CONTEMPLATION Christ conserve this congregation From perils past, present and future, And the persons here playing, that the pronunciation Of their sentences to be said might be sad and sure, And that no obfuscation make this matter obscure, 5 But it may profit and please each person present, From the beginning to the ending so to endure That Christ and every creature with the conceit be content. That matter here is made of the mother of mercy; How by Joachim and Anna was her conception, 10 How she was offered in the temple, compiled briefly, Then married to Joseph, and so, following the salutation, Meeting with Elizabeth and therewith a conclusion. In few words devised that it should not be tedious To learned nor to simple nor to any man of reason. 15 This is our story; now preserve you, Jesus! Therefore of peace I you pray all that be here present, And take heed to our talking, what we shall say. I commend you to that Lord that is ever omnipotent To govern you in goodness as he best may -- 20 In heaven we may him see. Now God that is of heaven king Send us all his dear blessing, And to his tower that he might us bring, Amen, for charity! 25 YSAKAR The priests of God offer sweet incense Unto their God, and therefore they are holy. We that minister here in God's presence, In us should be found no manner of folly. Ysakar, prince of priests, am I 30 That this holiest day here have ministration Certifying all tribes in my care specially, That this is the highest feast of our solemnization. This we call Festum Encenniorum The new feast, of which three in the year we exercise. 35 Now all the kindreds to Jerusalem must come Into the temple of God, here to do sacrifice. Those that be cursed it is my authority to despise, And those that be blessed, their holy sacrifice to take. We be regal sacerdocium; it behoves us to be wise, 40 By fasting, by praying, by alms and at times we must wake. JOACHIM Now all this country of Galilee, With this city of Nazareth special, This feast to Jerusalem must we go To make sacrifice to God eternal. 45 My name is Joachim, a man in goods substantial. Joachim is to say, "he that to God is ready"; So have I been and evermore shall, For the dreadful judgment of God, sore dread I. I am called righteous; why, will you see? 50 For my goods into three parts I divide: One to the temple and to them that there serving be, Another to the pilgrims and poor men, the third for them who with me abide. So should every curate in this world wide Give a part to his chancel, iwis, 55 A part to his parishioners that to poverty do slide, The third part to keep for him and his. But blessed wife, Anne, sore I dread In the temple this time to make sacrifice. Because no fruit from us does proceed, 60 I fear me greatly the priest will me despise; Then great scandal in our tribe should arise. But this I swear to God with all the meekness I can: If, of his mercy, he would us a child devise, We shall offer it up into the temple to be God's man. 65 ANNA Your mournful words make tears trickle down my face; I think, sweet husband, the fault is in me. My name is Anne, that is to say "grace" -- We know not how gracious God will to us be. A woman should bear Christ, these prophecies have we -- 70 If God send fruit and it be a maid-child, With all reverence I vow to his majesty, She shall be her foot-maid to minister to her most mild. JOACHIM Now let it be as God would, there is no more! Two turtle-doves for my sacrifice with me I take, 75 And I beseech, wife, if ever we meet more, That his great mercy us merrier might make. ANNA For dread and distress of your words, I quake. Thrice I kiss you with sighs full sad, And a prayer for the mercy of God meekly I make; 80 And though that we depart in sorrow, God make our meeting glad! SENIOR TRIBE MEMBER Worshipful sir Joachim, are you ready now? All your kindred are come you to exhort, That they may do sacrifice at the temple with you, For you be of great worship as men you report. 85 JOACHIM All sinful, sick and sorry, God might comfort; I would I were as men me name! Thither in God's name mow let us all resort. Ah, Anne, Anne, Anne, God shield us from shame! ANNA Now am I left alone, sore may I weep. 90 Ah, husband, against God well might you bring, And from shame and sorrow he might you keep! 'Til I see you again, I cannot cease of weeping. SENIOR Prince of our priests, if it be your pleasing, We are come meekly to make our sacrifice. 95 YSAKAR May God help you, both old and young, Then devoutly we will begin our service.
There they shall sing this sequence: Benedicta sit beata Trinitas. And in that time Ysakar with his ministers insensing the altar, and then they make their offering and Isakar sayeth,
Come up, sirs, and offer all now, Ye that to do sacrifice worthy are. Abide a while, sir! Whither goest thou? 100 Thou and thy wife are barren and bare. Neither of you are fruitful, as I am aware. Why dare you among the fruitful to presume and abuse? It is a token that thou cursed are; Wherefore with great indignation thy offering I refuse. 105
And he refuses the sacrifice of Joachim
Among these people the barren may not go, -- Therefore, come up and offer her all! -- Thou, Joachim, I charge thee fast out of the temple thou go!
And he [Joachim] shall retire weeping
Then with God's holy word bless you I shall.
With the minister singing:
Adiutorium nostrum in nomine domini 110 CHORUS: Qui fecit celum et terram. MINISTER: Sit nomen domini benedictum: CHORUS: Ex hoc nunc et usque in seculum. BISHOP: Benedicat vos diuina maiestas et vna deitas +Pater+et Filius+et Spiritus Sanctus. 115 CHORUS: Amen. [ISAKAR]
making the sign of the cross solemnly with his hand; and the tribes shall withdraw from the temple
Now of God and man blessed be ye all. Homeward again now return ye, And in this temple abide we shall To serve God in Trinity. 120 JOACHIM Ah, merciful Lord, what is this life? What have I done, Lord, to have this blame? For heaviness I dare not go home to my wife, And among my neighbours I dare not abide for shame. Ah, Anne, Anne, our joy will never be the same! 125 From your blessed fellowship I am now exiled; And when you hear of this foul fame, Sorrow will slay you, to see me thus reviled. But since God suffers this, we must suffer the need. Now will I go to my shepherds and with them abide, 130 And there evermore live in sorrow and in dread. Shame makes many a man his head for to hide. Ha! how do you, fellows? In you is little pride. How fare you and my beasts? True tidings would I, verily. FIRST PASTOR Ah! Welcome hither, blessed master! We pasture them full wide. 135 They be lusty and fair and greatly multiply. How do ye, master? Ye look all heavily. How doth our dame at home? Sits she and seweth? JOACHIM To hear thee speak of her it slayeth my heart verily. How I and she do, God himself knoweth; 140 The meek God lifteth up, the proud overthroweth. Go, do what ye wish! See your beasts do not stray! SECOND PASTOR After great sorrow, master, ever great grace groweth. Simple as we are, we shall for you pray. THIRD PASTOR Yea, to pray for those full of care; it is great need. 145 We all will pray for you, our knees one land. God, of his goodness, send you good speed, And of your sorrow you soon amend! JOACHIM I am not worthy, Lord, to look up to heaven; My sinful steps poison the ground. 150 I, most loathsome that liveth: thou, Lord, highest in the seats seven. What art thou, Lord? What am I, wretch, worse than a hound? Thou hast sent me shame, which my heart doth wound -- I thank thee more for this than for my prosperity. This is a token thou lovest me, now I to thee am bound; 155 Thou sayest thou art with them that in tribulation be. And whoever has thee, he needs not have cares then; My sorrow is fearing I have done some offence. Punish me, Lord, and spare my blessed wife Anne Who sits and sorrows full sore in my absence. 160 There is no one may profit, but prayer in your presence. With prayers, prostrate, before thy person I weep; Have mind of our vow for your much magnificence, And my most loving wife, Anne, Lord for thy mercy keep. ANNA Ah, mercy, Lord, mercy, mercy, mercy! 165 We are the most sinful -- since you send us all this sorrow. Why do ye this to my husband, Lord? Why, why, why? For my barreness -- ye may amend this thyself, if you want, tomorrow, And it please so thy mercy; to thee, Lord, a wager I'll borrow. I shall shall keep my vow while I live at least. 170 But I fear I have offended thee, my heart is full of sorrow. Most meekly I pray for thy pity, that this trial thou wouldst release.
