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The Calendar The Feast Days  
  The Original Calendar  
  Conclusion to The Original Calendar  
  Additions to the Calendar  Roger the Hermit's obit
     St Margaret and the dedication of Markyate Priory
    The remaining saints
    The later saints
    The later obits
Keeping Time The perpetual calendar  
  Computistical Tables  
  Conclusion to the Computus  
  Glossary of technical terms from the Calendar  
The text of the Canticles    
The Litany  The text and translation of the Litany  
  The Significance of the Litany  
 The Collects or Prayers    


The Feast Days

In an ecclesiastical calendar, the selection of saints and the records of deaths can show the particular interests of its user or institution. They can also be a valuable dating tool.

The palaeography has shown that this calendar was created in four stages by different scribes, each adding a special focus to the church year (see Scribes 1, 3, 4, 5). The stages are

· the original calendar
· Roger the Hermit’s obit
· the entry for St Margaret (20 July) and the dedication of Markyate Priory (27 May)
· the remaining saints and obits.

It is this last group of entries which confirm the connection with Christina. Although they were added not long after her death, they help to explain so many of the personal characteristics found both earlier in the calendar and elsewhere in the manuscript.

The original calendar

Wormald began his analysis of the feast days by comparing this calendar with three other contemporaries from St Albans, B.L.Egerton MS 3721, B.L.Royal MS 2 A.X, and Mr B.S.Cron’s psalter. They were written under Abbot Geoffrey’s rule, before 1145 (AP, 33-45). Wormald traced similarities with the St Albans calendars and then highlighted the deviations. He noticed that seven important St Albans feasts were dropped and three feasts were especially celebrated at Ramsey Abbey. He concluded that the calendar was not composed for anyone who followed St Albans liturgical practices closely, and the Ramsey feasts suggested that the calendar may well have been composed for Christina’s own use (AP, 24).

Nicholas Orchard (pers. com) has shown it is more useful to explore the calendar the other way around, by comparing Ramsey (where the earliest surviving calendar is thirteenth century, B.L.MS Cotton Galba E.x, Sandler, 1974, 162-178) and then correlating with St Albans. The St Albans Psalter follows Ramsey very closely. The three most important indicators are St Felix, apostle to East Anglia, and St Ives, both of whose relics were at Ramsey; and the tumulatio of St Benedict, a special feast at Ramsey. Both Albani and Ramsey share the quirk of designating St Romanus miles (August 9) where he is usually called martyr.
The only additions to the Ramsey calendar are the Inventio S.Albini (Alban, wrongly spelt, August 2) and St Arnulf (July 18), both St Albans feasts. A few neums (notes) accompany O Sapientia on December 16, a feature also found in the St Albans calendar B.L. Royal MS. 2 A.X, f7v.

This suggests that the basic model for the St Albans Psalter calendar came from Ramsey, with two St Albans feasts grafted on- by a writer who could make a slip with the spelling ‘Alban’. The calendar was nonetheless probably copied out at St Albans because the characteristic neums by ‘O Sapientia’ are a St Albans feature.

Dozens of feasts from both Ramsey and St Albans were omitted. In the case of Ramsey, this is to be expected because the twelfth-century liturgy was obviously sparser than that of the earliest surviving calendar, from the thirteenth century. For instance, the important Ramsey cult of SS Aethelred and Aethelberht only develops during the twelfth century.

Other feasts were dropped because they did not suit the interests of the psalter’s owner. Some were important institutional occasions, like the translation and octave of St Ivo (the patron of Huntingdon) in June, the dedication of Ramsey Abbey in September; the octave of St Alban in August, and the dedication of St Albans Abbey in December. These were not required in a hermitage. Instead, the psalter has the feast of St Anthony, patron of hermits, who is omitted from both the larger monastic calendars.

Some omissions and later additions are notable:

February 16, St Juliana.
Added later. She resisted the devil who tried to persuade her to obey her father and suitor to get married. She provided a parallel for Christina’s life, is not on the 13th century Ramsey calendar, but was recognised at St Albans. As she was added later, this may reflect an interest provided by St Albans.
March 25, The Crucifixion.
Omitted. This was not celebrated at Ramsey and was not illustrated in the miniature cycle. This omission could be a personal choice, because the feast was otherwise celebrated at St Albans.
July 17, St Alexis.
Omitted. St Alexis was obviously important to St Albans Abbey where a chapel was dedicated to him under Abbot Richard, 1097-1119 by Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham, 1099-1128 (GA, 148). However, his cult may have been short lived at the abbey as he only appears twice, in the Egerton calendar and in St Petersburg, Public Library Q.v.I,62 . (This calendar, made at St Albans in the mid twelfth century, also included St Christina. By the end of the century it was at Wherwell Nunnery. Thomson, 1982, I, 37, 123). In the St Albans Psalter he only appears liturgically in the litany at the end of the book, but his Chanson occupies pp57-68.
July 20, St Margaret.
Added later. St Margaret is found at both Ramsey and St Albans. Her later addition here may reflect the arrival of Christina’s sister Margaret to the hermitage, and the intervention of St Margaret in Christina’s only miracle (Talbot, 1998,118-9).
November 25, St Catherine.
This is an ordinary feast in the psalter but has higher status in the other St Albans books. This suggests that the calendar was composed before Geoffrey had the feast elevated (GA, 93).

