9. The Shepherds (2)

Play 9, THE SHEPHERDS (2): FOOTNOTES


1 Here begins another of the same

2 Lines 33–35: Thus are farmers oppressed to the point of suffering death

3 Lines 62–63: He must have whatever he desires, / even if I must go without it

4 Lines 141–43: For you may catch in an hour / that which shall grieve you full bitterly / for as long as you live

5 Lines 159–60: Yes, may the devil be in your mouth / because of your lingering [without speaking]

6 Then Mak enters wearing a cloak over his tunic

7 And he takes the cloak from him

8 I commend your hands to Pontius Pilate (see note)

9 Then he rises while the shepherds are sleeping and says

10 Lines 424–25: Afterwards, I will repay when I can, / but this [sheep] I will borrow [now]

11 Lines 443–44: You need not consider how long I have been standing [here]

12 Lines 677–78: Nor shall I drink / until I meet with him

13 Lines 755–56: Mak, as I hope for happiness, / I tell you to consider [what you say]

14 Lines 801–02: Any lord would be proud to have / this child for his son

15 An angel sings “Glory to God in the highest” [and] then should say

16 Lines 983–84: Behold, a virgin / will conceive (Isaiah 7:14) a child that is naked

17 Here ends the pageant of the shepherds


Play 9, THE SHEPHERDS (2): 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 second of Towneley’s two Shepherds plays is the most famous example of medieval English biblical drama, yet perhaps the least typical. It opens with a shepherd complaining about the weather, much like the Chester version as well as the relevant portion of the Coventry Shearman and Tailors pageant, and it ends conventionally, with the shepherds visiting the scene of the Nativity and presenting their gifts. However, the intervening action takes the play in a very different direction, combining farce and contemporary social commentary, which has attracted a wide critical response. Over half of the play is devoted to the episode involving the trickster Mak who steals a sheep and, with the help of his wife, attempts to disguise it as their child in a parodic anticipation of the Nativity scene that follows. Were the play performed as part of a biblical sequence as once assumed (even leaving aside any thought of performing the two Shepherds plays together), this subplot might seem strange and arguably sacrilegious. Performed on its own, outside of any biblical context (although likely during the Christmas season; see Alexandra F. Johnston, “The Second Shepherds’ Play: a Play for the Christmas Season”), the revelation of the angel may have been as much a surprise and delight to the audience as to the shepherds.

The play seems ideally suited for a small touring company: the roles of Mak and his wife Gill could easily be doubled with those of the Angel and Mary, allowing for a cast of five. Moreover, a single set would easily accommodate both Mak’s house, with its cradle for the sheep (line 623), and the Nativity scene with its crib for the Christ child (lines 931, 995). Mary would likely be seated on a chair or stool, which could be used for Gill as well, who is apparently “sett for to spyn” (line 430) when Mak first arrives — an activity that requires a spindle and reel but no other furniture. The transformation both of the actors and of the space itself, from secular to sacred, would thus echo and reinforce the careful parallel between the representations of the stolen sheep and the newborn Christ, the allegorical Lamb of God (John 1:29).


Before 1 Incipit alia eorundem. Here begins another of the same — that is, another Shepherds play; see Figure 2, p. 131, showing the opening of this play in the manuscript.

1 weders. In its plural form the term most often refers to adverse weather. In the York Nativity pageant, Joseph very similarly complains, “A, Lorde God, what the wedir is colde” (York 14.71).

14 husbandys. The MS reads shepardes (see Textual Note), emended here as in most modern editions for the rhyme; “husbandys” in this context, as at line 33, means “farmers,” as opposed to the “wedmen” (“husbands” in the usual modern sense) of line 94.

20–39 For the tylthe . . . . shuld we thryfe. When open land was enclosed and made into separate walled or hedged fields suitable for the grazing of sheep, it was generally left fallow. Peasant farmers (or “husbands”) with little or no land to till were thus forced to become shepherds by the actions of wealthy landowners (“gentlery men,” line 26) and their bailiffs or stewards (“men that ar lord-fest,” line 29).

40–41 a paynt slefe / Or a broche. This reference to overbearing retainers wearing livery, distinctive tokens given to them by the lord they serve as signs of their loyalty and authority, prepares the audience for the entrance of Mak in “a yeoman . . . of the king” (lines 291–92) demanding “reverence” (line 298) from others.

49 purveance. Purveyance, originally a royal prerogative for facilitating travel throughout the realm, but appropriated by lesser nobles, involved the requisition or seizure of goods at an arbitrary (or nonexistent) price. See MED purveyance (n.), sense 5b.

72 balk. While the term can refer to any sort of ridge or mound of earth, here it likely means “a strip of unplowed land between two fields” (MED balke (n.), sense 2a) and thus, as SC assert, suggests that the action of the play is set in arable lands near a township, rather than on the moors as line 15 would appear to indicate (SC p. 496n72); however, beyond providing the necessary rhyme, the term could simply be used to reinforce the earlier assertion that once-ploughed lands are now lying fallow (lines 20–21).

79 Bensté and Dominus. “Bless us” (benedicite) and “Lord” are used as interjections. Shepherd 2 here addresses the audience, having apparently not yet seen Shepherd 1.

98 Sely Copyle oure hen. A coppel is a “crest or comb (of a hen); — used as a name of a hen” (MED coppel (n.), citing as its sole source the northern English poem, “The Tournament of Tottenham”).

101 to crok. Mak’s wife will later be said “to crok” in childbirth (line 556).

124–26 Som men wyll have two wyfys . . . . In store. That is, some men remarry, and some more than once, but the phrase “in store” may suggest that some also keep mistresses.

144 For as ever rede I pystyll. While “epistle” could refer to any written communication but particularly ancient letters of literary value, the obvious (if anachronistic) reference here is to one of the apostolic letters from the New Testament, normally read as part of the Mass by a subdeacon but not by laity (shepherds included).

146 As sharp as thystyll. Proverbial. See Whiting T210.

147 As rugh as a brere. Proverbial. See Whiting B542.

150–52 Had she oones . . . . Hyr Paternoster. Once she has had a drink (“wet her whistle”), she can loudly sing the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father” — see Matthew 6:9–13). While anachronism of this sort is common in biblical drama, it takes on particular significance here if, as suggested, the play were to be performed on its own. Outside any obviously biblical context, having the shepherds refer to the Lord’s Prayer (or to Christ’s cross and Saint Nicholas, lines 170–71) would seem entirely appropriate, while making the eventual revelation of the Nativity still more surprising.

156 I wald I had ryn to I had lost hir. Russell Poole has argued that this unusually long line contains a stage direction, “Thay ryn to,” mistakenly incorporated into the dialogue, which should be emended to read “I wald I had lost hir” (“A Disguised Stage Direction,” pp. 317–18).

157 God looke over the raw. That is, may God watch over the audience. Shepherd 2 has been addressing the audience directly, perhaps from among them rather than from the same performance area where Shepherd 1 waits, unnoticed.

161 Sagh thou awre of Daw. That is, have you seen Daw anywhere? The name of Shepherd 3 is a diminutive of “David,” but also means “fool” (see 3.359). Much like Shepherd 2 before him, Shepherd 3 will enter (at line 170) without initially noticing the others.

203–04 I wyll gyf my shepe / A turne. I will drive my sheep in another direction — that is, to avoid the other two shepherds whom he has just noticed.

210 master myne. It is uncertain as to which of the other two is addressed here; Shepherd 1 calls Shepherd 3 “my knave” in line 213, whereas Shepherd 2 refers to him more generically as “the boy” (line 215), but also refers to “oure shepe” (line 257). (See also the note to 8.257 regarding Shepherd 3 and the boy in the first Shepherds play.)

237–38 I shall do therafter, / Wyrk as I take. That is, I shall work according to the wages that I receive.

