Then comes Abysakar the bishop EPISCOPUS Listen, my lords, both high and low, And tenderly take heed unto my saw. Be obedient and benign, your bishop to know, For I am that lord that made this law. With hearts so faithful, harken now! 5 Your damsels to wedding, yea, look that ye draw, That are past fourteen years, for that which ye owe. The law of God biddeth this saw: That at fourteen years of age, Every damsel, whoso she be, 10 To the greater increase of plenty, Should be brought in good degree Unto her spousage. JOACHIM Hark now, Anne, my gentle spouse, How that the bishop his law hath told; 15 That what man hath a daughter in his house That passes fourteen years old, He must her bring, I heard him say, Into the temple a spouse to wed. Wherefore our daughter right good and gay 20 Into the temple she must be led, And that anon right soon. ANNA Sir, I grant that it be so, Against the law may we not do. With her together let us now go; 25 I hold it right well done. JOACHIM Sir bishop, here after thine own behest, We have here brought out daughter dear, Mary, my sweet child; she is full pressed, Of age she is full fourteen year. 30 EPISCOPUS Welcome, Joachim, as my guest Both Anne, thy wife, and Mary bright! Now Mary, child, to the law thou list And choose thee a spouse to be thy mate -- The law thou must fulfill. 35 MARIA Against the law will I never be, But man's fellowship shall never follow me; I will live ever in chastity By the grace of God's will. EPISCOPUS Ah, fair maid, why sayest thou so? 40 What meaneth thee for to live full chaste? Why wilt thou not to wedding go? The cause thou tell me and that in haste. MARIA My father and my mother agreed also, Ere I was born, you may me trust, 45 They were both barren, their fruit was done; They came to the temple at the last To do here sacrifice. Because they had neither fruit nor child Reproved they were, of the wicked and wild, 50 With great shame they were reviled, All men did them despise. My father and mother, they wept full sore, Full heavy their hearts were of this deed, With weeping eyes they prayed therefore 55 That God would succour them and send them seed. If God would grant to them a child to be born, They promised the child her life should lead In God's temple to serve evermore, And worship God in love and dread. 60 Then God, full of grace, He heard their long prayer And sent them then both seed and flower. When I was born in their bower To the temple offered I was. 65 When that I was to the temple brought And offered up to God above, There requested I, as my heart thought, To serve my God with hearty love. Cleaness and chastity, my heart's oath, 70 Earthly creature never may move. Such clean life should you not In no manner wise reprove. To this cleaness I me take. 75 This is the cause, as I you tell, That I with man will never mell. In the service of God will I ever dwell; I will never have another mate. EPISCOPUS Ah, mercy, God! These word's wise Of this fair maid clean, 80 They trouble my heart in many ways. Her wit is great and that is seen. In cleaness to live in God's service, No man her blames, none here will distain; And yet, in law, thus it lies, 85 That such wedded should have been. Who shall expound this out? The law doth after life of cleaness; The law doth bid such maidens express That to spousing they should them address-- 90 God help us in this doubt! Now, lord God, lord wisest of all, I pray thee, Lord, kneeling on knee, With careful heart I cry and call, This doubtful doubt inform thou me. 95 ANGELUS Thy prayer is heard in high heaven's hall, God hath me sent here down to thee, To tell thee what to do with all And how thou shalt be ruled in each degree; Take tent and understand! 100 This is God's own bidding: That all kinsmen of David the king To the temple shall bring their offering, With white wands in their hands. Look well what time they offer there, 105 All their wands in hand thou take; Take heed whose wand does bloom and bear And he shall be the maiden's mate. EPISCOPUS I thank thee, Lord, with mild cheer, Thy word shall I work without mistake; 110 I shall send for them both far and near, To work thy will I undertake, Anon it shall be done. Hark, messenger, thou wend thy way, David's kinsmen, as I thee say, 115 Bid them come offer this same day And bring white wands also. NUNCIUS Oy! All manner men take to me tent That be ought of kindred to David the king. My lord the bishop hath for you sent 120 To the temple that ye come with your offering. He chargeth that ye haste you, for he is ready bent You to receive at your coming. He biddeth you furthermore in hands that ye hent A fair white wand, each of you bring 125 On high. Tarry not, I pray you My lord, as I say you, Now to receive you Is full ready dight. 