Book of the Week — Home Thoughts from Abroad


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And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Home Thoughts from Abroad
Robert Browning (1812-1889)
Beetham, Cumbria: Simon King Press, 1984

Simon King opened his press in 1981 with an Arab treadle platen and two Albion presses. One of his first projects was a series of single poems, illustrated with his own woodcuts. Edition of 250 numbered copies. Rare Books copy is no. 91.

Donation adds to Latin hymn fragments: “He himself shall come and shall make us saved.”


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(ip)se veniet et salvos no-
s faciet. Co. ecce virgo
concipiet et pariet fili-
um et vocabitur no-
men eius hemanuel.
Off(ertoriu)m prope
es tu domine et omnes

He himself shall come and shall
make us saved. Behold a virgin
shall conceive and bear a son
and his name shall be
called Emmanuel. You are near, O Lord, and all

This page made of vellum (prepared calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin) was produced in the late Middle Ages, probably between the 13th and 15th centuries in Italy or Spain. It was purchased in New York City in 1974 for $25 by Professor James Svendsen, who donated it to the University of Utah Marriott Library in 2018. Dr. Svendsen provided the transcription, translation and commentary.

“The texts from the Old Testament are written in the Latin of the 14th c. Vulgate attributed to St. Jerome. They utilize the musical notation of Gregorian Chant with two clefs (fa/do), rests, custos, neumes etc. The most frequent neumes (names of notes sung on a single syllable) are the punctum, melisma, qualism, climacus etc. The five-line staff & custos (the Latin word for “guard” and a small note at the end of a line indicating the next note) are products of 13th century Italy, replacing the earlier four-line staff, and provide a terminus post quem for the manuscript. There are four illuminated letters (E, P, B, O) at the beginning of initial words. The abbreviations CO. (for collectum) and OFFM. (for offertorium) indicate when the hymns would be sung during the mass: the collect before the readings and the offertory when gifts are brought to the altar.

These particular hymns were sung during the mass on the 4th Sunday of Advent and on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first two relate the prophecy of Isaiah and thus emphasize the main theme of Advent, a time preparing for the birth of the Christ child, who is called Emmanuel meaning “God with us” in Hebrew. The prophecy in Isaiah 7, 14 is fulfilled in the New Testament when the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and explains that Mary has conceived and will bear a son (Matthew 1, 21-23).”

We are grateful to Dr. Svenson for this wonderful gift.

Viae tuae veritas
initio cogno-
vi te de testimoniis
tuis quia in eternum tu
es. V(ersus). beati immacula-
ti in via qui ambulant in lege
domini r(esponsum). Osten-
de nobis domine (misericordiam tuam)

your ways are truth.
From the beginning I knew
you from your testimonies
that you are eternal. Blessed are the immaculate
on the way who walk in the law
of the Lord. Show
us, O Lord, (your mercy)…

Medieval Latin Hymn Fragment: “And whatever with bonds you shall have bound upon earth will be bound strongly in heaven.”


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vinclis super ter-
ram strinxeris,
erit in astris reli-
gatum fortiter.

And whatever with bonds
you shall have bound upon earth
will be bound strongly in heaven.

Et quod resolvis in
terris arbitrio, e-
rit solutum super radium. In fi-
ne mundi iudex

And what you unbind/loosen on earth
will be loosened upon in heaven
on your authority. At the end of
the world you will be judge

Gloria patri
per immensa se-
cula. Sit tibi na-
te decus et impe-

Glory be to the Father through all eternity
and to you, O Son, let there be grace
and domin(ion)…

(impe)rium, honor, po-
testas Sanctoque
Spiritui sit Tri-
nitati salus indi-
vidua per infini(ta seculorum secula. Amen)

(domin)ion, power and honor
to the Holy Spirit. And let there
be to the Trinity well-being undivided forever (and ever. Amen)

This is the hymn sung at First Vespers on the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter at Rome and Antioch and is celebrated variously but usually on February 22nd. The first passage reflects an event in the New Testament where Peter professes his faith and Jesus promises him the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16, 19). Peter has the keys to the only gate at the entrance of heaven and the power to open or close the gate to those who would enter. The second passage is the “Gloria” and a common hymn sung on various occasions in the divine liturgy on a variety of feast days. It is called a doxology, a short hymn of praise for the Holy Trinity. The Chair of Saint Peter is a relic preserved in the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican in Rome. It is called “Cathedra Petrii.” “Cathedra” the Latin word for “chair” or “throne” and refers to the chair or seat of the bishop of Rome. The wooden throne was a gift of the Roman Emperor Charles the Bold to Pope John VIII in 875. It is enclosed in a bronze gift casing by Bernini in the 17th century. In 2018 Pope Benedict XVI described the chair as a “symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Succession to tend God’s flock, keeping it unified in faith and charity.”

