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Prayer For The People: The Book Of Hours

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Chapter Summary

For three hundred years (from the mid-thirteenth to the mid-sixteenth century) the Book of Hours was the bestseller of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The Book of Hours is a prayer book that contains, as its heart, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that is, the Hours of the Virgin. By the early thirteenth century, an era of increased literacy, both Psalters and the combined Psalter-Hours were used by not only the clergy, but also the laity. Geert Grote (d. 1384) translated the standard Horae texts into Dutch as part of the Devotio moderna. Following the Calendar the first text proper in a Book of Hours is a series of Gospel Lessons by the four evangelists. The Office of the Dead was in the back of every Book of Hours the way death itself was always at the back of the medieval mind.

Keywords: Book of Hours; Gospel lesson; horae text; Hours of the Virgin; late middle ages; Office of the Dead; prayer book; Psalter; Renaissance



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