Ferial Psalter

Spanish (?)
Medieval (Gothic)
about 1300–50

Place of Manufacture: Europe, Spain


Overall (page dimensions): 37.2 x 26.2 cm (14 5/8 x 10 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tempera and ink with gold on parchment; bindings of pigskin over boards with paper pastedowns

Not On View





Ferial Psalter (a collection of Psalms for daily use), with 53 folios (ff.):

ff. 1 - 91: Ferial Psalter (Septuagint), with antiphons, ten-fold division.

In omni gloria mundo amen. Ad nocturnum antiphonas Veniet ecce res…/B/eatus vir q[ui]/non abiit…/…dierum cinculis nullis ruam[ ] actibus. Pra[ ] pater. [imperfect - ends at Psalm 80]

Each page contains 2 columns of 22 text lines in Latin and 8 staves of music. No bounding or writing lines, prickings preserved in outer margin for writing lines. Square heightened stemmatic notation on a red four-line staff, f-clef indicated.

Lacking at least 19 leaves at front, five leaves after f. “21” (i.e. f. 2), one leaf after f. “28,” one leaf after f. “31,” four leaves after f. “42,” three leaves after f. “62,” one leaf after ff. “79” and “81,” two leaves after f. “84,” and one leaf after f. “89.” One catchword preserved, on f. [59]v. Seventeenth-century arabic ink foliation begins with “27” on f. 3, reaches “91” on f. 53, predates losses.

Written in a Rotunda script in black ink with red rubrics. f. 1v: Ottonian-style full-page initial [B] in gold with vine and foliation infill in colors on carpet background in a panelled gilt frame; f. 2: 1/4-page carpet-style [EATUS VIR] in gold on colors in panelled gilt frame; ff. 15, 22v, 43v (Psalms 26, 38, 68 - initials for Psalms 52 and 80 are lacking): 5- or 6-line initials in colors with colored and white-vine infill with Ottonian-style lions’ heads or animals, on gold background (same color scheme as the carpet page); remaining Psalm initials by two artists: 1) ff. 1-15v: alternating blue with red infill and filigree with berries, or red with blue, Spanish in style; 2) ff. 16-53v: similar color scheme, but less elaborate and skillful than the first artist; verse intials alternate red with blue filigree or vice versa.

Parchment patches throughout from a thirteenth-century martyrology from Italy, including parts of the lives of Sts. Alban, Epimachus, Crystantus and Daria, and Andrew, with alternating blue or red initials with contrasting harping, and red rubrics, original dimensions of the page were at least 160 x 160 mm, with approximately 30 lines and one column.

Binding: 15th-century blind-stamped and -rolled German pigskin over boards, reused from an earlier book after the foliation and text losses. Even though the foliation post-dates covers and predates losses, the singletons are bound in, implying that the binding was attached after the foliation and text losses, i.e. older covers were reused after the 17th century (this contention is supported by the condition of the spine, which has been adapted to fit the thickness of the book by being trimmed and tucked into the lower cover), with paper pastedowns contemporary with rebinding. It is possible that these were the original covers, and after the first and last groups of leaves were lost the spine was adapted for use with the new arrangement of the manuscript.


By 1913, with Ludwig Rosenthal; by 1913, sold by Ludwig Rosenthal to Dr. Denman Waldo Ross (1853-1935), Cambridge, MA [see note 1]; 1917, gift of Dr. Denman Waldo Ross. (Accession date: February 15, 1917)

[1] From 1913 until it was accessioned, this manuscript was on loan to the MFA from Dr. Denman Waldo Ross.

Credit Line

Denman Waldo Ross Collection