~Transcription, translation, and commentary by James T. Svendsen, associate professor emeritus, World Languages and Cultures, The University of Utah

MS chant frag. 8 — Parchment leaves from an Antiphonal, 16th c Italy/S. France. from the Feast of the Chair or St. Peter (18 Jan), First Vespers.

~Description by Elizabeth Peterson, associate professor, Dept. of Art & Art History, The University of Utah, from Paging Through Medieval Lives, a catalog for an exhibition held November 2, 1997 through January 4, 1998 at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

Books of the week — Off with her head!


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“The Queene of Scotland is your prisoner, let her be honorably entreated, but yet surely guarded.” – William Parry

A true and plaine declaration of the horrible…
At London by C. Barker Cum priuilegio, 1585
First edition, second issue

A contemporary report of William Parry’s plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), including an account of his discovery, imprisonment, confession, and execution (2 March 1585) together with documents of the confession of Parry’s fellow-conspirator, Edmund Neville (ca. 1555-ca. 1620), outlining in detail Parry’s plans to kill Elizabeth with his dagger in her private gardens or, failing that, to shoot her at St James’; and Parry’s confession, written by his own hand before Walsingham in the Tower of London.

This is followed by two more letters of confession by Parry, the first addressed to the queen; the next addressed to Burghley and the Earl of Leicester. Also included are documents that further incriminate Parry and provide details of the early stages of his plotting. The first of these is a letter written by the Jesuit William Crichton (from his imprisonment at the Tower) recalling a conversation with Parry concerning the lawfulness of assassinating the queen.

Finally, a letter to Parry by Ptolomeo Galli, Cardinal of Como, in which he approves a letter that Parry had written to Pope Pius V, allegedly offering to assassinate the queen, and for which service the Pope granted him a plenary indulgence. Following the account of Parry’s trial and execution by hanging, the printer has added “A few observations gathered out of the very words and writing of William Parry, the traytour, applied to prove his trayterous coniuration, with a resolute intent, imagination, purpose, and obstinate determination to have killed her Maiestie.” This account of Parry’s efforts implicates the Jesuits, English recusants and seminarians, and the Pope himself.

“But the matter is cleare, the conspiracie, and his traiterous intent it too plaine and evident: it is the Lorde that reuealed it in time, and preuented their malice: there lacked no wil, or readinesse in him to execute that horrible fact. It is the Lorde that hath preserued her Maiestie from all the wicked practises and conspiracies of that hellish rable: it is hee that hath most graciously deliuered her from the hands of this traiterous miscreant. The Lord is her onely defence in whome shee hath alwayes trusted.”

The revelation that Parry conceived of his plan by reading the works of William Allen, English Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, prompted this editorial note: “See how the smoothe words of that Catholique booke are enterpreted and conceived. One Spirite occupieth the Catholique reader with the Catholique writer, and therefore can best expound the writers sence in his readers mouth, even to bee a booke fraught with emphaticall speeches of energeticall perswasion to kill and despose her maiestie, and yet doeth the hypocrite writer, that traitour Catholique, dissemble and protest otherwise.”

The little booklet ends with three prayers for Elizabeth, the last of which “vsed in the Parliament onely.”

“…we gladly acknowledge, that by thy fauour standeth the peaceable protection of our Queene and Realme, and likewise this fauorable libertie graunted unto us at this time to make our meeting together…”

Copie of a letter to the right honourable the…
London: By Christopher Barker, printer to the Queenes most excellent Maiestie, 1586
First edition, variant
DA356 S27 1586

This slim volume contains printed documents of an exchange between Parliament and Queen Elizabeth on the proposed execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, beginning with a letter to the Earl of Leicester dated November 25th, 1586 and signed by R. C. (Robert Cecil) in which Cecil announces that he has transcribed “the speaches delivered by the Queene’s most excellent maisestie in a late and weightie cause dealt in this parliament” together with the “petitions presented to hir Maiestie and the 12th and 24th of November at Richmond by the Lord Chauncelour and Speaker.”