Here the angel descends; the heaven singing: Exultet celum laudibus resultet terra gaudijs archangelorum gloria sacra canunt solemnia
JOACHIM What art thou, in God's name, that makes me adread? It is as lyeth about me as all the world were in fear. ANGEL I am an angel of God, come to make you glad. 175 God is pleased with thine alms and has heard thy prayer; He sees thy shame, thy reproof and thy tears clear. God is an avenger of sin, and nature does not loath; To those whose womb he spares and makes barren there, He does show his might and his mercy both. 180 Thou seest that Sara was ninety years barren; She had a son, Isaac to whom God gave his blessing. Rachel also had the same pain; She had a son, Joseph, that of Eygpt was king. No one has ever been stronger than Sampson, in writing, 185 Nor holier than Samuel, it is said thus; Yet their mothers were barren both in the beginning. The conception of all such, it is full marvelous. And in like wise, Anna, thy blessed wife, She shall bear a child that shall be called Mary, 190, Who shall be blessed in her body and have joys five; And full of the Holy Ghost, inspired singularly, She shall be offered in the temple, solemnly, That of her no evil fame should spring thus; And she shall be born of a barren body, 195 So of her shall be born, without nature, Jesus, That shall be saviour unto all mankind. In token, when thou comest to Jerusalem, to the Golden Gate, Thou shalt meet Anna, thy wife -- have this in thy mind. I shall say her the same, her sorrows to abate. 200 JOACHIM Of this incomparable comfort I shall never forget the date! My sorrow was never so great, but now my joy is more. I shall home in haste, be it never so late. Ah, Anne, blessed be that body of thee shall be born! Now, farewell, my shepherds! Govern you now wisely! 205 FIRST PASTOR Have ye good tidings, master? Then be we glad. JOACHIM Praise God for me, for I am not worthy. SECOND PASTOR In faith, sir, so we shall with all our souls sad. THIRD PASTOR I hold it helpful that one of us by you be had. JOACHIM Nay, abide with your beasts, son in God's blessing! 210 FIRST PASTOR We shall make us so merry now that ye be glad, That a mile on your way ye shall hear us sing. ANNA Alas, for my husband I am full of woe! I shall go seek him, whatsoever befall. I know not on earth which way he did go. 215 Father of heaven, for mercy at your feet I fall! ANGEL Anne, thine husband right now I was withall, The angel of God that bare him good tiding. As I said to him, so to thee say I shall: God hath heard thy prayer and thy weeping. 220 At the Golden Gate thou shalt meet him full mild, And in great gladness return to your house. So by process thou shalt conceive and bear a child Which shall be called Mary; and Mary shall bear Jesus Which shall be saviour of all the world and us. 225 After great sorrow, ever great gladness is had. Now my embassy I have said to you thus; Go in our Lord's name, and in God be glad! ANNA Now blessed be our Lord and all his works aye! All heaven and earth must bless you for this. 230 I am joyful, I know not what I may say. There can no tongue tell what joy in me is. I to bear a child that shall bear all mans' bliss, And have my husband again -- who might have joys more? No creature in earth is granted more mercy, iwis. 235 I shall hie me to the gate to be there him before.
Here goeth the angel again to heaven
Ah, blessed be our Lord, my husband I see! I shall on my knees towards him creep. JOACHIM Ah, gracious wife Anne, now fruitful shall you be! For joy of this meeting, in my soul I weep. 240 Have this kiss of cleaness and with you it keep. In God's name now go we, wife, home to our house! ANNA There was never joy sunk in me so deep. Now may we say, husband, God is to us gracious, verily. 245 JOACHIM Yea, and if we have lived well here before. A boon, Lord I thee implore, So might we live evermore And by thy grace more holily. ANNA Now homeward, husband, I urge we be gone, 250 Right home all to our place, To thank God that sits in throne, That thus has sent us his grace. CONTEMPLATION Sovereigns, ye have seen showed ye before, Of Joachim and Anne, here both in holy meeting. 255 How Our Lady was conceived and how she was born, We pass over that, briefness of time considering; And how Our Lady in her tender age and young Into the temple was offered, and so forth, proceed. This sentence said, shall be her beginning. 260 Now the mother of mercy in this be our speed! And as a child of three year's of age here she shall appear To all people that be here present; And of her great grace now shall you hear, How she lived ever to God's intent 265 With grace; That holy matter we will declare, Till fourteen years, how she did fare. Now of your speech I pray you spare All that be in this place. 270
Here Joachim and Anne, with Our Lady between them being all in white as a child of three years of age, present her into the temple; thus saying Joachim,
JOACHIM Blessed be our Lord, fair fruit have we now. Anne, wife, remember will ye That we made to God a holy vow That our first child, the servant of God should be. The age of Mary, our daughter, is years three, 275 Therefore to the three persons and one God let us her present; The younger she be drawn, the better it seems to me, And for delaying our vow to God we might be shent. ANNA It is as you say, husband, indeed. Let us take Mary, our daughter, us between 280 And to the temple with her proceed. Daughter, the angel told us you should be a queen; Will you go see that Lord that your husband shall be, And learn to love him, and with him lead your life? Tell your father and me here, your answer let us see; 285 Will you be a pure maiden, and also God's wife? MARY Father and mother, if it pleasing to you be, You have made your vow; so truly will I, To be God's chaste servant while life is in me -- But to be God's wife, I was never worthy. 290 I am the simplest that ever was born of body. I have heard you say, God should have a mother sweet; That I may live to see her, God grant me for his mercy, And allow me to lay my hands under her fair feet!
