Everyman and Other Old Religious Plays, with an Introduction
Author: Anonymous
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God. Abraham, my servant, I say to thee, Thy help and succour I will be, For thy good deed much pleaseth me, I tell thee surely.

Abraham. Lord, one thing that thou wilt see, That I pray after with heart free, Grant me, Lord, through thy postye:[64] Some fruit of my body! I have no child, foul nor fair, Save my Nurry[65] to be my heir, That makes me greatly to apayre.[66] On me, Lord, have mercy!

God. My friend, Abraham, leave thou me. Thy Nurry thine heir shall not be, But one son I shall send thee, Begotten of thy body. Abraham, do as I thee say: Look up and tell,[67] and if thou may, Stars standing on the stray; That impossible were. No more shalt thou, for no need, Number of thy body the seed That thou shalt have withouten dreed, Thou art to me so dear. Wherefore, Abraham, servant free, Look that thou be true to me, And fore-word here I make with thee Thy seed to multiply. So much more further shalt thou be, Kings of thy seed men shall see, And one child of great degree All mankind shall forby.[68] I will that from henceforth alway Each knave's child on the eighth day Be circumcised, as I say, And thou thyself full soon; And who circumcised not is Forsaken shall be by me, I wis; For disobedient that man is, Therefore look that this be done.

Abraham. Lord, already in good fay[69] Blessed be thou, ever and aye; For that men truly know may Thy folk from other men, Circumcised they shall be all Anon for aught that may befall. I thank thee, Lord, thy own thrall, Kneeling on my knee'n.

Expositor. Lordings all take good intent What betokens this commandment: This was some time a sacrament In th' old law truly ta'en. As followeth now verament,[70] So was this in the old Testament; But when Christ, away it went, And baptism then began. Also God promises here To Abraham, his servant dear, So much seed that in no manere Number'd it might be. And one seed, mankind to forby, That was Jesus Christ witterlye[71] For of his kind was our Lady, And so also was he.

God. Abraham, my servant Abraham.

Abraham. Lo, Lord, already here I am.

God. Take Isaac, thy son by name That thou lovest best of all And in sacrifice offer him to me Upon that hill, beside thee. Abraham, I will that it so be For aught that may befall.

Abraham. My lord, to thee is my intent Ever to be obedient, That son that thou to me hast sent, Offer I will to thee. And fulfil thy commandment With hearty will, as I am kent High God, Lord Omnipotent, Thy bidding done shall be. My menye[72] and my children each one Lingers at home, both all and one, Save Isaac shall with me gone To a hill here beside.

* * * * *

[Enter Isaac.

Abraham. Make thee ready, my darling, For we must do a little thing. This wood upon thy back thou bring, We must not long abide. A sword and fire I will take, For sacrifice I must make; God's bidding will I not forsake, But aye obedient be.

Isaac. Father, I am all ready To do your bidding meekly, To bear this wood full bound am I, As you command me.

Abraham. O Isaac, Isaac, my darling dear, My blessing now I give thee here. Take up this faggot with good cheer, And on thy back it bring, And fire with me I will take.

Isaac. Your bidding I will not forsake, Father, I will never slake[73] To fulfil your bidding.

[Isaac takes the wood on his back, and they set out for the hill.

Abraham. Now Isaac, son, go we our way To yonder mountain, if that we may.

Isaac. My dear father, I will essay To follow you full fain.

Abraham. Oh! my heart will break in three, To hear thy words I have pity. As thou wilt, Lord, so must it be: To thee I will be bane. Lay down thy faggot my own son dear!

Isaac. All ready, father, lo, it is here. But why make you so heavy cheer? Are you anything adread? Father, if it be your will, Where is the beast that we shall kill?

Abraham. There is none, son, upon this hill That I see here in this stead.

Isaac. Father, I am full sore afraid To see you bare this naked sword. I hope for all middle-yard[74] You will not slay your child.

Abraham. Dread thee not, my child, I read Our Lord will send of his godhead Some kind of beast in thy stead, Either tame or wild.

Isaac. Father, tell me, or I go, Whether I shall have harm or no.

Abraham. Ah, dear God, that me is woe! Thou bursts my heart in sunder.

Isaac. Father, tell me of this case, Why you your drawn sword has, And bare it naked in this place; Thereof I have great wonder.

Abraham. Isaac, son, peace! I pray thee, Thou breaks my heart even in three.

Isaac. I pray you, father, leave nothing from me, But tell me what you think.

Abraham. O Isaac, Isaac, I must thee kill.

Isaac. Alas! father, is that your will, Your own child here for to spill, Upon this hill's brink? If I have trespassed in any degree, With a rod you may beat me; Put up your sword, if your will be, For I am but a child.

Abraham. Oh, my son! I am sorry To do to thee this great annoy, God's commandment do must I, His works are aye full mild.

Isaac. Would God, my mother were here with me! She would kneel upon her knee, Praying you, father, if it might be, For to save my life.

Abraham. Oh, comely creature, but I thee kill, I grieve my God, and that full ill: I may not work against his will But ever obedient be. O Isaac, son, to thee I say: God has commanded me this day Sacrifice—this is no nay— To make of thy body.

Isaac. Is it God's will I should be slain?

Abraham. Yea, son, it is not for to layne;[75] To his bidding I will be bane,[76] Ever to his pleasing. But that I do this doleful deed, My Lord will not quit[77] me my meed.[78]

Isaac. Marry! father, God forbid But you do your off'ring. Father, at home your sons you shall find That you must love by course of kind. Be I once out of your mind, Your sorrow may soon cease, But you must do God's bidding. Father, tell my mother of nothing.

Abraham. For sorrow I may my hands wring, Thy mother I cannot please. O Isaac, blessed may'st thou be! Almost my wit I lose for thee, The blood of thy body so free I feel full loth to shed.

Isaac. Father, since you must needs do so, Let it pass lightly and overgo; Kneeling on my knees two, Your blessing on me spread!

Abraham. My blessing, dear son, give I thee And thy mother's with heart so free; The blessing of the Trinity, My dear son, on thee light!

Isaac. Father, I pray you hide mine een That I see not your sword so keen; Your stroke, father, I would not seen, Lest I against it thrill.

Abraham. My dear son Isaac, speak no more, Thy words make my heart full sore.

Isaac. O dear father, wherefore, wherefore? Since I must needs be dead, One thing I would you pray: Since I must die the death this day, As few strokes as you may, When you smite off my head.

Abraham. Thy meekness, child, makes me afray;[79] My song may be "Well away!"

Isaac. O, dear father, do away Your making so mickle moan! Now truly, father, this talking Doth but make long tarrying. I pray you come and make ending And let me hence gone!

Abraham. Come hither, my child, that art so sweet: Thou must be bound now, hand and feet.

[Binding Isaac.

Isaac. Ah, father! we must no more meet By aught that I can see, But do with me just as you will, I must obey, and that is skill, God's commandment to fulfil, For needs so must it be. Upon the purpose that have set you, Forsooth, father, I will not let you, But evermore unto you bow, While that I may. Father, greet well my brethren young, And pray my mother for her blessing, I come no more under her wing: Farewell for ever and aye! But, father, I cry you mercy, Of that I have trespassed to thee, Forgiven, father, that it may be Until doom's day.

Abraham. My dear son, let be thy moans; My child, thou grievedst me but once. Blessed be thou body and bones, And I forgive thee here. Lo, my dear son, here shalt thou lie; Unto my work now must I hie, I had as lief myself to die As thou, my darling dear.

Isaac. Father, if you be to me kind, About my head a kercher[80] bind, And let me lightly out of your mind, And soon that I were sped.

Abraham. Farewell, my sweet son of grace!

Isaac. I pray you, father, turn down my face A little while, while you have space, For I am full sore adread.

Abraham. To do this deed I am sorry.

Isaac. Yea, Lord, to thee I call and cry: On my soul may thou have mercy, Heartily I thee pray.

Abraham. Lord, I would fain work thy will. This young innocent that lies so still Full loth were I him to kill By any manner of way.

Isaac. My dear father, I you pray, Let me take my clothes away, For shedding blood on them to-day, At my last ending.

Abraham. Heart! if thou would'st break in three, Thou shalt never master me, I will no longer let[81] for thee, My God I may not grieve.

Isaac. Ah, mercy, father! why tarry you so? Smite off my head, and let me go! I pray you, rid me of my woe; For now I take my leave.

Abraham. Ah, son! my heart will break in three To hear thee speak such words to me. Jesus, on me thou have pity That I have most in mind!

Isaac. Now, father, I see that I shall die, Almighty God in majesty, My soul I offer unto thee: Lord, to it be kind.

[Abraham takes the sword, as if to kill his son, when two angels appear. One of them seizes the point of the sword, and says,

1st Angel. Abraham, my servant dear!

Abraham. Lo, Lord! I am already here.

1st Angel. Lay not thy sword in any manner On Isaac, thy dear darling! Nay! do thou him no annoy! For thou dreadest God; well, see I, That of thy son hast no mercy To fulfil his bidding.

2nd Angel. And for his bidding thou doest aye, And spares neither, for fear nor fray, To do thy son to death to-day, Isaac to thee full dear, Therefore God has sent by me in fay,[82] A lamb that is both good and gay Into this place as thou see may, Lo! it is right here.

Abraham. Ah, Lord of heaven and king of bliss! Thy bidding I shall do, I wis. Sacrifice here to me sent is And all, Lord, through thy grace. A horned wether here I see, Among the briars tied is he, To thee offered it shall be Anon, right in this place.

[Let Abraham sacrifice the ram.

God. Abraham, by myself I swear, For thou hast been obedient ever, And spared not thy son so dear, To fulfil my bidding, Thou shalt be blessed, thou art worthy, Thy seed I shall multiply, As stars and sand so many het I,[83] Of thy body coming. Of enemies thou shalt have power, And thy blood also in fear, For thou has been meek and boneer[84] To do as I thee bade. And all nations leave thou me, Blessed evermore shall be Through fruit that shall come of thee And saved through thy seed.


Expositor. Lordings, the signification Of this deed of devotion, An you will, it is shewn, May turn you to much good. This deed you see done in this place, In example of Jesus done it was, That for to win mankind grace Was sacrificed on the rood. By Abraham you may understand The Father of heaven that can fand[85] With his son's blood to break that band The devil had brought us to. By Isaac understand I may Jesus who was obedient aye, His father's will to work alway, His death to undergo.



