11. The Flight Into Egypt

Play 11, THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT: FOOTNOTES


1 Here begins the flight of Joseph and Mary into Egypt

2 Lines 12–13: What did this sweetly-intoned speech mean?

3 Here ends the flight of Joseph and Mary into Egypt


Play 11, THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT: EXPLANATORY NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: Chester: The Chester Mystery Cycle, ed. Lumiansky and Mills (1974); CT: The Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson (1987); DSL: Dictionary of the Scots Language; Elliott: The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. Elliott; EP: The Towneley plays, ed. England and Pollard (1897); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (“the Towneley manuscript”); N-Town: The N-Town Plays, ed. Sugano (2007); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; REED: Records of Early English Drama; SC: The Towneley Plays, eds. Stevens and Cawley (1994); s.d.: stage direction; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).

The escape into Egypt immediately follows the visit of the Magi in the gospel account (Matthew 2:13–14), as it does here but not in York, where the Purification pageant intervenes (although it is misplaced in the York manuscript itself). Both in Chester and in N-Town, the angel appears to Joseph only after Herod sends out his soldiers in the pageant of the Slaughter of the Innocents (Matthew 2:16) — again after the Purification pageant in N-Town but not in Chester, where the order of episodes is otherwise closer to that of Towneley. This pageant, written in 13-line stanzas (with a single exception, lines 157–68) is closely linked to that of York (written in 12-line stanzas) by some striking parallels in wording — sufficiently many scattered throughout to have led some critics to assume that one play was a revised version of the other (see Lyle, Original Identity, pp. 1–2, 53, 60–63). However, the differences are also striking. For example, the York version begins with prayers by both Joseph and Mary that indicate their strong and steadfast character; after the Angel speaks, the York Joseph responds positively and graciously, rather than with argument and complaint regarding his age and infirmity — indeed, York’s Joseph shows notable strength and calm in this episode, in relation to his earlier appearances, while Mary is more fretful, albeit less repetitively so than here in Towneley. The sheer amount of repetition within this text, much as in the York text, suggests that the Towneley play was written in deliberate if not always successful imitation.


5–7 I am an angell . . . . To cach thee outt of care. That is, I am an angel sent to get you out of trouble, in order to keep you from suffering harm.

11–13 God . . . . toyn. The rhyme is imperfect at best, possibly indicating an error in transcription.

21–24 For Herode dos . . . . Of eld. That is, Herod is killing all male children under the age of two, the age limit being based on what he has learned from the Magi, according to Matthew 2:16; see also 12.367–73.

81 Wo worth fals Herode are. The word are is most likely a variant spelling of ere (see 10.320, 330), in this context meaning “soon;” however, SC gloss are as “heir” and refer to the legend, dramatized in the Chester version of the Slaughter of the Innocents (which includes the flight into Egypt), that Herod’s son falls victim to the slaughter (SC p. 519n81).

87 Sichon for to fare. That is, to do such a thing. SC echo the similar York text (“On slike a foode [child] hym to forfare,” line 140 in Davidson’s edition), rendering the line as “Sich-on to forfare” (“Such a one to destroy;” SC p. 520n87; 180).

121 Bot tytt pak up oure gere. The York Joseph tells Mary “Do tyte, pakke same oure gere / And such smale harnes [baggage] as we have” (York 18.160–61), telling her that he will carry the “pakald” or package (18.169); here, while one line is closely similar in wording, it is less clear as to who should do the packing, and Joseph offers to carry “this pak” only at the end of the play (line 174).

127–28 From wandreth he us were, / And shame. That is, may he keep us (MED weren (v.1), sense 3) both from misfortune and from shame.

137–38 No wonder if I be wyll / And sythen has many a fo. In his use of “sythen,” here meaning “subsequently” or “since,” Joseph is apparently referring to the time since Herod has given his order for the slaughter.

151 Take me thi brydyll. Traditionally Mary rides a donkey, carrying Jesus, Joseph walking alongside, both to Bethlehem for the birth and then to Egypt.