In the first petition, Elizabeth is urged to take action against the Scottish Queen for her traitorous actions. A number of “divers apparent and imminent dangers that may grow to her Maiesties most royal person and her realme” are enumerated. Chief among these are Mary’s confessed complicity in the plot of Anthony Babbington to assassinate the queen, as well as her intention to return England “into the thralldome of Popish tyrannie.”

“She is obdurate in malice against your royall person, notwithstanding you have shewed her all fauour and mercie, as well in preseruing her kingome, as saving her life, and faluing her honour. And therefore there is no place for mercie; since there is no hope that shee will desist from most wicked attempts…”

The first petition is followed by Elizabeth’s response, in which she promises to give the matter “due consideration” but declines to offer an immediate resolution: “I haue had goode experience and tryall of this world: I know what it is to be subiect, what to be Soueraigne: what to haue good neighbors, and sometime meete euill willers. I haue founde treason in trust, seene great benefits litle regarded, & in stead of gratefulness, courses of purpose to crosse. These former remembrances, present feeling and future expectation of euils, I say, haue made me thinke, An euill, is much the better, the lesse while it endureth: and so, them happiest that are soonest hence: & taught me to beare with a better minde these treasons, then is common to my sexe: yea, with a better heart perhaps, then is in some men.”

“But I must tell you one thing more, that in this last Acte of Parliament you haue brought me to a narowe straight, that I must giue direction for her death, which cannot be to mee but a most grieuous and irksome burthen.”

A few days after this exchange, Elizabeth “in some conflict with herself what to do” asked the Parliament to find “some other way of remedy” than the execution of Mary.

In the resultant second petition (24th November), Parliament announced that further deliberations upon the matter yielded no alternate solution that would ensure the safety of queen and country. The queen was once again urged to authorize Mary’s execution.

Elizabeth, in her second reply, offers “an answere without answere”: “It was of a willing minde & great desire I had, that some other means might be found out, wherein I should have taken more comfort, than in any under thing under the Sunne. And since now it is resolved, that my suretic can not bee established without a Princesse ende, I have just cause to complaine, that I, tho have in my time pardoned so many Rebels, winked at so many treasons, and shoulde nowe be forced to this proceeding, against such a person.”

“…an answere without answere…”

Elizabeth’s equivocal response to the November 24th petition concludes the present work. Soon after, on December 4th, Parliament obtained a public proclamation from Elizabeth of the sentence of death. Mary was executed on February 8th, 1587.

Rare Books copy has contemporary handwritten annotations in the text. In the first, the annotator directs the reader to the confession of Anthony Babington, who had conspired to kill Elizabeth and place Mary, Queen of Scots on the English throne. Babington was captured and executed in 1586, the year that this book appeared. Three other annotations give the names of contemporary owners.

A recent owner, Harlech Brogyntyn, one of the barons of Brogyntyn Hall, a mansion in the parish of Selatyn, northwest of Oswestry in Shropshire, England, left the following note on the flyleaf of the current binding. The estate had been a family home since the sixteenth century. A further note, on the second flyleaf states that the book was “found bound in damaged limp vellum in a bundle in the cellar…”

“This volume is of great historical interest in that it shows the pressure put by both Houses of Parliament on Queen Elizabeth to “eliminate” Mary Queen of Scots in the autumn of 1586. (The actual execution took place in 1587.)

The arguments are set-out (1) by [the Lord Chancellor] for the Lords…much perturbed by the revelation of the “Babington” plot…Queen Elizabeth’s characteristic replies are prefaced by a letter signed R. C. to Lord Leicester. Lord Leicester had been in Flanders during these events and this volume was printed by the “official” printer to acquaint him with what had passed in this matter in his absence.


Sir Robert Owen of Brogyntyn (d. 1698) was a bibliophile who followed a family tradition of patronage of poets and collecting printed English literature. Later family members continued collecting early printed books. The library also had a collection of manuscripts, possibly culled from other estate libraries in the surrounding area. The third Lord Harlech gave thirty Welsh language manuscripts to the National Library of Wales in 1934, making it the largest collection of manuscripts in Welsh at that time. The fourth Lord Harlech gave the National Library another fifty-nine manuscript in 1935 and more in 1945. The remaining manuscripts were purchased from the sixth Lord Harlech in 1993.