Conclusion to the original calendar

Wormald concluded that the three special Ramsey feasts point to a devotee from the Ramsey/ St Ives/Huntingdon area, namely Christina (AP, 24). The Ramsey cartulary records that Autti of Huntingdon (likely to be Christina’s father who had the same name), between 1114 and 1123, gave back the church of Shillington in Bedfordshire to the abbot of Ramsey, in return for ten marks of silver. (Ramsey Cartulary, I, 138). Christina and her parents stayed at a vill in Shillington on their return journey from St Albans Abbey (Talbot, 1998, 39-40). At this time Ramsey owned most of Shillington (VCH, Beds. II, 294).This may indicate a direct connection between Christina’s family and Ramsey Abbey.

The evidence given above suggests that in fact the model for the calendar came from Ramsey and was adapted for an anchorite with loose affiliations to St Albans. The scribe, Scribe 1, is similar to the annotator of the St Albans Cicero, B.L.Harl. MS 2624; the illuminator is Artist 1 who produced the Martydom of St Alban on p416. Furthermore the neums on p14 are a feature of the St Albans scriptorium. So the calendar was clearly written at St Albans Abbey.

The most obvious source for a calendar with these peculiarities is one belonging to Christina herself, part of the psalter she carried with her during her flight from Huntingdon (Talbot, 1998, 98-99). This could have been made at Ramsey, without any particular tuning to suit a young girl, perhaps a gift from her parents or Sueno, the canon of Huntingdon who was her first spiritual mentor, or even Eadwin the hermit living near Ramsey. Such a source would explain the Ramsey feature of St Romanus miles, and the spelling slip of St Albinus which the scribe was perhaps inserting free hand. It would also explain the detailed computistical material which encases both ends of the calendar: such computations were an erudite speciality of Ramsey but not a particular feature at St Albans (see Keeping Time).

The calendar was certainly compiled before there were strong institutional links between Markyate and St Albans, when the abbey would have exerted a stronger liturgical influence. Equally, it was made before Christina’s personal feminine interests could be visibly and liturgically expressed. Subsequent additions clearly reveal her impact on the church year.

Additions to the calendar

Roger the Hermit’s obit (p 11)

This is written as an entry of exceptional importance. All the other obits (notifications of death days, when prayers were to be said for the named person) simply indicate the person’s name. For Roger there is the inscription

The death of Roger the Hermit, monk of St Albans; whoever has this psalter should hold his memory in honour on this day

Obiit Rogeri heremite monac/hi sancti albani· apud quemcumque fuerit hoc psalterium fiat eius memoria maxime hac die.

It is written in black by Scribe 3 who wrote the psalm titles. Because Scribe 3 wrote in both the calendar and the rest of the book, the assumption is that this whole psalter existed and was already joined to the calendar when the obit was written. The words apud quemcumque are quite neutral about both the location and ownership of the psalter.

The scribe who added the obit to Ailwinus in green just below, added the spelling correction h to monaci.

The Roger obit could have been added any time after his death c.1121-2, so the death date in no way sets a horizon for the completion of the psalter. The significance of this addition for dating the psalter is discussed under The debate and The date.

St Margaret and the dedication of Markyate Priory

These entries were added by Scribe 5. Markyate Priory was dedicated by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln in 1145 and the charter survives (B.L. Cotton, Ch. XI, 8; AP, pl 169). Goldschmidt (1895, 34) suggested that the interest in St Margaret was generated by Abbot Robert of St Albans (1151-66) who vowed to honour her highly if he was spared during a storm at sea. In fact she was already in the St Albans calendars under Abbot Geoffrey. She was a popular saint and her addition here might reflect Christina’s faithful sister Margaret ‘ a virgin of admirable simplicity and uprightness’ who had joined her at the hermitage (Talbot, 1998, 141). So, these two additions can be dated ‘after 1145’, and perhaps within a year after that date, when it was time to celebrate the priory dedication again.

The remaining saints

These additions are distinctly written by Scribe 4.

Jan 1
Circumcision of the Lord
St Brigid virgin
Feb 16
St Juliana virgin
April 11
St Guthlac confessor
May 1
SS Philip and James
May 19
St Dunstan archbishop
May 26
St Augustine bishop
June 2
Marcellinus and Peter martyrs
July 1
Octave of St John
July 10
Amalberga virgin
July 18
Octave of St Benedict
July 24
St Cristina virgin
July 25
Christoforus and Cucuphas martyrs
Aug 1
St Peter in Chains. Machabees martyrs
Aug 20
St Oswin king and martyr
Sept 1
St Giles abbot
Sept 17
St Lambert bishop and martyr
Oct 1
Germanus. Remigius and Vedast bishops
Oct 6
St Fides virgin and martyr
Oct 17
Translation of St Etheldreda virgin
Oct 19
St Frideswide virgin
Nov 1
Feast of All Saints
Nov 17
St Hilda virgin
Nov 23 St Felicitas martyr

The selection of these saints forms a logical pattern (AP, 25)

  • The original scribe had simply forgotten to insert the feasts celebrated on the first day of the month, probably because they were intended to be in a different colour of ink. These additions match those in the other Ramsey and St Albans calendars.
  • Eight female saints (not counting St Brigid on 1 Feb who is in the previous group). Etheldreda was the most important female East Anglian saint, buried at Ely, and celebrated at both Ramsey and St Albans. Juliana, Amalberga and Frideswide all struggled to get away from their suitors, like Christina. Amalberga, Frideswide, Cristina and Hilda are not in the Ramsey or St Albans calendars and must represent Christina’s particular interests: two refugees from marriage, her name saint and the earliest English abbess, a powerful leader of women.
  • English saints, well established at St Albans, whose addition brought the Markyate liturgy more in line with the abbey: SS Guthlac, Dunstan, Augustine and Oswin. The remaining saints are also in the St Albans calendars. These additions are made by the same hand as the obits, so they must be after c.1155 because they include the death of Christina herself, after 1155.

