Item #4974 Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ. Saint Pseudo-Augustine, Anonymous, 12th-13th c.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.
Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.

Certaine select Prayers, gathered out of S. Augustines Meditations, which he calleth his priuate Talke with God. Also his Manuell, or booke of the Contemplation of Christ.

London: Printed by Iohn Daye dwellyng ouer Aldersgate, 1577.

Price: $16,000.00

Octavo: 14 x 9.6 cm. [320] p. Collation: A-V8 (-blank leaf V8)

THIRD, EXPANDED, EDITION. (1st ed. 1574).

Bound in early 17th c. English black morocco, tooled in gold in compartments with floral stamps and repeating decorative roll borders (light wear at extremities and hinges, corners lightly bumped, gilding a little faded in places.) The text is in very good condition with scattered light soiling and some cosmetic faults as follows: the title is soiled and a bit grubby, lightly creased and a little frayed at the fore-margin and leading corners; the next few leaves are soiled along the outer margin and also lightly creased. Upper corner of final two leaves chipped at upper corner; margins of last few leaves and verso of final leaf also lightly soiled. Front endpaper torn and missing upper quarter of the leaf. All edges gilt. Provenance: Two early ownership inscriptions, on the front free endpaper verso “Mary S[mall her] Boock given her by her mother 1679” (on the same leaf there is an additional signatures “Mary Small” and some other notes) and on the recto of the final blank leaf “Judith Fussell [?] heir Booke.” A lower endpaper has five lines on the verso in an early hand, beginning “in Adam sin death did begin.”.

Illustrated throughout. The title-page depicts Faith, Hope, and Charity with hands together, each looking up at the Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew theonym יהוה‎ (YHWH or YHVH) for God. The rest of the work features nineteen separate woodcut borders, each repeated several times, with male and female figures from the Old and New Testaments, and a series of death’s heads with mottos (see below.) These decorative elements are “reminiscent,” as David Davis writes in ‘Seeing Faith, Printing Pictures: Religious Identity during the English Reformation’ (2013, p. 205), “of medieval books of hours.” Leaf O4 is a separate title-page for “S. Augustines Manuell, or litle booke of the Contemplation of Christ.”

“Newly printed, corrected, and compared with an old auncient written Copye.” This beautiful book, with its evocative woodcut borders throughout, followed the pattern of John Day’s 1569 ‘Christian Prayers and Meditations’, which was reputedly designed for private use by Queen Elizabeth. Only a single copy survives of that book (though there were later, modified editions), but it inspired the present work, which was first published in 1574, reprinted in 1575, and then expanded by 24 pages for the present edition of 1577.

The English texts in this volume are drawn from a medieval collection of pseudo-Augustinian works in Latin titled “Meditations of Saint Augustine”, “Soliloquies on God”, and “Manual on the [Soul’s] yearning for God”. The 12th and 13th c. compilers of the texts “worked from a number of sources, including Augustine’s ‘Confessions’, as well as meditations and contemplative and devotional works by Hugh of St. Victor, Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux, Jean de Fécamp, and ‘Florilegia’ from Isidore of Seville.”( Julia Staykova)

The highly-personal nature of the works made them well-suited to the format of the prayer book: a handbook (“manual”) in two senses (a portable book, small in size, and a guide to spiritual growth), decorated with marginal imagery suitable for contemplation.

The Theme of Death:

The woodcut borders in Day’s “Christian Prayers” included a Dance of Death sequence that ran for consecutive pages. In “Certaine select Prayers”, Day continues the theme of death by placing illustrations of death’s heads (skulls shown from various angles) at the foot of each page. The skulls are rendered realistically, some (such as the one shown on its side, the foramen magnum clearly visible), demonstrating the illustrator’s understanding of anatomy. This realism links these images to the “cadaver” images in Day’s “Christian Prayers.”

Out of these skulls sprout vegetal tendrils that run up the sides of the borders, creating frames within biblical men and women kneel in prayer, adoring the Tetragrammaton at the head of the page. The message is clear: physical death leads to spiritual rebirth.

Each of these death’s heads is accompanied by a single line of text which is connected to the line on the next page, often resulting in rhymes. For example, over four consecutive pages we have “Fast and pray.” – “Pitie the poore.” - “Repent amend.” – “And sinne no more.”

A note on Tudor Soliloquies:

Julia Staykova suggests “that the soliloquies in Tudor and early Stuart devotional practice originate in the apocryphal Meditations, Soliloquies and Manual” and argues “that early modern devotional soliloquies display significant stylistic similarities to the dramatic soliloquies of the age.” See Staykova, “The Augustinian Soliloquies of an Early Modern Reader: A Stylistic Relation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet” in “Literature and Theology”, Vol. 23, No. 2 (June 2009), pp. 121-141.

STC 926; McKerrow and Ferguson, Title-Page Borders Used in England and Scotland 1485–1640, 150 and 151; Luborsky and Ingram, English Illustrated Books 1536-1603, 925.