1st Shepherd 2nd Shepherd 3rd Shepherd Mac, the Sheep-stealer Mac's Wife, Gill Mary The Child Christ An Angel


1st Shepherd. Lord! what, these weathers are cold, and I am ill happed; I am near hand-dold,[86] so long have I napped; My legs bend and fold, my fingers are chapped, It is not as I would, for I am all lapped In sorrow. In storms and tempest, Now in the east, now in the west, Woe is him has never rest, Mid day nor morrow. But we silly shepherds, that walk upon the moor, In faith, we are near hands out of the door; No wonder, as it stands, if we be poor, For the tilth of our lands lies fallow as the floor, We are so lamed, So taxed and shamed, We are made hand-tamed, With these gentlery-men. Thus they rieve us of rest, Our Lady them wary, These men that are lord-fest,[87] they cause the plough tarry. That men say is for the best, we find it contrary, Thus are husbands[88] opprest, in point to miscarry, In life. Thus hold they us under, Thus they bring us in blunder, It were great wonder, And ever should we thrive. For may he get a paint sleeve,[89] or a brooch now on days, Woe is he that shall grieve, or once again says, Dare no man him reprieve, what mast'ry he has, And yet may none believe one word that he says— No letter. He can make purveyance, With boast and bragance,[90] And all through maintenance, Of men that are greater. There shall come a swain, as proud as a po,[91] He must borrow my wain, my plough also, Then I am full fain to grant or he go. Thus live we in pain, anger, and woe, By night and day; He must have if he longed If I should forgang[92] it, I were better be hanged Than once say him nay. It does me good, as I walk thus by mine own, Of this world for to talk in manner of moan To my sheep will I stalk and hearken anon There abide on a balk, or sit on a stone Full soon. For I trow, pardie! True men if they be, We get more company Or it be noon.

2nd Shepherd. "Beniste"[93] and "Dominus!" what may this bemean? Why fares this world thus, oft have we not seen. Lord, these weathers are spitous,[94] and the weather full keen; And the frost so hideous they water mine een, No lie. Now in dry, now in wet, Now in snow, now in sleet, When my shoon freeze to my feet It is not all easy. But as far as I ken, or yet as I go, We silly wed-men dree mickle woe;[95] We have sorrow then and then, it falls often so, Silly capyl, our hen, both to and fro She cackles, But begin she to croak, To groan or to cluck, Woe is him, say of our cock, For he is in the shackles. These men that are wed, have not all their will, When they are full hard sted,[96] they sigh full still; God wait they are led full hard and full ill, In bower nor in bed they say not there till This tide. My part have I found, My lesson is learn'd, Woe is him that is bound, For he must abide. But now late in our lives, a marvel to me, That I think my heart rives,[97] such wonders to see, What that destiny drives it should so be, Some men will have two wives, and some men three, In store. Some are woe that have any; But so far ken I, Woe is he who has many, For he feels it sore. But young men of wooing, for God that you bought, Be well ware of wedding, and think in your thought "Had I wist" is a thing it serves ye of nought; Mickle still mourning has wedding home brought, And griefs, With many a sharp shower, For thou may catch in an hour That shall serve thee full sour As long as thou lives. For as read I epistle, I have one to my fear As sharp as a thistle, as rough as a brere.[98] She is browed like a bristle with a sour lenten cheer; Had she once wet her whistle she could sing full clear Her pater-noster. She is as great as a whale, She has a gallon of gall; By him that died for us all! I would I had run till I lost her.

1st Shepherd. God look over the row, full deafly ye stand.

2nd Shepherd. Yea, the devil in thy maw!—so tariand,[99] Saw thou aught now of Daw?

1st Shepherd. Yea, on a lea land Heard I him blow, he comes here at hand, Not far; Stand still.

2nd Shepherd. Why?

1st Shepherd. For he comes here, hope I.

2nd Shepherd. He will make us both a lie, But if we beware.

3rd Shepherd. Christ's cross me speed, and Saint Nicholas! Thereof had I need, it is worse than it was. Whoso could take heed, and let the world pass, It is ever in dread and brittle as glass, And slithers,[100] This world fared never so, With marvels mo and mo,[101] Now in weal, now in woe, And all things withers. Was never since Noah's flood such floods seen, Winds and rains so rude, and storms so keen, Some stammered, some stood in doubt, as I ween, Now God turn all to good, I say as I mean, For ponder. These floods so they drown Both in fields and in town, They bear all down, And that is a wonder. We that walk in the nights, our cattle to keep, We see sudden sights, when other men sleep: Yet methinks my heart lights, I see shrews peep, Ye are two, all wights,[102] I will give my sheep A turn. But full ill have I meant, As I walk on this bent,[103] I may lightly repent, My toes if I spurn. Ah, sir, God you save, and master mine! A drink fain would I have and somewhat to dine.

1st Shepherd. Christ's curs, my knave, thou art a lazy hyne.[104]

2nd Shepherd. What, the boy list rave. Abide until syne[105] We have made it. I'll thrift on thy pate! Though the shrew came late Yet is he in state To dine if he had it.

3rd Shepherd. Such servants as I, that sweats and swinks, Eats our bread full dry, and that me forthinks; We are oft wet and weary when master men winks, Yet comes full lately both dinners and drinks, But neatly. Both our dame and our sire, When we have run in the mire, They can nip at our hire,[106] And pay us full lately. But hear my truth, master, for the fare that ye make I shall do thereafter work, as I take; I shall do a little, sir, and strive and still lack, For yet lay my supper never on my stomack In fields. Whereto should I threap?[107] With my staff can I leap, And men say "light cheap Letherly for yields."[108]

1st Shepherd. Thou wert an ill lad, to ride on wooing With a man that had but little of spending.

2nd Shepherd. Peace, boy!—I bade: no more jangling, Or I shall make thee afraid, by the heaven's king! With thy gawds; Where are our sheep, boy, we scorn?

3rd Shepherd. Sir, this same day at morn, I them left in the corn, When they rang lauds; They have pasture good, they cannot go wrong.

1st Shepherd. That is right by the rood, these nights are long, Yet I would, or we yode,[109] one gave us a song.

2nd Shepherd. So I thought as I stood, to mirth us among.[110]

3rd Shepherd. I grant.

1st Shepherd. Let me sing the tenory.

2nd Shepherd. And I the treble so high.

3rd Shepherd. Then the mean falls to me; Let see how ye chaunt.

[Mac enters, with a cloak thrown over his smock.

Mac. Now, Lord, for thy names seven, that made both moon and starns[111] Well more than I can even: thy will, Lord, of my thorns; I am all uneven, that moves oft my horns,[112] Now would God I were in heaven, for there weep no bairns So still.

1st Shepherd. Who is that pipes so poor?

Mac. Would God ye knew how I fare! Lo, a man that walks on the moor, And has not all his will.

2nd Shepherd. Mac, where hast thou gone? Tell us tidings.

3rd Shepherd. Is he come? Then each one take heed to his things.

[Takes his cloak from him.

Mac. What, I am a yeoman, I tell you, of the king; The self and the same, sent from a great lording, And sich.[113] Fy on you, get thee hence, Out of my presence, I must have reverence, Why, who be ich?[114]

1st Shepherd. Why make ye it so quaint? Mac, ye do wrong.

2nd Shepherd. But, Mac, list, ye saint? I trow that ye sang.

3rd Shepherd. I trow the shrew can paint, the devil might him hang!

Mac. I shall make complaint, and make you all to thwang.[115] At a word, And tell even how ye doth.

1st Shepherd. But, Mac, is that sooth? Now take out that southern tooth, And set in a tord.

2nd Shepherd. Mac, the devil in your ee,[116] a stroke would I lend you.

3rd Shepherd. Mac, know ye not me? By God, I could tell you.

Mac. God look you all three, methought I had seen you. Ye are a fair company.

1st Shepherd. Can ye now moan you?

2nd Shepherd. Shrew, jape![117] Thus late as thou goes, What will men suppose? And thou hast an ill noise[118] Of stealing of sheep.

Mac. And I am true as steel all men wait, But a sickness I feel, that holds me full haytt,[119] My belly fares not well, it is out of its state.

3rd Shepherd. Seldom lies the devil dead by the gate.

Mac. Therefore Full sore am I and ill, If I stand stock still; I eat not a nedyll[120] This month and more.

1st Shepherd. How fares thy wife? By my hood, how fares she?

Mac. Lies weltering! by the rood! by the fire, lo! And a house full of brood,[121] she drinks well too, Ill speed other good that she will do; But so Eats as fast as she can, And each year that comes to man, She brings forth a lakan,[122] And some years two. But were I not more gracious, and richer by far, I were eaten out of house, and of harbour, Yet is she a foul dowse, if ye come near. There is none that trows, nor knows, a war[123] Than ken I. Now will ye see what I proffer, To give all in my coffer To-morrow next to offer, Her head mass-penny.

2nd Shepherd. I wot so forwaked[124] is none in this shire: I would sleep if I taked less to my hire.

3rd Shepherd. I am cold and naked, and would have a fire.

1st Shepherd. I am weary for-raked,[125] and run in the mire. Wake thou!

2nd Shepherd. Nay, I will lie down-by, For I must sleep truly.

3rd Shepherd. As good a man's son was I As any of you. But, Mac, come hither, between us shalt thou lie.

Mac. Then might I stay you bedene[126]: of that ye would say,— No dread. From my head to my toe Mantis tuas commendo, Pontio Pilato.[127] Christ's cross me speed,

[He rises, the shepherds sleeping, and says:

Now were time for a man, that lacks what he wold, To stalk privately then into a fold, And namely to work then, and be not too bold, He might abide the bargain, if it were told At the ending. Now were time for to revel; But he needs good counsel That fain would fare well, And has but little spending.

[Mac works a spell on them.

But about you a circle, as round as a moon, Till I have done that I will, till that it be noon, That ye lie stone-still, till that I have done, And I shall say there till of good words a foyn[128] On height; Over your heads my hand I lift, Out go your eyes, fore to do your sight, But yet I must make better shift, And it be right. What, Lord? they sleep hard! that may ye all hear; Was I never a shepherd, but now will I leer[129] If the flock be scared, yet shall I nap near, Who draws hitherward, now mends our cheer, From sorrow: A fat sheep I dare say, A good fleece dare I lay, Eft white when I may, But this will I borrow.

[He steals a sheep and goes home.

Mac (at his own door). How, Gill, art thou in? Get us some light.

His Wife. Who makes such din this time of night? I am set for to spin: I hope not I might Rise a penny to win: I shrew them on height. So fares A housewife that has been To be raised thus between: There may no note be seen For such small chares.[130]

Mac. Good wife, open the hek.[131] See'st thou not what I bring?

Wife. I may let thee draw the sneck. Ah! come in, my sweeting.

Mac. Yea, thou dost not reck of my long standing.

Wife. By thy naked neck, thou art like for to hang.

Mac. Go away: I am worthy of my meat, For in a strait can I get More than they that swinck[132] and sweat All the long day, Thus it fell to my lot, Gill, I had such grace.

Wife. It were a foul blot to be hanged for the case.

Mac. I have scaped, Jelott, oft as hard as glass.

Wife. "But so long goes the pot to the water," men says, "At last comes it home broken."

Mac. Well know I the token, But let it never be spoken; But come and help fast. I would he were flayn;[133] I list we'll eat: This twelvemonth was I not so fain of one sheep-meat.

Wife. Come they if he be slain, and hear the sheep bleat?

Mac. Then might I be ta'en: that were a cold sweat. Go bar The gate door.

Wife. Yes, Mac, For and they come at thy back.

Mac. Then might I pay for all the pack: The devil of them war![134]

Wife. A good bowrde[135] have I spied, since thou can none: Here shall we him hide, till they be gone; In my cradle abide. Let me alone, And I shall lie beside in childbed and groan.