The later obits

One group relates to Christina and her family: Cristina first prioress of Bosco [Markyate]. As she received a grant from Henry II in 1155, she must have died some time after this date. Her father and mother, Auti and Beatrix, her brothers Simon and Gregory, the monk of St Albans are also added. Ailiua mother of Michael may be her aunt Alveva, mistress of Ranulf Flambard.

The remainder are connected with St Albans or Markyate. Abbot Geoffrey died in 1147. Aluered a monk of St Albans appeared to Christina in one of her visions. There are two nuns Adelaisa and Matilda of Maizellis. Avicia was prioress of Sopwell, another female establishment founded by Geoffrey shortly after 1140. Azo the hermit was one of the original companions of Roger, before Christina arrived.

A point to note is that all these later obits were added by Scribe 4 at the same time (the pen and ink do not vary), some or perhaps many years after the person’s death (brother Gregory died in 1136). Neither Christina’s sister Margaret nor Abbot Robert (1151-66) are mentioned, so presumably the obits were added before 1166, perhaps occasioned by Christina’s death after 1155. Since family members are so prominent, and are referred to as ‘father of Lady Christina’ , ‘brother of Lady Christina’ etc., her sister Margaret may have instigated the additions.


This section is not for the faint hearted. It is quite technical and offers an introduction to reading a perpetual calendar. It is relevant for those who wish to understand the lay out and contents of perpetual church calendars but it is not essential for a basic understanding of this psalter as a work of art. It aims to explain the terms used in the text, but does not provide the details with which to perform calculations. The St Albans Psalter computus material is particularly detailed, compiled, according to Pickering, by a calendar ‘boffin’. Full information, with particular attention to the St Albans Psalter, is in F.P.Pickering, The calendar pages of medieval service books, Reading Medieval Studies, 1, 1980, University of Reading. Full discussions about the medieval methods of calculating time are found in Günzel (1993, 16-30), Cheney (1978, 1-11) Wallis (1999) and Coyne (1983, 299-321).

It may be significant that the computistical tables are found on pp2 and15, the inside leaves of the first bifolium. P 1 and 16, the outer leaves of the bifolium, were both originally blank. Thus these sheets are an optional extra to the normal calendar, but it is unlikely that they were a special addition because the handwriting is uniform throughout the quire.

The perpetual calendar


Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard
July Page 9

Each page of the calendar (pp3-14) is illustrated by the Labour of the Month and the Sign of the Zodiac. It lists the perpetual cycle of feasts which are held on fixed days of the year and provides information about the moveable feasts whose incidence depends on Easter. Easter is defined as the first Sunday after the first full moon in spring, the vernal equinox of 21 March. Easter Sunday may fall between 22 March and 25 April.

The Egyptian Days
At the top right of the page, the number of days in the calendar month and lunar month are given. Next is a leonine hexameter, a short verse form commonly used for mnemonics. It refers to the Egyptian Days, days which were bad luck, especially for blood letting and other stated activities. The first day given in the couplet is counted forward from the first of the month, the second backwards from the end. So, in January the days are 1st and 7th, that is January 1 and 7th from the end, January 25th, as marked in column 6. The scribe has left out indications for Egyptian days in August, September and December.

Column 1, Golden Number
In the left column is a sequence of numbers ranging from 1 to 19, applied to various days. This is the golden number. It is used for locating the age of the moon on a given date. 235 lunar months make up 19 solar years, so the lunar cycle lasts 19 years. The cycle begins in a year when the moon is new on 22 March. The age of the moon on that date in subsequent years is known as the annual epact. The sequence, apart from the blank spaces, is constant (14,3,11,19,8,16,5,13,2,10,18,7,15,4,12,1 9,17,6). So, for instance, 23 January has the golden number 1. This is the date of the new moon in the first year of the cycle. In the second year it is 11 days earlier, 12 January.

Column 2, Dominical Letters.
In a year of 365 days there are 52 weeks and 1 day. Thus, each year, the day of the week retreats by single steps in relation to the 365-day year: so Monday is July 3 in 2000; and it is July 2 in 2001. Therefore a perpetual calendar cannot use the day names but substitutes the letters A-G for the seven days of the week. These are called the dominical letters and they form the second left column of the calendar. They are also applied to a whole year, depending on which letter the first Sunday falls. Thus if Sunday falls on January 1, the year begins with A; if Monday falls on January 1, the year begins with G. Elaborate calculations with the golden number, dominical letter and an Easter table produce the date for Easter.

Columns 3 and 4. Days of the month.
Whereas modern calendars give the days from 1-31 in Arabic numerals, medieval calendars still used the Roman method of dividing up the month. The Kalends, Nones and Ides are respectively the first, fifth and thirteenth days; except in March, May, July and October when Nones fall on the seventh and Ides on the fifteenth day. The remaining days are numbered with forward reference: so many days before the Kalends, Ides etc. First and last days are included in counting the interval. Thus the first day of the month is Kalends, and the last day is ii kl (‘second before kalends’, our ‘first before’).

