An integral part of Christian practice in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance was the participation in the liturgy. This term refers to both the performance of the Mass (the celebration of the Eucharist), either within a monastic community, or involving a lay congregation, and to the Divine Office, communal praying at eight set times during the day, practised mainly in monastic communities and among the clergy. The Mass and the Divine Office required manuscripts from which the priests, deacons, cantors and choir would have drawn the prayers, readings, and music.
Gospel books, Gospel lectionaries and Psalters were the most commonly used texts, and therefore they represent the majority of liturgical books that survive. Books such as the sacramentary, missal, martyrology, antiphoner, breviary, benedictional also played an important role in the performance of the liturgy. Definitions of these terms can be found in the Glossary.
This tour provides an overview of the manuscripts that were used in the medieval and early Renaissance liturgy, focusing on the types of decoration that were sometimes used to enhance the text.