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1 - Some Anglo-Saxon Psalters and their Glosses

from I - Translation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 May 2017

Jane Roberts
Affiliation:
University of London
Daniel Anlezark
Affiliation:
Lecturer in English, University of Sydney Associate Dean (Undergraduate)
Vincent Gillespie
Affiliation:
Vincent Gillespie is J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language at the University of Oxford
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Summary

‘More psalters survive from Anglo-Saxon England than from anywhere else in the early medieval world’, it has been said. Say, forty or fifty of them. What is even more startling is the high proportion with vernacular glosses:

A London, British Library, MS Cotton Vespasian A. i (Ker 203, GL 381).

B Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 27 (Ker 335, GL 641).

C Cambridge, University Library, MS Ff. 1. 23 (Ker 13, GL 4).

D London, British Library, MS Royal 2 B. v (Ker 249, GL 451).

E Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R. 17. 1 (Ker 91).

F London, British Library, MS Stowe 2 (Ker 271, GL 499).

G London, British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius E. xviii (Ker 224, GL 407).

H London, British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius C. vi (Ker 199, GL 378).

I London, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 427 (Ker 280, GL 517).

J London, British Library, MS Arundel 60 (Ker 134, GL 304).

K Salisbury, Cathedral, MS 150 (Ker 379, GL 740).

L London, British Library, Additional MS 37517 (Ker 129, GL 291).

M New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.776 (Ker 287, GL 867c).

N b Cambridge, Pembroke College, MS 312, C nos 1, 2 (Ker 79, GL 141).

O Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF), MS lat. 8846 (Ker 419).

Perhaps having English glosses made their survival the more likely, for all of these psalters except for one are fairly complete. Entirely different from all of these is a curious long thin book containing a dual text, with Latin in one column and English alongside, known by the sigil P: Paris, BnF, MS lat. 8824 (Ker, no. 367, GL 891). Commonly called the Paris Psalter, as, confusingly, is BnF, MS lat. 8846 [O], the Paris dual psalter contains the earliest English psalter that is an actual version of the Psalms in English. Its contents were drawn from disparate sources, but in this manuscript we have English and Latin psalms in a handsome volume put together all of a piece in the middle of the eleventh century. But it is important to remember that the fifteen psalters with glosses for the most part came about higgledy-piggledy. To gauge just how different they are from one another, it is necessary to stand back from the English words themselves and to gain some sense of their relationship to the physical books in which they occur.

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Chapter
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The Psalms and Medieval English Literature
From the Conversion to the Reformation
, pp. 37 - 71
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

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