After Kalends come four or six numerals leading up to Nones. The approach to Ides is marked by a descending sequence from viii to the Ides itself. The remaining 17, 18 or 19 lines record the long approach to kalends of the following month which is named. So, half way down January (p3) one sees xix KL Febr.

Column 5. Saints’ days and festivals.
Unlike the normal St Albans and Ramsey calendars, this one does not indicate the ranks of feasts (in albis or in cappis, indicating the relative glory of the vestments), but marks the Vigils which precede them. The fixed feasts are indicated in column 5.

Column 6. Moveable Feasts
These are placed to the right of the page, except where the Zodiac signs intervene. The Resurrection is properly a moveable feast but is firmly entered on 27 March. Likewise Ascension is fixed on 5 May. (The interval 27 March –5 May is in fact correct for the Resurrection and Ascension which fell on those dates in 1155 and 1160. This interval is a frequently-found convention and cannot be used to date the manuscript).

Each moveable feast requires a number of entries: to give the date of the preceding new moon (prima incensio lune) followed by the name of the feast e.g. lxx Septuagesima, xl Quadragesima; and then the earliest and latest possible dates of the feast. The compiler is not consistent with all his moveable feasts but a complete entry for Septuagesima (the 70th day before Easter) reads thus:

8 Jan the preceding new moon for lxx
17 Jan here begins the earliest possible date of the feast lxx
5 Feb the last new moon for lxx
14 Feb the end of the terminus lxx
21 Feb the last possible date for lxx

After Septuagesima the lunar information for remaining feasts becomes increasingly sparse. Sexagesima and Quinquagesima are left out altogether and Easter only has three moon phases mentioned.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Quadragesima is a name for the 40 days of Lent (excluding Sundays), Quadragesima Sunday is the first Sunday in the season, Quinquagesima is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, and the Sundays before that Sexagesima and Septuagesima. The Sundays do not tally with the number of calendar days implied by their names: i.e. Septuagesima is not 70 from Easter, but 63.

Column 6. Additional information
Seasons and solstices.
It is unusual to provide details of the seasons, with dates given by both the Roman calendar and that of Isidore of Seville (c.570-636):

9 February Veris initium secundum Romanos
22 February Ver incipit secundum Ysodorum [sic]
9 May Estatis initium secundum Romanos
7 August Autumnus secundum romanos
7 November Hiemis initium secundum Romanos
21 November Hiemis initium secundum Ysidorum

The equinoxes and solstices are marked, from both the Roman calendar and an alternative by Bede;

21 March equinoctium bedem
25 March equinoctem secundum romanos
24 June solstitium secundum romanos
13 December solstitum hiemalem
25 December solstitum secundum romanos

The dog days are given from 14 July to 5 September. Romans considered the hottest days of the year were caused by the Dog Star rising with the sun, which occurred in late summer.

Dates relating to the cycle of the moon are mentioned:

8 January primus incensio lunae
3 February assumptio lunae
5 February Ultimum incensum lunae
6 February prima incensum lunae
5 March vii· embolismus in endecadas
6 March iii· embolismus in ogdoadem

Computistical Tables (pp 2 and 15)

The full calculations involved in the tables on p2 are set out in Pickering (1980, 25-29). Both of these tables are also to be found on f. 2v of Aelfwine’s Prayerbook, ca. 1031 and reproduced in Günzel (1993,90).


Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard
Computisical table Page 2

The first table, Regularis feriales, determines on what day of the week kalends (the first day) of any month will fall in a 28-year period. The year is set out in the first column, beginning in March. The legal and official year, as opposed to the church year, began on 25 March, Lady Day until 1752. This table is linked to the perpetual calendar in March, with the entries on 1 and 24 March (immediately before Lady Day).

The second table, on the right, refers to lunar calculations. It determines the age of the ‘ecclesiastical moon’ on the kalends (1st) of any month during a complete epact-cycle of 19 years. (Pickering, 1980, 25) Here the year is set out beginning in September. In the perpetual calendar the corresponding entry is 1 September, hic mutant epacte.

The table on p15 provides the limits for the date of Easter (Günzel, 1993, 23-4, 106-7). Easter Sunday is defined as the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring and must fall between 22 March and 25 April, fluctuating during the 19 year cycle. The table starts with the left column, representing the 19 years. The short verses express the terminal dates, year by year, The sixth column, a cycle of Roman numerals, is the ‘Easter regular’ which must be added to the concurrent of a given year to obtain the weekday name of the feast limit. Any monk who had worked out the weekday name of the Easter limit was able to tell the date of Easter Sunday for a given year. The letters A-F refer to the days of the week, and the right column gives the date numerically. Notice that columns 2/3 and the last column provide the same information.


Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard
Computisical table Page 15

Conclusion to the Computus

The exclusion of the ranks of feast days and the number of lessons makes this calendar rather sparse for formal liturgical use. The inordinate detail of the computistical tables and embolisms etc must come from a model. Ramsey Abbey, whose liturgical feasts are also connected with this calendar, was famous for its interest in computus.

