Prayer of Wessobrunn


This manuscript, dating from the early ninth century, contains the Wessobrunner Gebet (Prayer of Wessobrunn) and many other short works. The prayer itself, in prose, which gives the text as a whole its name, is preceded by a short creation poem, which, in nine lines of alliterative verse, seeks to explain the creation of the world out of chaos. This small literary monument is among the earliest written examples of poetry in Old High German. It has come down to us in a composite (mainly Latin) manuscript written before 814 (the death of Charlemagne is mentioned on the last page) in the diocese of Augsburg, Bavaria, more probably in the monastery of Staffelsee rather than of Wessobrunn. The manuscript includes 70 other short, mainly theological, texts. Folios 1 verso−21 recto contain the legend of the True Cross, of which the primitive illustrations, probably Bavarian, form one of the earliest cycles of non-biblical content in the history of German illumination. The manuscript is written in Carolingian minuscule and shows the influence of Anglo-Saxon script in the use of runes.

Last updated: July 21, 2014