Mac. Thou red?[136] And I shall say thou wast light Of a knave child this night.

Wife. Now well is my day bright, That ever I was bred. This is a good guise and a far cast; Yet a woman's advice helps at the last. I care never who spies: again go thou fast.

Mac. But I come or they rise; else blows a cold blast— I will go sleep. [Mac goes back to the field. Yet sleep all this menye,[137] And I shall go stalk privily, As it had never been I That carried their sheep.

1st Shepherd. Resurrex a mortrius: have hold my hand. Judas carnas dominus, I may not well stand: My foot sleeps, by Jesus, and I water fastand! I thought that we laid us full near England.

2nd Shepherd. Ah ye! Lord, how I have slept weel! As fresh as an eel, As light I me feel As leaf on a tree.

3rd Shepherd. Benste![138] be herein! So my head quakes My heart is out of skin, what so it makes. Who makes all this din? So my brow aches, To the door will I win. Hark fellows, wakes! We were four: See ye anything of Mac now?

1st Shepherd. We were up ere thou.

2nd Shepherd. Man, I give God a vow, Yet heed he nowhere.

3rd Shepherd. Methought he was wrapped in a wolf's-skin.

1st Shepherd. So are many happed, now namely within.

2nd Shepherd. When we had long napped; methought with a gin A fat sheep he trapped, but he made no din.

3rd Shepherd. Be still: Thy dream makes thee wood:[139] It is but phantom, by the rood.

1st Shepherd. Now God turn all to good, If it be his will.

2nd Shepherd. Rise, Mac, for shame! thou ly'st right long.

Mac. Now Christ, his holy name be us amang, What is this? for Saint James!—I may not well gang. I trust I be the same. Ah! my neck has lain wrang Enough Mickle thank, since yester-even Now, by Saint Stephen! I was flayed with a sweven,—[140] My heart out of slough.[141] I thought Gill began to croak, and travail full sad, Well nigh at the first cock,—of a young lad, For to mend our flock: then be I never glad. To have two on my rock,—more than ever I had. Ah, my head! A house full of young tharmes,[142] The devil knock out their harnes![143] Woe is he has many bairns, And thereto little bread. I must go home, by your leave, to Gill as I thought. I pray you look my sleeve, that I steal nought: I am loth you to grieve, or from you take aught.

3rd Shepherd. Go forth, ill might thou chefe,[144] now would I we sought, This morn, That we had all our store.

1st Shepherd. But I will go before, Let us meet.

2nd Shepherd. Whor?[145]

3rd Shepherd. At the crooked thorn.

Mac (at his own door again). Undo this door! who is here? How long shall I stand?

Wife. Who makes such a stir?—Now walk in the wenyand.[146]

Mac. Ah, Gill, what cheer?—It is I, Mac, your husband.

His Wife. Then may we be here,—the devil in a band, Sir Gile. Lo, he commys[147] with a lot, As he were holden in the throat. I may not sit, work or not A hand long while.

Mac. Will ye hear what fare she makes—to get her a glose,[148] And do naught but lakes[149]—and close her toes.

Wife. Why, who wanders, who wakes,—who comes, who goes? Who brews, who bakes? Who makes for me this hose? And then It is ruth to behold, Now in hot, now in cold, Full woful is the household That wants a woman. But what end hast thou made with the herds, Mac?

Mac. The last word that they said,—when I turned my back, They would look that they had—their sheep all the pack. I hope they will not be well paid,—when they their sheep lack. Perdie! But howso the game goes, To me they will suppose, And make a foul noise, And cry out upon me. But thou must do as thou hight,

Wife. I accord me thertylle.[150] I shall swaddle him right in my cradle. If it were a greater slight, yet could I help till. I will lie down straight. Come hap me.

Mac. I will.

Wife. Behind, Come Coll and his marrow, They will nip us full narrow.

Mac. But I may cry out "Harro!"[151] The sheep if they find.

Wife. Hearken aye when they call: they will come anon. Come and make ready all, and sing by thine own, Sing "Lullay!" thou shall, for I must groan, And cry out by the wall on Mary and John, For sore. Sing "Lullay" full fast When thou hears at the last; And but I play a false cast Trust me no more.

[Re-enter the Three Shepherds.]

3rd Shepherd. Ah, Coll! good morn:—why sleepest thou not?

1st Shepherd. Alas, that ever was I born!—we have a foul blot. A fat wether have we lorne.[152]

3rd Shepherd. Marry, Godys forbot![153]

2nd Shepherd. Who should do us that scorn? That were a foul spot.

1st Shepherd. Some shrew. I have sought with my dogs, All Horbery shrogs,[154] And of fifteen hogs Found I but one ewe.

3rd Shepherd. Now trust me if you will;—by Saint Thomas of Kent! Either Mac or Gill—was at that assent.

1st Shepherd. Peace, man, be still;—I saw when he went. Thou slander'st him ill; thou ought to repent. Good speed.

2nd Shepherd. Now as ever might I thee, If I should even here dee,[155] I would say it were he, That did that same deed.

3rd Shepherd. Go we thither I rede,[156]—and run on our feet. May I never eat bread,—the truth till I wit.

1st Shepherd. Nor drink, in my heed,—with him till I meet.

2nd Shepherd. I will rest in no stead, till that I him greet, My brother One I will hight:[157] Till I see him in sight Shall I never sleep one night There I do another.

3rd Shepherd. Will ye hear how they hack,[158]—Our Sire! list, how they croon!

1st Shepherd. Hard I never none crack,—so clear out of tune. Call on him.

2nd Shepherd. Mac! undo your door soon.

Mac. Who is it that spoke,—as it were noon? On loft, Who is that I say?

3rd Shepherd. Good fellows! were it day?

Mac. As far as ye may,— Good, speak ye soft! Over a sick woman's head,—that is ill mate ease, I had liefer be dead,—or she had any disease.

Wife. Go to another stead; I may not well queasse[159] Each foot that ye tread—goes near make me sneeze[160] So he!

1st Shepherd. Tell us, Mac, if ye may, How fare ye, I say?

Mac. But are ye in this town to-day? Now how fare ye? Ye have run in the mire, and are wet yit: I shall make you a fire, if ye will sit. A horse would I hire; think ye on it. Well quit is my hire, my dream—this is it. A season. I have bairns if ye knew, Well more than enew,[161] But we must drink as we brew, And that is but reason. I would ye dined e'er ye yode:[162] methink that ye sweat.

2nd Shepherd. Nay, neither mends our mode, drink nor meat.

Mac. Why, sir, ails you aught, but good?

3rd Shepherd. Yes, our sheep that we gat, Are stolen as they yode.[163] Our loss is great.

Mac. Sirs, drinkys! Had I been there, Some should have bought it full dear.

1st Shepherd. Marry, some men trows that ye were, And that us forethinkys.[164]

2nd Shepherd. Mac, some men trows that it should be ye.

3rd Shepherd. Either ye or your spouse; so say we.

Mac. Now if ye have suspouse[165] to Gill or to me, Come and rip our house, and then may ye see Who had her. If I any sheep got, Either cow or stot, And Gill, my wife rose not Here since she laid her. As I am both true and leal, to God here I pray, That this be the first meal, I shall eat this day.

1st Shepherd. Mac, as I have weal, arise thee, I say! "He learned timely to steal, that could not say nay."

Wife. I swelt.[166] Out thieves from my once! Ye come to rob us for the nonce.

Mac. Hear ye not how she groans? Your heart should melt.

Wife. Out thieves, from my bairn! Nigh him not thore.

Mac. Knew ye how she had farne,[167] your hearts would be sore. Ye do wrong, I you warn, that thus commys before To a woman that has farn;[168] but I say no more.

Wife. Ah, my middle! I pray to God so mild, If ever I you beguiled, That I eat this child, That lies in this cradle.

Mac. Peace, woman, for God's pain, and cry not so: Thou spill'st thy brain, and mak'st me full woe.

2nd Shepherd. I know our sheep be slain, what find ye too?

3rd Shepherd. All work we in vain: as well may we go. But hatters.[169] I can find no flesh, Hard nor nesh,[170] Salt nor fresh, But two tome[171] platters: No cattle but this, tame nor wild, None, as have I bliss; as loud as he smiled.

Wife. No, so God me bliss, and give me joy of my child.

1st Shepherd. We have marked amiss: I hold us beguiled.

2nd Shepherd. Sir, done! Sir, our lady him save, Is your child a knave?[172]

Mac. Any lord might him have This child to his son. When he wakens he skips, that joy is to see.

3rd Shepherd. In good time, be his steps, and happy they be! But who was his gossips, tell now to me!

Mac. So fair fall their lips!

1st Shepherd (aside). Hark now, a lee![173]

Mac. So God them thank, Parkin, and Gibbon Waller, I say, And gentle John Horne, in good fay,[174] He made all the garray,[175] With the great shank.

2nd Shepherd. Mac, friends will we be, for we are all one.

Mac. Why! now I hold for me, for help get I none. Farewell all three: all glad were ye gone.

3rd Shepherd. Fair words may there be, but love there is none.

1st Shepherd. Gave ye the child anything?

2nd Shepherd. I trust not one farthing.

3rd Shepherd. Fast again will I fling, Abide ye me there. [He returns to Mac's cot. Mac, take it to no grief, if I come to thy barn.

Mac. Nay, thou dost me great reprieve, and foul hast thou farne.[176]

3rd Shepherd. The child will it not grieve, that little day starn.[177] Mac, with your leave, let me give your bairn, But sixpence.

Mac. Nay, go 'way: he sleepys.

3rd Shepherd. Methink he peepys.

Mac. When he wakens he weepys. I pray you go hence.

3rd Shepherd. Give me leave him to kiss, and lift up the clout. What the devil is this? He has a long snout.

1st Shepherd. He is marked amiss. We wait ill about.

2nd Shepherd. Ill spun weft, I wis, aye cometh foul out; Aye so; He is like to our sheep.

3rd Shepherd. How, Gib, may I peep?

1st Shepherd. I trow, kind will creep, Where it may not go.

2nd Shepherd. This was a quaint gaud,[178] and a far cast It was a high fraud.

3rd Shepherd. Yea, sirs, was't. Let burn this bawd and bind her fast. A false skawd[179] hangs at the last; So shall thou. Will ye see how they swaddle His four feet in the middle? Saw I never in a cradle A horned lad e'er now.

Mac. Peace bid I: what! let be your fare; I am he that him gat, and yond woman him bare.

1st Shepherd. What devil shall he halt?[180] Mac, lo, God makes air.

2nd Shepherd. Let be all that. Now God give him care! I sagh.[181]

Wife. A pretty child is he, As sits upon a woman's knee; A dylly-downe, perdie! To make a man laugh.

3rd Shepherd. I know him by the ear mark:—that is a good token.

Mac. I tell you, sirs, hark:—his nose was broken. Since then, told me a clerk,—that he was forespoken.[182]

1st Shepherd. This is a false work.—I would fain be wroken:[183] Get a weapon!

Wife. He was taken by an elf;[184] I saw it myself. When the clock struck twelve, Was he mis-shapen.

