Jan 7, 2022

Bifolio from a Book of Hours: Initial V with Floral Border (recto); Text (verso)

Bifolio from a Book of Hours: Initial V with Floral Border (recto); Text (verso)

c. 1460–1500

Part of a set. See all set records

Ink, tempera and gold on vellum

Each leaf: 13.9 x 10.6 cm (5 1/2 x 4 3/16 in.)

The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection 2006.12


Every medieval book of hours contained a section known as the Office of the Dead. This section was usually inserted toward the back of the book following the penitential Psalms and litanies, which set a tone of contrition, penitence, and forgiveness of sin. The Office of the Dead was intended to be recited principally in the context of a funeral. Its texts, comprising psalms and other readings, consisted of the hour of vespers (for recitation over the coffin the evening preceding a funeral mass), followed by matins and lauds (prayed the actual morning of a funeral mass). However, the office was undoubtedly also prayed by many medieval men and women in the privacy of a chapel or bedroom, as a reminder of mortality and as protection against sudden death. The very beginning of this page's text is the abbreviated Latin antiphon for matins: Dirige, D[omi]ne Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam (Direct, O Lord my God, my steps in your sight). This is followed by the enlarged letter V for Verba mea auribus (Hear my words).

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