And she bows to God
JOACHIM Truly, daughter, it is well said. 295 You answer as if you were twenty years old! ANNA With your speech, Mary, I am well repaid. Can you go alone? Let's see -- be bold! MARY To go to God's house will you now behold; I am joyful thitherward as I may be. 300 JOACHIM Wife, I am right joyful, our daughter to behold. ANNA So am I, truly, husband. Now, in God's name go we. JOACHIM Sir prince of priests, if it please you, We that were barren, God hath sent a child; To offer her to God's service we made our vow; 305 Here is the same maid, Mary, most mild. ISAKAR Joachim, I have good mind how I you reviled; I am right joyful that God hath given you his grace To be among the fruitful; now be you reconciled. Come, sweet Mary, come! You have a gracious face. 310
Joachim kneeling to God saying thus,
JOACHIM Now, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, One God and persons three, We offer to thee, Lord of heavenly host, Our daughter, thy servant evermore to be. ANNA Thereto most bound evermore be we. 315 Mary, in this holy place leave you we shall; In God's name now up go ye; Our father, our priest, lo, to you doth call. MARY Mother, if you will, first will I take my leave Of my father and you, my mother if you please. 320 I have a Father in heaven, this I believe; Now, good father, with that Father you me bless. JOACHIM In nomine Patris et Filij et Spiritus Sancti. MARY Amen. Now you, good mother. ANNA In nomine Patris et Filij et Spiritus Sancti 325 MARY Amen Now our Lord thank you for this. Here is my father and my mother both, Most meekly I beseech I may you kiss. Now forgive me if ever I made you wrath. 330
And embracing them she shall kiss her father and mother
JOACHIM Nay, daughter, you offended never God nor man. Loved be that Lord who doth you keep! ANNA Sweet daughter, think on your mother Anne, Your sorrow smites on my heart deep. MARY Father and mother, I shall pray for you and weep 335 To God with all my heart specially. Bless me day and night, wherever you sleep, Good father and mother, and be both merry. JOACHIM Ah! whoever had such a child! Never creature yet that ever was born. 340 She is so gracious, she is so mild; So should children to father and mother evermore. ANNA Then should they be blessed and please God here. Husband, and it please you, let us go not at all Til Mary be in the temple above there. 345 I would not for all the earth see her fall. BISHOP Come, good Mary! Come, babe, I thee call! Make your way carefully, angels thee attend. Thou shall be the daughter of God eternal If the fifteen steps thou may ascend. 350 It is a miracle if you do. Now God thee defend! From Babylon to heavenly Jerusalem this is the way. Every man that thinks his life to amend, The fifteen psalms, in memory of this maid, say. MARY
(and thus from the beginning to the end of the fifteen psalms)
The first degree, spiritually applied 355 Is the holy desire with God to be: In trouble, to God I have cryed, And quickly the Lord hath heard me Ad dominum cum tribularer clamaui; et exaudiuit me. 360 The second is study with meek enquiry, truly, How I shall have knowledge of God's will: To the mountains of heaven, I have lifted my eye, From whence God's help shall come still. Leuaui oculos meos in montes; 365 vnde ueniat auxilium mihi. The third is gladness in mind hopefully, That we shall be saved, all of us: I am glad of these tidings told to me, Now shall we go into God's house. 370 Letatus sum in hijs que dicta sunt mihi; in domum domini ibimus. The fourth is meek obedience as is our debt To him that is above the planets seven: To thee, I have my eyes set 375 That dwells above the sky in heaven. Ad to leuaui oculos meos; qui habitas in celis. The fifth is proper confession, That we be nought without God thus: 380 Unless God in us have habitation Then our enemies should swallow us. Nisi quia dominus erat in nobis dicat nunc Israel; nisi quia dominus erat in nobis. The sixth is confidence in God's strength alone; 385 For if from him comes of all grace the stream: They that trust in God as in Mount Sion Shall not be moved; they live forever in Jerusalem. Qui confidunt in domino sicut mons Syon: non commouebitur in eternum qui habitat in Hierusalem. 390 The seventh is the sure hope of immortality In our Lord's grace and mercy: When our Lord will convert our captivity, Then we are made joyful and merry. In conuertendo dominus captiuitatem Syon; 395 facti sumus sicut consolati The eighth is to condemn vainglory in us, For God all mankind has multiplied: Unless our Lord make here our house, They labour in vain who build it: 400 Nisi dominus edificauerit domum; in uanum laborauerunt qui edificant eam. The ninth is a child-like fear indeed, With a longing love in our Lord that ever is: Blessed are all they that God dread, 405 Who go in his holy ways. Beati omnes qui timent dominum: qui ambulant in vijs eius The tenth is strong resistance to bodily temptation; For the sights of the flesh be strong and evil. 410 Oft youth is afflicted with such vexation; But seeing God is best, that is to say, Israel. Sepe expugnauerunt me a iuuentute mea; dicat nunc Israel The eleventh is self-accusing confession of iniquity, 415 Of which full painful is the noise; From the depths, Lord, I have cries to thee, Lord, hear quickly my simple voice. De profundis clamaui ad te domine: domine exaudi uocem meam 420 The twelfth is meekness that is fair and soft In man's soul within and without. Lord, my heart is not raised aloft, Nor are my eyes looking about. Domine non est exaltatum cor meum; neque 425 elati sunt oculi mei The thirteenth is faith therewith, Which holy deeds do express: Have mind, Lord, of David And of all his sweetness. 430 Momento domine Dauid; et omnis mansuetudinis eius The fourteenth is brotherly concord, iwis, That nurtures love of creatures, each one: See how good and how glad it is 435 Brothers for to dwell as one. Ecce quam bonum et quam jocundum; habitare fratres in vnum. The fifteenth is gracious with one accord, Which is a sign of the love of God, it seems to me: 440 See now, bless our Lord, All that our Lord's servants be. Ecce nunc benedicite dominum: omnes serui dominij. BISHOP A, gracious Lord, this is a marvellous thing 445 That we see here all in sight; A babe of three year's of age so young To come up these steps so upright. It is a high miracle, and by God's might, There is no doubt, she shall be gracious. 