Play 11, THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT: TEXTUAL NOTES



ABBREVIATIONS: EP: The Towneley Plays, ed. England and Pollard (EETS, 1897); Facs: The Towneley Cycle: A Facsimile of Huntington MS HM 1, ed. Cawley and Stevens; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (base text); SC: The Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley (EETS, 1994); s.d.: stage direction; Surtees: The Towneley Mysteries, ed. Raine; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).

11–13 A, myghtfull God, / Whatever this ment, / So swete of toyn. These lines are written as one, with a metrical mark [ : ] separating lines 12 and 13, as is standard in MS, but no separation indicated between lines 11 and 12, much as in a parallel passage in York 18.41–42: A, myghtfull Lorde, whatevere that mente? / So swete a voyce herde I nevere ayre.

74 And all knave children. MS: these words were initially written to the right of the previous line, but erased and crossed out in red, and the (full) line rewritten below.

87 to forfare. So SC, following York 18.140. MS: for to fare. The phrase “for to fare” occurs in the Towneley Advent sequence, in the pageant of Joseph’s Trouble (7.e.168), but means “to go.”

94 beytt. So SC, restoring rhyme. MS: boytt, likely repeating boytt from two lines earlier.

155 began. So EP, SC. MS: beban.

157–68 Alas, full wo . . . . a greatt myschefe. This stanza has only 12 rather than 13 lines, but makes sense as it stands.

 
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11. The Flight Into Egypt

from: The Towneley Plays  2017







ANGEL



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ANGEL


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MARY


JOSEPH
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MARY
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JOSEPH
MARY
JOSEPH

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MARY
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JOSEPH
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95
MARY



100


JOSEPH


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JOSEPH

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[fol. 55r]
 
Angel
Joseph
Mary

Incipit fugacio Iosep et Marie in Egiptum. 1

Awake, Joseph, and take intent
Thou ryse and slepe nomare;
If thou wyll save thyself unshent,
Fownde thee fast to fare.
I am an angell to thee sent,
For thou shall no harmes hent,
To cach thee outt of care.
If thou here longer lent,
For rewth thou mon repent
And rew it wonder sare.
A, myghtfull God,
Whatever this ment,
So swete of toyn? 2

Lo, Joseph, it is I:
An angell send to thee.
Wé, leyf, I pray thee, why?
What is thy wyll with me?
Hens behufys thee hy,
And take with thee Mary,
Also hir chyld so fre,
For Herode dos to dy
All knave chyldren, securly,
Within two yere that be
Of eld.
Alas, full wo is me.
Where may we beyld?

Tyll Egypp shall thou fare
With all the myght thou may,
And Joseph, hold thee thare
Tyll I wyll thee at say.
This is a febyll fare:
A seke man and a sare
To here of sich a fray.
My bonys ar bursyd and bare
For to do I wold it ware
Comen my last day
Tyll ende.
I ne wote which is the way;
How shall we weynde?

Therof have thou no drede;
Weynd furth and leyf thi dyn;
The way he shall you lede,
The kyng of all mankyn.
That heynd til us take hede,
For I had lytyll nede
Sich bargans to begyn.
No wonder if I wede,
I that may do no dede.
How shuld I theder wyn
For eld?
I am full bare and thyn
And all unweld.

My fors me falys to fare,
And sight that I shuld se.
Mary, my darlyng dere,
I am full wo for thee.
A, leyf Joseph, what chere?
Youre sorow on this manere,
It mekill mervels me.
Oure noyes ar neghand nere
If we dwell longer here;
Forthi behofes us fle
And flytt.
Alas, how may this be?
Whatever menys it?

It menys of sorow enoghe.
A, dere Joseph, how so?
As I lay in a swogh,
Full sad slepand and thro,
An angell to me drogh,
As blossom bright on bogh,
And told, betwix us two,
That Herode wroght greatt wogh
And all knave children slogh
In land that he myght to,
That feynd,
And he thy son wold slo
And shamely sheynd.

My son? Alas, for care!
Who may my doyllys dyll?
Wo worth fals Herode are!
My son why shuld he spyll?
Alas, I lurk and dare.
To slo this barne I bare
What wight in warld had wyll?
His hart shuld be full sare
Sichon to forfare
That never yit dyd yll
Ne thoght.
Now, leyfe Mary, be styll;
This helpys noght.

