

The illumination is attributed to the 'Caesar Master', on whom see Kathleen L. Scott, The mirroure of the worlde: Ms. Bodley 283 (Roxburghe Club, 1980), 41–4.


16th-cent. London binding. Sewn on four bands, and bound in wood boards covered with polished dark brown calf, each cover blind-stamped with a rectangular panel; the upper cover with a large vertical panel consisting of four arched compartments containing St. George, St. Barbara, St. Michael, and St. Katherine flanked by the letters/initials 'G R'; the whole surrounded by a frame containing the legend 'quid quit agas | prudenter agas et | respice finem | o mater dei memento mei' (see J. Basil Oldham, Blind panels of English binders (Cambridge, 1958), p. 46, quad 3, and pl. LVIII: ten examples recorded, on books dated between 1523 and 1534); the lower cover with a large horizontal panel containing the English royal arms, with the sun and moon and shields of the arms of the City of London filling the top corners, surrounded by a frame containing the legend 'laudate dominum | de terra | dracones et omnes | abyssi [Ps. 48:7] GR' (see Oldham, op. cit., p. 25, HE 32, and pl. XXIII: always found with the panel on the upper cover; with stubs of two leather clasp-straps, each held by two nails, at the fore-edge of the upper cover, with two corresponding tapering engraved metal catches on the lower cover; rebacked, preserving most of the original spine.


Origin: England, London/Oxford/Hereford ; Mid-15th cent.

Provenance and Acquisition

The litany suggests that the book may have been made for someone connected with Hereford

Antiphons added, 15th cent., in lower margins in gothic script in contrasting shades of blue ink as far as Ps. 22 on p. 33; subsequent antiphons added in a more formal gothic script in brown ink. The bottom part of p. 226 appears to have had a cutting from a manuscript pasted-in at some point (now missing), perhaps bearing a devotional image.

Inscribed in the 15th/16th cents. with various notes and names: '... kateryn leyce [or Seyce?]', 'Thomas Sinuph h...' (?), '... delivered to Richard(es)', 'Thomas Power me possidet', 'your sonne Fraunces ...'; bound by 'GR' probably in London in the 1520s-30s.

Joseph Harford, with his bookplate; by descent to Rev. F. K. Harford, Minor Canon of Westminster, sold at Sotheby's 25 April 1899, lot 893, bought by Tregaskis & Son for £31 10s., in their Caxton Headcatalogues, as follows: 436 (June 1899), item 1; 444 (Aug. 1899), item 42; 454 (Dec. 1899), item 392; 472 (Sept. 1900), item 602; 479 (Dec. 1900), item 624; 484 (Mar. 1901), item 649; 492 (June 1901), item 642; 497 (Sept. 1901), item 705 (this number in pencil on the upper pastedown); always priced 50 guineas; with a cutting from the first of these (paginated as pp.i-ii) attached to the upper pastedown.

Unidentified owner, 20th cent., with a pencilled acquisition(?) note and price-code: 'Bates '43 | cost ou/-/' (lower pastedown).

H. W. Pratley, bookseller of Tunbridge Wells

Sold from his estate at Sotheby's, 1 Dec. 1987, lot 40; bought by the Bodleian.

Record Sources

Draft description by Peter Kidd, late 1990s.

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.