Ramsey was founded in 966 by the learned St Oswald, bishop of Worcester and archbishop of York. Abbo of Fleury, who had studied the most advanced sciences at Reims, came to teach at Ramsey from 985-7. He brought his own computus and also Helperic’s De Computo Ecclesiastica from Fleury. With these, he taught the Anglo-Saxon monk Byrthferth who composed his own calendar guide, the Enchiridion, 988-996 (Baker and Lapidge, 1995). Byrthferth was an energetic master of the monastic school, teaching oblates, novices and secular clerics. He observed that the secular clerics (mainly country priests) were much lazier than the monks because they only had to master the rudiments in order to pass inspection by the bishop. Thus, it is unlikely that Christina herself would have appreciated the higher levels of computus, but the model for the St Albans Psalter was constructed by someone with detailed knowledge of the skills taught at Ramsey. The Albani scribe may not have understood everything he copied as there are some mistakes: there should be 7 embolistic periods all of 30 days, but only 5 are included and one has 31 days; 2 March is called vii None, when it should be vi; in August, September and December the Egyptian Days are left out. If the model for this calendar came from Ramsey, it might have been part of the psalter that Christine carried with her when she left home and went in to hiding.

Glossary of Technical terms from the Calendar

Aequinox The point of time when the sun passes through one of the equinoctial points and the day and night are nearly equally long.
Bissextus A solar year consists of 365 days and 6 hours, so every 4 years the year is increased to 366 days. The leap day was called bissextus because every four years, the 6th day before the Kalends of March (24 February) was counted twice
Concurrents Each year was allotted a number between 1 and 7 which represents the concurrents or number of days between the 1 January and the last Sunday of the preceding year. Whereas the dominical letter is determined by the incidence of the first Sunday of the year, the concurrents represent the number of days separating 1 January from the last Sunday of the previous year. The concurrent is a number corresponding to the year-letter. It is a device for trancribing dominical letters so that they may be used in computistical tables
Cyclus The period of time in which the sun or the moon completes it course.
Dies bissexti The leap days of the solar cycle of 28 years. Every month grows by one point (a ¼ hour). In 4 years this accumulates to 12 hours: an extra day which is added to February by counting 24 February twice
Epacts and Embolisms A lunar year is 11 days shorter than a solar year so the epact registers the number of days which have to be added year by year to keep lunar and solar years in step. It also indicates the age in days of the moon on 22 March (the earliest possible day for Easter) of a given year. In some solar years there are 12 new moons and in some years there are 13. A year containing 13 new moons embolismic, and these interpolated lunar months are embolisms
Feria A feast day in the Roman calendar. In the Latin Christian calendar they become the ordinary days of the week (apart from Sunday) which are called dies feriales and are numbered from 2 (Monday) to 7 (Saturday).
Incensio lunae The first visibility or rising of the lunar crescent just after sunset marking the beginning of the new lunar month.
Indictions Mentioned on 24 September, they have no liturgical significance. They refer to a fiscal period of 15 years.
(h)endecadas The medieval Latin for the Greek enneakaidekaeteris or the last 11 years of the 19 year lunar cycle.
Lunatio A lunar month or lunation, which is the period between two new moons and which can be either 29 or 30 days. The days of a lunation are numbered 1 to 29 or 1 to 30 respectively and these numbers indicate the age of the moon: 1 on the day of the new moon and 14 when the moon is full. In a regular year there are 12 new moons and thus 12 lunations. Within the 19 year lunar cycle there are 7 years with 13 new moons.
Octabus The octave or eighth day after an ecclesiastical feast.
Ogdoadas The medieval Latin form of the Greek octaeteris meaning the period of the first 8 years of the 19 year lunar cycle.
Pascha Easter
Pentecost A moveable feast celebrated on the Sunday falling seven weeks after Easter, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit.
Regularis ferialis A fixed number which added to the dies concurrens produces the ferial numbers of the first day of each month throughout the year.
Regularis lunaris
A number for calculating the age of the moon.
Regulares paschae Numbers which denote the difference in days between 24 March and the date of the Easter moon
Saltus lunae The 19-year cycle ends with one more calculated lunar day than necessary At some point in the cycle, one day therefore needs to ‘jump’ in order to get in phase. This was known as the ‘leap of the moon’.
Terminus A limiting date for one of the moveable feasts. The terminus paschalis is the latest date for the Easter moon. It varies within the 19 year cycle from March 21 to April 18.
Vigilia A Vigil. The day before an ecclesiastical feast.

by Sue Niebrzydowski

The state of the Albani codex accounts for two of the textual variants within the Psalter. A fold within the membrane of pages 373 and 374 results on page 373 in the illegibility of the ‘i’ of fac[i]te, the ‘t’ of ‘mementote’, the ascender of the ‘d’ of ‘domino’ and the partial occlusion of the ‘nu’ of ‘inuocate’ . On the verso of the leaf the final minim stroke of ‘m’ in ‘mea’ and ‘finies me’ is obscured and the ‘e’ of ‘leo’ is illegible due to the fold in the membrane.