It is no boytt to grete.
Truly, withoutten trayn,
Oure bayll it may not beytt
Bot well more make oure payn.
Alas, how shuld I lete?
My son that is so swete
Is soght for to be slayn.
Full gryle may I grete
My fomen and I mete.
Tell me, Joseph, with mayn,
Youre red.
Shortly swedyll us this swayn
And fle hys dede.

His ded wold I not se
For all this warld to wyn.
Alas, full wo were me
In two if we shuld twyn;
My chyld so bright of ble,
To slo hym were pyté
And a full hedus syn.
Dere Joseph, what red ye?
Tyll Egyp weynd shall we;
Forthi let be thi dyn
And cry.
How shall we theder wyn?
Fulle well wote I:

The best wyse that we may.
Hast us outt of this here;
Ther is noght els to say
Bot tytt pak up oure gere.
For ferd of this affray
Lett us weynd hens away,
Or any do us dere.
Greatt God, as he well may
That shope both nyght and day,
From wandreth he us were,
And shame.
My chyld how shuld I bere
So far from hame?

Alas, I am full wo;
Was never wyght so wyll.
God wote I may say so.
I have mater thertyll,
For I may unyth go
To lede of land sich two.
No wonder if I be wyll
And sythen has many a fo.
A, why wyll no ded me slo?
My lyfe I lyke yll,
And sare.
He that all doyls may dyll
He keyll my care.

So wyll a wyght as I
In warld was never man.
Howsehold and husbandry
Full sore I may it ban;
That bargan dere I by.
Yong men bewar, red I;
Wedyng makys me all wan.
Take me thi brydyll, Mary
Tent thou to that page grathly,
With all the craft thou can,
And may
He that this warld began
Wysh us the way.

Alas, full wo is me;
Is none so wyll as I.
My hart wold breke in thre
My son to se hym dy.
Wé, leyf Mary, lett be,
And nothyng drede thou thee,
Bot hard hens lett us hy
To save thi foode so fre.
Fast furth now lett us fle,
Dere leyf;
To mete with his enmy
It were a greatt myschefe,

And that wold I not wore,
Away if we myght wyn.
My hart wold be full sore
In two to se you twyn.
Tyll Egypp lett us fare.
This pak tyll I com thare
To bere I shall not blyn;
Forthi have thou no care.
If I may help thee mare,
Thou fyndys no fawte me in,
I say.
God blys you more and myn,
And have now all good day.

Explicit fugacio Iosep et Marie in Egiptum. 3
 






take heed [that]

harmed
Hasten; travel
(see note)
suffer
catch
remain
must
regret it very sorely
(see note); (t-note)

tone


sent
stop

You should go hence quickly


is killing; (see note)
male

age

find refuge

To

there

feeble state of affairs
sick; sore
hear; disturbance
bones; tired
were


know not
proceed


stop; moaning


gracious one

business
rage

go
age

feeble

strength; fails



dear

greatly surprises
troubles; approaching near

Therefore we must flee
move away

means

[fol. 54r]

swoon
sleeping deeply; soundly
came

between

slew; (t-note)
take
fiend
slay
shamefully destroy


sorrows relieve
May woe come to; soon; (see note)
kill
cower; tremble
bore
creature

Such a one to destroy; (see note); (t-note)


dear


remedy; weep
deceit
misery; help; (t-note)

cease [lamenting]


sorrowfully; weep
If I should meet my enemy
strength
advice
Quickly swaddle; boy
flee from; death




be parted
complexion

hideous sin
say you
To
Therefore

go


way
place

quickly; (see note)
fear

Before; harm us

created
misfortune; keep; (see note)


home


creature; lost

concern
only with difficulty
lead out of the land
lost; (see note)
then have
No [one]
dislike
strongly
sorrows; relieve
May he relieve

lost; creature


curse
dear (expensively); buy
say
Marriage; gloomy
Give; bridle; (see note)
Attend; child carefully


(t-note)
Show

(t-note)
lost




strenuously from here; hurry
baby

beloved



I would not have happen
escape

parted


fail
Therefore; worry
more


in every way



 

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