Medieval Latin Hymn Fragment, Part D: “…of the holy found rest through him.”


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(san)ctoru(m) requieverunt per
eu(m). Ps. D(omi)ne… V. Dispersit, dedit pauperibus
R. lustitia…
Dispersit, dedit pau-
iustitia ma-
net in seculu(m) seculi.

of the holy found rest through
him. PS O Lord V. He distributed, he gave to the poor…
R. His justice…
He distributed, he gave to the
poor; his justice
remains forever.

Cum invocarum… Petrus
ordinis nostri pater ex
operibus iustificatus est
offernes seipsum in rede(me)p-
tione(m) captivoru(m). Ps.

When I was calling upon… Peter,
the father of our order, was justified by his works,
offering himself for the ransoming of captives. Psalm.

Verb… m… A(men) Pergebat
ad o(m)nes qui in captivi-
tate erant et monita sa-
lutis dabat eis. Ps. D(omi)ne (in vertute tua…)
V. Salvavit eos de (manu odientium)
R. Et redemit eos (de manu inimici)

In tertio Noc(urno) A(men) Captivorum

He proceeded
to all who were in captivity
and gave to them counsels
about salvation. Psalm O Lord, in your power…
Verse. He saved them from the hand of those hating them…
Response. And he redeemed them from the hand of the enemy
Sung at the third Nocturn Captives

miserat(us) aerumnas pro e-
oru(m) miseratione Domi-
num lugiter exorabat.
Ps. D(omi)ne… Visita-
vit vinctos in mendici(tate
et ferro et vincula eorum disrupit.)

Having taken pity on the
hardships of the captives,
with compassion for them
he continually prayed to the Lord.
Psalm. O Lord… He visited
those bound in beggary
(and by the sword and he shattered their bonds.)

These hymns celebrate the life of St. Peter of Nolasco and are usually sung — with local variation — on January 28 or 31. St. Peter Nolasco, with St. Raymond of Penafort, was the founder of the Order of Mercedarians, the religious community which sent members as ransom for Christian prisoners in the hands of the Saracens. Details of his life are uncertain, but he was probably a native of Languedoc. After taking part in the crusade against the heretic Albigensians of Southern France, he became a tutor of King James I of Aragon and then settled at Barcelona. There he became friends with St. Raymond of Penafort, and in 1218, with the support of James I, they laid the foundation for the Mercedarians. Twice Peter went to Africa to serve as a captive, and it was reported that during one journey to Granada and Valencia he won the release from Moorish jails of some four hundred captive Christians. He was canonized by Pope Urban VIII in 1628. For the most part these texts are derived from the Mercedarian Breviary and were the antiphons and hymns sung at lauds in the morning and at vespers in the evening on the Feast of Saint Peter Nolasco.

~Transcription, translation, and commentary by James T. Svendsen, associate professor emeritus, World Languages and Cultures, The University of Utah

Parchment leaves from an Antiphonal, 16th c Italy/Florence/Sienna. Eleven parchment leaves from the Proper of Saints, Feast of the Blessed Peter of Sienna (16 Mar), Vespers/Matins.
“Text and music on thick, stiff parchment is continuous throughout the fragment. The feasts as written here celebrate the virtuous deeds of one Peter who showed a profound devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was honored for giving alms to the poor and was commanded by the Virgin to free captives. Thus, the feast may be linked to the Franciscan Piettro Pettinari (d. 1289), who attained the rank of Blessed (Beatus) in the Christian church and was renowned for these very activities. A local vigorous cult resulted in religious songs composed to him in the vernacular, and he even rated a mention in Dante’s Purgatorio.

