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Van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross
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Michigan State University MS 1.

Described by: Ryan Perry from manuscript analysis in the MSU Library.
Revision Date: June 1st, 2010


Unique English translation of Meditationes de Passione Christi

Condition of the MS

Some water damage in top right corners, repair to tear in first folio, but in generally good condition, and with no missing leaves containing text.

Number of Items


Title(s) of Pseudo-Bonaventuran Text(s)

Unique English translation of Meditationes de Passione Christi , untitled by scholarship.


"Off þe venerabull soper þt oure lorde Ihesu made wt hys dyscypuls or he were be trayde to þe Iues ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼" p. 1.



Secundo Folio

þt be oure lord Ihesu.


"I trow soþley yf þu cowth hafe pete and compassyon of hys passyon . and þi mynde gederyde to gedur and nogth sparpelde a bowte warldly fantysys and vayne emagynacions þu schulde now fele in ylkone aperynges . a new fest and agostly pasch . & ylk sonnday myghth þu hafe þe same yf þu coyth on þe fryday or on þe saturday be fore wt hale mynde . and inwarde deuocyon haf sorugh of crists passyon . and sufferyng . on þe same maner sall wee be felawes wt hym of gostly comforthyngs and þe ylke Ioy þt he hase ordand for þem þt hertely and enterely lufe hym . whlke ioy & comforth he grant vs þt wt hys precyus blode bogth vs . Ihc xc qui cum patre & spiritu sancto vivit & regnat deus per omnia saecula saecuorum AMEN, pp. 100-101. [letters of "Amen" are touched with red ink].

Languages of the MS


Detailed Description of Contents

The translation of the Meditationes de Passione is held by its editor, Joseph B. Jenks, to be a faithful translation of the Latin original, "sometimes...making elisions of the Latin, sometimes by including material not found in the original as for example several alliterative planctus Mariae". Jenks was comparing the translation to the MVC rather than the MPC, so the disparities found need to be checked against the abbreviated version. One of the 'planctus Mariae' is recorded below, from chapter 11, following the hour of compline, and here aptly titled þe medytacyon after complyn of þe goyng home:

    Then þe sepulcur of crist wase endede (p. 74)... A þu gode god why sufers þu þi wofull weedow . þi dolefull doghtur . þi curtase qwene . þi kynde creature . þi forme of þi flech . þi mornyng modur þus be merrede wt myscheues . þen schee lowtede hyre hede mekly to Ioseph and sayde . þt schee wolde do as saynt Ione wolde (pp. 74-75)... (p. 76) But when þay come be fore þe croce . þer schee fell donne on knees . wyrschypeyng yt and sayde here dyede dulefully my dere worthy derlyng . here suffer my sone woundes full wyde . here blede he hys blode of hys blyssede body . here wase hys fare flech rent on þe rode . here wt a spere wase þay stongen hys syde . and here for þe lufe of man he hys lyft lost . þe croce of crist . þen þay fell on knees euerylkon and worschype þe croce . ryght as sche wase fyrst þt wyrschype þe croce. ryght as sche wase fyrst þt wyrschype hyre sonne when he was borne" (cf. Love's Mirror 186:8-22).

    Chapter Headings:
  • "Off þe venerabull soper þt oure lorde Ihesu made wt hys dyscypuls or he were be trayde to þe Iues ∼∼∼∼∼" p. 1.
  • "A medytacyon of crists passyon in generall. Capm . iim" p. 18
  • "A medytacyon of crist in þ nygth Capm . iiim" p. 21
  • "þe medytacyon of crists passyon in þe howre of prime . Capm . iiiim" p. 37
  • "þe medytacyon of crists passyon in þe thyrde howre" p. 42
  • "þe medytacyon of crists passyon at þe vndur-on howre" p. 48
  • "þe medytacyon of crist inþe howre of none . Cam . viim" p. 54
  • "þe medytacyon of crist in þe howre of none C.m . viiim" p. 60
  • "þe medytacyon at euensong of crists body doyng done of þe crose . Cap.m . ixm" p. 65
  • "þe medytacyon at complyn . Capm . xm" p. 68
  • "þe medytacyon after complyn of þe goyng home " p. 74
  • "A medytacyon in þe satorday of our lady and felyschype . Capm. xiim- - -" p. 80
  • "A medytacyon of þe goyng done of our lorde Ihesu un to hell aftur hys dede . Capm xiiim" p. 84
  • "þe song of þe holy fadurs þt were in hell agayne crists comyng" p. 86
  • "A medytacyon of þe uprysyng of our lorde Ihesu & to hys modur mary" p. 88
  • "How magdalene and oþer marys come to þe graue - -" p. 90
  • "How petur and Iohn come to þe graue- -" p. 91
  • "How Ihesu apperede to mary magdalene in þe garthyn - -" p. 93
  • "How owre lorde Ihesu apperede to þe thre marys" p. 95
  • "How owre lorde Ihesu apperede to Ioseph of Aramathye and saynt Iame þe lesse" p. 96
  • "How Ihesu apperede to symon peturþe" p. 96
  • "How Ihesu apperede to þe two dyscypuls goand to þe castell" p. 97
  • "Capm . iim" p. 18
  • "Capm . iim" p. 18

