Medieval Prayer Books
At his death in 1434, a “London wax-chandler” named Roger Elmsley bequeathed to “a favourite godchild ‘a prymmer to serve God with,’” a prayer book small enough to be tucked into a capacious medieval sleeve or worn on the belt, the way people today wear cell phones. Such prayer books, some of them much more elaborate and unwieldy than the popular pocket versions, were keyed to the daily offices – hence the generic term “Book of Hours,” by which they were known. In his new book, Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers, 1240-1570, Eamon Duffy considers these aids to devotion from many different angles, opening windows on medieval piety and provoking reflection on our own devotional practices.
Continue reading the review, “Praying by the Book”