~Description by Elizabeth Peterson, associate professor, Dept. of Art & Art History, The University of Utah, from Paging Through Medieval Lives, a catalog for an exhibition held November 2, 1997 through January 4, 1998 at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

Editor’s note: The commentary by Dr. Svendsen and the description by Dr. Peterson differ, each identifying “Peter” as different people, Peter Nolasco and Piettro (Peter) Pettinari (of Sienna). Dr. Svendsen, shown Dr. Peterson’s assessment, was politely firm about his identification. This is a perfect, lovely example of the different ways two scholars in two fields can approach an object, coming up with different results. In the case here, an esteemed Classicist and an esteemed art historian disagree, although the suspected dates of their protagonists have only about fifty years between them; one from Southern France, the other from Northern Italy — not so far apart.

Medieval Latin Hymn Fragment, Part C: “…at his right hand bees miraculously erected a honeycomb of honey.”


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dextera eius apes favu(m)
mellis mirabiliter ex-
truxerunt. Ps(almus) Beat(us) vir qui non abiit…
Dirupisiti Domine
vincula eoru(m) et proie-

at his right hand bees
miraculously erected a honeycomb
of honey. Psalm. Blessed (is the man who has not departed)…
O Lord, you have shattered
their bonds and you have cast

cisti ab eis iugu(m) ipso(rum)
Gaudium magnu(m) ha-
beamus et consolatione(m)
in charitate beati patris
nostri quia viscera san-ctoru(m)

off their yoke from them.
Let us have great joy
and consolation
in the charity of our blessed father
because the remains of the holy

~Transcription and translation by James T. Svendsen, associate professor emeritus, World Languages and Cultures, The University of Utah

MS chant frag. 5 — Parchment leaves from the Proper of Saints, Feast of the Blessed Peter of Siena (16 March), Vespers/Matins.

~Description by Elizabeth Peterson, associate professor, Dept. of Art & Art History, The University of Utah, from Paging Through Medieval Lives, a catalog for an exhibition held November 2, 1997 through January 4, 1998 at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

Medieval Latin Hymn Fragment, Part B: “Let us praise the glorious man…”


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virum gloiosu(m)
et parentem nostrum
ardentissimam eius
charitatem imitar-ri

Let us praise the
glorious man
and our parent/founder; let us try
to imitate his most ardent

conemus qui exaudi-
vit paupieres vinctos
in mendicitate et fe-
rro. Salvavit eos
de manu odientium et

who heard the
poor bound
in poverty and by the sword;
he saved them
from the hand of those hating them and…

redemit eos de mani-
bus inimicorum. Te(m)p(ore) Pashali
Cant(icum) Mag(nificat) Alleluia
Ad Matutinim invitat(io)

he redeemed them from the hands of their enemies.
Song “Magnificat” Alleluia
Invitation/Summons to Matins

ptore(m) dominum
Venite adore-
mus. Ps. Venit(e) Hy(mnu)s
Voce concordi so-boles

Come, let us adore
the Lord Redeemer.
Psalm. Come…Hymn
With harmonious heart

(so)boles beati gloriam
patris resonare perge. I-
pse quas laudes ca-
nimus benigno corde
sequatur quem deo
pronum gregis

proceed that your offspring may
resound the glory of the blessed father.
Let he himself continue
the praises that we sing
with a benign heart whom
offering the first of the flock to God

offerente(me) vota capti-
vi lacrymis fluente(me). Vir-
go dignatur recreare
ore sereno. Indicat c(a)e-
lo cui lapsa virgo Re(m)
sibi grat(m) fore filioque
virginis matris sacer

offering vows for the captive,
flowing with tears for the captive.
The virgin deigns
to revive the sad
with a serene face. The virgin,
fallen from heaven, indicates
that the affair would be pleasing to her
and to the Son of the virgin mother let
the sacred

ordo si quis nomine
surgat. Impiger
paret Domi-
n(a)e mone(n)ti
Se suam quarti sobole(m)-
que voti, charitas nu(m)qua(m)
pio q(uo) tepescat nexibus urget.
Gloria patri genit(ae)-
que proli rite dicamus

order arise in her name. Let the diligent
get ready for the Lord advising him
and his offspring of the fourth vow;
devoted charity by which he becomes
warm with love never presses connection.
May we say rightly glory
to the Father and to the Begotten Son

parile(m)que sumat Spi-
rit(us) sanct(us) d(us) unus om-
ni dign*us) honore. Ame(n)
In primo Nocturno Antiph(on
Dum iaceret
Petrus in cunis in

and may the Holy Spirit take equal glory.
one god, worthy of every honor. Amen.
Antiphon sung at the First Nocturn.
While Peter was lying in the cradle.