Many of the textual variants within the canticles of Albani are the result of the kind of scribal error made frequently in copied texts. These include omissions, for example of words as on page 378 where ‘et’ is omitted from the beginning of the phrase, ‘in sp[irit]u furoris tui’, on page 380 ‘et’ should precede egreditur in ‘Egreditur diabolus ante pedes ei[us] stetit et mensus est terra[m]’, on page 381 ‘te’ is missing after ‘et’ in ‘uiderunt et doluer[un]t montes’ and on page 390 ‘omnis’ has been omitted from before ‘imber’ in the phrase, ‘Bened[icite] imber.’ Letters are omitted also in a number of places; on page 376 ‘ad inferos’ should read ‘ad infernos‘ and on page 385 ‘dilatus’ should read ‘dilatatus.’ In a number of incidences the scribe has misread minim strokes; on page 379 ‘irruit’ should read ‘inruat’ and on page 390 ‘munerari’ should read ‘numerari.’ Occasionally the scribe has made additions; on page 375 ‘et’ is an addition in ‘cor meu[m] in d[omi]no:/ et exaltatum est cor/nu meu[m] in d[omi]no meo’ as is ‘tuum’ in ‘S[an]c[t]uariu[m] tuum d[omi]ne q[u]od firmauer[un]t man[us] tu[a]e’ on page 379. On one occasion the scribe has chosen to make a singular into the plural, hence on page 388 ‘arripuerit’ becomes ‘arripuerint’.

Of greater significance is the number of textual variants that appear within the Canticles. A selection follows:



Isaiah 12: 2. Quia fortitudo mea et laus mea dominus deus.

Page 372 Quia fortitudo mea et laus mea d[omi]n[u]s.

Isaiah 38: 11. Non aspiciam hominem ultra: et habitatorem quievit.

Page 373 Non aspiciam hominem ultra: et habitatore[m] q[u]ietis

Isaiah 38: 12 Generatio mea ablata est a me et conuoluta est a me.

Page 373 Generatio mea ablata est et c[on]uoluta/ est a me.

I Samuel 2: 15. Recogitabo omnes annos meos.

Page 374 Recogitabo tibi om[ne]s annos meos.

I Samuel 2: 5. Saturati prius pro pane se locauerunt.

Page 375 Repleti pri[us] p[ro] panib[us] se locauer[un]t:/

Exodus 15: 6. Dextera tua domine magnifice est in fortitudine

Page 377 Dextera tua d[omi]ne magnificata est in fortitu/dine.

Exodus 15: 19. Ingressus est enim equus pharao cum curribus et aequitibus eius in mare: et reduxit super eos dominus aquas maris.

Page 379 Ingressus est eni[m] eques pharao cu[m] currib[us] et [a]eq[u]itib[us] ei[us] in mare: et reduxit sup[er] eos dominus aquas maris.

Habacuc 3: 8. Quia ascendes super equos tuos: et quadrigae tuae saluatio.

Page 380 Qui ascendes sup[er] equos tuos: et quadrig[a]e tu[a]e saluatio./

Deuteronomy 32: 17. Immolauerunt daemonibus et non deo diis quos ignorabant.

Page 385 Immolauer[un]t demoniis et non de[[o]] diis quos ignorabant.

Deuteronomy 32: 25. Foris uastabit eos gladius  et intus pauor: iuuenem simul ac uirginem lactantem cum homine sene.

Page 386 Foris uastabit eos gladi[us]  et int[us] pauor: iuuene[m] simul ac uirgine[m] lactente[m] cum homine sene./

Deuteronomy 32: 28-30. Gens absque consilio est et sine prudentia: utinam saperent et intellegerent: ac nouissima prouiderent. Quomodo persequatur unus mille: et duo fugent decem milia.

Page 387 Gens absq[u]e consilio est et sine prudentia: utin[am] sap[er]ent et intelligerent: ac nouissima prouiderent./ Quom[odo] p[er]sequebat[ur] un[us] mille: et duo fugarent decem milia.

These variants are those that appear in a version of the Vulgate in some way associated with the name of Alcuin. In 782 Charles the Great invited Alcuin of York to aid him in revising the text of ‘Jerome’s Vulgate’ and the Church service books. The Alcuin version is described by Robert Weber as a text that ‘left much to be desired’ (Weber,1969, p.xx). It appears likely that the Albani scribe may have been copying the Canticles from an ‘Alcuin associated’ version of the Old Testament Vulgate. Albani contains a Gallican Psalter. This is the version of the psalms which Alcuin substituted for Jerome’s ‘Hebrew’ Psalter (until then the accepted text). Based on Jerome’s revision of his Old-Latin version of the Psalms, it has since been called the Gallican Psalter because it was the Psalter text commonly used in Gaul in Alcuin’s day. (Weber, 1969, p.xxi). The Canticles of Albani are also from a Gallican source as can be seen in the arrangement of the canticle texts. This follows in general the pattern as illustrated in The Utrecht Psalter (Utrecht, University Library MS.32, provenance Rhiems (?), ca. 830) and replicated in France, Italy, Germany and England as in for example, Cambridge, Jesus College 23, early twelfth-century provenance Durham; London, British Library Cotton Nero C. iv, c.1160 from Winchester (Mearns, 1914, p. 62). The comparison between Albani and Utrecht is useful:



Albani (page in brackets)

First Series:

1.      Confitebor tibi, Domine. Isaiah: 12.

, p. 372.

2.      Ego dixi in dimidio. Isaiah 38: 10-12.

Ego Dixi, p.373.

3.      Exultavit cor meum in Domino. I Samuel 2: 1-11.

Exultavit, p. 375.

4.      Cantemus Domino. Exodus 15: 1-20.

Cantemus domino, p. 377.

5.      Domine audivi. Habacuc 3.

Domine Audivi, p. 379.

6.      Audite caeli quae loquor. Deuteronomy 32: 1-44.

Audite Caeli, p. 383.                    

