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Choir Psalter: MS McClean 39

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Choir Psalter




PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, ii modern paper flyleaves + 272 fols. (foliated i-vii, 1 – 265) + ii modern paper flyleaves, 170 x 120 (122 x 70) mm, 18 long lines, ruled in black ink, four-line musical staves ruled in red and black ink, catchwords, protective curtain for initial to Psalm 109 (fol. 170r).

BINDING: fifteenth century, after 1458, blind-stamped brown leather over wooden boards, sewn on three supports, central panel with two lozenges containing flower pot surrounded by border panels with foliage and fleur-de-lis stamps, with initials FIL stamped near top edge, on upper cover, pierced hearts and fleur-de-lis stamps on lower cover, lettered catchplates on upper cover, two fixing plates with remains of leather straps on lower cover, pink, green and brown leather tabs; repaired and re-bound by Annie Winther, Fitzwilliam Museum, 1994, one strap with clasp, spine, endbands and one sewing support from contemporary preserved in manuscript box after conservation.

CONTENTS: fols. ii recto – vii verso Calendar, with six secular, pair-rimed verses in German roughly contemporary with main body of text added on fol. ii recto; fol. 1r-v Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Apostles Creed; fols. 1v – 2v; Invitatories from first Sunday in Advent to Palm Sunday; fols. 2v – 4r Psalm 94 with Gloria Patri, Response, Versicle, and Antiphons with musical notation
fol. 4r-v Hymn Nocte surgentes vigilemus with musical notation and Invitatory
fols. 5r – 227r Psalter, Gallican, in biblical order with antiphons and musical notation; fols. 227r – 244v Canticles, Te Deum, Athanasian Creed; fols. 244v – 251r Litany secundum ordinem predicatorum with collects and prayers for the Virgin, Sts Dominic, Peter Martyr, Thomas Aquinas, and Vincent Ferrer; fols. 251r – 265r Hymns for Advent and Easter with musical notation; fols. 265v Ecce ancilla dominum (addition, ends imperfectly).

DECORATION: Historiated initial in blue with white shading on gold ground within green, red and yellow frame with partial acanthus border: fol. 5r Psalm 1, [B, 6 ll.] David playing harp.

ORNAMENTATION: Blue, pink, red or green initials [3 – 7 ll.] with white, yellow and black shading on tooled gold grounds, some within coloured frames, with partial acanthus borders for Psalms 26, 38, 52, 68, 80, 97, 109 (fols. 42r, 62v, 81r, 100v, 124r, 146v, 170r); blue initial [P, 5 ll.] with reserved foliate scroll and dragon, red pen-flourisghed infill and extension for Pater Noster (fol. 1r); blue or black penwork initials [3 – 4 ll.] with dark pink open-flourish or red and blue highlighting, penwork decoration and occasional faces, for noted antiphons; alternate red and blue penwork initials [1 – 4 ll.]; red geometric line-fillers.


History note: Made for a Dominican house in Nuremberg or Bamberg (Calendar, Litany, rubricated obit and translation of St Cunegund), after 1458 (St Vincent Ferrer in Calendar and Litany); in Germany until at least 1627 (dated inscription in German inside upper cover); Lord Strafford’s sale, Christie’s, London, 28 July 1885, lot 53; purchased by Frank McClean (1837 – 1904); his bequest, 1904.

Place(s) associated

  • Nuremburg ⪼ Germany

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1904) by McClean, Frank


After 1458
Production date: circa AD 1458

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Cambridge Illuminated

Materials used in production


Components of the work

Support composed of parchment

Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: obviam saluatori nostro
  • Type: Secundo folio

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: MS McClean 39
Primary reference Number: 170704
Project ID: 18
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 24 August 2020 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Manuscripts and Printed Books

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Choir Psalter" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-03-03 13:47:04

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{{cite web|url= |title=Choir Psalter |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-03-03 13:47:04|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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