~Transcription and translation by James T. Svendsen, associate professor emeritus, World Languages and Cultures, The University of Utah

MS chant frag. 5 — Parchment leaves from the Proper of Saints, Feast of the Blessed Peter of Siena (16 March), Vespers/Matins.

~Description by Elizabeth Peterson, associate professor, Dept. of Art & Art History, The University of Utah, from Paging Through Medieval Lives, a catalog for an exhibition held November 2, 1997 through January 4, 1998 at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.


Medieval Latin Hymn Fragment, Part A: “I shall give thanks…”


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(ab infantia mea crevit miseratio et ab utero)
…egressa est mecu(m).
Ps(al)lm. Confitebor…(tibi, Domine)
Pecunias suas
no(n) dedit ad usuram
sed pro captiuis

…came out with me.
Psalm. I shall give thanks (to you, O Lord)…
He did not give his money for usuary
but for captives…

ipse commutauit
Ps(alm). Beatus (vir qui timet Dominum)
Magno charitatis exe(m)plo
anima(m) sua(m) pro fidelib(us)
liberandis Domino co(n)secrauit

he himself exchanged it.
Psalm. Blessed (is the man who fears the Lord)
With his great example of charity
he consecrated his spirit to
the Lord for the freeing of the faithful

Liberauit pauperu(m)
a potente et inopem
cui non erat adiutor

…they had made…
He freed the poor
from the powerful and the poor man
for whom there was no helper.
O Peter,

qui iussu genetricis al-
m(a)e eripis dura domi-
tos catena liberans
plebe(m) prope seruiente(m)
moribu(us) atris. Hoc apis quo(n)-

you who by the order of the kind mother,
freeing from the harsh bond (of slavery), you
rescue people almost enslaved by dark/black customs

dam docuit futurum
insidens quando ma-
nib(us) tenellis, melle fe-
fucu(n)dat pueru(m)-
que sacro nec-
tare complet.
Te pa-
tre(m) nati veneremur om-
es supplices et te pre-
cib(us) vocam(us) ut tuus

A bee settling once taught that
this would be when tender hands
it fructifies/fertilizes and fills
the boy with honey and holy nectar.
We all beseech you as suppliants, Father of the Son,
and we call upon you with prayers so that your…

nostris gemin(us) novetur
cordibus ardor. Vinci vesan(ae)
Sygis et latentes demones
technas animis repelle
ne tuos caeco maculis
subactos carcere claudant.
Qui dedit
vires iter inchoandi, Ad…

Two fold love may revive/alter
our souls. Repel the bonds of the mad/wild
Styx and the hidden tricks of the devil
lest they enclose your servants subject to faults/sins
with the blind prison (of hell).

(Ad)sit ingressis Pater at-
que Patre adsit e-
ternum Geniitus nec
absit Spiritus almus.
Amen. V. Ora pro nobis
Pater Noster Sancte Petre
Mag(nificat) (Hos)an(n)a

Let the Father be present to those entering
and with the Father let the Begotten Son be present eternally
nor let the nourishing Holy Spirit be absent. Amen.
V. Our Father Holy Peter Magnificat Hosanna

Maiorem chari-
tatem nemo habe
ut animam suam po-nat quis pro ami-
cis suis. Ca(n)t. Mag(nifica)t

No one has greater charity/love
than the some one lay down
his life for his friends. Song. Magnificat

~Transcription and translation by James T. Svendsen, associate professor emeritus, World Languages and Cultures, The University of Utah

MS chant frag. 5 — Parchment leaves from the Proper of Saints, Feast of the Blessed Peter of Siena (16 March), Vespers/Matins.

~Description by Elizabeth Peterson, associate professor, Dept. of Art & Art History, The University of Utah, from Paging Through Medieval Lives, a catalog for an exhibition held November 2, 1997 through January 4, 1998 at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.