130 JOSEPH In great labour my life I lead My occupation lies in many places For feebleness of age my journey I may not speed. I thank thee, great God, of thy grace. FIRST GENERATION OF DAVID What cheer, Joseph? What is the case 135 That ye lie here on this ground? JOSEPH Age and feebleness doth me embrace, That I may neither well go nor stand. SECOND GENERATION OF DAVID We be commanded by the bishop's sound That every man of David's kindred 140 In the temple offer a wand; Therefore in this journey let us proceed. JOSEPH Me to travel it is no need. I pray you friends, go forth your way THIRD GENERATION OF DAVID Yes, come forth, Joseph, there is need, 145 For you know what the bishop will say. FOURTH GENERATION OF DAVID There is a maid whose name is called Mary Daughter to Joachim as it is told. Her to marry they will try To some man douty and bold. 150 FIRST GENERATION OF DAVID To worship my lord God, hither I come, Here for to offer my due offering. A fair white wand in hand have I now, My lord, sir bishop, at your bidding. SECOND GENERATION OF DAVID Of David's kindred, certainly, am I come, 155 A fair white wand in hand now I bring; My lord bishop, after your own doom. This wand do I offer at your charging Right here. THIRD GENERATION OF DAVID And I a wand have, both fair and white, 160 Here in my hand is ready dight; And here I offer it forth within sight, Right in good manner. FOURTH GENERATION OF DAVID I am the fourth of David's kin, And with my offering, my God I honour. 165 This fair white wand is offering mine, I trust in God of some succour. Come on, Joseph, with offering thine, And bring up thine as we have ours. Thou tarriest right long behind, certain, 170 Why comest thou not forth to God's tower? Come on, man, for shame! JOSEPH Come? Ya, ya -- God help -- full fain I would. But I am so aged and so old That both my legs begin to fold, 175 I am nigh almost lame. EPISCOPUS Ah, mercy, Lord, I can no sign aspy. It is best we go again to prayer. VOX He brought not up his rod, yet, truly, To whom the maiden ought to be married here. 180 EPISCOPUS What! Joseph, why stand ye there behind? Certainly, sir, you are to blame! JOSEPH Sir, I cannot my rod find. To come there, in truth, I think it shame! EPISCOPUS Come hence! 185 JOSEPH Sir, he may evil go that is near lame -- In truth, I come as fast as I may! EPISCOPUS Offer up your rod, sir, in God's name! Why do you not as men you pray? JOSEPH Now in the worship of God of heaven 190 I offer this wand as lily white, Praying that Lord of gracious heaven, With heart, with wit, with main, with might, And as he made the stars seven, This simple offering that is so light, 195 To his worship he wieldeth even; For to his worship this wand is dight. Lord God, I thee pray, To my heart thou take good heed And nothing to my sinful deed; 200 After my will thou quit my need, As pleaseth to thy pay. EPISCOPUS Ah, gracious God in heaven's throne, Right wonderful thy works be! Here may we see a marvel won, 205 A dead stick beareth flowers free. Joseph, in heart without a moan, Thou mayest be blithe with game and glee, A maid to wed thou must now go, By this miracle I do well see; 210 Mary is her name. JOSEPH What, should I wed? God forbid! I am an old man, so God me speed, And with a wife, now, to live in dread, It were neither sport nor game. 215 EPISCOPUS Against God, Joseph, thou mayest not strive, God wills that thou a wife have. This fair maid shall be thy wife, She is obedient, fair and brave. JOSEPH Ah! Should I have her, ye lose my life. 220 Alas, dear God, should I now rave? An old man may never thrive With a young wife, so God me save. Nay, nay, sir, let be! Should I now in age begin to dote? 225 If I her chide she would clout my