239–43 I shall do . . . . In feyldys. I shall work a little, sir, and play constantly in between, for my supper has never lain too heavily on my stomach while I am out in the pastures. That is, eating has never interfered with his ability to be active, because he has not had a full meal.

249 ryde on wowing. It was customary for a man to bring a companion when he went to woo a bride.

259–60 I thaym left in the corne, / When thay rang lawdys. That is, I left them in the grain field — a punishable offence — when the bell for Lauds was rung. Lauds is a daily office or set of prayers, sung at the first light of dawn (and thus variable by season in the medieval church).

270–73 Lett me syng . . . . how ye chauntt. The song that follows these lines would have been in three parts: the tenor is the lowest and the treble the highest, with the mean predictably in between; in English Discant style, the upper parts are usually improvised contrapuntally against the (written or known) tenor line, harmonizing in rhythmically equal time. Shepherd 3 takes the mean rather than the highest part, indicating that, while younger than the other two, he is not a child, but a 'boy' primarily in the sense of being subservient to the others.

274 thy naymes sevyn. Robert E. Jungmann (“Mak and the Seven Names of God”) has argued that the phrase is connected not to the Jewish tradition of the seven names of God, but to witchcraft and the conjuring of spirits, as it is in a (seventeenth-century) text known as the Lemegeton, or “Lesser Key of Solomon.” Mak appears unaware of the presence of the shepherds, although both his entrance at the end of their song and his failure to respond to the first lines spoken to him suggests otherwise.

283 Who is that pypys so poore. That is, who is speaking in a weak or shrill voice? Cain uses a similar phrase to mock God at 2.300.

291 Ich be a yoman. To support his claim to be a yeoman, in service to the nobility, Mak attempts to disguise not only his appearance, by means of a cloak (which could also be used to hide anything he might steal), but also his speech, adopting several specifically southern dialect forms such as the first-person pronoun “ich” (“I”) and imperative plurals such as “goyth” (line 296) and “doth” (line 309) — forms that Shepherd 1 dismisses as a “southern tooth” (line 311).

300 Why make ye it so qwaynt. Mak is “making strange” both in pretending to be someone else and in making his speech strange or elaborately affected.

328–29 a sekenes I feyll / That haldys me full haytt. That is, I feel a sickness that affects me intensely, or that keeps me feverish.

332–33 Seldom lyys the dewyll / Dede by the gate. That is, the devil does not truly suffer, and thus should not be trusted, or given sympathy.

336–38 If I stande stone styll . . . . and more. That is, as sure as I stand, still as a stone, I have not eaten anything in more than a month.

345–46 Yll spede othere good / That she wyll do. That is, may everything else that she does turn out badly.

361–64 Now wyll ye se . . . . hed mas penny. Much like Noah’s wife (3.562–65), Mak expresses a willingness to spend all he has to see his spouse dead. While “head penny” can refer to any per-person fee (as in poll tax) as well as to church offerings, a “head mass penny” (or simply “mass penny”) is a payment to the church for having mass said, especially for one who has died.

365–68 I wote so forwakyd . . . . to my hyere. That is, I am certain that no one in this shire is as tired as I am; I will sleep even if it means I get less pay.

380–81 Then myght . . . rowne. That is, this way I might keep you all from assuming the worst about me.

384–85 Manus tuas commendo / Poncio Pilato. Mak’s ‘benediction’ is a corruption of Jesus’ final words on the cross: In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum (Luke 23:46, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit”), invoking Pontius Pilate who condemns Jesus to death (see 19.296–99). This is a more sinister ‘night-spell’ than that of Shepherd 3 in the previous play (8.418–25), especially taken in connection with the spell that follows. The stanza as a whole is irregular, and may be missing four lines due to a copying error.

400–12 Bot abowte you a serkyll . . . . it be right. Mak traces or otherwise creates a circle around the sleeping shepherds — the traditional magic circle of necromancy — and pronounces a spell over them to ensure that they remain sleeping until he returns. His reference to making a “better effort to make things right” (lines 411–12) may indicate some additional stage action necessary to complete or perfect the spell, prior to his catching a sheep.

430 I am sett for to spyn. Like Noah’s wife (see 3.488–90 and 528–29), Gill is occupied with her spindle, an activity associated with Eve, but also important in many northern English communities in the later Middle Ages.

439 open the hek. A heck (or “hatch”) is a door, or more particularly the lower part of a divided door (MED hacche (n.), sense 1a). This particular door is referred to repeatedly (see lines 474[a], 582, and 691) as needing to be opened or shut. Nowhere else in these plays, other than perhaps on Noah’s ark (see 3.198, 404), is an actual door required as part of the stage action; however, in the N-Town pageant of Joseph’s Doubt, Joseph twice asks Mary, “Undo youre dore,” before Mary tells her handmaid to “Ondo the dore” and then welcomes him in (N-Town 12.1, 5, 8).

445–46 By the nakyd nek / Art thou lyke for to hyng. Mak’s wife has evidently seen the sheep immediately; sheep-stealing was a hanging offence.

448 I am worthy my mete. Much the same phrase is used in the Wycliffite translation of Matthew 10:10: “for a werkman is worthi his mete.”

456 Jelott. A diminutive form of the name of Mak’s wife, Gill. On the name Gill, see note to 3.318.

458–61 Bot so long goys the pott . . . . broken. A common proverb. See Whiting P323.

476–77 Then myght I by, for all the pak, / The dewill of the war. Then might I suffer a devil of a bad time, from the whole pack of them.

487–88 I shall say . . . this night. Disguising the sheep not merely as a child but as a newborn baby boy sets up a parallel (if only in retrospect) with the Nativity scene that ends the play.

497–98 Bot I com or thay ryse / Els blawes a cold blast. Unless I return before they wake up, a cold wind will blow — that is, trouble. These lines are likely spoken as Mak returns to where the shepherds are sleeping, given that his next lines indicate that he is already there. He must then get into the position he was in before they fell asleep.

504–06 Resurrex a mortruis . . . . Judas carnas dominus. The first of these garbled Latin lines echoes the Creed (and part of a traditional morning prayer), “he rose from the dead” (resurrexit a mortuis), while the second — likely a parodic distortion of a phrase such as laudes canas domino (“sing praises to the lord” — see SC p. 503n506) translates as “Judas, flesh, lord.”

514 As fresh as an eyll. Proverbial. See Whiting E43.

522–23 So my browes blakys / To the dowore wyll I wyn. That is, as my brows turn pale (or blake, with fear) I will get to the door. This door, unlike the door to Mak’s house (see note to line 439 above), does not exist; Shepherd 3 is too sleepy and frightened to remember that he is outdoors. If written for an indoor performance, the line would function as a metatheatrical joke, much like the various asides to the audience or Gill’s concern about who might be watching at line 495, not to mention the reference to being “near England” in line 511.

550 my nek has lygen wrang. Mak complains that his neck is sore due to his lying on it awkwardly; he has of course been lying down only briefly, but the line also recalls his conversation with Gill regarding the punishment for sheepstealing (lines 445–46).

552 Mekill thank. That is, much thanks. Another shepherd has evidently helped (or impatiently pulled) Mak to his feet.

554–55 I was flayd . . . out of sloghe. “Flayed” (or tortured) literally means “skinned” while a “slough” is either skin in a general sense (as in “my heart leapt out of my skin”), or skin that is shed (as by a snake, or by flaying). Mak attempts to delude the shepherds with an account of his fictional “swevyn,” a visionary dream, while the supposed “fantom” or delusion (line 540) of Shepherd 2 turns out to be a true vision.

559–60 a yong lad / For to mend oure flok. Mak’s choice of words not only alludes to the “young lad” being a sheep from the flock belonging to these shepherds, but also foreshadows the epiphany of Christ, the "good shepherd" of John 10:11, at the end of the play.

