The Heart Book is regarded as the oldest Danish ballad manuscript. It is a collection of 83 love ballads compiled in the beginning of the 1550’s in the circle of the Court of King Christian III.
Shown above is the beginning of ballad no. 43, Store længsel, du går mig nær (Great Yearning, thou touches me). A later reader – the otherwise unknown Christen Masse – has added some notes, i.a. this pious hope: “gvd ende oc vinde alle mit er lende til en god oc gledelig ende amen” (may god end and turn my misery into a good and happy ending amen).
We do not know who compiled the ballads and instigated the writing of the Heart Book. All ballads except one – no. 66 – have probably been written by the same hand.