450 MARY Holy father, I beseech you forthright, Say how I shall be ruled in God's house. BISHOP Daughter, God hath given us commandments ten, Which, shortly to say, are contained in two, And they must be kept by all Christian men 455 Or else their judgment is perpetual pain. You must love God above all and your fellow Christians plain; God first for his high and sovereign dignity; He loved you first, love him again, For of love, in his own likeness he made thee. 460 Love Father, Son and Holy Ghost: Love God the Father, for he giveth might; Love God the Son, for he gives Wisdom the most; Love God the Holy Ghost, for he gives love and light. Three persons and one God thus love by right, 465 With all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind And with all the strength within thy sight; Then love your fellow Christian as thyself without end. You shall hate nothing but the devil and sin -- God bids thee love your bodily enemy. 470 And as for your self here, thus shall you begin: You must serve and worship God here daily, For with prayer comes grace and mercy; Afterwards have some time to eat with pleasure Then to have labour bodily, 475 That therein be spiritual and bodily measure. Your living shall be with your maidens five, Such time as you will have consolation. MARY This life I like as my life -- Of their names, I beseech you to have information. 480 BISHOP There is the first, Meditation, Contrition, Compassion and Cleanness, And that holy maid, Fruition; With these blessed maidens shall be your business. MARY Here is a holy fellowship, I feel 485 I am not worthy among them to be. Sweet sisters, to you all I kneel, To receive me, I beseech your charity. BISHOP They shall, daughter. And on the other side see There be seven priests, indeed, 490 To shrieve, to teach and to minister to thee, To teach you God's laws and scripture to read. MARY Father, to know their names, fain would I BISHOP There is Discretion, Devotion, Dilection and Deliberation, They shall attend upon you busily, 495 With Declaration, Determination, Divination. Now go, you maidens, to your occupation, And look you tend this child tenderly And you, sirs, kneel and I shall give you God's benison: In nomine Patris et Filij et Spiritus Sancti 500
And he shall withdraw with his ministers. All the virgins will say "Amen"
MARY To you, father and mother, I me commend, Blessed be the time you me hither brought. JOACHIM Daughter, the Father of our faith must you defend, As he of his might made all things of nought! ANNA Mary, to thy soul solace he send 505 In whose wisdom all this word was wrought! Go we now hence, my husband and friend, For out of care now are we brought.
Here Joachim and Anna retire to their house
MARY By the Holy Ghost, at home be you brought!
To the virgins
Sisters, you may go to do what you shall, 510 To serve God first here is all my thought. Before this holy altar on my knees I fall. Lord, seven petitions, I beseech you here: First, that I may keep thy love and thy law; The second, to love my fellow Christians as myself dear; 515 The third, from all that thou hatest me to withdraw; The fourth, all virtues to your pleasing know; The fifth, to obey the rules of the temple each one; The sixth, that all people may serve thee in awe, That in this holy temple fault be there none. 520 The seventh, Lord, I ask with great fear: That I may see once in my life That lady that shall God's son bear, That I may serve her with my wits five, If it please you, help me so to strive. 525 With prayers prostrate for these graces I weep; Oh, my God, devotion deep in me drive That my heart may wake in thee, though my body sleep.
Here the angel brings manna in a cup of gold, like confections, the heaven singing. The angel saith,
ANGEL Marvel not, meekest maiden, of my ministration; I am a good angel sent from the God of might 530 With angels' food for your sustentation, You must receive it for natural might. We angels shall serve you day and night. Now eat you of it in God's name. We shall teach you the library of our Lord's law light 535 From my sayings, you show signs of shame. MARY To thank our sovereign Lord is insufficient in my mind, I shall feed me from this food my Lord has me sent. All manner of savouries in this meat I find, I never felt any so sweet or so redolent. 540 ANGEL Each day therewith you shall be content, Angels all hours shall to you appear. MARY Mercy, my maker, how may this be meant? I am the smplest creature that is living here. ANGEL In you name, Maria, five letters we have: 545 M -- mayde most merciful, and meekest in mind; A -- averter of the anguish that Adam began; R -- regina of region, reigning without end; I -- innocent of influence, of Jesse's kin; A -- advocate most authentic, your ancestor, Anna. 550 Heaven and hell here knees down bend When this holy name is said: Maria. MARY I quake greatly for dread to here this commendation; Good sweet angel, why do you say thus? ANGEL For you shall hereafter have a salutation 555 That shall this exceed, it is said among us; The deity that deed shall determine and discuss. You shall never, lady, be left here alone. MARY I cry thee mercy, Lord, and thine earth kiss, Recommending me to that Godhead that is triune on His throne. 560
Here she will kiss the ground. Here shall come always an angel with divers presents going and coming, and in the time they shall sing in heaven this hymn: Jesu corona virginum. And after there comes a minister from the bishop with a present and says,
MINISTER Prince of our priests, Isakar by name, He hath sent you himself his service indeed; And bade you should feed yourself -- spare for no shame; In this meal time you should no longer read. MARY Recommend me to my father, sir, and God give him meed. 565 These vessels again soon I shall him send. I shall bear it to my sisters, I know they have more need -- God's plenty is closer to his servants than we comprehend. Sisters, our holy father, Isakar, Hath sent us his service right here now. 570 Feed you thereof heartily, I pray you not spare. And if ought be left, specially I pray you That the poor men the remainder thereof have now, Fain and I might, I would do deeds of mercy. Poor folk survive, God alone knows how, 575 On them ever I have great pity. CONTEMPLATION Lo, soverains, here you have seen In the temple of our Lady's presentation; She was never occupied in things vain, But ever busy in holy occupation. 580 And we beseech you of your patience That we pass these matters so lightly away; If they should be done with good providence, Each one would suffice for a holy day. Now shall we proceed to her dispensation, 585 Which after this was fourteen years. Time allows us not to make hesitation; Have patience with us we beseech you here, And in short space The Parliament of Heaven soon shall you see, 590 And how God's son man shall become he; And how the salutation after shall be, By God's holy grace.