7.      Benedicite omnia opera. Daniel 3: 57-89.

Te Deum, p. 389.

8.      Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel. Luke 1: 68-80.

Benedicte omnia opera, p. 391.

9.      Magnificat. Luke 1: 46-56.

Benedictus, Luke 1: 68-79, p.393.

10.  Nunc dimittis. Luke 2: 29-33.

Magnificat, p. 394.


Nunc Dimittis, p. 395.

Second Series:

11.  Te Deum.

Pater noster qui es in caelis ,
p. 396.

12.  Gloria in excelsis.

Credo in Deum Patrem, p. 396.

13. Pater noster qui es in caelis. Matthew 6: 9-14.

Gloria in excelsis, p. 397.

14.  Credo in Deum Patrem. Apostles’ Creed.

Credo in unum, Nicene Creed, p. 398. 

15. Quicumque vult. Athanasian Creed.

Quicumque vult, p. 399.

Third Series:

16. Credo in unum Deum. Nicene Creed.


17. Benedictus es Domine. Daniel 3: 52.


18. Te decet laus, te decet hymnus.


As can be seen, Albani replicates many of the Gallican canticles albeit with some variation in order. The Te Deum is placed rather early in the first series’ sequence thus displacing the four canticles that immediately follow it and the second series commences with the Lord’s Prayer and contains the only item from Utrecht’s third series present in Albani: the Nicene Creed.

The significance of the ordering of these texts in Albani appears to lie in their place during the monastic day and week. As Richard Pfaff notes in his commentary on the twelfth century Eadwine Psalter from Canterbury, the first six canticles are for use at lauds (the first observance during the day) throughout the ordinary days of the week; Confitebor, Ego Dixi, Exultavit, Cantemus domino, Domine Audivi and Audite Caeli. The Benedicte is used at Sunday lauds, the Te Deum on Sundays and feast days at matins. The Benedictus for lauds daily, Magnificat for vespers and Nunc Dimittis for compline (Pfaff, 1992, 103). Albani presents the reader with material for lauds on ordinary days of the week, then provides Sunday material (both matins and lauds hence the relocation of the Te Deum), followed by canticles suitable for daily lauds, vespers and the compline that closes the monastic horarium. It then continues with those creeds and prayers that form the backbone of worship; the Pater Noster, the Apostles’ Creed that summarises the beliefs of the Church, the Nicene Creed, performed during the mass and providing greater detail on the relationship that is the Trinity and the Quicunque vult, regularly recited during divine office, generally on Sundays at prime.

Albani’s version of Utrecht’s series’ two and three is interesting. Whilst it contains all of the items of Utrecht’s series two, Albani omits from series three Utrecht number 17, the Benedictus es Domine and 18, the Te decet laus, te decet hymnus. Mearns cites the latter as appearing seldom in anything other than Benedictine books and is added to or connected with the Te Deum (Mearns, 1914, 67). It also omits the monastic canticles, “those pieces distinctive to the fully developed form of the monastic office and sung after the third nocturn at matins on Sundays and feast days.’ (Pfaff, 1992, 104). The same lacuna is present in the Eadwine Psalter. Pfaff suggests that rather than being evidence of the non-monastic character of Eadwine this is illustrative of the usual placing of monastic canticles in the context of hymns and so they are going to be present only in those psalters that contain hymns, which clearly Albani does not. Like the psalter itself, the Albani canticles are based on a Gallican model but with some variation. The Canticles provide texts for lauds, vespers and compline for ordinary days, as well as Sundays and feast days and conclude with professions of faith applicable to all Christians alike. It is thus appropriate for either the St Albans’ monks (who may well have owned a hymnal containing the missing monastic canticles) or indeed a group of female religious such as that over which Christina of Markyate herself governed.

THE LITANY (p403-411)

The Text and Translation of the Litany
By Sue Niebrzydowski

The Albani Litany largely replicates that found in many psalters. Starting with the ‘Supplication to God’ which begins with the Kyrie, it continues to the invocation that the Holy Trinity have mercy on us, Sancta trinitas unus deus miserere (page 403). The Invocation to the Saints begins with the Virgin Mary and then is divided into sections depending on the role and status of the saint being called upon:

Angels and Archangels; Michael – Raphael (page 403)
Apostles and disciples, patriarch and prophets;
Mark and John the Baptist (displaced by the collective invocations)
Saint Peter- Luke (p. 404)
The martyrs; Stephen – Paul (pp. 404-5)
Bishops, Doctors and Popes; Silvester- Maurus (pp. 405-6)
Confessors, monks and hermits; Lucy-Alexis (p. 406)
Holy women of God; Mary Magdalene- Smeralda. (pp. 406-7)
Invocation to Christ; Propitius esto parce – In die iudicii libera nos domine (pp. 407-8)
Supplication for Various Needs; Peccatores te rogamus – Ut nos exaudire digneris. Te rogamus (pp. 408-9)
Conclusion; Fili Dei – ad te veniat (pp. 409-11, where on p. 409, inducas in tentationem, lead us into temptation, is omitted by the scribe).

In the translation of the Litany the abbreviation ora has been consistently expanded to ‘pray for us’; in the Invocation to Christ, libera is translated as ‘deliver us lord’ and in the Supplication for Various Needs Te rogamus is given as ‘we beseech you hear us.’ Although the two disciples called James are not distinguished in the Latin, in the translation of the Litany they are identified as James the Greater and James the Lesser.

