Prologue for a Book of Hours

Helen Reid Cross

Hand-illuminated on one page of vellum.

42.6 x 25.3 cm.

Beckwith, Victorian Bibliomania catalogue no. 61

Collection: Koopman Collection, John Hay Library, Brown University

Books of Hours first appeared in the Middle Ages to accompany the widespread devotions to Mary, mother of Christ. Lay people of wealth often commissioned scribes to write and paint books for private prayer, called books of hours, because the day was divided into eight equal parts with texts to be read at each of the intervals, i.e., midnight, 3 a.m., 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 9 p.m. When prayed as an office or devotion in a conventual environment the hours were named: Matins (or Noctums), Laudes, Prime, Terce, Sixt, Nones, Vespers, and Compline. [continued below]

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