Estimated Date of Production

Mid-late C15

Writing Support

Paper, quarto; chain-lines run horizontally, spaced c. 25 mm apart; watermark, a Unicorn, with detail on mane (horizontal, and upside-down), appears fairly central on the page with front and rear quarters straddling the gutter.


52 fols + i (modern, the other half of the paper bifolium forms the rear pastedown); the MS is paginated in ink, possibly relatively late) on every side.

Dimensions of Page and Writing Space

  • Leaf size: 195 x 138 mm approx.
  • Writing Space: 165 x 85 mm approx.
  • Collation

    1-212, 316, 412.


    1 column, 27 lines, frames and lines ruled, pricking is sometimes visible.

    Rubrication/ Ordinatio

  • Chapter headings in red ink, usually with chapter; subsequent initial in red ink (1-line); further subdivisions are created using red paraphs, and the subsequent initial is highlighted with a stroke of red ink.
  • Illustration


    Number of Scribal Hands


    Style of Hands

    Unfussy anglicana, a quadrata script, with some signs of secretary influence; some unusual features such as the scribe's use of 2-shaped r in initial medial and terminal positions (he uses short r too), when the form is used by most scribes in medial position after a rounded letter form (particularly o).

    Estimated Date of Hands


    Scribal Annotation


    Notable Dialect Features

    LALME I:139. "Language somewhat variable and difficult to assess, may be mixed: probably S Yorks, but not impossibly Lincs".

    Sample of Scribal Forms:


    after: aftur

    afterward(s): afturwarde(s)

    again: agane, agayne

    against: agane, agayne

    buried: beryde

    burning: byrnyng(e)

    but: bot, but

    called: cald

    church: kyrk

    each: ilk, ylk

    each one: ilkone

    enough: enwgth(e)

    eyes: eyn(e)

    give: gyf

    given: gefyn

    good: gud, god

    flesh: flesch(e), flech(e)

    have: hafe, haue

    her: hyre

    know: knaw

    love: luf(e)

    many: many

    much: mekyl

    one: ane, one

    own: awne

    people: pepull(e)

    she: shee, schee, sche

    should: schulde, suld

    soul: saule, sawle

    strength: strengthe

    them: þam (rarely, þem and þame)

    then: þan

    they: þay

    think: thynk

    through: thoruth(e)

    was: whase, wase

    when: when, whan

    where: whare

    which: whylk(e)

    will (modal vb.): wyll(e)

    world: warlde

    worldly: warldly

    yet: 3yt

    Localisable on Google Earth
    (click markers to view sample dialect forms)


    Annotation and Marginalia


    A number of early hands have marked the text in ink and plummet; this activity is dominated by an annotator who uses a dark ink, and marks the text with either an axe shaped sigla, a nota sign, or by penning a phrase echoed by the text. This annotator focuses mainly on Marian piety, eg. repeats 'innocent modur' on p 63 beside the text, and marks the main set-pieces of Mary's sorrow. Other annotators take interest in the preparation of Christ's body, and seemingly everyday details relating to the Passion story.

    • p. 45 notes the cross was 'xv. fote long' repeating the phrase.
    • nota bene beside Christ being force to carry the cross that "no thef dyde".
    • p. 50 notes the right hand being nailed (repeating words from text) and the left arm being pulled (repeating words from text).
    • pp. 55-57 notes the last words of Christ, numbering them in the margin.