Then will come Isakar, the bishop
[BISHOP] Listen, my lords, both high and low, And tenderly take heed unto my saw. 595 Be obedient and benign your bishop to know, For I am that lord that made this law. With hearts so faithful, hearken now! Your damsels to wedding, yea, look that ye draw, That are past fourteen years, for that which ye owe. 600 The law of God biddeth this saw: That at fourteen years of age, Every damsel, whoso she be, To the increase of more plenty, Should be brought in good degree 605 Unto her spousage. JOACHIM Hark now, Anne, my gentle spouse, How that the bishop his law hath told; That what man hath a daughter in his house That passes fourteen years old, 610 He must her bring, I heard him say, Into the temple a spouse to wed. Wherefore our daughter right good and gay Into the temple she must be led, And that anon right soon. 615 ANNA Sir, I grant that it be so, Against the law may we not do. With her together let us now go; I hold it right well done. JOACHIM Sir bishop, here after thine own behest, 620 We have here brought out daughter dear, Mary, my sweet child; she is full pressed, Of age she if full fourteen year. BISHOP Welcome, Joachim, as my guest Both Anne, thy wife, and Mary bright! 625 Now Mary, child, to the law thou list And choose thee a spouse to be thy mate -- The law thou must fulfill. MARIA Against the law will I never be, But man's fellowship shall never follow me; 630 I will live ever in chastity By the grace of God's will. BISHOP Ah, fair maid, why sayest thou so? What meaneth thee for to live full chaste? Why wilt thou not to wedding go? 635 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, They were both barren, their fruit was done; They came to the temple at the last 640 To do here sacrifice. Because they had neither fruit nor child Reproved they were, of the wicked and wild, With great shame they were reviled, All men did them despise. 645 My father and mother, they wept full sore, Full heavy their hearts were of this deed, With weeping eyes they prayed therefore That God would succour them and send them seed. If God would grant to them a child to be born, 650 They promised the child her life should lead In God's temple to serve evermore, And worship God in love and dread. Then God, full of grace, He heard their long prayer 655 And then sent them both seed and flower. When I was born in their bower To the temple offered I was. When that I was to the temple brought And offered up to God above, 660 There requested I, as my heart thought, To serve my God with heartly love. Cleanness and chastity, my heart's oath, Earthly creature never may move. Such clean life should you not 665 In no manner wise reprove. To this cleanness I me take. This is the cause, as I you tell, That I with man will never mell. In the service of God will I ever dwell; 670 I will never have another mate. BISHOP Ah, mercy, God! These word's wise Of this fair maid clean, They trouble my heart in many ways. Her wit is great and that is seen. 675 In cleanness to live in God's service, No man her blames, none here will distain; And yet, in law, thus it lies, That such wedded should have been. Who shall expound this out? 680 The law doth after life of cleanness; The law doth bid such maidens express That to spousing they should them address-- God help us in this doubt! This answer greatly troubleth me: 685 To make a vow to fellow humans is lawful, Vovete et reddite in scripture have we; And to observe our law also it is needful; For me to understand this is dreadful. Therefore to council me in this case, I call 690 The old and the wise and such as will be helpful -- In this say your advice, I beseech you all. MINISTER To break our law and custom it were hard indeed, And on the other hand to act against scripture; To give judgment in this issue you must take good heed, 695 For doubtless this matter is diffuse and obscure. My advice here in this I you assure Is that we all pray to God to have revelation, For by prayer, great knowledge men will incur; And to this I counsel you to give assignation. 700 BISHOP Truly your counsel is right good and wholesome, And as you have said, so it shall be. I charge you, brothers and sisters, hither you come, And together to God now pray we That it may please his infinite deity 705 Knowledge in this to send us. Meekly each man fall down on his knees And we shall begin: Veni creator spiritus
And here they sing Veni creator. And when Veni creator is done, the bishop shall say,
Now, lord God, lord wisest of all, I pray thee, Lord, kneeling on knee, 710 With careful heart I cry and call, This doubtful doubt inform thou me. ANGEL Thy prayer is heard in high heaven's hall, God hath me sent here down to thee, To tell thee what thou do shall 715 And how thou shalt be ruled in each degree; Take tent and understand! This is God's own bidding: That all kinsmen of David the king To the temple shall bring their offering, 720 With white wands in their hands. Look well what time they offer there, All their wands in hand thou take; Take heed whose wand does bloom and bear And he shall be the maiden's mate. 725 BISHOP I thank thee, Lord, with mild cheer, Thy word shall I work without mistake; I shall send for them both far and near, To work thy will I undertake, Anon it shall be do. 730 Hark, messenger, thou wend thy way, David's kinsmen, as I thee say, Bid them come offer this same day And bring white wands also. MESSENGER Oy! All manner men take to me tent 735 That be ought of kindred to David the king. My lord the bishop hath for you sent 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. 740 He biddeth you furthermore in hands that ye hent A fair white wand, each of you bring On high. Tarry not, I pray you My lord, as I say you, 745 Now to receive you Is full ready dight. JOSEPH Benedicite, I cannot understand What our prince of priests doth mean, That every man should come and bring with him a wand. 750 Able to be married, that is not I, so why me, then? I have been a virgin ever, and evermore well been. I changed not once all my long life, And now to be married -- to think would some men It is a strange thing, an old man to take a young wife. 755 But nevertheless, no doubt, we must forth to town. Now, neighbours and kinsmen, let us forth go; I shall take a wand in my hand and cast off my own. If I fall, then I shall groan for woe, Whoso takes away my staff, I say, he were my foe. 760 You be men that may well run, go ye before! I am old and also cold, walking doth me woe, Therefore will I, if my staff hold, this journey endure. BISHOP Sirs, ye shall understand That this is the cause of our coming, 765 And why each of you brings a wand. For of God we have knowing, Here is to be married a maid young. All your wands ye shall bring up to me And on whose wand that the Holy Ghost is sitting, 770 He shall the husband of this Mary be.
Here they carry the wands
JOSEPH It shall not be [I], I lay a groat! I shall abide behind, privily, Now would God I were at home in my coat, I am ashamed to be seen, verily. 775 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, 780 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, 785 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. 790 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, 795 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, 800 I am nigh almost lame. BISHOP Ah, mercy, Lord, I can no sign aspy! It is best that we go again to prayer. VOX He brought not up his rod, truly To whom the maid ought to be married here. 805 BISHOP What, Joseph, why stand yet here behind! Iwis, sir, ye are to blame! JOSEPH Sir, I cannot my wand find, To come there in truth methinketh shame. BISHOP Come thence! 810 JOSEPH Sir, he may ill go that is near lame! Truly, I come as fast as I may. BISHOP Offer up you wand, sir, in God's name! Why do ye not as men you pray? JOSEPH Now in the worship of God of heaven 815 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, 820 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; 825 After my will thou quit my need, As pleaseth to thy pay. I may not lift my hands high -- Lo, lo, lo! What see you now? BISHOP Ah, mercy, mercy, mercy, Lord we cry! 830 The blessed of God we see art thou.