562 I have tow on my rok. I have flax on my distaff — that is, I have business to attend to.

578 all oure store. While “store” can refer to possessions in general, not just livestock as glossed here (see MED store (n.1), senses 1 and 2), Mak later notes that the last thing the shepherds said as he left was that they would look to ensure that they have all their sheep (lines 610–13).

581 the crokyd thorne. The Surtees edition (The Towneley Mysteries, p. xv) refers to “a remarkable thorn tree which was known by the name of the Shepherd’s Thorn [that] stood in Mapplewell,” south of Wakefield. However, both thorn trees and places named after these are common. As Milton suggests in his poem, “L’Allegro,” “Every Shepherd tells his tale / Under the Hawthorn in the dale” (lines 67–68).

585 Now walk in the wenyand. A mild curse, the waning moon being considered unlucky; see note to 2.227–29.

588 Then may we be here. SC emend as “Then may we se [see] here” (p. 143), although here has more than one meaning that fits the context. While glossed as the adjective meaning “pleasant,” making Gill’s line a sarcastic response to Mak’s unusually pleasant greeting, here can also mean “a crowd,” which would then suggest that the next line means “the devil in a multitude,” referring to the large number of people — mostly children — ostensibly occupying the house already.

628–29 Come hap me . . . . Behinde. That is, come cover me, and ensure that I am covered behind. Mak is to tuck her convincingly under bedclothes (although likely not on a bed, properly speaking, as they are poor).

631 Thay will nyp us full naroo. They will squeeze us tightly — that is, the shepherds will search us carefully.

638 Syng lullay. Mak is to sing a lullaby — possibly even the refrain of a lullaby carol as SC suggest in the note to this line, again anticipating the Nativity scene (SC p. 505n638).

651 A fat wedir. The term “wether” most often means a castrated ram, but can be applied to any male sheep. The stolen sheep needs to be small enough to pass for a newborn child, but mature enough to be both “fat” and “hornyd” (line 867; see also the notes to lines 658–59 and 911–12, below).

652 Mary, Godys forbott. The initial interjection (originally “by Mary” but later often spelled “marry,” and used without religious intent or significance) refers to Mary, mother of Jesus, who will appear at the end of the play; the second part of the line literally means “God’s forbidding.”

657 All horbery shrogys. The line is usually rendered “All Horbery shrogys” (as it is in SC; see their note at p. 506n657), Horbury being the name of a town near Wakefield. However, horbery may be a variation or mistranscription of herbery (see MED herberwe (n.), senses 1 and 2) — that is, shelter, which scrogs or brush (see MED scrogge (n.)) provide for the sheep.

658–59 And of fefteyn hogys / Fond I bot oone ewe. Both this ewe and the missing “fatt wedir” (see line 651 and note) were expected to be with the younger sheep, a “hogg” being a sheep that is roughly 6–16 months old (after weaning but before first shearing). See OED hog (n.1), sense II4a.

661 Sant Thomas of Kent. That is, Saint Thomas Becket of Canterbury.

683–85 Tyll I se . . . . anothere. That is, I will never sleep twice in the same place until I see him.

686–87 Will ye here how thay hak? / Oure syre lyst croyne. Reference to Mak as “sire” alludes back to his ostentatious entrance near the beginning of the play, while the musical terms used anticipate the angel’s song. Both “hack” and “crack” (line 688) mean to break up a note or line, trilling or singing a melismatic melody, with multiple notes to a syllable, as used in regard to the angel’s song later in the play (see the note to line 948 below). However, both terms also have derogatory meanings, and are used here to indicate that Mak is mangling the music with his cracked voice.

696 were it day. That is, if only it were day — it is still very early in the morning.

717–20 Thynk ye . . . . A seson. Having just said that he needs to hire a nursemaid, Mak asks whether the shepherds remember what he told them earlier regarding his dream of having yet another child (lines 554–60) and says, in effect, “I have my expected reward; my dream has come true at the appointed time.”

726 Me thynk that ye swette. That is, I think you work hard. His apparent generous offer of food and drink that precedes this line is at odds with his previous assertions of dire poverty and lack of food (as in lines 337–38).

729 alys you oght bot goode. That is, does anything other than what is good trouble you? “Good” can also mean “property,” loss of which is indeed troubling the shepherds.

736–37 som men trowes that ye wore / And that us forthynkys. Some men — that is, the three of us — think that you were (there), and that displeases us.

746 hir. By referring to the stolen sheep as female, Mak hides his knowledge that the one he took was male — “a fat wedir” (see line 651 and note).

750 syn she lade hir. That is, since she was ‘brought to bed’ to deliver a child.

753–54 this be the fyrst mele / That I shall ete this day. Literally, of course, this is exactly the plan, while figuratively, eating the lamb/child signifies the Eucharist. See also lines 774–76.

770 farne. That is, “farrowed” — a term usually reserved for a sow that has given birth.

785 hatters. The term literally means clothing (see MED hater(e (n.1)), but is here used as an interjection meaning “by the holy garments” — that is, the seamless tunic of Christ, a relic claimed both by the cathedral at Trier, Germany, since at least the eleventh century, and by the parish church of Argenteuil, now a suburb of Paris. The latter relic was referred to in 1156 as the cappa pueri Jesu (“garment of the Child Jesus”), woven by the Virgin Mary, but believed to have grown with Jesus and thus become the tunica inconsutilis — the seamless garment of John 19:23 that is the focus of the Towneley play of the Dice. See Catholic Encyclopedia, “Holy Coat.”

790–92 Whik catell bot this . . . . None. That is, no live (“quick”) animals except this — the supposed child (which, as the shepherd goes on to say in line 793, smells as strongly as the lost sheep). “Cattle” was a generic term, inclusive not only of various livestock but of other possessions (“chattel”) as well.

805–06 In good tyme to hys hyppys / And in celé. That is, a good and happy future to him — literally, to his hips. Being “on the hip” was a position of disadvantage or vulnerability in wrestling (see 8.366–69 and note). The phrase “his hips” is also used in the play of the Dice to refer to a person (see 21.410–12 and note).

807–08 gossyppys / So sone redé. For the Middle English term for godparents, see MED god-sib(be (n.), sense 1. Baptism (in the presence of godparents or “gossips”) occurred as soon after birth as possible, to avoid the possibility that a child would die without the benefit of the sacrament.

809 fare fall thare lyppys. That is, bless them. Mak is all too clearly stalling for time as he thinks of a response to the question regarding identity of the godparents.

812–13 Parkyn and Gybon Waller . . . And gentill John Horne. “John Horne” is a relatively common name, but is notably shared by Shepherd 2 in the first Shepherds play, in which Shepherd 1, like Shepherd 2 in this play (see line 852), is named Gib (see 8.118–22). The name “Gybon” is a variation of Gib; however, the supposed godparent here is obviously not Shepherd 2 here. The coincidence of names, particularly given the subsequent reference to John Horne’s long legs (or “greatt shank” — line 815) might suggest that these two plays shared an audience, and possibly even the same cast. Playing the two plays in succession could render the coincidence of names absurd, but the plays could easily have been performed in the same place at different times, perhaps even in successive years like N-Town’s two-part Passion Play.

826 farthyng. A farthing was the smallest coin available, worth a quarter of a penny (twelve farthings were thus equivalent to sixpence — see line 837). Leaving a gift for the newborn was customary, but here anticipates the giftgiving at the Nativity.

834 lytyll day starne. The same phrase is used to describe the Christ child at line 1049.

847 We wate ill abowte. That is, we pry into things we should leave alone (see MED waiten (v.), sense 1a).

848–49 Ill spon weft . . . / Ay commys foull owte. That is, badly-spun thread always makes bad cloth. Proverbial. See Whiting W571. In cloth weaving, the weft crosses from side to side, at right angles to the warp on the loom.

