Queens’ MS 28
Gradual for the Use of Salisbury (Sarum Rite)
In Latin, with music
England, mid-fifteenth century
This large decorated volume contains service settings for the whole year according to the Sarum Rite. A variant of the Roman Rite, the Sarum Rite was widely used for the ordering of Christian public worship in England from the eleventh century until the Reformation. Despite its lavish gold leaf decorations, this volume clearly received heavy use, as can be seen in the well-thumbed corners of its vellum leaves, some of which have been replaced, probably as long ago as the sixteenth century.
Only recently has research into the late medieval English Office revealed the extent to which different copies of manuscripts of the same liturgical Use differ to reflect local customs and textual priorities. It is particularly interesting therefore that this volume appears to be alone amongst the Queens’ illuminated manuscripts in having been owned by the college prior to the Reformation.
As a book of practical liturgy Queens’ MS 28 was not part of the library collection as listed by Andrew Dockett (MS 30), nor does it appear in any other early library itinerary. It is, however, thought to have been one of the volumes cited elsewhere in pre-Reformation college records that list service books held by the Chapel, some of which were given to the College in 1477 by Lady Margery Roos, a lady-in-waiting to Margaret of Anjou. Whether or not it was the gift of Margery Roos, this much used volume may well represent an invaluable record of a specific style of worship undertaken in Queens’ College Chapel during the pre-Reformation era.
The right hand page on display shows the office of a great mass for Christmas day, which begins with a setting of ‘Puer natus est nobis’ [A child is born to us].