2nd Shepherd. Ye two are right deft,—same in a stead.

3rd Shepherd. Since they maintain their theft,—let's do them to dead.

Mac. If I trespass eft, gird off my head. With you will I be left.

1st Shepherd. Sirs, do my red For this trespass, We will neither ban nor flyte[185] Fight, nor chyte,[186] But seize him tight, And cast him in canvas.

[They toss Mac for his sins.

* * * * *

1st Shepherd (as the three return to the fold). Lord, how I am sore, in point for to tryst: In faith I may no more, therefore will I rest.

2nd Shepherd. As a sheep of seven score, he weighed in my fist. For to sleep anywhere, methink that I list.

3rd Shepherd. Now I pray you, Lie down on this green.

1st Shepherd. On these thefts yet I mean.

3rd Shepherd. Whereto should ye tene?[187] Do as I say you.

[Enter an Angel above, who sings "Gloria in Excelsis," then says:

Rise, hired-men, heynd,[188] for now is he born That shall take from the fiend, that Adam had lorn:[189] That warlock to sheynd,[190] this night is he born. God is made your friend: now at this morn, He behests; To Bedlem go see, There lies that free[191] In a crib full poorly, Betwixt two beasts.

1st Shepherd. This was a quaint stevyn[192] that ever yet I heard. It is a marvel to nevyn[193] thus to be scared.

2nd Shepherd. Of God's son of heaven, he spoke up word. All the wood like the levin,[194] methought that he gard Appear.

3rd Shepherd. He spoke of a bairn In Bedlem I you warn.

1st Shepherd. That betokens yonder starn[195] Let us seek him there.

2nd Shepherd. Say, what was his song? Heard ye not how he cracked it? Three breves to a long.[196]

3rd Shepherd. Yea, marry, he hacked[197] it. Was no crochet wrong, nor no thing that lacked it.

1st Shepherd. For to sing us among, right as he knacked it, I can.

2nd Shepherd. Let us see how ye croon Can ye bark at the moon?

3rd Shepherd. Hold your tongues, have done.

1st Shepherd. Hark after, then.

2nd Shepherd. To Bedlem he bade—that we should gang: I am full feared—that we tarry too lang.

3rd Shepherd. Be merry and not sad: of mirth is our sang, Everlasting glad, our road may we fang,[198] Without noise.

1st Shepherd. Hie we thither quickly; If we be wet and weary, To that child and that lady We have it not to slose.[199]

2nd Shepherd. We find by the prophecy—let be your din— Of David and Esai, and more than I min;[200] They prophesied by clergy, that on a virgin Should he light and ly, to pardon our sin And slake it, Our kind from woe; For Esai said so, Cite virgo Concipiet a child that is naked.

3rd Shepherd. Full glad may we be,—and abide that day That lovely to see,—that all mights may. Lord, well for me,—for once and for aye, Might I kneel on my knee—some word for to say To that child. But the angel said In a crib was he laid; He was poorly arrayed, Both meaner and mild.

1st Shepherd. Patriarchs that have been,—and prophets beforn, They desired to have seen—this child that is born. They are gone full clean,—that have they lorn. We shall see him, I ween,—e'er it be morn By token When I see him and feel, Then know I full weel It is true as steel That prophets have spoken. To so poor as we are, that he would appear, First find, and declare by his messenger.

2nd Shepherd. Go we now, let us fare: the place is us near.

3rd Shepherd. I am ready and yare:[201] go we in fear To that light! Lord! if thy wills be, We are lewd[202] all three, Thou grant us of thy glee,[203] To comfort thy wight.

* * * * *

[The Shepherds arrive at Bethlehem.

1st Shepherd. Hail, comely and clean; hail, young child! Hail, maker, as I mean, of a maiden so mild! Thou hast wared, I ween, off the warlock[204] so wild, The false guiler of teen,[205] now goes he beguiled. Lo, he merry is! Lo, he laughs, my sweeting, A welcome meeting! I have given my greeting Have a bob of cherries?

2nd Shepherd. Hail, sovereign saviour, for thou hast us sought! Hail freely, leaf and flow'r, that all thing has wrought! Hail full of favour, that made all of nought! Hail! I kneel and I cower. A bird have I brought To my bairn! Hail, little tiny mop,[206] Of our creed thou are crop! I would drink in thy cup, Little day-starn.[207]

3rd Shepherd. Hail, darling dear, full of godheed! I pray thee be near, when that I have need. Hail! sweet is thy cheer: my heart would bleed To see thee sit here in so poor weed. With no pennies. Hail! put forth thy dall!—[208] I bring thee but a ball Have and play thee with all, And go to the tennis.

Mary. The Father of Heaven, God omnipotent, That set all on levin,[209] his son has he sent. My name could he neven,[210] and laught as he went.[211] I conceived him full even, through might, as God meant; And new is he born. He keep you from woe: I shall pray him so; Tell forth as ye go, And mind on this morn.

1st Shepherd. Farewell, lady, so fair to behold, With thy child on thy knee.

2nd Shepherd. But he lies full cold, Lord, well is me: now we go forth, behold!

3rd Shepherd. Forsooth, already it seems to be told Full oft.

1st Shepherd. What grace we have fun.[212]

2nd Shepherd. Come forth, now are we won.

3rd Shepherd. To sing are we bun:[213] Let take on loft.[214]



Isaiah (as Prologue) Gabriel Joseph Mary The Three Kings The Three Shepherds The Two Prophets King Herod A Herald An Angel Two Soldiers Three Women



Isaiah. The sovereign that seeth every secret He save you all and make you perfect and strong: And give his grace with his mercy thereto meet, For now in great misery mankind is bound. The serpent hath given us so mortal a wound That no creature is able us for to release Till the right unction of Judah doth cease. Then shall much mirth and joy increase And the right root in Israel spring, That shall bring forth the grain of holiness: And out of danger he shall us bring Into that region where he is king: Which above all other doth abound And that cruel Satan he shall confound. Wherefore I come here upon this ground, To comfort every creature of birth; For I, Isaiah, the prophet, hath found Many sweet matters, whereof we may make mirth On this same wise. For though Adam be doomed to death With all his children, as Abel and Seth: Yet, Ecce virgo concipiet![215] Lo, where a remedy shall rise! Behold a maid shall conceive a child, And get us more grace than ever man had. And her maidenhood nothing defiled: She is deputed to bear the Son, Almighty God. Lo, sovereignties now may you be glad, For of this maiden all we may be fain;[216] For Adam that now lies in sorrows full sad, Her glorious birth shall redeem him again From bondage and thrall. Now be merry every man, For this deed briefly in Israel shall be done, And before the Father on his throne That shall glad us all. More of this matter fain would I move, But longer time I have not here for to dwell. That lord that is merciful, his mercy so in us may prove For to save our souls from the darkness of hell, And to his bliss—he us bring As he is—both lord and king; And shall be everlasting In secula seculos:[217] Amen.


[Enter Gabriel to Mary.]

Gabriel. Hail! Mary, full of grace, Our Lord God is with thee! Above all women that ever was; Lady, blessed may thou be.

Mary. Almighty Father and King of bliss From all dyskes[218] thou save me now: For inwardly my spirit troubled is, I am amazed and know not how.

Gabriel. Dread thee nothing, maiden, of this: From heaven above hither am I sent, Of embassage from that King of bliss, Unto the lady and virgin reverent, Saluting thee here as most excellent, Whose virtue above all other doth abound; Wherefore in thee grace shall be found: For thou shalt conceive upon this ground The Second Person of God on throne; He will be born of thee alone, Without sin tho shalt him see. Thy grace and thy goodness will never be gone But ever to live in virginity.

Mary. I marvel sore how that may be: Man's company knew I never yet, Nor never to do cast I me, While that our Lord sendeth me my wit.

Gabriel. The Holy Ghost in thee shall light, And shall endue thy soul so with virtue From the Father that is on high: These words, turtle, they be full true. This child that of thee shall be born Is the Second Person in Trinity. He shall save that was forlorn, And the fiend's power destroy shall he. These words, lady, full true they be, And further, lady, in thy own lineage, Behold Elizabeth, thy cousin clean, The which was barren and past all age. And now with child she hath been Six months and more as shall be seen; Wherefore, discomfort thee not, Mary, For to God impossible nothing may be.

Mary. Now and it be that Lord's will Of my body to be born and for to be His high pleasure for to fulfil, As his one handmaid I submit me.

Gabriel. Now blessed be the time set That thou wast born in thy degree: For now is the knot surely knit And God conceived in Trinity. Now farewell lady of might most, Unto the Godhead I thee beteyche.[219]

Mary. That lord thee guide in every cost And lowly he lead me and be my leech.[220]

[Here the Angel departeth and Joseph cometh in and saith:

Joseph. Mary, my wife so dear! How do ye, dame, and what cheer Is with you this tide?

Mary. Truly, husband, I am here Our Lord's will for to abide.

Joseph. What! I trow we be all shent![221] Say, woman, who hath been here since I went To rage with thee?

Mary. Sir, here was neither man, nor man's even,[222] But only the sond[223] of our Lord God in heaven.

Joseph. Say not so, woman, for shame let be: Ye be with child so wondrous great, Ye need no more thereof to treat Against all right. For sooth this child, dame, is not mine; Alas, that ever with my eyne[224] I should see this sight. Tell me, woman, whose is this child?

Mary. None but yours, husband, so mild And that shall be seen, I wis.

Joseph. But mine, alas! alas! why say ye so? Well away, woman, now may I go Beguiled as many another is.

Mary. Nay truly, sir, ye be not beguiled Nor yet with spot of sin I am not defiled; Trust it well, husband.

Joseph. Husband in faith, and that acold; Ah well away, Joseph, as thou art old! Like a fool now may I stand And truss; but in faith, Mary, thou art in sin. So much as I have cherished thee, dame, and all thy kin, Behind my back to serve me thus: All old men example take by me, How I am beguiled here may you see, To wed so young a child. Now farewell, Mary, I leave thee here alone, Woe worth thee dame, and thy works each one! For I will no more be beguiled For friend nor foe. Now of this deed I am so dull And of my life I am so full, No farther may I go.

Angel. Arise up, Joseph, and go home again Unto Mary thy wife that is so free; To comfort her look that thou be fain, For, Joseph, a clean maiden is she. She hath conceived without any trayne The Second Person in Trinity: Jesu shall be his name certainly, And all this world save shall he. Be not aghast.

Joseph. Now, Lord, I thank thee with heart full sad. For of these tidings I am so glad That all my care away is cast, Wherefore to Mary I will in haste. Ah, Mary, Mary, I kneel full low, Forgive me, sweet wife, here in this land; Mercy, Mary, for now I know Of your good governance and how it doth stand: Though that I did thee misname. Mercy, Mary, while I live Will I never, sweet wife, thee grieve, In earnest nor in game.

Mary. Now, that Lord in Heaven, sir,—he you forgive! And I do forgive you in his name For evermore.

Joseph. Now truly, sweet wife, to you I say the same; But now to Bethlehem must I wynde[225] And show myself so full of care, And I to leave you this great behind, God wot, the while, dame, how you should fare.