867 A hornyd lad. A child with horns is suggestive of the devil, and antithetical to the Nativity that follows.

894–95 Ye two ar well feft, / Sam in a stede. That is, you are well suited to one another, two of a kind. To be “feoffed” is to be endowed or put in legal possession of something — in this case each other, through marriage. See OED feoff (v.).

906 cast hym in canvas. The significance of casting Mak in canvas has been variously explained, and the staging itself is problematic: unless hym is an error for hem (“them”) as sometimes argued, Gill apparently escapes punishment, yet even one person is difficult for three persons to toss in a four-cornered blanket — the most common interpretation of the line. However, Thomas J. Jambeck has pointed out that canvas was used as winnowing cloth, for separating grain from chaff (“Canvas-Tossing,” p. 50) — a prominent biblical (and medieval) metaphor for judgment; see Matthew 3:12, which in the Wycliffite version (c. 1385) explicitly refers to a “wynwing cloth,” translating Latin ventilabrum (see also MED canevas (n.), sense 2a, and windwe-cloth (n.)). A winnowing cloth was relatively narrow, allowing two persons to toss and catch the grain while the wind blew away the chaff; Mak, and perhaps Gill as well, might be less tossed than violently rolled back and forth, possibly after some 'threshing' or beating, but the image would be clear to a contemporary audience. Jambeck (“Canvas- Tossing,” p. 50) further notes that, according to Randle Cotgrave’s popular Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611), the French verb berner means “to vanne, or winnow corne; also, to canuasse, or tosse in a siue [sieve]; (a punishment inflicted on such as commit grosse absurdities;) also, to flout, mocke, deride, ride, abuse, ieast, scoffe at” (see also OED canvass (v.)). For the editorial reassignment of lines in this section, see Textual Note to line 901.

911–12 As a shepe of sevyn skore / He weyd in my fyst. That is, he weighed the same in my hands as a sheep of seven score — that is, 140 pounds (or 63.5 kilograms, roughly the weight of an average-sized ewe).

923 That Adam had lorne. That is, those who Adam doomed to destruction through his original sin in Eden.

932 Betwyx two bestys. See note to 8.437–38.

939–41 All the wod . . . . Appere. That is I thought that he made all the woods look bright. The term “levin” (see MED leven (n.)) can refer to a lightning flash or to any bright light.

948 Thre brefes to a long. While note values varied in the medieval mensural system, a breve or regular note was roughly equivalent to four crotchets (or two minims); “Thre brefes to a long” indicates the equivalent of 6/4 time in modern notation. In this stanza, the angel’s song is enthusiastically described in terms that echo the earlier description of Mak’s poor singing (see note to lines 686–87 above). Here the verbs “crack” and “hack” (lines 947–949) signify a swift, ornate style with short notes. The MED, citing this passage, defines knakken (v.) as “to trill (a musical note); also, sing (divine service) with trills or other artifices.” The angel’s elaborately “hakt” and “crakyd” melody is to be swiftly and perfectly sung, or “knakt,” without a wrong note — “no crotchet wrong” (line 950).

958 Hark after than. As earlier (line 270 and note), Shepherd 1 claims the tenor line, ostensibly imitating what the angel has just sung, with which the other two will harmonize — hence the requirement that they listen to (“Hark after”) him. The song immediately follows, ending prior to the next spoken line.

998–1003 Patryarkes that hase . . . . have they lorne. That is, the prophets and patriarchs are all long dead, and have lost the chance to see the Christ whose birth they foretold.

1020–23 Lord . . . . comfroth thi wight. The poor shepherds have nothing to give the child, having apparently had “bot sex pence” (line 837) to give to Mak’s child earlier. Their prayer for “somkyns gle” (that is, something joyful) to offer is apparently answered immediately and miraculously with symbolic gifts: an unseasonable “bob of cherries” (line 1036, reminiscent of the famous miracle, staged in the N-Town Nativity pageant, 15.25–43, in which a cherry tree not only produces fruit out of season but also bends down to give the fruit to Mary), a bird (line 1044, symbol of the Holy Ghost and of Creation — see Genesis 1:2, which Milton in Paradise Lost, 7.233–35 would memorably render as “Darkness profound / Covered the abyss, but on the watery calm / His brooding wings the spirit of God outspread”), and a ball (line 1060, the royal orb, representing dominion over the earth).

1024–59 Hayll . . . . See note to 8.660–92.

1030–31 The fals gyler of teyn / Now goys he begylde. The false and cruel beguiler — that is, the devil — is now beguiled. The theme of 'the beguiler beguiled' is commonplace.

1039 frely foyde. This punning Eucharistic reference (see 7.d.85 and note), suggesting both “noble child” and “excellent food,” is particularly appropriate to this play with its parallel drawn between the infant Christ (whose body and blood are consumed in the Eucharist) and the disguised sheep (stolen to be eaten).

1048 I wold drynk on thy cop. The phrase suggests not only the cup of the Eucharist, but also a willingness on the part of the Shepherd to share in Christ’s future suffering; see Matthew 20:22 and Mark 10:38–39.

1059 put furth thy dall. The only attestations in the MED for dal (n.) meaning “hand,” come from the Towneley MS — here and twice (in plural form) in the Judgment play, 27.200 and 273.

1062 go to the tenys. Tennis was a sport with strong aristocratic associations (originally played with the hand, not a racquet — hence the French name, jeu de paume).

1067–68 My name couth he neven / And lyght or he went. That is, God spoke my name and he (the Son) alighted in me — was conceived — before he (the Father) left.

1087–88 To syng . . . take on loft. The shepherds close the play with a song as they depart.


Play 9, THE SHEPHERDS (2): 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).

8 al. MS: inserted above the line.

14 husbandys. So SC. EP, MS: shepardes. See Explanatory Note.

84 wyndys. MS, EP: weders. SC emend to wyndys, assuming accidental repetition from the previous line, which seems likely.

85–149 And the frostys . . . . a sowre-loten chere. MS: much of the writing on this page (fol. 39r) is worn and faded, with some letters overwritten in darker ink by a later hand.

101 she. MS: e obscured by ink blot.

102 or to clok. MS: all but the first and last letters here are obscured by an ink blot.

103 is oure. So SC. EP: is of oure. MS: is or oure. The word or is partly obscured by an ink blot. While or in this context could plausibly mean “first” (as a variant spelling of ere; see MED er (adv.)), SC (p. 497n103) suggest that it may simply be a mistaken first attempt to write oure.

136 That. So SC. MS: it.

274 sevyn. So EP. MS: vii.

278–342 I am all . . . . the fyere, lo. MS: much of the writing on this page (fol. 40v) is worn and faded, with some letters touched up.

281 ther. So SC. EP: there. MS: the.

293 same. So EP. SC, MS: some.

297 of. MS: inserted above the line.

316 teyn. MS: a different hand has written le over the original n.

331 is. MS: inserted above the line in red ink over black.

339 thi hoode. So SC, MS. EP: my hoode. The upper part of the h in thi is no longer visible.

340 How farys sho. So EP. SC, MS: How farys she. The w of How is badly written over another letter. The northern form of “she” here is necessary for the rhyme, but was apparently unfamiliar to the scribe, as the same word is mistranscribed at 347; while relatively common in the York plays, sho does not (correctly) appear in this MS.

347 sho. So SC. MS: so. See note to line 340 above.

352 now. So SC. MS: not.

421 From. So SC. MS: ffron.

428 Wife (speech heading). The rubrics here and at her reappearance at line 584 specify that the speaker is uxor eius (“his wife”), rather than just uxor (“wife”) as elsewhere.

509 walter. MS: water. SC (p. 504n509) accept the misspelling as phonetic, but scribal error seems more likely (compare walteryng at line 341).

518 me. So SC. EP: my hart. MS: my. Confusion regarding this variant spelling (my for reflexive “me”) has led EP and some other modern editors to emend this line unnecessarily.