coat, Blear my eye and pick out a mote, And thus oftentimes it is seen. EPISCOPUS Joseph, now as I thee say, God hath assigned here to thee; 230 That God will have done, say thou not nay, Our lord God wills that it so be. JOSEPH Against my God rebel not I may Her warden and keeper will I ever be. But, fair maiden, I thee pray, 235 Keep thee clean as I shall me. I am a man of age, Therefore sir bishop, I will that ye wete That in bed we shall never meet; For, iwis, maiden sweet, 240 An old man may not rage. EPISCOPUS Joseph, with this ring now wed thy wife, And by her hand now thou her take. JOSEPH Sir, with this ring I wed her right, 245 And take her now here for my mate. EPISCOPUS Mary, maid, without more strife Unto thy spouse that hast him take. MARIA In chastity to lead my life I shall him never forsake But ever with him abide. 250 And, gentle spouse, as ye have said, Let me live as a clean maid-- I shall be true, be not dismayed, Both term-time and tide. EPISCOPUS Joseph, thyself art old of age 255 And thy wife of age is young, And as we read in old adage Many a man is slippery of tongue Therefore evil language for to asuage, That your good fame may last long. 260 Three damsels shall dwell with you in stage, With thy wife to be evermore among. I shall these three here take: Susanne, the first shall be, Rebecca, the second shall go with thee, 265 Sephore, the third. Look that ye three This maiden never more forsake! SUSANNE Sir, I am ready at your will With this maiden for to wend. REBECCA Your bidding, sir, I shall fulfill 270 And follow this maiden, fair and hend. SEPHORE To follow her it is good skill And to your bidding will I bend. JOSEPH Now, sir bishop, hence go I will, For now comes into my mind 275 A matter that needful is. EPISCOPUS Farewell, Joseph and Mary clear, I pray God keep you all in care And send you grace in good manner To serve the king of bliss. 280 MARIA Father and mother, ye know this case, How that it doth now stand with me; With my spouse I must forth pass And I know not when I shall you see. Therefore I pray you here in this place 285 Of your blessing, for charity, And I shall speed the better and have more grace In what place that ever I be. On knees to you I fall; I pray you, father and mother dear, 290 To bless your own dear daughter And pray for me in all manner; And I for you all. JOACHIM Almighty God, he may thee bless And my blessing thou have also 295 God guide thee in all goodness On land or on water wherever thou go! ANNA Now God thee keep from every miss And save thee sound in wealth from woe! I pray thee, daughter, thou once me kiss 300 Ere that thy mother part thee fro. I pray God thee save! I pray thee, Mary, my sweet child, Be lowly and obedient, meek and mild, Sad and sober and nothing wild, 305 And God's blessing thou have. JOACHIM Farewell, Joseph, and God you speed Whereso ye be in hall or bower! JOSEPH Almighty God your ways lead And save you sound from all sorrow! 310 ANNA God's grace on you spread! Farewell, Mary, my sweet flower, Farewell, Joseph and God you speed, Farewell, my child and my treasure, Farewell my daughter young! 315 MARIA Farewell, father and mother dear, From you I take my leave right here; God that sits in heaven so clear Have you in his keeping! JOSEPH Come forth, Mary, and follow me, 320 To Nazareth now will we go. And all the maidens both fair and free With my wife come forth also! Now listen well, wife, what I tell thee: I must go out hence far thee from. 325 I will go labour in a far country With truth to maintain our household so; These nine months thou will see me not. Keep thee clean, my gentle spouse, And all thy maidens in thine house, 330 That evil rumours come not out, For his love that all has wrought. MARIA I pray God he speed your way, And in soul health he may you keep And send you health both night and day. 335 He shield and save you from all shame's grip! Now, Lord of grace, to thee I pray, With mourning mood on knee I creep, Me save from sin, from sorrow and betrayal; With heart I mourn, with eye I weep, 340 Lord God of pity! When I sit in my conclave All my heart on thee I have, Gracious God, my maidenhead save, Ever clean in chastity! 345
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