Mary. Nay hardily, husband, dread ye nothing, For I will walk with you on the way. I trust in God, Almighty King, To speed right well in our journey.

Joseph. Now I thank you, Mary, of your goodness That you my words will not blame; And since that to Bethlehem we shall us address Go we together in God's holy name.

[They set out on their way.

Now to Bethlehem have we leagues three, The day is nigh spent, it draweth towards night, Fain at your ease, dame, I would that ye should be: For you grow all weary, it seemeth, in my sight.

Mary. God have mercy, Joseph, my spouse, so dear! All prophets hereto do bear witness The evry time now draweth near That my child will be born, which is King of bliss. Unto some place, Joseph, kindly me lead, That I might rest me with grace in this tide, The light of the Father over us both spread And the grace of my son with us here abide.

Joseph. Lo, blessed Mary, here shall ye lend;[226] Chief chosen of our Lord, and cleanest in degree: And I for help to town, will I wend. Is not this the best, dame, what say ye?

Mary. God have mercy! Joseph, my husband, so meek, And I heartily pray you go now from me.

Joseph. That shall be done in haste, Mary, so sweet! The comfort of the Holy Ghost leave I with thee. Now to Bethlehem strait will I go, To get some help for Mary so free, Some help of women, God may me send! That Mary, full of grace, pleased may be.

[Enter a Shepherd.

1st Shepherd. Now God that art in Trinity, Thou sawest my fellows and me; For I know not where my sheep nor they be, This night it is so cold, Now is it nigh the middest of the night, These weathers are dark and dim of light, That of them can I have no sight, Standing here on this wold. But now to make their hearts light, Now will I full right Stand upon this loe.[227] And to them cry with all my might: Full well my voice they know, What ho, fellows, ho, hoo, ho!

[Enter two other Shepherds.

2nd Shepherd. Hark, Sym, hark, I hear our brother on the loe,[227] This is his voice, right well I know, Therefore towards him let us go, And follow his voice aright, See, Sym, see where he doth stand; I am right glad we have him found. Brother! where hast thou been so long, And it is so cold this night?

1st Shepherd. Oh, friends! there came a pyrie[228] of wind With a mist suddenly, That forth off my ways went I, And great heaviness then made I, And was full sore afright; Then for to go wist I not whither, But travelled on this hill hither and thither. I was so weary of this cold weather, That near passed was my might.

3rd Shepherd. Brother, now we be past that fright, And it is far within the night: Full soon will spring the daylight, It draweth full near the tide. Here awhile let us rest And repast ourselves of the best. Till that the sun rise in the east, Let us all here abide.

[There the Shepherds draw forth their meat, and do eat and drink, and as they drink they see the star and say thus:

Brother, look up and behold, What thing is yonder that shineth so bright? As long as ever I have watched my fold, Yet saw I never such a sight In field. Aha! now is come the time that old fathers hath told, That in the winter's night so cold, A child of maiden born, be he would, In whom all prophecies shall be fulfilled.

1st Shepherd. Truth it is without nay, So said the prophet Isaye, That a child should be born of a maid so bright In winter nigh the shortest day, Or else in the middest of the night.

2nd Shepherd. Loved be God, most of might! That our grace is to see that sight; Pray we to him as it is right If that his will it be, That we may have knowledge of this signification, And why it appeareth on this fashion And ever to him let us give laudation, In earth, while that we be.

[There the angels sing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo."

3rd Shepherd. Hark, they sing above in the clouds clear! Heard I never of so merry a choir. Now gentle brother draw we near To hear their harmony?

1st Shepherd. Brother, mirth and solace is come us among For, by the sweetness of their song; God's Son is come, whom we have looked for long, As signifieth this star we do see.

2nd Shepherd. Glory, Gloria in Excelsis, that was their song, How say ye fellows! said they not thus?

1st Shepherd. That is well said, now go we hence To worship that child of high magnificence; And that we may sing in his presence, Et in terra pax omnibus. [There the Shepherds sing:]

As I out rode this enderes' night, Of three jolly shepherds I saw a sight, And all about their fold a star shone bright; They sang, Terli, terlow; So merrily the shepherds their pipes can blow.

Joseph. Now, Lord, this noise that I do hear With this great solemnity, Greatly amended hath my cheer, I trust high news shortly will be.

[There the Angels sing "Gloria in Excelsis" again.

Mary. Ah Joseph, husband, come hither anon My child is born that is King of bliss.

Joseph. Now welcome to me, the maker of man, With all the homage that I can; Thy sweet mother here will I kiss.

Mary. Ah Joseph, husband, my child waxeth cold And we have no fire to warm him with.

Joseph. Now in my arms I shall him fold, King of all kings by field and by frith,[229] He might have had better, and himself would Than the breathing of these beasts to warm him with.

Mary. Now, Joseph, my husband, fetch hither my child, The maker of man, and high King of bliss.

Joseph. That shall be done, anon, Mary so mild! For the breathing of these beasts hath warmed him, I wis.

1st Angel. Herdmen kind, dread ye nothing, Of this star that ye do see; For this same morn God's son is born, In Bethlem of a maiden fre.[230]

2nd Angel. Hie you hither in haste, It is his will ye shall him see Lying in a crib of poor repast; Yet of David's line come is he.

1st Shepherd. Hail, maid-mother, and wife so mild! As the angel said, so have we found, I have nothing to present to thy child, But my pipe; hold, hold! take it in thy hand; Wherein much pleasure that I have found, And now to honour thy glorious birth, Thou shalt it have to make thee mirth.

2nd Shepherd. Now, hail be thou, child, and thy dame, For in a poor lodging here art thou laid; So the angel said, and told us thy name. Hold, take thou here my hat on thy head, And now of one thing thou art well sped; For weather thou hast no cause to complain, For wind, nor sun, hail, snow, and rain.

3rd Shepherd. Hail, be thou Lord over water and lands For thy coming all we may make mirth, Have here my mittens to put on thy hands Other treasure have I none to present thee with.

Mary. Now, herdmen kind, For your coming, To my child shall I pray, As he is heaven's king, To grant you his blessing, And to his bliss that ye may wynd[231] At your last day.

[There the Shepherds sing again:]

Down from heaven, from heaven so high, Of angels there came a great company, With mirth, and joy, and great solemnity They sang, Terli, terlow; So merrily the shepherds their pipes can blow.

[The two prophets come in.

1st Prophet. Novellis, novellis,[232] of wonderful marvellys,[233] Were high and sweet unto the hearing, As Scripture tellis, these strange novellis To you I bring.

2nd Prophet. Now, heartily, sir, I desire to know, If it would please you for to show, Of what manner a thing?

1st Prophet. Were it mystical unto your hearing,— Of the nativity of a king?

2nd Prophet. Of a king? Whence should he come?

1st Prophet. From that region royal and mighty mansion, The seed celestial and heavenly wisdom, The Second Person, and God's one Son, For our sake is man become. This godly sphere, descended here, Into a virgin clear, She undefiled, By whose work, obscure our frail nature Is now beguiled.

2nd Prophet. Why, hath she a child?

1st Prophet. Ah, trust it well, And never the less, Yet is she a maid even as she was, And her son the king of Israel.

2nd Prophet. A wonderful marvel, How that may be, And far doth excel— All our capacity, How that the trinity, Of so high regality, Should joined be, Unto our mortality.

1st Prophet. Of his one great mercy As ye shall see the exposition, Through whose humanity all Adam's progeny Redeemed shall be Out of perdition; Sith man did offend, who should amend, But the said man and no other; For the which cause he, Incarnate would be, And live in misery As man's one brother.

2nd Prophet. Sir, upon the Deity, I believe perfectly, Impossible to be, there is nothing; Howbeit this work, unto me is dark, In the operation or working.

1st Prophet. What more reproof is unto belief Than to be doubting.

2nd Prophet. Yet doubts ofttimes hath derivation.

1st Prophet. That is by the means of communication, Of truths to have a due probation,— By the same doubts, reasoning.

2nd Prophet. Then to you, this one thing, Of what noble and high lineage is she, That might this verible prince's mother be?

1st Prophet. Undoubted she is come of high parrage,[234] Of the house of David, and Solomon the sage, And one of the same line joined to her by marriage Of whose tribe, we do subscribe This child's lineage.

2nd Prophet. And why in that wise?

1st Prophet. For it was the guise To count the parent on the man's line, And not on the feminine, Amongst us here in Israel.

2nd Prophet. Yet can I not espy, by no wise How this child born should be without nature's prejudice.

1st Prophet. Nay, no prejudice unto nature I dare well say, For the king of nature may Have all his one will, Did not the power of God, make Aaron's rod Bear fruit in one day?

2nd Prophet. Truth it is indeed.

1st Prophet. Then look you and rede.[235]

2nd Prophet. Ah! I perceive the seed Whereupon that you spake, It was for our need That he frail nature did take, And his blood he should shed Amends for to make For our transgression, As it is said in prophecy, that of the line of Jude Should spring a right Messie, By whom all we Should have redemption.

1st Prophet. Sir, now is the time come, And the date thereof run Of his Nativity.

2nd Prophet. Yet I beseech you heartily, That ye would show me how That this strange novelty Were brought unto you?

1st Prophet. This other night so cold, Hereby upon a wold, Shepherds watching their fold In the night so far, To them appeared a star, And ever it drew them near, Which star they did behold, Brighter they say a thousand fold Than the sun so clear In his midday sphere; And they these tidings told.

2nd Prophet. What, secretly?

1st Prophet. Na, na, hardily,[236] They made there of no council, For they sang as loud, As ever they could, Praising the king of Israel.

2nd Prophet. Yet do I marvel, In what pile or castle, These herdmen did him see.

1st Prophet. Neither in halls, nor yet in bowers, Born would he not be, Neither in castles, nor yet in towers, That seemly were to see, But at his Father's will, The prophecy to fulfil, Betwixt an ox and an ass Jesu this king born he was; Heaven he bring us till![237]

2nd Prophet. Sir, ah! but when these shepherds had seen him there, To what place did they repair?

1st Prophet. Forth they went, and glad they were; Going they did sing, With mirth and solace, they made good cheer, For joy of that new tiding. And after as I heard them tell, He rewarded them full well He granted them heaven therein to dwell. In are they gone with joy and mirth, And their song it is Noel.

[There the Prophets go forth, and Herod and the messenger (or herald) comes in.