Book of the Week — Divi Gregorii, episcopie Nysseni, fratris Basilii Magni, opera quae adipisci licuit omnia…


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“…by an ever greater and greater desire, the soul keeps rising constantly to another that lies ahead, and thus it makes its way through ever higher regions towards the Transcendent.” — Saint Gregory of Nyssa

Divi Gregorii, episcopie Nysseni, fratris Basilii Magni, opera quae adipisci licuit omnia…
Saint Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 335-ca. 395)
Basil: Nicolus Episcopius the Younger, 1562
BR65 G7 1562

This is the most complete Latin translation of the works of Saint Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, to its time, and the first translated by philologist Laurentius Sifanus (ca. 1510-1579), who taught at university in Ingolstadt. The translation has been found by modern scholars to be faithful to manuscript copies of the text. Printed marginal references to passages from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are throughout the book.

Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 335-ca. 395) was born in Cappadocia, modern-day Turkey. An erudite theologian, he made significant contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene Creed. He was strongly influenced by Origen (ca. 185-254) and the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandra (ca. 20BCE – ca. 54CE). He and his older brother, Saint Basil, are credited with defining Christian orthodoxy in the Eastern Roman Empire just as Augustine (354-430) was to do later for the Western Roman Empire.

It is likely that Gregory was taught by his older brother Basil, who attended school in Constantinople and Athens. Gregory drew inspiration from pagan Greek philosophy as well as Jewish tradition. He was well-acquainted with the works of Plato (427-347 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE).

Basil established a monastery in Pontus, which he directed for five years. He wrote a monastic rule still practiced by monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Basil was the leader in the fight against Arianism (which denied the divinity of Christ).

Both Basil and Gregory were very close to their sister, Macrina, who also attained sainthood in the Eastern Orthodox Church. After Basil and Macrina died, Gregory continued Basil’s fight against Arianism. He participated in the Council of Antioch against those who refused to recognize the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God. He visited the churches of Palestine, where he asserted the Orthodox teaching about the Most Holy Theotokos, and visited Jerusalem. In 383, he participated in a Council at Constantinople, where he preached a sermon on the divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. He returned to Constantinople in an official capacity twice more before his death, sometime around 395.

Printer-publisher Nicolaus Episcopius the Younger of Basel used a printer’s device that featured a crane, the symbol of watchfulness and discernment. The crane holds a stone in one of its claws so as not to fall asleep. A hand extending from a cloud grasps a bishop’s crozier upon which the crane is perched. Written across the top of the staff is EPISCOP, a shortened form for the Latin word for bishop, and a play on the name of the printer, a latinized form of the name Bischoff.

Nicolaus Episcopius the Elder married Justina Froben, daughter of the well-known printer Johann Froben. Episcopius the Elder printed in partnership with Hieronymus Froben, son of Johann. Nicolaus the Younger learned to print in his father’s shop. Between 1553 and 1565 he concentrated on printing editions of the classics, philosophy and history, including the works of Philo, Livy and Sir Thomas More. His interests were very much in line of other important printers of the time.

Large woodcut device on title, woodcut printer’s device on verso of last leaf. Woodcut historiated initials throughout. Rare Books copy bound in contemporary pigskin over wooden boards, covers tooled in blind with roll-tools. Three of four brass catches remain, clasps lacking.



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“They who sow courtesy reap friendship, and they who plant kindness gather love.” — St Basil the Great

St. Gregory (325?- & St. Basil (329-379)
9th c. AH/15th c. CE

This manuscript, written on polished laid paper, is an Arabic translation from a Greek or Coptic original of writings by St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa. It is written in large naskh script and contains an illumination of the Coptic Cross, surrounded by birds between the texts of the two books of commentary.

Beginning sections of text are marked with red ink for the text, framed by diamond-shaped lozenges in red and black.

Although the manuscript is undated, the motifs and painting style are typical of Egyptian illumination of the early 9th c. AH/15thc. CE.

St. Basil the Great was born in Caesarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia. After he attended school in Constantinople and at Athens he opened an oratory and law practice. Soon afterwards, he established a monastery in Pontus, which he directed for five years. He wrote a monastic rule which would become the longest lasting of those in the Byzantine East, still practiced by monks of the Eastern Orthodox church. St. Basil was one of the giants of the early church. He was responsible for the victory of Nicene orthodoxy over Arianism (which denied the divinity of Christ) and the denunciation of Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381/82.

St. Basil’s brother, Gregory became a Christian in his early twenties. Married, he went on to study for the priesthood. He was elected Bishop of Nyssa (in Lower Armenia) in 372.

Gift of Dr. Aziz and Mrs. Lola Atiya.