David's Harpe

A leaf from David's Harpe ful of most delectable armony ... part of The worckes of Thomas Becon ... Perused and allowed, accordyng to thorder appointed in the Quenes maiesties iniunctions … printed in London by John Day in 1564 (250 x 146 mm)

In 1549 John Day produced a folio-size Bible for which he commissioned an elaborate woodcut border for the title page. The same woodcut was used for a number of later books, with the wording changed, including the one from which this partial leaf has been mischievously and clumsily cut at some stage in its history./p>

The royal arms at the top (with misspelt motto – DRIOT for DROIT) indicate that the book is officially authorised. The rest of the symbolism relates to the theme of 'raising', 'rising' and 'resurrection'. To the left of the arms we have the raising of Lazarus, and Christ's Resurrection on the right. At the bottom what appears to be a partially-dressed boy is awakening another as the sun rises beyond. The motto 'ARISE FOR IT IS DAY' is another pun on the printer's name.

The leaf introduced a section called 'David's Harp' within a compilation of the writings of another Protestant divine, Thomas Becon, chaplain to Thomas Cranmer and later a canon at Conterbury Cathedral. David's Harp is his commentary on Psalm 115.

On the verso, the printer has chosen to start Becon's dedication of his essay to Lord Cobham with an enormous wooduct 'A' whose pictorial content seems to be of a distinctly secular nature.

Recto                                                                                                            Verso

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