CONTEMPLATION Four thousand, six hundred and four years, I tell, Man for his offense and foul folly Hath lain years in the pains of hell, And is worthy to lie there endlessly; But then should perish your great mercy. 5 Good lord, have on man pity; Have in mind the prayer said by Isaiah; Let mercy sway thy high majesty. Would God thou wouldest break thy heaven mighty And come down here unto earth, And live years three and thirty, 10 Thy famished folk with thy food to feed; To staunch their thirst, let thy side bleed, Without that, there will be no redemption. Come visit us in this time of need; Of thy careful creatures, Lord, have compassion! 15 Ah! woe to us wretches who wretched be, For God has added sorrow to sorrow! I pray thee, Lord, thy souls come see, How they lie and sob for sickness and sorrow. With thy blessed blood from bale them borrow, 20 Thy careful creatures crying in captivity. Ah! tarry not, gracious Lord, till it be tommorow! The devil hath deceived them in his iniquity, Ah, said Jeremy, who shall give wells to mine eyes That I may weep both day and night 25 To see our brothers so long in pain? Here mischiefs may amend by thy great might. As great as the sea, Lord, was Adam's contrition right; From our head is fallen the crown; Man is encumbered in sin. I cry to thy sight: 30 Gracious Lord, gracious Lord, gracious Lord come down! VIRTUES Lord, may it please thy high domination, On man that thou move to have pity. Patriarchs and prophets have made supplication, Our office is to present their prayers to thee. 35 Angels. archangels, we three, That be in the first hierarchy, For man to thy high majesty, Mercy, mercy, mercy, we cry! The angel, Lord, thou made so glorious, 40 Whose sin hath made him a devil in hell, He moved man to be so contrarious; Man repented, but he in his obstinance doth dwell. These great evils, good Lord, repell, And take man unto thy grace; 45 Let thy mercy make him with angels dwell, Of Lucifer to restore the place. PATER Propter miseriam inopum Et gemitum pauperum Nunc exurgam. 50 For the wretchedness of the needy And the poor's lamentation, Now shall I rise that am almighty. Time is come of reconciliation. My prophets with prayers have made supplication, 55 My contrite creatures cry all for comfort, All mine angels in heaven without cessation They cry that grace to man might exhort. VERITAS Lord, I am thy daughter, Truth, Thou wilt see I am not lorn; 60 Thy unkind creatures to save were ruth, The offence of man hath grieved thee sore. When Adam had sinned, thou saidest there That he should die and go to hell, And now to bliss him to restore -- 65 Two contraries might not together dwell. Thy truth, Lord, shall last without end, I may in no wise from thee go. That wretch that was to thee so unkind, He may not have too much woe. 70 He despised thee, and pleased thy foe; Thou art his creator, and he is thy creature; Thou hast loved truth, it is said, evermore, Therefore in pain let him evermore endure. MERCY Oh, Father of mercy and God of comfort, 75 That counsel us in each tribulation, Let your daughter, Mercy, to you resort, And on man that is mischieved have compassion. Him grieveth full greatly for his transgression, All heaven and earth cry for mercy; 80 Meseemeth there should be no exception Their prayers be offered so specially. Truth saith she hath ever been thine -- I grant it well she hath been so -- And thou sayest endlessly that mercy thou hast kept for man; 85 Then, merciful Lord, keep us both two. Thou sayest: Veritas mea et misericordia mea cum ipso. Suffer not thy souls, then, in sorrow to sleep; That hell-hound that hateth thee, bid him let go! Thy love, man, let him no longer keep. 90 JUSTICIA Mercy, I marvel at what you moveth! You know well I am your sister, Righteousness; God is rightful and rightfulness loveth. Man offended him that is endless, Therefore his endless punishment may never cease. 95 Also he forsook his maker that made him of clay, And the devil to his master he chose -- Should he be saved? Nay, nay, nay! As wise as is God, he would have been; This was the abominable presumption! 100 It is said, you know well this, of me That the righteousness of God hath no definition -- Therefore let this be our conclusion: He that sore sinned lie still in sorrow. He may never make atonement by reason; 105 Who might then thence him borrow? MISERCORDIA Sister Righteousness, you are too vengeable; Endless sin God, the endless, may restore. Above all his works God is merciful. Though he forsook God by sin, by faith he forsook him nevermore; 110 And thou he presumed never so sore, You must consider the frailness of mankind. Learn, if you like, this is God's lore: The mercy of God is without end. PAX To spare your speeches, sisters, it is fit; 115 It is not honest in virtues to have discension. The peace of God overcomes all wit. Thou Truth and Right say great reason, Yet Mercy sayeth best, to my consideration. For if man's soul should abide in hell, 120 Between God and man ever should be division, And then might not I, Peace, dwell. Therefore, meseemeth best you thus accord, Then heaven and earth ye should please; Put both your sentences in our Lord 125 And in his high wisdom let him deem-- This most fitting to me should seem-- And let see how we four may all abide. That man's soul should perish, it were a shame, Or that any of us from other should divide. 