And all cry: "Mercy, mercy!"
Ah, gracious God in heaven's throne, Right wonderful thy works be! Here may we see a marvel won, A dead stick beareth flowers free. 835 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; Mary is her name. 840 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. BISHOP Against God, Joseph, thou mayest not strive, 845 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. Alas, dear God, should I now rave? 850 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? If I her chide she would clout my coat, 855 Blear my eye and pick out a mote, And thus oftentimes it is seen. BISHOP Joseph, now as I thee say, God hath assigned here to thee; That God will have done, say thou not nay, 860 Our lord God wills that it so be. JOSEPH Against my God not do I may Her warden and keeper will I ever be. But, fair maiden, I thee pray, Keep thee clean as I shall me. 865 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, An old man may not rage. 870 BISHOP This holiest virgin shalt thou marry now, Your wand flourisheth fairest that men may see; The Holy Ghost we see sitteth on a bow. Now give we all praise to the Trinity.
And here they sing: Benedicta sit beata Trinitas
Joseph, will you have this maiden to your wife 875 And her honour and keep as ye know how to do? JOSEPH Nay, sir, so might I thrive! I have no right, no need thereto. BISHOP Joseph, it is God's will it should be so; Say after me as it is skill. 880 JOSEPH Sir, and to perform his will I bow thereto, For all thing ought to be his at will. BISHOP (and then Joseph) Say then after me: Here I take thee, Mary to wife ... To have, to hold ... as God his will with us will make ... And as long as between us ... the length of our life ... 885 To love you as myself ... my troth to you I make.
Now to Mary thus saying
Mary, will you have this man And him to keep as you life? MARY In tenderest wise, father, as I can, And with all my wits five. 890 BISHOP 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, And take her now here for my mate. BISHOP Mary, maid, without more strife 895 Unto thy spouse that hast him take. MARY In chastity to lead my life I shall him never forsake But ever with him abide. And, gentle spouse, as ye have said, 900 Let me live as a clean maid-- I shall be true, be not dismayed, Both term-time and tide. BISHOP Here is the holiest matrimony that ever was in this world! The high names of oure Lord we will now sing high. 905 We all will this solemn deed record Devoutly: Alma chorus domini nunc pangat nomina summi. Now goth home all in God's name Where-as your dwelling was before. Maidens, to let her go alone it were a shame, 910 It would heavy your hearts sore; Ye shall bless the time that she was bore, Now look ye at home here bring. MARY To have your blessing, father, I fall you before. BISHOP He bless you that hath no ending. 915 In nomine Patris et Filij et Spiritus Sancti Joseph, thyself art old of age And thy wife of age is young, And as we read in old adage Many a man is slippery of tongue 920 Therefore evil language for to asuage, That your good fame may last long. Three damsels shall dwell with you in stage, With thy wife to be evermore among. I shall these three here take: 925 Susanne, the first shall be, Rebecca, the second shall go with thee, Sephore, the third. Look that ye three This maiden never more forsake! SUSANNE Sir, I am ready at your will 930 With this maiden for to wend. REBECCA Your bidding, sir, I shall fulfill And follow this maiden, fair and hend. SEPHORE To follow her it is good skill And to your bidding will I bend. 935 JOSEPH Now, sir bishop, hence go I will, For now comes into my mind A matter that needful is. BISHOP Farewell, Joseph and Mary clear, I pray God keep you all in care 940 And send you grace in good manner To serve the king of bliss. MARY Father and mother, ye know this case, How that it doth now stand with me; With my spouse I must forth pass 945 And I know not when I shall you see. Therefore I pray you here in this place Of your blessing, for charity, And I shall speed the better and have more grace In what place that ever I be. 950 On knees to you I fall; I pray you, father and mother dear, To bless your own dear daughter And pray for me in all manner; And I for you all. 955 JOACHIM Almighty God, he may thee bless And my blessing thou have also God guide thee in all goodness On land or on water wherever thou go! ANNA Now God thee keep from every miss 960 And save thee sound in wealth from woe! I pray thee, daughter, thou once me kiss Ere that thy mother part thee fro. I pray God thee save! I pray thee, Mary, my sweet child, 965 Be lowly and obedient, meek and mild, Sad and sober and nothing wild, And God's blessing thou have. JOACHIM Farewell, Joseph, and God you speed Whereso ye be in hall or bower! 970 JOSEPH Almighty God your ways lead And save you sound from all sorrow! ANNA God's grace on you spread! Farewell, Mary, my sweet flower, Farewell, Joseph and God you speed, 975 Farewell, my child and my treasure, Farewell my daughter young! MARY Farewell, father and mother dear, From you I take my leave right here; God that sits in heaven so clear 980 Have you in his keeping! JOSEPH Wife, is is full necessary this ye know, That I and my kindred go home before, For truly we have no home of our own. Therefore I shall affairs arrange and then come you for. 985 We are not rich in worldly things, And yet of our sustenance we shall not miss; Therefore abide here still to your pleasing; To worship your God is all your bliss. He that is and ever shall be 990 Of heaven and hell rich king, In earth has chosen poverty And all riches and wealth refusing. MARY Go, husband, with our Lord's blessing He may you speed in all your need. 995 And I shall here abide your again-coming, And on my psalter-book I shall read. Now blessed be our Lord for this, Of heaven and earth and all that bears life! I am most bound to you, Lord, iwis, 1000 For now I am both maid and wife. Now Lord God dispose me to prayer That I may say the holy psalms of David, Which book is called the Psalter, That I may understand thee, thee, my God, therewith. 1005 Of the virtues thereof this is the height: It makes souls fair that do it say, Angels are stirred to help us therewith, It lightens the darkness and puts devils away. The singing of psalms is God's duty, 1010 Sin is put away thereby; It teaches a man virtuous to be, It strengthens man's heart spiritually; Who uses it customarily, It clarifies the heart and in charity makes growth. 1015 He may not fail of God's mercy That has the praising of God ever in his mouth. Oh holy psalms! Oh holy book! Sweeter to say than any honey; Thou teaches them love, Lord, that on thee look, 1020 And makes them desire things heavenly. With these hallowed psalms, Lord, I pray thee specially, For all the creatures quick and dead, That thou wilt show to them thy mercy, And to me specially that do it need. 1025 I have said some of my psalter and here I am At this holy psalm indeed: Benedixisti domine terram tuam3 In this holy labour, Lord me speed! JOSEPH Mary wife and maid most gracious, 1030 Displease you not, I pray you, so long I have been. I have hired for us a little pretty house And right easily we may live therein. Come forth, Mary, and follow me, To Nazareth now will we go. 1035 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. I will go labour in a far country 1040 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, That evil rumours come not out, 1045 For his love that all has wrought. MARY I pray God he speed your way, And in soul health he may you keep And send you health both night and day. He shield and save you from all shameship! 1050 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, Lord God of pity! 1055 When I sit in my conclave All my heart on thee I have, Gracious God, my maidenhead save, Ever clean in chastity! CONTEMPLATION Four thousand, six hundred and four years, I tell, 1060 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. Good lord, have on man pity; 1065 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, 1070 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! 