534 Shepherd 3 (speech heading). The MS assigns this speech to Shepherd 2, and the next (lines 538–40) to Shepherd 3, preserving the typical 1–2–3 pattern, although these lines clearly continue the previous speech of Shepherd 3 regarding his dream; the next lines should go to Shepherd 2.

538 Be styll. The MS assigns this speech to Shepherd 3; see previous note.

553 Stevyn. MS: strevyn.

582 who is here. SC assign these words to Mak’s wife, which is plausible in terms of content, but unnecessary; Mak is being impatient. Emendation also implies an unlikely scribal error: in similar instances of multiple speakers in a single manuscript line, including several instances in this same play, the scribe has written speech rubrics as part of the line, separating them from the dialogue itself by means of red lines or boxes. A similarly swift exchange between two speakers in the first Shepherd play, for example, has two boxed speech headings within a single manuscript line (written as three separate lines in this edition, but numbered as two: 8.272–73). SC’s emendation would imply the accidental omission of two original speech headings.

584 Wife (speech heading). See note to line 428 above.

588 Then may we be here. See Explanatory Note.

607 That. MS: A that, with the A faintly crossed out.

618 wyll suppose. MS: f and part of another letter (likely r) are written between these words.

658 fefteyn. So EP. MS: xv.

799 oure lady. MS: the word lady has been crossed out and lord written faintly above in a later hand.

812 Parkyn and Gybon Waller I say. MS: a later hand has written in large letters at the top corner, Be it kn [known?], the flourish at the top of B being partly cropped.

837 sex. So EP. MS: vi.

868 Peasse byd I. What. MS: Memorand is written in another hand above this line in the top margin.

891 myself. MS: my felf.

901 Shepherd 2 (speech heading). MS: primus pastor. SC reassign this speech to Shepherd 3, which requires them to reassign lines 896–97 to Shepherd 1 (assigned to Shepherd 3 in MS, as here). They further reassign to Shepherd 1 the beginning of the next stanza (lines 907–10), which in the MS is a continuation of the previous speech. They explain this extensive rearrangement by arguing that “the First Shepherd has already (at 889) called for the violent punishment of the offenders” (SC, p. 509n896–97, pp. 901–06). However, Shepherd 3 has similarly called for punishment for both Mak and Gill at lines 859–63. The only one who has not done so is Shepherd 2, to whom lines 901–06 are thus allocated in this edition. I have, though, followed SC (and effectively the MS as well) in the assignment of the beginning of the next stanza to Shepherd 1; having assigned the previous speech to Shepherd 1 (perhaps due to some confusion in the exemplar), the scribe would have omitted the rubric at line 907 in order to avoid assigning two speeches in a row to the same character.

907 Shepherd 1 (speech heading). MS: no speech heading here, nor any line separating this from the previous speech. See note to line 901 above.

911 sevyn. So EP. MS: vii.

934 That ever yit I hard. MS: he spake upward, anticipating line 938, is written in the same hand before this line, and crossed out in red.

971 lose. MS has a long s before lose.

983 Ecce. So SC, MS. EP: Cite.

 
Print Copyright Info Purchase

9. The Shepherds (2)

from: The Towneley Plays  2017











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Shepherd 1 (Coll)
Shepherd 2 (Gib)
Shepherd 3 (Daw)
Mak
His Wife (Gill)
Angel
Mary

Incipit alia eorundem. 1

Lord, what these weders ar cold,
And I am yll happyd.
I am nerehande dold,
So long have I nappyd.
My legys thay fold;
My fyngers ar chappyd.
It is not as I wold,
For I am al lappyd
In sorow.
In stormes and tempest,
Now in the eest now in the west,
Wo is hym has never rest
Mydday nor morow.

Bot we sely husbandys
That walkys on the moore,
In fayth we ar nerehandys
Outt of the doore.
No wonder as it standys
If we be poore,
For the tylthe of oure landys
Lyys falow as the floore
As ye ken.
We ar so hamyd,
Fortaxed and ramyd,
We ar mayde hand-tamyd
With thyse gentlery men.

Thus thay refe us oure rest,
Oure lady theym wary.
These men that ar lord-fest
Thay cause the ploghe tary,
That men say is for the best;
We fynde it contrary.
Thus ar husbandys opprest
In ponte to myscary
On lyfe. 2
Thus hold thay us hunder;
Thus thay bryng us in blonder.
It were greatte wonder
And ever shuld we thryfe.

For may he gett a paynt slefe.
Or a broche now on dayes;
Wo is hym that hym grefe
Or onys agane-says.
Dar no man hym reprefe,
What mastry he mays,
And yit may no man lefe
Oone word that he says,
No letter.
He can make purveance
With boste and bragance,
And all is thrugh mantenance
Of men that are gretter.

Ther shall com a swane
As prowde as a po,
He must borow my wane,
My ploghe also;
Then I am full fane
To graunt or he go.
Thus lyf we in payne,
Anger and wo,
By nyght and day.
He must have if he langyd
If I shuld forgang it; 3
I were better be hangyd
Then oones say hym nay.

It dos me good as I walk
Thus by myn oone
Of this warld for to talk
In maner of mone.
To my shepe wyll I stalk
And herkyn anone,
Ther abyde on a balk
Or sytt on a stone
Full soyne.
For I trowe, perdé,
Trew men if thay be,
We gett more compané
Or it be noyne.

Bensté and Dominus,
What may this bemeyne?
Why fares this warld thus?
Oft have we not sene.
Lord, thyse weders ar spytus
And the wyndys full kene,
And the frostys so hydus
Thay water myn eeyne,
No ly.
Now in dry, now in wete,
Now in snaw, now in slete,
When my shone freys to my fete
It is not all esy.

Bot as far as I ken
Or yit as I go,
We sely wedmen
Dre mekyll wo.
We have sorow then and then;
It fallys oft so.
Sely Copyle oure hen
Both to and fro
She kakyls,
Bot begyn she to crok,
To groyne or to clok,
Wo is hym is oure cok,
For he is in the shakyls.

These men that ar wed
Have not all thare wyll;
When they ar full hard sted
Thay sygh full styll.
God wayte thay ar led
Full hard and full yll;
In bower nor in bed
Thay say noght thertyll
This tyde.
My parte have I fun;
I know my lesson.
Wo is hym that is bun
For he must abyde.

Bot now late in oure lyfys
A mervell to me,
That I thynk my hart ryfys
Sich wonders to see,
What that destany dryfys
It shuld so be:
Som men wyll have two wyfys,
And som men thre
In store;
Som ar wo that has any.
Bot so far can I:
Wo is hym that has many
For he felys sore.

Bot yong men of wowyng,
For God that you boght,
Be well war of wedyng
And thynk in youre thoght,
“Had I wyst” is a thyng
That servys of noght.
Mekyll styll mowrnyng
Has wedyng home broght,
And grefys
With many a sharp showre,
For thou may cach in an owre
That shall sow thee fulle sowre
As long as thou lyffys. 4

For as ever rede I pystyll
I have oone to my fere:
As sharp as thystyll,
As rugh as a brere,
She is browyd lyke a brystyll
With a sowre-loten chere.
Had she oones wett hyr whystyll,
She couth syng full clere
Hyr Paternoster.
She is as greatt as a whall;
She has a galon of gall.
By hym that dyed for us all
I wald I had ryn to I had lost hir.

God looke over the raw!
Full defly ye stand.
Yee, the dewill in thi maw,
So tariand. 5
Sagh thou awre of Daw?
Yee, on a leyland
Hard I hym blaw;
He commys here at hand,
Not far.
Stand styll.
                 Qwhy?
For he commys, hope I.
He wyll make us both a ly
Bot if we be war.