Herald. Peace, Lord Barons of great renown! Peace, sir knights of noble presence! Peace, gentlemen companions of noble order! I command that all of you keep silence. Peace while your noble king is in presence! Let no person stint to pay him deference; Be not bold to strike, but keep your hearts in patience, And to your Lord keep heart of reverence, For he, your king, has all puissance! In the name of the law, I command you peace! And King Herod—"la grandeaboly vos umport."[238]

Herod. Qui status in Jude et Rex Israel,[239] And the mightiest conqueror that ever walked on ground; For I am even he that made both heaven and hell, And of my mighty power holdeth up this world round. Magog and Madroke, both them did I confound, And with this bright brand their bones I brake asunder, That all on the wide world on those rappis[240] did wonder. I am the cause of this great light and thunder; It is through my fury that they such noise do make. My fearful countenance the clouds so doth encumber, That often for dread thereof the very earth doth quake. Look when I with malin this bright brand doth shake; All the whole world from the north to the south, I may them destroy with one word of my mouth, To recount unto you my innumerable substance That were too much for any tongue to tell; For all the whole Orient is under mine obedience, And prince am I of purgatory, and chief captain of hell. And those tyrannous traitors by force may I compel Mine enemies to vanquish, and even to dust to drive, And with a twinkle of mine eye not one to be left alive. Behold my countenance and my colour, Brighter than the sun in the middle of the day! Where can you have a more greater succour, Than to behold my person that is so gay; My falchion and my fashion with my gorgeous array? He that had the grace always thereon to think, Live they might alway without other meat or drink. And this my triumphant fame most highly doth abound, Throughout this world in all regions abroad, Resembling the favour of that most mighty Mahound From Jupiter by descent, and cousin to the great God, And named the most renowned King Herod, Which that all princes hath under subjection, And all their whole power under my protection. And therefore my herald here called Calchas, Warn thou every port, that no ships arrive, Nor also alien stranger through my realm pass, But they for their truage[241] do pay marks five, Now speed thee forth hastily, For they that will the contrary, Upon a gallows hanged shall be; And, by Mahound, of me they get no grace.

Herald. Now, lord and master! in all the haste, Thy worthy will it shall be wrought, And thy royal countries shall be past, In as short time as can be thought.

Herod. Now shall our regions throughout be sought In every place, both east and west; If any caitiffs to me be brought, It shall be nothing for their best. And the while that I do rest, Trumpets, viols, and other harmony, Shall bless the waking of my majesty.

[Here Herod goeth away, and the three Kings speaketh in the street.

1st King. Now blessed be God, of his sweet sonde[242] For yonder a bright star I do see! Now is he come us among As the prophets said that it should be. He said there should a babe be born Coming of the root of Jesse, To save mankind that was forlorn, And truly come now is he. Reverence and worship to him will I do As God and man, that all made of nought. All the prophets accorded and said even so, That with his precious blood mankind should be bought. He grant me grace by yonder star that I see, And into that place bring me, That I may him worship with humility And see his glorious face.

2nd King. Out of my way I deem that I am For tokens of this country can I none see; Now God that on earth madest man, Send me some knowledge where that I be. Yonder me thinks a fair bright star I see, The which betokeneth the birth of a child, That hither is come to make man free, He, born of a maid, and she nothing defiled, To worship that child is mine intent. Forth now will I take my way: I trust some company God hath me sent, For yonder I see a king labour on the way, Toward him now will I ride. Hark, comely king, I you pray, Into what coast will ye this tide, Or whither lies your journey?

1st King. To seek a child is mine intent, Of whom the prophets have meant. The time is come now is he sent, By yonder star here may you see.

2nd King. Sir, I pray you with your licence, To ride with you into his presence; To him will I offer frankincence For the head of the whole church shall he be.

3rd King. I ride wandering in ways wide Over mountains and dales, I wot not where I am, Now king of all kings send me such guide, That I may have knowledge of this country's name. Ah, yonder I see a sight be seeming all afar, The which betokens some news as I trow, As me thinks a child appearing in a star; I trust he be come that shall defend us from woe. Two kings yonder I see, and to them will I ride, For to have their company: I trust they will me abide.[243] Hail, comely kings augent![244] Good sirs, I pray you whither are ye meant?

1st King. To seek a child is our intent, Which betokens yonder star as ye may see.

2nd King. To him I purpose this present.

3rd King. Sirs, I pray you, and that right humbly With you that I may ride in company; To Almighty God now pray we, That his precious person we may see.

[Here Herod cometh in again, and the messenger saith:

Herald. Hail, Lord! most of might! Thy commandment is right. Into thy land is come this night Three kings, and with them a great company.

Herod. What make those kings in this country?

Herald. To seek a king and a child, they say.

Herod. Of what age should he be?

Herald. Scant twelve days old fully.

Herod. And was he so late born?

Herald. Eh! sir, so they show'd me this same day in the morn.

Herod. Now, in pain of death, bring them me beforn And, therefore, herald, hie thee now, in haste, In all speed that thou were dight,[245] Or that those kings the country be past,— Look thou bring them all three before my sight. And in Jerusalem enquire more of that child? But I warn thee that thy words be mild, For there take thou heed, and craft thereto His power to foredo,[246] That those three kings shall be beguiled.

Herald. Lord, I am ready at your bidding, To serve thee as my lord and king, For joy thereof, lo, how I spring, With light heart and fresh gambolling, Aloft here on this mould.

Herod. Then speed thee forth hastily, And look that thou bear thee evenly And also I pray thee heartily, That thou do commend me Both to young and old.

Herald (returning to the Three Kings). Hail, sir kings, in your degree! Herod; king of these countries wide Desireth to speak with you all three, And for your coming he doth abide.

1st King. Sir, at his will we be right bane[247] Hie us, brother, unto that lord's place; To speak with him we would be fain That child that we seek, he grant us of his grace.

Herald (bringing in the Kings). Hail, Lord, without peer! These three kings have we brought.

Herod. Now welcome, sir kings, all in fere;[248] But of my bright ble,[249] sirs, abash ye nought. Sir kings, as I understand, A star hath guided you into my land; Wherein great harie[250] ye have found, By reason of her beams bright; Wherefore I pray you heartily, The very truth that you would certify; How long it is surely, Since of that star you had first sight?

1st King. Sir king, the very truth we say. And to show you, as it is best, This same is even the twelfth day Since it appeared to us to be west.

Herod. Brother, then is there no more to say, But with heart and will keep ye your journey, And come home again this same way, Of your news that I may know. You shall triumph in this country, And with great concord banquet with me And that child myself then will I see, And honour him also.

2nd King. Sir, your commandment we will fulfil, And humbly obey ourselves theretyll, He that weldeth all things at will. The ready way us teach, Sir king, that we may pass your land in peace.

Herod. Yes! and walk softly even at your own ease. Your passport for a hundred days Here shall you have of clear command; Our realm to labour[251] any ways Here shall you have by special grant.

3rd King. Now farewell, king of high degree, Humbly of you our leave we take.

Herod. Then adieu, sir kings, all three, And while I live be bold of me; There is nothing in this country, But for your own ye shall it take.

[Exeunt the Three Kings.

Now these three kings are gone on their way, Unwisely and unwittingly have they all wrought. When they come again, they shall die that same day, And thus these vile wretches to death shall be brought; Such is my liking. He that against my laws will hold, Be he king or kaiser, never so bold, I shall them cast into cares cold, And to death I shall them bring.

[There Herod goeth his way, and the Three Kings come in again.

1st King. Oh, blessed God, much is thy might! Where is this star that gave us light?

2nd King. Now kneel we down here on this presence By seeking that Lord of high magnificence; That we may see his high excellence, If that his sweet will be.

3rd King. Yonder, brother, I see the star, Whereby I know he is not far; Therefore, lords, go we now, Into this poor place.

[There the Three Kings go in to the jeseyne[252], Mary and her child.

1st King. Hail, Lord, that all this world hath wrought! Hail God and man together in fere.[253] For thou hast made all thing of nought Albeit that thou liest poorly here. A cup full of gold here I have thee brought In tokening thou art without peer.

2nd King. Hail be thou, Lord of high magnificence In tokening of priesthood, and dignity of office, To thee I offer a cup full of incense; For it behoveth thee to have such sacrifice.

3rd King. Hail be thou, Lord long looked for! I have brought thee myrrh for mortality; In tokening those shalt mankind restore To life by thy death upon a tree.

Mary. God have mercy, kings, of your goodness! By the guiding of the Godhead hither are ye sent; The provision of my sweet son, your ways home redress, And ghostly reward you for your present.

1st King. Sir kings, after our promise, Home by Herod, I must needs go.

2nd King. Now truly, brother, we can no less, But I am so far watched I wot not what to do.

3rd King. Right so am I, wherefore I you pray Let all us rest us awhile upon this ground.

1st King. Brother, your saying is right well unto my pay The grace of that sweet child save us all sound.

Angel. King of Taurus, Sir Jaspar! King of Araby, Sir Balthasar! Melchior, king of Aginara! To you now am I sent. For dread of Herod, go you west home In those parts when ye come down, Ye shall be burrid[254] with great renown: The Holy Ghost this knowledge hath sent.

1st King. Awake, sir kings, I you pray, For the voice of an angel I heard in my dream!

2nd King. That is full true that ye do say For he rehearsed our names plain.

3rd King. He bade that we should go down by west For dread of Herod's false betray.

1st King. So for to do it is the best, The child that we have sought, guide us the way!

[Turning to the babe.

Now farewell, the fairest of shape so sweet, And thanked be Jesus of his sond.[255] That we three together so suddenly should meet That dwell so wide, and in a strange land; And here to make our presentation Unto this king's son cleansed so clean, And to his mother for our salvation; Of much mirth now may we mean, That we so well hath done this oblation.

2nd King. Now farewell, Sir Jaspar, brother to you, King of Taurus, the most worth; Sir Balthasar, also to you I bow And I thank you both of your good company, While we together have been. He that made us to meet on hill, I thank him now, and ever I will; For now may we go without ill; And of our offering be full fain.

3rd King. Now sith that we must needly go For dread of Herod, that is so wroth, Now farewell brother, and brother also; I take my leave here of you both, This day on foot. Now he that made us to meet on plain. And offered to Mary in her jeseyne,[256] He give us grace in heaven again, Altogether to meet.

[Exeunt the Three Kings: Enter the Herald and King Herod.

Herald. Hail, King most worthiest in wede![257] Hail, maintainer of courtesy through all this world wide! Hail, the most mightiest that ever bestrode a steed! Hail, most manfullest man in armour man to abide! Hail in thine honour! These three kings that forth were sent And should have come again before thee here present, Another way, Lord, home they went Contrary to thine honour.

Herod. Another way!—out! out!—out! Hath those foul traitors done me this deed? I stamp, I stare, I look all about; Might them I take I should them burn at a glede.[258] I rend, I roar, and now run I wood;[259] Ah! that these villain traitors hath marred this my mood! They shall be hanged if I come them to.

[Here Herod rages in the pageant, and in the street also.

Eh! and that kerne[260] of Bethlehem, he shall be dead, And thus shall I do for his prophecy. How say you, sir knights, is not this the best red,[261] That all young children for this should be dead With sword to be slain? Then shall I, Herod, live in lede,[262] And all folk me doubt and dread, And offer to me both gold, riches, and mede,[263] Thereto will they be full fain.

1st Soldier. My Lord, King Herod by name, Thy words against my will shall be To see so many young children die, is shame; Therefore counsel thereto gettest thou none of me.

2nd Soldier. Well said, fellow, my troth I plight; Sir king! perceive right well you may So great a murder to see of young fruit, Will make a rising in thine own countrey.

Herod. A rising!—out! out! out!

