The Harley Prayer Book (British Library, Harley MS 7653) is one of a group of four early Anglo-Saxon prayer books produced in Mercia, likely around Worcester. The others are the Royal Prayer Book, the Book of Cerne, and the Book of Nunnaminster.[2]: 19 

The Harley Prayer Book
British Library, Harley MS 7653
Typeprayer book
Place of originEngland, Midlands (Mercia, perhaps Worcester)
MaterialParchment and ink
Size225 × 150 (175 × 105) mm
Additionsglosses in Old English
Previously keptPart of the Harleian Library
OtherMember of the Southumbrian 'Tiberius Group'

Dating from the last quarter of the 8th or first quarter of the 9th century, the Harley Prayer Book includes an annotation symbol resembling a rune-like dotted ‘Y’ added around the time of the book’s creation. The same symbol appears in the Royal Prayer Book, pointing to likely shared provenance of these two manuscripts.[1]

Written in Latin, with added glosses in Old English, the codex is fragmentary,[2]: 153  consisting of only seven parchment leaves (plus seven modern paper flyleaves added at the start and another seven at the end).[1] It contains eight prayers:

  1. (ff. 1r–2v) an invocation with lorican features;
  2. (ff. 2v–3v) a plea for God to keep the supplicant from sin;
  3. (f. 4r–4v) an invocation to the Trinity, angels, apostles, John, Clement, Gregory, Benedict, Martin, Lawrence, Stephen, George, and all martyrs;
  4. (ff. 4v–5v) a plea to follow the ways of God;
  5. (ff. 5v–6v) a prayer in praise of the Trinity;
  6. (ff. 6v–7r) a penitential plea to enter heaven;
  7. (f. 7r–7v) an invocation addressed to the Trinity, Old Testament prophets, and All Saints, that the supplicant may enter heaven with them;
  8. (f. 7v) an incomplete prayer.[2]: 153 

All of the prayers are copied in an insular minuscule script, in ink, with small initials added in brown ink, and some letters highlighted or heightened by addition of red, green, or yellow, or some combination of the three.[1]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d British Library. "Detailed record for Harley 7653". Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. Retrieved 11 Feb 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Brown, Michelle P. (1996). The Book of Cerne: Prayer, Patronage, and Power in Ninth-Century England. London: British Library.