1075 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, 1080 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 1085 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: 1090 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. 1095 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, 1100 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; 1105 Let thy mercy make him with angels dwell, Of Lucifer to restore the place. PATER Propter miseriam inopum Et gemitum pauperum Nunc exurgam. 1110 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, 1115 My contrite creatures cry all for comfort, All mine angels in heaven without cessation They cry that grace to man might exhort. TRUTH Lord, I am thy daughter, Truth, Thou wilt see I am not lorn; 1120 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 -- 1125 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. 1130 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, 1135 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; 1140 Me seemeth 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; 1145 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, no longer let him keep. 1150 RIGHTEOUSNESS 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 1155 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! 1160 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; 1165 Who might then thence him borrow? MERCY Sister Righteousness, you are too vengeable; Endless sin God, the endless, may restore. Above all his works God is merciful. Though man forsook God by sin, by faith he forsook him nevermore; 1170 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. PEACE To spare your speeches, sisters, it is fit; 1175 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 seyth best, to my consideration. For if man's soul should abide in hell, 1180 Between God and man ever should be division, And then might not I, Peace, dwell. Therefore, me seemeth best you thus accord, Then heaven and earth ye should please; Put both your sentences in our Lord 1185 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 fro other should divide. 1190 TRUTH In truth hereto I consent; I will pray our Lord it may so be. RIGHTEOUSNESS I, Righteousness, am well content, For in him is very equity. MERCY And I, Mercy, from this counsel will not flee; 1195 Till Wisdom hath said, I shall cease. PEACE Here is God now, here is unity; Heaven and earth is pleased with Peace. THE SON I think the thoughts of peace and not of wickedness. This I deem to cease your controversy: 1200 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; 1205 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. 1210 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? TRUTH I, Truth, have searched the earth without and within, 1215 And is truth there cannot be found, That is of one day's birth without sin. Nor to that death will be bound. MERCY I, Mercy, have run the heavenly region round And there is none of the charity 1220 That for man will suffer a deadly wound -- I cannot think how this shall be. RIGHTEOUSNESS Sure I can find none sufficient, For servants unprofitable we be each one. His love needs to be full ardent 1225 That for man to hell would go. PEACE 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. 1230 THE SON It pains me that man I made, That is to say, pain must I it suffer for. A counsel of the Trinity must be had, Which of us shall man restore. THE FATHER In your wisdom, Son, man was made there, 1235 And in wisdom was his temptation; Therefore, Son, Sapience, you must ordain herefore And see how of man may be salvation. THE SON Father, he that shall do this must be both God and man; Let me see how I may wear that weed. 1240 And since in my wisdom he began, I am ready to do this deed. HOLY SPIRIT I, the Holy Ghost, of you two do proceed; This charge I will take on me: I, Love, to your lover shall lead-- 1245 This is the assent of our unity. MERCY 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. 1250
And here they shall kiss each other
THE FATHER 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, 1255 Of the house of David born; The name of the maid free Is Mary, that shall all restore. THE SON Say that she is without woe and full of grace, And that I, the Son of the Godhead, of her shall be born. 1260 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 1265 Of you angels the great ruin. HOLY SPIRIT 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 1270 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. 1275 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! 1280 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, 1285 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; 1290 So among all women blessed are ye. MARY 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, 1295 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, 1300 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, 1305 And of his father, David, the Lord shall give him the see, Reigning in the house of Jacob, of which reign shall none end. MARY Angel, I say to you, In what manner of wise shall this be? For knowing of man, I have none now; 1310 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. 1315 Therefore that Holy Ghost of thee shall be borne, He shall be called the Son 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, 1320 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 1325 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 1330 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 1335 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, 1340 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. 1345 Give me my answer now, lady dear, To all these creatures comfortation. MARY With all meekness I incline to his accord, Bowing down my face with all benignity; See here the handmaiden of our Lord, 1350 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! 1355
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,
MARY 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 1360 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. 1365 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! 1370 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! 1375 GABRIEL Farewell, turtledove, God's daughter dear! Farewll, God's mother, I thee honour! Farewell, God's sister and his playmate dear! Farewell, God's chamber and his bower! MARY Farewell, Gabriel, specially! 1380 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, 1385 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-- 1390 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. 1395 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. 1400 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 Maris gracia plena dominus tecum virgo serena. And then Mary sayeth,
MARY Husband, right graciously now come be ye! It solaces me sore, truly, to see you in sight. 1405 JOSEPH I marvel wife, surely, your face I cannot see But as the sun with his beams, when he is most bright. MARY Husband it is as it pleases our lord, that grace of him grew. Whoever beholds me verily They shall be greatly stirred to virtue. 1410 For this gift and many more, good lord gramercy. But, husband, of one thing I pray you most meekly: I have knowledge that our cousin Elizabeth with child is, That it please you to go there hastily; If in any way we might comfort her, it were to me bliss. 1415 JOSEPH Ah for God's sake, is she with child, she? Then will her husband, Zachary, be merry. In Montana they dwell, far hence, so might they, In the city of Juda, I know it, verily. It is heace, I know, miles two and fifty -- 1420 We are like to be weary ere we come to that same. I would with a good will, blessed wife Mary; Now go we forth then in God's name. MARY Go, husband, though it be to you pain. This journey I pray you let us go fast. 1425 For I am ashamed of the people to be seen, And namely of men, thereof I am aghast. To pilgrimages and almsgiving I would we go in haste; The more the body is pained, the more is the meed. Say ye your devotions and I shall mine up cast. 1430 Now in this journey, God might us speed! JOSEPH Amen, amen and evermore! Lo, wife, lo, how stoutly I go before!