    Pages 102-4 contain a number of alphabetic pen trials and other writings, mostly in Latin and with some English mixed through; among the scribbles on p. 104 the monogram of Christ is repeated several times among miscellaneous 15th-17th century writing. Professsor Tess Tavormina of Michigan State University has very generously made a transcription of this mess of text:
    Michigan State University MS 1, end flyleaves (pp. 102-4): Latin/English scribbles at end of ME Meditationes Vitae Christi (described by Joseph B. Jenks in 1951 MSU M.A. thesis as "doodling" [p. i], but not transcribed).
    p. 102: 21 lines, as follows (with a number of guesses):
    Veniam ?essesuspe ?epsuspe qui vocos [or vocas? vocor?] henricus epsuspe qwat
    case ?nie case qwyso for sum es fui þis a werbe
    copyllatyll & wyll copyll case qwat maner of
    verbe ?voc wyll copyll case verbe substantyll
    & verbe vocatylls & verbe þat has ?sterngt [error/odd spelling for strength?]
    Sum maneo existo tibi substantiua voccurlatcurl
    Et que sub s[4mins]?i sensu tria verba ?locacurlatcurl
    How many verbe vocatylls v qwche [sic apparet] v patet
    a Quisusp3 vocatiua dicas tantummodo verba
    a ?Nominor appellor ?sic I nuncupor vocor ?? dic[cut off in binding]
    Istud ?dolium est plenum vim vel ? vino [or viuo?] vel ?vac[8mins]
    vn. vel ?vino qwat case vim vel ?vino Geniatyf case & ablatyue case ?T??so s??s?r alle nowuns . adiectyffe
    betokyynus fulnes ?t? Geo ad ablatyu case patet Que plenum sygnant vel que vacuata signcurl[cut off in binding]
    [in lighter ink:] Is??curl/susp? Jungantur sextvt ?sorebitur & genatiuus
    Last five lines in slightly lighter ink, similar to that on p. 103:
    Istud ?doliususp est plenum vim vel o
    Dum sumus in mundo vivamus corde
    ?Si mea Pen
    two lines of alphabet letters: A-K, A-K
    p. 103: 12 lines in what appears to be all the same ink and hand, as follows:
    Dum sumus in mundo viuamus corde jocundo
    Dum sumus in mundo viuamus corde jocundo
    four lines of alphabet letters: A-f, A-h, A-g, A-g (but torn edge of page means the third and fourth sequences may have gone a letter or two further)
    Dum sumus in mundo viuamus corde Jocundo
    Dum sumus in mundo viuamus corde jocundo
    two lines of alphabet letters: A-O, A-e-3
    Dum sumus in mundo vi
    one line of alphabet letters: A-g
    p. 104: scribbles in different inks, hands, and at varying angles, partially as follows: ??? tibi s???suspt quia post mortem Addis??
    dominus tecum
    A disusp su Dum sumus
    ten? faint line of alphabet letters: A-l/?m
    anderton Lyon
    slanting line of text too faint to read

    Ryghtsusp? 20 eususp [?]
    "ihc"several times at various points on page; capital R several times.

    Names recorded, signatures, ex libris marks

    There are a number of signs of later provenance on the front pastedown;

  • The MS was part of Sir Thomas Phillips's collection- "Phillips MS 1054 is wriiten in ink, and centrally on the front pastedown is an ink stamp with a Lion rampant with 'Sir T.P. Middle Hill'- below in ink someone has added 1054, and in pencil below that B.4.261 has been added then struck through.
  • The signs of the cataloguing of the MS at MSU also occur, :MSC Ms. 1", and "11-8-49/04696/English".
  • "Case 36 no 23" is written in pencil, possibly by those dividing the remnants of the Phillips collection for sale.
  • Notes

    The book is clearly made with a sense of economy, but is neat and legible thoughout.

    References and Other Resources

    Joseph B. Jenks, "An Edition of Meditations on the Passion", Unpublished MA diss., Michigan State University, 1951.

    _ _ _, "A Critical Edition of  Meditations on the Passion", Unpublished PhD diss., Michigan State University, 1956.