The Significance of the Litany
By Jane Geddes

The litany is an integral part of the psalter section (quite separate from the calendar). It consists of invocations for mercy and deliverance from the three persons of the Trinity, and for intercession from the Virgin Mary, and a long list of worthies arranged in classes such as prophets, saints, confessors and virgins. Like the calendar, it is varied to suit the needs of a particular institution or individual. It can therefore be a subtle diagnostic tool for identifying the interests of the patron or user.

Wormald compares the litany with that in the St Albans Breviary (B.L.Royal MS 2 A.X.) (AP, 30-32). He shows that the litany is based on St Albans but with some variations. St Alban receives a double invocation and is placed immediately after St Stephen, the protomartyr. The double mention and prominent position is normally reserved for the patron saint of the church, indicating a close involvement with St Albans Abbey (Haney, 1995, 24).

There are 13 female saints at the end of the list (SS Margareta- Smeralda), including a number who rejected marriage for a life of chastity. These are not part of the St Albans Abbey litany and appear to reflect Christina’s interests, although Haney clearly points out that a high ratio of female to male saints per se in a litany does not necessarily indicate a convent or female recipient (Haney, 1995, 25). There are also 6 extra male saints in the St Albans Psalter litany who are not in other lists from the abbey. Apart from Alexis, these male saints, Cosmas, Damian, John, Paul, and Paulinus have no obvious connection with Christina. St Alexis features at the end of the confessors in the psalter litany. He appears in only one calendar from the abbey, and in no other litanies. Although a chapel was dedicated to him under Abbot Richard, by Bishop Flambard between 1099 and 1119 (GA, 148) the cult was perhaps not long lasting. Alexis was of particular interest to Abbot Geoffrey who was responsible for the insertion of the Chanson into the St Albans Psalter. In the prologue to the Chanson it states that ‘we have heard readings and song’ about Alexis, perhaps suggesting that Geoffrey promoted his cult.

Further evidence of a female interest in this latter section of the psalter is found in the wording of the Collects or prayers which follow the litany. In these, petitions are addressed by God’s servants, both men and women (famuli and famulae) (see below, Collects).

Sue Niebrzydowski

At the close of the codex, the St Albans Psalter contains 11 collects, 8 within the codex and 3 copied onto what is now the detached leaf at Köln. According to Alicia Correâ a collect is “ a brief, concise prayer recited both in the liturgy of the mass and the daily offices.” (Correâ, 1992,) whilst Richard Pfaff offers an additional use of the term to describe “ a prayer summarising devotionally a theme taken from the Psalm just recited” (Pfaff, 1992, 94) of which there can be up to 150 in number. The Psalm collects are generally distributed after each Psalm but occasionally may be grouped together towards the back of the book, as with Albani where the collects are found grouped together at the close of the psalter, as set out below:

1. Deus cui proprium

As found amongst ‘Prayers for sinners’ in the Durham Collectar (late 9th/early 10th century) Durham, Cathedral Library A.IV. 19, f. 19v.

2.Omnipotens sempiterne deus

Amongst the private prayers in Aelfwine’s Prayerbook, British Museum MS Cotton Titus D. xxvi, fol. 57v, item 6.

3.Pretende domine famulis

No source?

4 Deus a quo sancta

Collect for Vespers on Dominica XII Post Pentecosten (12th Sunday after Pentecost) in Wulfstan’s Collectar.

5.Ure igni sancti

Collect 25 in the Hispania Series, based on Psalm 25:2, ure renes meos et cor meum.

6.Actiones nostras

Amongst the collects for Quadragessima I (First Sunday in Lent), the Durham Collectar, Durham, Cathedral Library A.IV. 19, f. 7v.

7. A domo tua

No source?

8. Ecclesiae tuae

As in the Collecte Cotidianis Diebus (Collects for Ordinary Days) in the Wulfstan Collectar. In Albani the text reads preces placatus whereas Wulfstan has uoces placatus.

From the Koln leaf:

9. Hostium nostrorum quis

No source?

10. Animabus quis domine famulorum

No source?

11. Deus qui es sanctorum tuorum

No source?

Since the selection of collects in Albani follows neither the procedure of producing a collect for every psalm as found in the Eadwine Psalter nor one for every saint’s and feast day as in the collectars of Wulfstan and Durham; the choice appears quite eclectic. Included with five prayers that appear unique to this codex are prayers representative of each of the different kinds of collectar that exist in this period; collects for the daily offices (Ordinary and Sundays) and one based on a verse of Psalm 25. This suggests possibly an editorial decision to provide examples suitable for each of the contexts in which a collect could be used for an audience who may have had access to such material in a more complete form. Each of the collects concludes with per (through) which is an abbreviation of the usual sentence that concludes the collect, ‘Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’

Talbot stated ‘It is true that all the prayers in the psalter were written in the masculine as if the text was meant to be read by a man’ (1998, 22). This is misleading. Where a suppliant is suggested, it is plural (usually famuli/servants as in collects 1, 2, 3, 10 and 11, or servi as in collect 4). This, coupled with the specific references to domo tua (collect 7) and ecclesiae tuae (collect 8) indicates that the prayers would be appropriate for those living within a community. Specific reference to famulae (handmaidens) in collects 3 and 10 suggests that these prayers are appropriate to both male and female communities.

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