130 VERITAS In truth hereto I consent; I will pray our Lord it may so be. JUSTITIA I, Righteousness, am well content, For in him is very equity. MISERCORDIA And I, Mercy, from this counsel will not flee; 135 Till Wisdom hath said, I shall cease. PAX Here is God now, here is Unity; Heaven and earth is pleased with Peace. FILIUS I think the thoughts of peace and not of wickedness. This I deem to cease your controversy: 140 If Adam had not died, perished had Righteousness, And also Truth had been lost thereby; Truth and Right would chastise folly. Yet if another death come not, Mercy should perish, Then Peace were exiled finally; 145 So two deaths must be, you four to cherish. But he that shall die, you must know That in him may be no iniquity, That hell may hold him by no law, But that he may pass at his liberty. 150 Where such a one is, provide and see, And his death, for man's death, shall be redemption. All heaven and earth search now ye; Pleaseth it you this conclusion? VERITAS I, Truth, have searched the earth without and within, 155 And is truth there cannot be found, Nor to that death will be bound. MISERCORDIA I, Mercy, have run the heavenly region round And there is none of the charity 160 That for man will suffer a deadly wound -- I cannot think how this shall be. JUSTICIA Sure I can find none sufficient, For servants unprofitable we be each one. His love needs to be full ardent 165 That for man to hell would go. PAX That good may do, is none but one; Therefore this is Peace's advise: He that gave his counsel, let him give the comfort alone, For the conclusion in him of all these lies. 170 FILIUS It pains me that man I made, That is to say, pain must I suffer it for. A counsel of the Trinity must be had, Which of us shall man restore. PATER In your wisdom, Son, man was made there, 175 And in wisdom was his temptation; Therefore, Son, Sapience, you must ordain herefore And see how of man may be salvation. FILIUS Father, he that shall do this must be both God and man; Let me see how I may wear that weed. 180 And since in my wisdom he began, I am ready to do this deed. SPIRITUS SANCTUS I, the Holy Ghost, of you two do proceed; This charge I will take on me: I, Love, to your lover shall lead-- 185 This is the assent of our unity. MISERCORDIA Now is the loveday made of us four finally, Now may we live in peace as we were wont: Misericordia et Veritas obviauerunt sibi, Justicia et Pax osculate sunt. 190
And here they shall kiss each other
PATER From us, God, angel Gabriel, thou shalt be sent Into the country of Galilee-- The name of the city, Nazareth is known-- To a maid wedded to a man is she Of whom the name is Joseph, see, 195 Of the house of David born; The name of the maid free Is Mary, that shall all restore. FILIUS Say that she is without woe and full of grace, And that I, the Son of the Godhead, of her shall be born. 200 Hie thee,that thou were there apace, Else we shall be there thee before. I have great haste to be man there In that meekest and purest virgin. Tell her she shall restore 205 Of you angels the great ruin. SPIRITUS SANCTUS And if she ask thee how it might be, Tell her I, the Holy Ghost, shall work all this. She shall be saved through our unity. In token her barren cousin, Elizabeth, is 210 Quick with child in her great age, iwis. Tell her to us nothing is impossible; Her body shall be so filled with bliss That she shall think this story credible. GABRIEL In thine high embassy, Lord, I shall go. 215 It shall be done with a thought. Behold now, Lord, I go here to, I take my flight and abide not. Ave gracia plena dominus tecum! Hail, full of grace, God is with thee! 220 Among all women blessed art thou. Here this name, Eva, is turned Ave; That is to say: without sorrow are ye now. Though sorrow in you hath no place, Yet of joy, lady, ye need more, 225 Therefore I add and say: full of grace, For so full of grace was never none born; Yet who hath grace, he needs keeping sore, Therefore I say: God is with thee, Which shall keep you endlessly there; 230 So among all women blessed are ye. MARIA Ah, mercy, God! This is a marvellous hearing! In the angel's words I am troubled here; I think how may be this greeting. Angels daily to me do appear, 235 But not in the likeness of man, that is my fear, And also thus highly to commended be And am most unworthy -- I cannot answer; Great shamefastness and great dread is in me. GABRIEL Mary, in this take ye no dread, 230 For with God, grace found have ye Ye shall conceive in your womb, indeed, A child, the son of the Trinity, His name of you, Jesus called shall be. He shall be great, the son of the highest called of kin, 235 And of his father, David, the Lord shall give him the see, Reigning in the house of Jacob, of which reign shall none end. MARIA Angel, I say to you, In what manner of wise shall this be? For knowing of man, I have none now; 240 I have evermore kept, and shall, my virginity. I doubt not the words you have said to me, But ask how it shall be done. GABRIEL The Holy Ghost shall come from above to thee, And the virtue of him, the highest, shall shadow thee so. 245 Therefore that Holy Ghost of thee shall be borne, He shall be called the Sone of God, the sage. And see, Elizabeth, your cousin there, She hath conceived a son in her age -- This is the sixth month of her passage, 250 Of her that was called barren -- Nothing is impossible to God's usage. They think long to hear what you will say.