[There Herod rages again, and then saith thus:

Out villain wretches, hereupon you I cry, My will utterly, look that it be wrought, Or upon a gallows both you shall die, By Mahound, most mightiest, that me dear hath bought!

1st Soldier. Now, cruel Herod, sith we shall do this deed, Your will needfully in this must be wrought. All the children of that age, die they must need, Now with all my might they shall be upsought.

2nd Soldier. And I will swear here upon your bright sword, All the children that I find, slain they shall be; That make many a mother to weep, and be full sore afeard, In our armour bright, when they us see.

Herod. Now you have sworn, forth that ye go And my will that ye work both by day and night, And then will I for fain trip like a doe; But when they be dead, I warn you, bring them before my sight.

Angel. Mary and Joseph, to you I say, Sweet word from the Father I bring you full right; Out of Bethlehem into Egypt forth go ye the way And with you take the king, full of might, For dread of Herod's red.[264]

Joseph. Arise up, Mary, hastily and soon! Our Lord's will needs must be done, Like as the angel bade.

Mary. Meekly, Joseph, mine own spouse, Toward that country let us repair, In Egypt,—some token of house,— God grant us grace safe to come there!

[Here the women come in with their children, singing them, and Mary and Joseph goeth clean away.

Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child; By, by, lullay, lullay, thou little tiny child; By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too! how may we do, For to preserve this day This poor youngling, for whom we do sing By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging, Charged he hath this day His men of might, in his own sight, All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor child for thee! And ever morn and day, For thy parting neither say nor sing, By, by, lully, lallay.

1st Woman. I lull my child wondrously sweet, And in my arms I do it keep, Because that it should not cry.

2nd Woman. That Babe that is born, in Bethlehem so meek, He save my child and me from villainy!

3rd Woman. Be still! be still! my little child! That Lord of lords save both thee and me; For Herod hath sworn with words wild That all young children slain they shall be.

1st Soldier. Say ye whither, ye wives, whither are ye away? What bear you in your arms needs must we see; If they be men children, die they must this day, For at Herod's will all things must be.

2nd Soldier. And I in hands once them hent,[265] Them for to slay nought will I spare; We must fulfil Herod's commandment; Else be we as traitors, and cast all in care.

1st Woman. Sir knights! of your courtesy This day shame not your chivalry, But on my child have pity, For my sake in this stead; For a simple slaughter it were to sloo[266] Or to work such a child woe That can neither speak nor go, Nor never harm did.

2nd Woman. He that slays my child in sight, If that my strokes on him may light, Be he squire or knight, I hold him but lost. See thou false losyngere[267] A stroke shalt thou bear me here And spare you no cost.

3rd Woman. Sit he never so high in saddle, But I shall make his brain addle, And here with my pot ladle, With him will I fight. I shall lay on him as though I wode[268] were, With this same womanly gear; There shall no man stir, Whether that he be king or knight.

[The innocents are massacred.

1st Soldier. Who heard ever such a cry Of women, that their children have lost And greatly rebuking chivalry Throughout this realm in every coast Which many a man's life is like to cost; For this great revenge that here is done, I fear much vengeance thereof will come.

2nd Soldier. Eh! brother, such tales may we not tell, Wherefore to the king let us go, For he is like to bear the bell, Which was the cause that we did so; Yet must they all be brought him to With wains and waggons full freight. I trow there will be a careful sight.

[They come before Herod.

1st Soldier. Lo! Herod, king! here must thou see How many thousands that we have slain.

2nd Soldier. And needs thy will fulfilled must be, There may no man say there again.[269]

Herald. Herod, king! I shall thee tell, All thy deeds is come to nought. This child is gone into Egypt to dwell, Lo! Sir, in thine own land what wonders byn[270] wrought.

Herod. Into Egypt? Alas! for woe, Longer in land here I cannot abide. Saddle my palfry, for in haste will I go After yon traitors now will I ride Them for to sloo.[271] Now all men hie fast Into Egypt in haste: All that country will I tast[272] Till I may come them to.


[From the Towneley Collection]


Jesus Mary John Joseph Pilate Longeus Nicodemus Four Torturers


Pilate. Peace I bid every wight; Stand as still as stone in wall, Whiles ye are present in my sight, That none of ye clatter nor call; For if ye do, your death is dight. I warn it you both great and small, With this brand burnished so bright, Therefore in peace look ye be all.

What? peace, in the devil's name! Harlots and dastards all bedene[273] On gallows ye be made full tame. Thieves and michers ken[274] Will ye not peace when I bid you? By Mahoun's blood! if ye me teyn,[275] I shall ordain soon for you Pains that never e'er was seen, And that anon: Be ye so bold beggars, I warn you, Full boldly shall I beat you, To hell the de'il shall draw you, Body, back, and bone.

I am a lord that mickle is of might, Prince of all Jewry, Sir Pilate I hight. Next bring Herod, greatest of all, Bow to my bidding, both great and small, Or else be ye shent;[276] Therefore keep your tongues, I warn you all And unto us take tent.[277]

1st Torturer. All peace, all peace, among you all! And hearken now what shall befall To this false chuffer[278] here. That with his false quantyse[279] Has made himself as God wise Among us many a year. He calls himself a prophet, And says that he can bales[280] beat[281] And make all things amend, But e'er long know we shall, Whether he can overcome his own bale,[280] Or 'scape out of our hand.

Was not this a wonder thing That he durst call himself a king And make so great a lie? But, by Mahoun! while I may live, Those proud words shall I never forgive, Till he be hanged on high.

2nd Torturer. His pride, fie, we set at nought, But each man reckon in his thought And look that we naught want; For I shall seek, if that I may, By the order of knighthood, to-day, To make his heart pant.

3rd Torturer. And so shall I, with all my might, Abate his pride this very night, And reckon him a crede. Lo! he lets on he could no ill, But he can aye, when he will, Do a full foul deed.

4th Torturer. Ye fellows, ye, as I, have rest, Among us all I rede[282] we cast To bring this thief to dede.[283] Look that we have what we need too For to hold strait this shrew.

1st Torturer. That was a noble rede; Lo, here I have a band, If need be, to bind his hand; This thong, I trow, will last.

2nd Torturer. And one to the other side, That shall abate his pride, If it be but drawn fast.

3rd Torturer. Lo, here a hammer and nails also For to fasten fast our foe To this tree full soon.

4th Torturer. You are wise, withouten dread, That so can help yourself at need To thing that should be done.

1st Torturer. Now dare I say hardily, He shall with all his mawmentry[284] No longer us be-tell.

2nd Torturer. Since Pilate has him to us gi'en Have done, quickly, let it be seen, How we can with him mell.[285]

3rd Torturer. Now we are at the Mount of Calvary, Have done, fellows, and let now see How we can with him play.

4th Torturer. Yes, for as proud as he can look, He would have turned another crook, Had he the rack to-day.

1st Torturer. In faith, sir, since ye called you a king, You must prove a worthy thing That falls into the weir. You must joust in tournament, But sit you fast, else you'll be shent,[286] Else down I shall you bear.

2nd Torturer. If thou be God's son, as thou tells, Thou canst save thyself—how shouldst thou else? Else were it marvel great; And canst thou not, we will not trow What thou has said, but make thee mow When thou sitt'st in that seat.

3rd Torturer. If thou be king, we shall thanks adylle[287] For we shall set thee in thy sadylle[288] For falling be thou bold[289] I promise thee thou bidest a shaft If thou sitt'st not well thou hadst better laft[290] The tales that thou hast told.

4th Torturer. Stand near, fellows, and let us see How we can horse our king so free By any craft; Stand thou yonder on yon side, And we shall see how he can ride. And how to wield a shaft.

1st Torturer. Sir, come ye hither, and have done, And get upon your palfrey soon For he is ready bowne:[291] If ye be bound to him be not wroth, For be ye secure we were full loth On any wise that ye fell down.

2nd Torturer. Knit thou a knot, with all thy strength For to draw this arm at length Till it come to the bore.

3rd Torturer. Thou art mad, man, by this light! It wants, in each man's sight Another half span, and more.

4th Torturer. Yet draw out this arm, and make it fast, With this rope, that well will last, And each man lay hand to.

1st Torturer. Yes, and bind thou fast that band, We shall go to that other hand, And look what we can do.

2nd Torturer. Do drive a nail there throughout, And then there shall nothing doubt, For it will not breste.[292]

3rd Torturer. That shall I do, so might I thrive, For to hammer and to drive Thereto I am full pressed; So let it stick, for it is well.

4th Torturer. Thou sayest sooth, There can no man mend.

1st Torturer. Hold down his knees.

2nd Torturer. That shall I do. His nurse did never better do; Lay on with each hand.

3rd Torturer. Draw out his limbs, let see, have at.

4th Torturer. That was well drawn out, that, Fair befall him that so pulled! For to have gotten it to the mark I trow laymen nor clerk Nothing better should!

1st Torturer. Hold it now fast there One of you the bore shall bear, And then it may not fail.

2nd Torturer. That shall I do withouten dread, As ever might I well speed Him to mickle bale.

3rd Torturer. So, that is well, it will not brest,[293] But now, let see, who does the best With any sleight of hand.

4th Torturer. Go we to the other ende Fellows, fasten fast your hende,[294] And pull well at the band.

1st Torturer. I counsel, fellows, by this weather That we draw now all together, And look how it will fare.

2nd Torturer. Now let see, and leave your din And draw we ilka syn from syn.[295] For nothing let us spare.

3rd Torturer. Nay, fellows, this is no play, We no longer draw one way, So mickle have I espied.

4th Torturer. No, for as I have bliss Some can twig whoso it is Seeks his ease on his own side.

1st Torturer. It is better, as I hope Each by himself to draw this rope, And then may we see Who it is that erewhile All his fellows can beguile Of this company.

2nd Torturer. Since thou wilt so have, here's for me! How draw I?—as might thou the![296]

3rd Torturer. Men drew right well! Have here for me, half a foot.

4th Torturer. Wema,[297] man! thou came not to't. Men drew it never a deal But have for me here that I may!

1st Torturer. Well drawnen, son, by this day! Thou goes well to thy work.

2nd Torturer. Yet after, whilst thy hand is in Pull thereat with some engine.

3rd Torturer. Yea, and bring it to the mark.

4th Torturer. Pull, pull!

1st Torturer. Have now!

2nd Torturer. Let see!

3rd Torturer. Aha!

4th Torturer. Yet, a draught!

1st Torturer. Thereto with all my might.

2nd Torturer. Aha, hold still thore.[298]

3rd Torturer. So, fellows, look now alive, Which of you can best drive, And I shall take the bore.

4th Torturer. Let me go to it, if I shall I hope that I be the best marshal[299] For to clink[300] it right. Do raise him up now when we may, For I hope he and his palfrey Shall not twine[301] this night.

1st Torturer. Come hither, fellows, and have done, And help that this tree soon Be lift with all your sleight.

2nd Torturer. Yet let us work awhile, And no man now the other beguile Till it be brought on height.

3rd Torturer. Fellows, lay on all your hende[302] For to raise this tree on ende And lets see who is last.

4th Torturer. I rede we do as he says, Set we the tree on the mortase,[303] And there, will it stand fast.

