Have mercy, guide me, guard me: an eighth- (and eleventh-) century prayer

It’s Lent, and time for something a bit more penitential than some of the glorious manuscripts and linguistic fun that I have been writing about in recent posts.  It happens that a lot of my current work (adapting my doctoral thesis for publication) has been on confessional prayers of various kinds, which is pretty convenient. …

Have mercy on me, O God: Psalm 50 in the Anglo-Saxon church

I have a new article out!  ‘Which Psalms Were Important to the Anglo-Saxons? The Psalms in Tenth- and Eleventh-Century Prayer and Medical Remedies’ is part of a special edition of English Studies on the psalms in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo -Norman England, edited by Helen Appleton and Francis Leneghan, and I am grateful to both of…

Naming names in Ælfwine’s Prayerbook

It’s strange how you think you know a manuscript well and then realise that there are things in it that you didn’t even know were there.  Take London, British Library Cotton MS Titus D. xxvii + xxvi (originally one manuscript, later divided into two), a compendium of liturgical prayers, private prayers, and scientific information.  It’s…

The Feast of St Michael (and his cute little dragons)

Today is the Feast of St Michael.  While other saints might be a martyr, a confessor or a virgin, Michael is the chief of the angels.  He appears four times in the Bible, but is best remembered for his part in a brief but exciting twist in the Book of Revelation (or Apocalypse): Et factum…

Gentle deaths and softening hearts: an Old English confession

The main focus of my academic work is on private prayer in eleventh-century English religious institutions, and at least three-quarters of the prayers that I look at are in Latin.  However, people did pray in their native language, and a number of prayers in Old English survive: some of these are known to be translations…

Thinking of Syria in Anglo-Saxon England

It was the summer of my first year as a PhD student.  I had just finished work on a chapter of my thesis, and was looking to move into another area of study; but I couldn’t really think where to go next, except that I wanted to look back to an earlier period of time and…

Galba A. xiv: the Cinderella of medieval prayerbooks

I research medieval prayerbooks.  When I say that, it conjures up an image of a gorgeous, multicoloured, exquisitely-decorated Book of Hours.  Like this one: Unfortunately, they’re not all like that.  Some of them look more like this: That is London, British Library Cotton Galba A. xiv, an eleventh-century English manuscript which, for convenience’s sake, I…

Prayer – from God’s point of view

So far, in this blog, I have written a lot about Anglo-Saxon prayer, which is the main focus of my research; and, in particular, how monks and nuns thought about their prayers. But one issue that I have never yet addressed is: what is God supposed to be thinking, all this time? What is prayer…

Like, pray, share: Anglo-Saxon prayer memes

So you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, and one of those memes pops up. You know what I mean. Either it’s a sick child who needs your prayers (‘1 like = 100 prayers!’), or a cursed photo of a hellwraith (‘like and share or you’ll die tonight!!’), or simply an inspirational image which will give…