Here the angel makes a little resting and Mary beholds him, and the angel sayeth,
Mary, come off and haste thee, And take heed in thine intent 255 How the Holy Ghost, blessed he be, Abides thine answer and thine assent. Through wise work of divinity, The second person, verament, Is made man by fraternity 260 Within thyself in place present. Furthermore take heed this space How all the blessed spirits of virtue That are in heaven before God's face, And all the good livers and true 265 That are here in this earthly place-- Thine own kindred the truth who knew -- And the chosen souls this time of grace That are in hell and await rescue, As Adam, Abraham, and David in fear, 270 And many other of good reputation, That thine answer desire to hear And thine assent to the incarnation, In which thou standest as preserver Of all mankind's salvation. 275 Give me my answer now, lady dear, To all these creatures comfortation. MARIA With all meekness I incline to his accord, Bowing down my face with all benignity; See here the handmaiden of our Lord, 280 After the word be it done to me. GABRIEL Gramercy, my lady free! Gramercy, of your answer, on high! Gramercy, of your great humility! Gramercy ye lantern of light! 285
Here the Holy Ghost descends with three beams to Our Lady, the Son of the Godhead next with three beams to the Holy Ghost, and the Father Godly with three beams to the son, and so enter all three into her bosom and Mary says,
MARIA Ah, now I feel in my body be Perfect God and perfect man, Having all shape of childly carnality; Even all at once, thus God began. Not taking first one member and then another 290 But perfect childhood ye have anon. Of your handmaiden, now ye have made your mother. Without pain in flesh and bone, Thus conceived never woman none That ever had being in this life. 295 Oh my highest father in your throne It is worthy your son, now my son, have a prerogative. I cannot tell what joy, what bliss, Now I feel in my body! Angel Gabriel, I thank you for this! 300 Most meekly recommend me to my Father's mercy. To have been the mother of God, full little knew I! Now my cousin, Elizabeth, fain would I see, How she has conceived as you did specify. Now blessed be the high Trinity! 305 GABRIEL Farewell, turtledove, God's daughter dear! Farewell, God's mother, I thee honour! Farewell, God's sister and his playmate dear! Farewell, God's chamber and his bower! MARIA Farewell, Gabriel, specially! 310 Farewell, God's messenger express! I thank you for your travel high. Gramercy of your great goodness, And namely of your comfortable message; For I understand by inspiration, 315 That ye know by singular privilege, Most of my son's incarnation. I pray you take it into usage, By a custom occupation, To visit me oft in my passage-- 320 Your presence is my comfortation. GABRIEL At your will, lady, so shall it be, The gentlest of blood, and highest of kindred That reigneth in earth in any degree By the principal purpose of the Godhead. 325 I commend me unto you thou throne of the Trinity! Oh! meekest maid, now the mother of Jesus! Queen of heaven, lady of earth, and empress of hell be ye; Succour to all sinful that will to you sue, Through your body beareth that babe our bliss shall renew. 330 To you, mother of mercy, most meekly I recommend. And as I began, I end, with an Ave new, Joining heaven and earth -- with that I ascend.
Angels singing the following sequence: Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum virgo serena.
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