Crystys crosse me spede,
And Sant Nycholas!
Therof had I nede.
It is wars then it was:
Whoso couthe take hede
And lett the warld pas,
It is ever in drede
And brekyll as glas,
And slythys.
This warld fowre never so,
With mervels mo and mo,
Now in weyll, now in wo,
And all thyng wrythys.

Was never syn Noe floode
Sich floodys seyn,
Wyndys and ranys so rude
And stormes so keyn.
Som stamerd, som stod
In dowte, as I weyn.
Now God turne all to good.
I say as I mene,
For ponder:
These floodys so thay drowne
Both in feyldys and in towne
And berys all downe,
And that is a wonder.

We that walk on the nyghtys
Oure catell to kepe,
We se sodan syghtys
When othere men slepe.
Yit me thynk my hart lyghtys;
I se shrewys pepe.
Ye ar two allwyghtys;
I wyll gyf my shepe
A turne.
Bot full yll have I ment;
As I walk on this bent
I may lyghtly repent,
My toes if I spurne.

A, syr, God you save,
And master myne.
A drynk fayn wold I have
And somwhat to dyne.
Crystys curs, my knave,
Thou art a ledyr hyne.
What, the boy lyst rave.
Abyde unto syne
We have mayde it,
Yll thryft on thy pate.
Though the shrew cam late,
Yit is he in state
To dyne, if he had it.

Sich servandys as I
That swettys and swynkys
Etys oure brede full dry,
And that me forthynkys.
We ar oft weytt and wery
When master men wynkys,
Yit commys full lately
Both dyners and drynkys;
Bot nately
Both oure dame and oure syre,
When we have ryn in the myre,
Thay can nyp at oure hyre
And pay us full lately.

Bot here my trouth, master:
For the fayr that ye make
I shall do therafter,
Wyrk as I take.
I shall do a lytyll, syr,
And emang ever lake,
For yit lay my soper
Never on my stomake
In feyldys.
Wherto shuld I threpe?
With my staf can I lepe,
And men say lyght chepe
Letherly foryeldys.

Thou were an yll lad
To ryde on wowyng
With a man that had
Bot lytyll of spendyng.
Peasse, boy, I bad.
No more janglyng
Or I shall make thee full rad,
By the hevens kyng,
With thy gawdys.
Where ar oure shepe, boy? Wé, skorne!
Sir, this same day at morne
I thaym left in the corne
When thay rang lawdys.

Thay have pasture good;
Thay cannot go wrong.
That is right, by the roode;
Thyse nyghtys ar long,
Yit I wold or we yode
Oone gaf us a song.
So I thoght, as I stode,
To myrth us emong.
I grauntt.
Lett me syng the tenory.
And I the tryble so hye.
Then the meyne fallys to me.
Lett se how ye chauntt.

Tunc intrat Mak in clamide se super logam vestitus. 6

Now, Lord, for thy naymes sevyn,
That made both moyn and starnes
Well mo then I can neven,
Thi will, Lorde, of me tharnys.
I am all uneven;
That moves oft my harnes.
Now wold God I were in heven,
For ther wepe no barnes
So styll.
Who is that pypys so poore?
Wold God ye wyst how I foore.
Lo, a man that walkys on the moore
And has not all his wyll.

Mak, where has thou gone?
Tell us tythyng.
Is he commen? then ylkon
Take hede to his thyng.

Et accipite clamidem ab ipso. 7

What? Ich be a yoman,
I tell you, of the kyng,
The self and the same,
Sond from a greatt lordyng
And sich.
Fy on you! Goyth hence.
Out of my presence;
I must have reverence.
Why, who be ich?

Why make ye it so qwaynt?
Mak, ye do wrang.
Bot Mak, lyst ye saynt?
I trow that ye lang.
I trow the shrew can paynt;
The dewyll myght hym hang.
Ich shall make complaynt
And make you all to thwang
At a worde.
And tell evyn how ye doth?
Bot Mak, is that sothe?
Now take outt that sothren tothe
And sett in a torde.

Mak, the dewill in youre ee,
A stroke wold I leyne you.
Mak, know ye not me?
By God, I couthe teyn you.
God looke you all thre;
Me thoght I had sene you.
Ye ar a fare compané.
Can ye now mene you?
Shrew, pepe!
Thus late as thou goys,
What wyll men suppos?
And thou has an yll noys
Of stelyng of shepe.

And I am trew as steyll,
All men waytt,
Bot a sekenes I feyll
That haldys me full haytt.
My belly farys not weyll;
It is out of astate.
Seldom lyys the dewyll
Dede by the gate.
Therfor
Full sore am I, and yll.
If I stande stone styll,
I ete not an nedyll
Thys moneth and more.

How farys thi wyff, by thi hoode?
How farys sho?
Lyys walteryng, by the roode,
By the fyere, lo,
And a howse full of brude.
She drynkys well, to;
Yll spede othere good
That she wyll do.
Bot sho
Etys as fast as she can,
And ilk yere that commys to man
She bryngys furth a lakan,
And som yeres two.

Bot were I now more gracyus
And rychere be far,
I were eten outt of howse
And of harbar.
Yit is she a fowll dowse,
If ye com nar.
Ther is none that trowse
Nor knowys a war
Then ken I.
Now wyll ye se what I profer:
To gyf all in my cofer
To-morne at next to offer
Hyr hed mas penny.

I wote so forwakyd
Is none in this shyre;
I wold slepe if I takyd
Les to my hyere.
I am cold and nakyd
And wold have a fyere.
I am wery, forrakyd,
And run in the myre;
Wake thou.
Nay, I wyll lyg downe by
For I must slepe, truly.
As good a mans son was I
As any of you.

Bot Mak, com heder; betwene
Shall thou lyg downe.
Then myght I lett you bedene
Of that ye wold rowne,
No drede.
Fro my top to my too,
Manus tuas commendo
Poncio Pilato; 8
Cryst crosse me spede.

Tunc surgit pastoribus dormientibus et dicit, 9

Now were tyme for a man
That lakkys what he wold
To stalk prevely than
Unto a fold,
And neemly to wyrk than,
And be not to bold
For he myght aby the bargan,
If it were told,
At the endyng.
Now were tyme for to reyll,
Bot he nedys good counsell
That fayn wold fare weyll
And has bot lytyll spendyng.

Bot abowte you a serkyll
As rownde as a moyn
To I have done that I wyll,
Tyll that it be noyn,
That ye lyg stone styll
To that I have doyne,
And I shall say thertyll
Of good wordys a foyne
On hight:
Over youre heydys my hand I lyft;
Outt go youre een, fordo your syght
Bot yit I must make better shyft
And it be right.

Lord, what thay slepe hard
That may ye all here.
Was I never a shepard
Bot now wyll I lere;
If the flok be skard
Yit shall I nyp nere.
How, drawes hederward!
Now mendys oure chere
From sorow.
A fatt shepe, I dar say,
A good flese, dar I lay,
Eft whyte when I may
Bot this will I borow. 10

How, Gyll, art thou in?
Gett us som lyght.
Who makys sich dyn
This tyme of the nyght?
I am sett for to spyn.
I hope not I myght
Ryse a penny to wyn.
I shrew them on hight;
So farys
A huswyff that has bene
To be rasyd thus betwene.
Here may no note be sene
For sich small charys.

Good wyff, open the hek.
Seys thou not what I bryng?
I may thole thee dray the snek.
A, com in my swetyng.
Yee, thou thar not rek
Of my long standyng. 11
By the nakyd nek
Art thou lyke for to hyng.
Do way,
I am worthy my mete,
For in a strate can I gett
More then thay that swynke and swette
All the long day.

Thus it fell to my lott.
Gyll, I had sich grace.
It were a fowll blott
To be hanged for the case.
I have skapyd, Jelott,
Oft as hard a glase.
Bot so long goys the pott
To the water, men says,
At last
Comys it home broken.
Well knowe I the token,
Bot let it never be spoken.
Bot com and help fast.

