• Ian Dudley

A Book of Common Prayer


A tree in a pebble

At the suggestion of Holly Corfield Carr, in Spring 2018 I wrote a Book of Hours: a sequence of 24 poems, one for each hour of the day.

I made the initial draft of each poem during the appointed hour, but I allowed myself to edit them whenever I had the time or inclination.

The original books of hours were Christian devotional texts popular in the middle ages, based on the Psalters used by monks and nuns. They contained psalms, prayers, litanies, suffrages to the Saints and so on. They were intended to inspire the owner to meditate on life's mysteries, and to help them live a good life.

Most books of hours were created before the advent of mass printing, and were written, illustrated and decorated by hand. They were bespoke works, and were often personalised to reflect the individual who commissioned them. As the only book that most households owned, they became compendia of useful information such as perpetual calendars, almanacs, and picture alphabets to teach children to read. They were also annotated with household accounts, records of births and deaths, the autographs of notable visitors to the house, and so on.

I decided to reflect these diverse uses in my book, and included some miscellaneous poems in addition to "the hours"—such as a children's ABC, a litany and a perpetual calendar.

I'll blog about the individual poems as they are published.

#abookofcommonprayer