A rare and decorative single leaf from a psalter book. On the front page is a 20-line recto of handwritten text in brown ink. A beautiful two-line gold and blue initial begins the text, with simpler red, blue, and gold text initials throughout. On this page is written Psalm 149. It begins ‘Cantate Domino canticum novum, laus ejus in ecclesia sanctorum’ (Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people).
On the reverse page, two double-line text initials are present, with coloured text initials again throughout. This page marks the Magnificat, or the Canticle of Mary (Luke 1:46-55). It is thought to be the earliest Marian hymn, and was thought to be the words spoken by the Virgin Mary at the Visitation. It begins ‘Magnificat anima mea, Dominum’ (My soul doth magnify the Lord).
A psalter is a volume containing the Book of Psalms, often with other devotional material bound in as well, such as a liturgical calendar or a litany of the saints. Until the later medieval emergence of the book of hours, psalters were the books most widely owned by wealthy lay persons and were commonly for learning to read.
Date: Metz, France, c.1280-1320 AD