I wold he were flayn;
I lyst well ete.
This twelmothe was I not so fayn
Of oone shepe mete.
Com thay or he be slayn
And here the shepe blete —
Then myght I be tane.
That were a cold swette.
Go spar
The gaytt doore.
                             Yis, Mak,
For and thay com at thy bak —
Then myght I by, for all the pak,
The dewill of the war.

A good bowrde have I spied,
Syn thou can none:
Here shall we hym hyde
To thay be gone,
In my credyll abyde;
Lett me alone
And I shall lyg besyde
In chylbed and grone.
Thou red,
And I shall say thou was lyght
Of a knave childe this nyght.
Now well is me day bright
That ever was I bred.

This is a good gyse
And a far cast;
Yit a woman avyse
Helpys at the last.
I wote never who spyse;
Agane go thou fast.
Bot I com or thay ryse
Els blawes a cold blast.
I wyll go slepe,
Yit slepys all this meneye,
And I shall go stalk prevely
As it had never bene I
That caryed thare shepe.

Resurrex a mortruis,
Have hald my hand.
Judas carnas dominus,
I may not well stand;
My foytt slepys, by Jesus,
And I walter fastand.
I thoght that we layd us
Full nere Yngland.
A, ye!
Lord, what I have slept weyll.
As fresh as an eyll,
As lyght I me feyll
As leyfe on a tre.

Bensté be herein!
So me qwakys;
My hart is outt of skyn,
Whatso it makys.
Who makys all this dyn?
So my browes blakys
To the dowore wyll I wyn.
Harke, felows, wakys!
We were fowre;
Se ye awre of Mak now?
We were up or thou.
Man, I gyf God a vowe,
Yit yede he nawre.

Me thoght he was lapt
In a wolfe skyn.
So are many hapt,
Now namely within.
When we had long napt
Me thoght with a gyn
A fatt shepe he trapt
Bot he mayde no dyn.
Be styll,
Thi dreme makys thee woode.
It is bot fantom, by the roode.
Now God turne all to good,
If it be his wyll.

Ryse, Mak, for shame;
Thou lygys right lang.
Now Crystys holy name
Be us emang.
What is this? For Sant Jame,
I may not well gang.
I trow I be the same.
A, my nek has lygen wrang
Enoghe.
Mekill thank. Syn yister-even,
Now by Sant Stevyn,
I was flayd with a swevyn;
My hart out of sloghe.

I thoght Gyll began to crok
And travell full sad
Welner at the fyrst cok
Of a yong lad
For to mend oure flok.
Then be I never glad;
I have tow on my rok
More then ever I had.
A, my heede.
A house full of yong tharmes;
The dewill knok outt thare harnes.
Wo is hym has many barnes
And therto lytyll brede.

I must go home, by youre lefe,
To Gyll, as I thoght.
I pray you looke my slefe
That I steyll noght;
I am loth you to grefe
Or from you take oght.
Go furth, yll myght thou chefe.
Now wold I we soght
This morne
That we had all oure store.
Bot I will go before;
Let us mete.
                     Whore?
At the crokyd thorne.

Undo this doore; who is here?
How long shall I stand?
Who makys sich a bere?
Now walk in the wenyand.
A, Gyll, what chere?
It is I, Mak, youre husbande.
Then may we be here,
The dewill in a bande.
Syr Gyle,
Lo, he commys with a lote
As he were holden in the throte.
I may not syt at my note
A handlang while.

Wyll ye here what fare she makys
To gett hir a glose,
And dos noght bot lakys
And clowse hir toose.
Why, who wanders, who wakys?
Who commys, who gose?
Who brewys, who bakys?
What makys me thus hose?
And than
It is rewthe to beholde,
Now in hote, now in colde,
Full wofull is the householde
That wantys a woman.

Bot what ende has thou mayde
With the hyrdys, Mak?
The last worde that thay sayde
When I turnyd my bak,
Thay wold looke that thay hade
Thare shepe, all the pak.
I hope thay wyll nott be well payde
When thay thare shepe lak,
Perdé.
Bot how so the gam gose
To me thay wyll suppose,
And make a fowll noyse
And cry outt apon me.

Bot thou must do as thou hyght.
I accorde me thertyll.
I shall swedyll hym right
In my credyll.
If it were a gretter slyght
Yit couthe I help tyll.
I wyll lyg downe stright;
Com hap me.
                       I wyll.
Behynde.
Com Coll and his maroo,
Thay will nyp us full naroo.
Bot I may cry “out, haroo”
The shepe if thay fynde.

Harken ay when thay call;
Thay will com onone
Com and make redy all
And syng by thyn oone;
Syng “lullay” thou shall
For I must grone
And cry outt by the wall
On Mary and John
For sore.
Syng “lullay” on fast
When thou heris at the last,
And bot I play a fals cast
Trust me no more.

A, Coll, goode morne.
Why slepys thou nott?
Alas, that ever was I borne.
We have a fowll blott:
A fat wedir have we lorne.
Mary, Godys forbott!
Who shuld do us that skorne?
That were a fowll spott.
Som shrewe.
I have soght with my dogys
All horbery shrogys,
And of fefteyn hogys
Fond I bot oone ewe.

Now trow me if ye will,
By Sant Thomas of Kent,
Ayther Mak or Gyll
Was at that assent.
Peasse, man, be still.
I sagh when he went;
Thou sklanders hym yll.
Thou aght to repent,
Goode spede.
Now as ever myght I thé,
If I shuld evyn here de
I wold say it were he
That dyd that same dede.

Go we theder, I rede,
And ryn on oure feete;
Shall I never ete brede
The sothe to I wytt.
Nor drynk in my heede
With hym tyll I mete. 12
I wyll rest in no stede
Tyll that I hym grete,
My brothere.
Oone I will hight:
Tyll I se hym in sight
Shall I never slepe one nyght
Ther I do anothere.

Will ye here how thay hak?
Oure syre lyst croyne.
Hard I never none crak
So clere out of toyne.
Call on hym.
                       Mak,
Undo youre doore soyne.
Who is that spak
As it were noyne
On loft?
Who is that, I say?
Goode felowse, were it day.
As far as ye may,
Good, spekys soft

Over a seke womans heede
That is at maylleasse.
I had lever be dede
Or she had any dyseasse.
Go to anothere stede.
I may not well qweasse;
Ich fote that ye trede
Goys thorow my nese
So hee.
Tell us, Mak, if ye may,
How fare ye, I say?
Bot ar ye in this towne today?
Now how fare ye?

Ye have ryn in the myre
And ar weytt yit.
I shall make you a fyre
If ye will sytt.
A nores wold I hyre.
Thynk ye on yit?
Well qwytt is my hyre;
My dreme this is itt,
A seson.
I have barnes, if ye knew,
Well mo then enewe,
Bot we must drynk as we brew,
And that is bot reson.

I wold ye dynyd or ye yode;
Me thynk that ye swette.
Nay, nawther mendys oure mode
Drynke nor mette.
Why, syr, alys you oght bot goode?
Yee, oure shepe that we gett
Ar stollyn as thay yode;
Oure los is grette.
Syrs, drynkys.
Had I bene thore
Som shuld have boght it full sore.
Mary, som men trowes that ye wore
And that us forthynkys.

Mak, som men trowys
That it shuld be ye.
Ayther ye or youre spouse,
So say we.
Now if ye have suspowse
To Gill or to me,
Com and rype oure howse
And then may ye se
Who had hir.
If I any shepe fott,
Aythor cow or stott,
And Gyll my wyfe rose nott
Here syn she lade hir,

As I am true and lele
To God here I pray
That this be the fyrst mele
That I shall ete this day.
Mak, as have I ceyll,
Avyse thee, I say. 13
He lernyd tymely to steyll
That couth not say nay.
I swelt!
Outt, thefys, fro my wonys.
Ye com to rob us for the nonys.
Here ye not how she gronys?
Youre hartys shuld melt.