And they shall do about in the place
CONTEMPLATION Sovereigns, understand that king David here Ordained four and twenty priests of great devotion 1435 In the temple of God, after their lot appeared. They were called summi sacerdotes for their ministration, And one was the prince of priests, having domination. Among which was an old priest called Zachary, And he had an old woman to his wife of holy conversation 1440 Who was called Elizabeth, who never had child, verily. In his ministration, the hour of incense, The angel Gabriel appeared him to; That his wife should conceive, he gave him intelligence. He, seeing his unworthiness and age, not believed so 1445 The plague of dumbness his lips closed, lo. They went home and his wife was conceiving. This conception Gabriel told Our Lady to, And in thruth soon after that sage she was seeking: And of these two meeting, 1450 Here begins the process. Now God be our beginning And of my tongue I will cease. JOSEPH Ah, ah, wife, in faith I am weary! Therefore I will sit down and rest me right here. 1455 Lo, wife, here is the house of Zachary -- Should I call Elizabeth to you to appear? MARY Nay, husband, and it please you, I shall go near. Now the blessed Trintiy be in this house! Ah! cousin Elizabeth, sweet mother, what cheer? 1460 Ye grow great; ah, my God, how you be gracious! ELIZABETH Anon as I heard you in this holy greeting, Meekest maiden and the mother of God, Mary, By your breath the Holy Ghost us was inspiring That the child in my body enjoyed greatly 1465 And turned down on his knees to our God reverently; Whom you bear in your body, this truly I ken. Fulfilled with the Holy Ghost thus loud I cry: Blessed be thou among all women! And blessed be the fruit of thy womb also, 1470 Thou worthiest virgin and wife that ever was wrought! How is it that the Mother of God me should come to, That wretch of all wretches, a person worse than nought? And thou art blessed that believed truly in thy thought That the word of God should profit in thee; 1475 But how this blessedness about was brought, I cannot think nor say how it might be. MARY To the praising of God, cousin, this said must be. When I sat in my little house unto God praying, Gabriel came and said to me "Ave"; 1480 There I conceived God at my consenting, Perfect God and perfect man at once being. Then the angel said unto me That it was six months since your conceiving; This causeth my coming, cousin you to comfort and see. 1485 ELIZABETH Blessed be ye, cousin, for your hither coming! How I conceived I shall you say: The angel appeared thte hour of incensing Saying I should conceive and he thought nay. Since when for his mistrust, he hath been dumb alway 1490 And thus of my conception I have told you the sum. MARY For this holy psalm I begin here this day: Magnificat: anima mea dominum Et exultauit spiritus meus: in deo salutari meo ELIZABETH By the Holy Ghost with joy God's son is come, 1495 That thy spirit so rejoiced the health of thy God so. MARY Quia respexit humilitatem ancille sue Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generaciones ELIZABETH For he beheld the lowliness of his handmaiden, So therefore for that all generations shall bless you in peace. 1500 MARY Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est Et sanctum nomen eius ELIZABETH For great things he made and also mightiest, And right holy is the name of him in us. MARY Et misericordia eius a progenie in progenies 1505 Timentibus eum ELIZABETH Yea, the mercy of him from that people to those of peace, For all that fear him, now is he come. MARY Fecit potenciam in brachio suo Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui 1510 ELIZABETH The poor in his right arm he has made so; The proud to despair and the thought of their hearts only. MARY Deposuit potentes de sede Et diuites dimist inanes ELIZABETH All the poor and the needy he fulfils with his goodness, And the rich he casts down to emptiness. 1520 MARY Suscepit Israel puerum suum Recordatus est misericordie sue ELIZABETH Israel for his child raised he to come, On his mercy to think these that be. MARY Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros 1525 Abraham et semini eius in secula ELIZABETH As he spake to our forefathers here Abraham and to all his seed in fear. MARY Gloria Patri et Filio Et Spiritui Sancto 1530 ELIZABETH Praise be to the Father in heaven, lo, The same to the son here be so, The Holy Ghost also to ken; MARY Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper Et in secula seculorum Amen 1535 ELIZABETH As it was in the beginning, and now is, and shall be forever, And in this world all good works to abide then. MARY This psalm of prophecy said between us two. In heaven is written with an angel's hand; Ever to be sung and also to be seen, 1540 Every day among us at our evensong. But, cousin Elizabeth, I shall you here keep, And these three months abide here now 'Til you have your child, to wash, scour and sweep, And in all that I may comfort you. 1545 ELIZABETH Ah, you, mother of God, you show us here how We should be meek that wretches here be; All heaven and earth worship you now, That are the throne and the tabernacle of the high Trinity. JOSEPH Ah, how do ye, how do ye, father Zachary? 1550 We fall fast in age, without doubt. Why shake ye your head? Have you the palsy? Why speak you not, sir? I believe you are not wroth. ELIZABETH Nay, wise father Joseph, thereto he were full loth. It is the visitation of God; hemay not speak, truly. 1555 Let us thank God therefore, both; He shall remedy it when it pleases his mercy. Come, I pray you specially! Iwis, you are welcome, Mary! For this most comfortable coming, good God gramercy! 1560 CONTEMPLATION Listen, sovereigns, here is conclusion; How the Ave was made, here has been taught us: The angel said: Ave gracia plena dominus tecum Benedicta tu in mulieribus; Elizabeth said: et benedictus 1565 Fructus ventris tui; thus the Church added Maria and Jesus here. Who saith Our Lady's psalter daily for a year, thus, He hath pardon ten thousand and eight hundred year. Then further to our matter for to proceed: Mary with Elizabeth abode there still, 1570 Three months fully, as we read, Thanking God with hearty will. Ah, lord God, what house was this one! That these children and their mothers too, As Mary and Elizabeth, Jesus and John, 1575 And Joseph and Zachary also. And ever Our Lady abode still thus, 'Til John was of his mother born; And then Zachary spoke, iwis, That had been dumb and his speech lorn, 1580 He and Elizabeth prophesied as thus, The made Benedictus them before; And so Magnificat and Benedictus First in this place they were. When all was done, Our Lady free 1585 Took her leave then after this Of Elizabeth and of Zachary, And kissed John and did him bless. Now most meekly we thank you of your patience, And beseech you of your good supportation; 1590 If here hath been said or done any inconvenience, We assign it to your good deliberation. Beseeching Christ through his precious passion Conserve and reward your hither coming. And with Ave we begun and Ave is our conclusion; 1595 Ave regina celorum to Our Lady we sing.
Return to N-Town Pageant List.