1st Torturer. Up with the timber.

2nd Torturer. Ah, it holds! For him, that all this world wields, Put from thee, with thy hand.

3rd Torturer. Hold even! amongst us all.

4th Torturer. Yea, and let it into the mortise fall, For then will it best stand.

1st Torturer. Go we to it, and be we strong, And raise it, be it never so long, Since that it is fast bound.

2nd Torturer. Up with the timber fast on ende.

3rd Torturer. Ah fellows, fair fall now your hende.

4th Torturer. So, sir, gape against the sun!

[To Christ.

1st Torturer. Ah, fellow, wear thy crown!

2nd Torturer. Trowest thou this timber will come down?

3rd Torturer. Yet help, to make it fast.

4th Torturer. Bind him well, and let us lift.

1st Torturer. Full short shall be his thrift.

2nd Torturer. Ah, it stands up like a mast.

Jesus. I pray you, people, that pass me by, That lead your life so lykandly[304] Raise up your heart on high; Behold if ever ye saw body Buffet[305] and beaten thus bloody, Or dight thus dolefully; In this world was never no wight That suffered half so sair. My mayn,[306] my mode,[307] my might Is naught but sorrow to sight, And comfort—none but care! My folk, what have I done to thee That thou all thus shall torment me? Thy sin bear I full soon. How have I grieved thee? answer me. That thou thus nailest me to a tree, And all for thine error. Where shalt thou seek succour? This fault how shalt thou amende When that thou thy saviour Drivest to this dishonour And nail'st through feet and hende.[308] All creatures whose kinds may be trest,[309] Beasts and birds, they all have rest When they are woe begone. But God's own son, that should be best, Has not whereon his head to rest, But on his shoulder bone: To whom now may I make my moan When they thus martyr me? And sackless[310] will me slone,[311] And beat me blood and bone, That should my brethren be? What kindness should I kythe[312] them to? Have I not done what I ought to do, Made thee in my likeness? And thou thus rives my rest and ro[313] And thinkest lightly on me, lo, Such is thy caitifness. I have shown thee kindness, unkindly thou me 'quitest,[314] See thus thy wickedness, look how thou me despitest. Guiltless thus am I put to pine, Not for my sin, man, but for thine. Thus am I rent on rood; For I that treasure would not tyne[315] That I marked and made for mine. Thus buy I Adam's blood, That sunken was in sin, With none earthly good, But with my flesh and blood That loath was for to wyn.[316] My brother, that I came for to buy, Has hanged me here, thus hideously, Friends find I few or none; Thus have they dight me drearily, And all be-spit me piteously, A helpless man in wone.[317] But, Father, that sittest on throne, Forgive thou them this guilt. I pray to thee this boon— They know not what they doon, Nor whom they thus have spoilt![318]

1st Torturer. Yes, what we do full well we know.

2nd Torturer. Yes, that shall he find within a throw.

3rd Torturer. Now, with a mischance to his corse! Wenys[319] he that we give any force[320] What evil so ever he ail?

4th Torturer. For he would tarry us all day, Of his death to make delay, I tell you sans fail.

1st Torturer. Lift we this tree amongst us all.

2nd Torturer. Yea, and let it into the mortise fall And that shall make him brest.[321]

3rd Torturer. Yea, and all to rive him, limb from limb.

4th Torturer. And it will break each joint in him; Let see now, who does best?

Mary. Alas, the dole I dree![322] I droop, I go in dread. Why hang'st thou, son, so high? my woe begins to breed, All blemished is thy ble,[323] I see thy body bleed, In the world, my son, we were never so woe, as now in weed.[324] My food[325] that I have fed, In life—longing thee led! Full straight art thou bestead Among these foemen fell: Such sorrow for to see. My dearest child, on thee, Is more mourning to me Than any tongue may tell. Alas! thy holy head Has not whereon to held[326] Thy face with blood is red, Was fair as flower in field; How should I stand in stead![327] To see my bairn thus bleed, Beaten as blo[328] as lead. And has no limb to wield? Fastened both hands and feet, With nalys[329] full unmeet, His wounds all wringing wet. Alas, my child, for care! For all rent is thy hide, I see on either side Tears of blood down glide Over all thy body bare. Alas that ever I should bide, and see my feyr[330] thus fare!

John. Alas, for dule, my lady dear! All for changed is thy cheer, To see this prince without a peer, Thus lapped all in woe; He was thy food, thy fairest foine,[331] Thy love, thy like,[332] thy lovesome son, That high on tree thus hangs alone With body black and blo,[333] alas! To me and many mo,[334] A good master he was.

But, lady, since it is his will The prophecy to fulfil, That mankind in sin not spill,[335] For them to thole[336] the pain; And with his death ransom to make, As prophets before of him spake. I counsel thee, thy grief to slake, Thy weeping may not gain In sorrow; Our boot[337] he buys full bayne,[338] Us all from bale to borrow.

Mary. Alas, thine eyes as crystal clear, That shone as sun in sight, That lovely were in lyere[339] Lost they have their light, And wax all fa'ed[340] in fear, All dim then are they dight; In pain thou hast no peer, That is withouten pight.[341] Sweet son, say me thy thought; What wonders hast thou wrought To be in pain thus brought Thy blessed blood to blend? Ah, son, think on my woe, Why will thou from me go? On earth is no man mo[342] That may my mirth amend.

John. Comely lady, good and couth,[343] Fain would I comfort thee; Me mynnys[344] my master with mouth Told unto his menyee.[345] That he should suffer many a pain, And die upon a tree, And to the life rise up again, Upon the third day should it be Full right; For thee, my lady sweet, Stint awhile to greet,[346] Our bale then will be beat,[347] As he before has bight.[348]

Mary. My sorrow it is so sad, No solace may me save: Mourning makes me mad, No hope of help I have. I am redeless[349] and afraid For fear that I should rave, Nought may make me glad, Till I be in my grave. To death my dear is driven, His robe is all to-riven,[350] That by me was him given And shapen with my sides. These Jews and he have striven That all the bale he bides. Alas! my lamb so mild, Why wilt thou from me go Among these wolves wild, That work on thee this woe? For shame, who may thee shield, For friends now hast thou foe. Alas, my comely child, Why will thou from me go? Maidens, make your moan, And weep, ye wives, every one With me, most sad, in wone[351] The child that born was best: My heart is stiff as stone That for no bale will brest.[352]

John. Ah, lady, well wot I, Thy heart is full of care, When thou thus openly Seest thy child thus fare; Love drives him rathly. Himself he will not spare, Us all from bale to buy, Of bliss that are full bare For sin; My dear lady, therefore of mourning look thou blyn.[353]

Mary. "Alas!" may ever be my song, While I may live in leyd,[354] Methinks now that I live too long, To see my bairn thus bleed. Jews work with him all wrong, Wherefore do they this deed? Lo, so high have they him hung, They let[355] for no dread; Why so? His foeman he is among. No friend he has, but foe, My frely food[356] from me must go What shall become of me? Thou art warpyd[357] all in woe, And spread here on a tree Full hie;[358] I mourn, and so may mo[359] That see this pain on thee.

John. Dear lady, well for me If that I might comfort thee, For the sorrow that I see Shears my heart in sunder; When that I see my master hang With bitter pains and strong; Was never wight with[360] wrong Wrought so mickle wonder.

Mary. Alas, death, thou dwellest too long, Why art thou hid from me? Who bid thee to my child to gang?[361] All black thou mak'st his ble;[362] Now witterly,[363] thou workest wrong The more I will wyte[364] thee. But if thou wilt my heart now sting That I may with him dee,[365] And bide. Sore sighing is my song. For pierced is his side! Ah, death, what hast thou done? With thee will I fare soon, Since I had children none but one, Best under sun or moon. Friends I had full foyn[366] That gars me greet[367] and groan Full sore. Good Lord, grant me my boon, And let me live no more! Gabriel! that art so good Sometime thou did me greet, And then I understood Thy words that were so sweet. But now they vex my mood, For grace thou canst me hete,[368] To bear all of my blood A child our bale should beat[369] With right. Now hangs he here on rood, Where is that thou me hight.[370] All that thou of bliss Hight me in that stede[371] From mirth is far amiss. And yet I trow thy rede[372] Counsel me now of this, My life how shall I lead When from me gone is He that was my head On high? My death, now, come it is: My dear son, have mercy!

Jesus. My mother mild, change thou thy cheer, Cease from thy sorrow and sighing sere, It syttes[373] unto my heart full sore; The sorrow is sharp, I suffer here; But the dole thou drees,[374] my mother dear, Me martyrs mickle more. Thus wills my father I fare To loose mankind from bands His son will he not spare, To loose that bond was e'er Full fast in fiends' hands. The first cause, mother, of my coming Was for mankind miscarrying, To save them sore I sought; Therefore, mother make no mourning Since mankind, through my dying, May thus to bliss be brought. Woman, weep thou right nought, Take there, John, unto thy child, Mankind must needs be bought; And thou cast, cousin, in thy thought.[375] John, lo, there, thy mother mild! Blue and bloody thus am I beat, Swongen with swepys[376] and all a-sweat, Mankind, for thy misdeed. For my love's sake when wouldst thou let,[377] And thy heart sadly set, Since I thus for thee have bled? Such life for sooth, I lead, That nothing may I more. This I suffer for thy need, To mark thee, man, thy meed! Now thirst I wonder sore.

1st Torturer. Nought but hold thy peace, Thou shalt have drink within a resse,[378] Myself shall be thy knave; Have here the draught that I thee hete,[379] And I shall warrant it is not sweet By all the good I have.

2nd Torturer. So, sir, say now all your will, For if ye could have holden you still Ye had not had this brade.[380]

3rd Torturer. Thou would'st all gate[381] be King of Jews, But by this I trow thou rues All that thou has said.

4th Torturer. He has him rused of great prophes[382] That he should make us tempylles And make it clean fall down; And yet he said he should it raise As well as it was within three days, He lies, that wot we all; And for his lies in great despite We will divide his clothing tyte[383] Save he can more of art.[384]

1st Torturer. Yes, as ever might I thrive, Soon will we this mantle rive, And each man take his part.

2nd Torturer. How, wouldst thou we share this cloth?

3rd Torturer. Nay, forsooth, that were I loth, For then it were all gate[385] spoilt. But assent thou to my saw,[386] And let us all cut draw[387] And then is none begylt.[388]

2nd Torturer. Howe'er befall, now I draw, This is mine by common law, Say not there again.

1st Torturer. Now since it may no better be, Chevithe thee with it for me; Methinks thou art full fain.

2nd Torturer. How, fellows, see ye not yon scraw?[389] It is written yonder within a thraw, Now since that we drew lot.

3rd Torturer. There is no man that is alive, Unless Pilate, as I might thrive That durst it there have put.

4th Torturer. Go we fast, and let us look What is written on yon book And what it may be, mean.

1st Torturer. All the more I look thereon, All the more I think I fon;[390] All is not worth a bean.

2nd Torturer. Yes for sooth, methinks I see Thereon written language three Hebrew and Latyn And Greek methinks written thereon, For it is hard for to expoun.

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