Outt, thefys, fro my barne;
Negh hym not thor.
Wyst ye how she had farne
Youre hartys wold be sore.
Ye do wrang, I you warne,
That thus commys before
To a woman that has farne,
Bot I say no more.
A, my medyll.
I pray to God so mylde,
If ever I you begyld,
That I ete this chylde
That lygys in this credyll.

Peasse, woman, for Godys payn,
And cry not so;
Thou spyllys thy brane
And makys me full wo.
I trow oure shepe be slayn;
What fynde ye two?
All wyrk we in vayn;
As well may we go.
Bot hatters!
I can fynde no flesh
Hard nor nesh,
Salt nor fresh,
Bot two tome platers.

Whik catell bot this,
Tame nor wylde,
None, as have I blys,
As lowde as he smylde.
No, so God me blys,
And gyf me joy of my chylde.
We have merkyd amys;
I hold us begyld.
Syr, don.
Syr, oure lady hym save,
Is youre chyld a knave?
Any lord myght hym have
This chyld to his son. 14

When he wakyns he kyppys,
That joy is to se.
In good tyme to hys hyppys
And in celé.
Bot who was his gossyppys
So sone redé?
So fare fall thare lyppys!
Hark now, a le!
So God thaym thank,
Parkyn and Gybon Waller, I say,
And gentill John Horne, in good fay,
He made all the garray,
With the greatt shank.

Mak, freyndys will we be,
For we ar all oone.
Wé, now I hald for me,
For mendys gett I none.
Farewell all thre;
All glad were ye gone.
Fare wordys may ther be
Bot luf is ther none
This yere.
Gaf ye the chyld any thyng?
I trow not oone farthyng.
Fast agane will I flyng;
Abyde ye me there.

Mak, take it to no grefe
If I com to thi barne.
Nay, thou dos me greatt reprefe,
And fowll has thou farne.
The child will it not grefe,
That lytyll day starne.
Mak, with youre leyfe,
Let me gyf youre barne
Bot sex pence.
Nay, do way, he slepys.
Me thynk he pepys.
When he wakyns he wepys;
I pray you go hence.

Gyf me lefe hym to kys
And lyft up the clowtt.
What the dewill is this?
He has a long snowte.
He is merkyd amys;
We wate ill abowte.
Ill spon weft, iwys,
Ay commys foull owte.
Ay, so,
He is lyke to oure shepe.
How, Gyb, may I pepe?
I trow kynde will crepe
Where it may not go.

This was a qwantt gawde
And a far-cast;
It was a hee frawde.
Yee, syrs, wast.
Lett bren this bawde,
And bynd hir fast.
A fals skawde
Hang at the last.
So shall thou!
Wyll ye se how thay swedyll
His foure feytt in the medyll?
Sagh I never in a credyll
A hornyd lad or now.

Peasse, byd I. What!
Lett be youre fare.
I am he that hym gatt
And yond woman hym bare.
What, dewill, shall he hatt,
Mak? Lo, God, Makys ayre.
Lett be all that,
Now God gyf hym care,
I sagh!
A pratty child is he
As syttys on a wamans kne,
A dyllydowne, perdé,
To gar a man laghe.

I know hym by the eere marke;
That is a good tokyn.
I tell you, syrs, hark,
Hys noyse was brokyn.
Sythen told me a clerk
That he was forspokyn.
This is a fals wark.
I wold fayn be wrokyn;
Gett wepyn.
He was takyn with an elfe;
I saw it myself.
When the clok stroke twelf
Was he forshapyn.

Ye two ar well feft,
Sam in a stede.
Syn thay manteyn thare theft
Let do thaym to dede.
If I trespas eft
Gyrd of my heede;
With you will I be left.
Syrs, do my reede:
For this trespas
We will nawther ban ne flyte,
Fyght nor chyte,
Bot have done as tyte
And cast hym in canvas.

Lord, what I am sore,
In poynt for to bryst;
In fayth I may no more,
Therfor wyll I ryst.
As a shepe of sevyn skore
He weyd in my fyst.
For to slepe aywhore
Me thynk that I lyst.
Now, I pray you,
Lyg downe on this grene.
On these thefys yit I mene.
Wherto shuld ye tene?
Do as I say you.

Angelus cantat “gloria in excelsis,” postea dicat, 15

Ryse, hyrd men heynd,
For now is he borne
That shall take fro the feynd
That Adam had lorne,
That warloo to sheynd.
This nyght is he borne;
God is made youre freynd
Now at this morne,
He behestys.
At Bedlem go se
Ther lygys that fre
In a cryb full poorely
Betwyx two bestys.

This was a qwant stevyn
That ever yit I hard.
It is a mervell to nevyn
Thus to be skard.
Of Godys son of hevyn
He spak upward;
All the wod on a levyn
Me thoght that he gard
Appere.
He spake of a barne
In Bedlem, I you warne.
That betokyns yond starne;
Let us seke hym there.

Say, what was his song?
Hard ye not how he crakyd it,
Thre brefes to a long?
Yee, mary, he hakt it;
Was no crochett wrong,
Nor nothyng that lakt it.
For to syng us emong
Right as he knakt it
I can.
Let se how ye croyne;
Can ye bark at the mone?
Hold youre tonges, have done.
Hark after than.

To Bedlem he bad
That we shuld gang;
I am full fard
That we tary to lang.
Be mery and not sad;
Of myrth is oure sang.
Ever lastyng glad
To mede may we fang
Withoutt noyse.
Hy we theder forthy,
If we be wete and wery,
To that chyld and that lady;
We have it not to lose.

We fynde by the prophecy —
Let be youre dyn —
Of David and Isay,
And mo then I myn,
Thay prophecyed by clergy
That in a vyrgyn
Shuld he lyght and ly
To slokyn oure syn,
And slake it
Oure kynde from wo;
For Isay sayd so:
Ecce virgo
Concipiet a chylde that is nakyd. 16

Full glad may we be
And abyde that day
That lufly to se,
That all myghtys may.
Lord, well were me
For ones and for ay
Myght I knele on my kne
Som word for to say
To that chylde.
Bot the angell sayd
In a cryb was he layde;
He was poorly arayd,
Both mener and mylde.

Patryarkes that has bene,
And prophetys beforne,
Thay desyryd to have sene
This chylde that is borne.
Thay ar gone full clene;
That have thay lorne.
We shall se hym, I weyn,
Or it be morne
To tokyn.
When I se hym and fele
Then wote I full weyll
It is true as steyll
That prophetys have spokyn,

To so poore as we ar
That he wold appere,
Fyrst fynd and declare
By his messyngere.
Go we now, let us fare.
The place is us nere.
I am redy and yare;
Go we in fere
To that bright.
Lord, if thi wylles be —
We ar lewde all thre —
Thou grauntt us somkyns gle
To comforth thi wight.

Hayll, comly and clene;
Hayll, yong child!
Hayll, maker, as I meyne,
Of a madyn so mylde.
Thou has waryd, I weyne,
The warlo so wylde;
The fals gyler of teyn
Now goys he begylde.
Lo, he merys.
Lo, he laghys, my swetyng.
A welfare metyng;
I have holden my hetyng.
Have a bob of cherys.

Hayll, sufferan savyoure,
For thou has us soght.
Hayll, frely foyde and floure
That all thyng has wroght.
Hayll, full of favoure
That made all of noght.
Hayll! I kneyll and I cowre.
A byrd have I broght
To my barne.
Hayll, lytyll tyné mop.
Of oure crede thou art crop.
I wold drynk on thy cop,
Lytyll day starne.

Hayll, derlyng dere,
Full of godhede.
I pray thee be nere
When that I have nede.
Hayll, swete is thy chere.
My hart wold blede
To se thee sytt here
In so poore wede
With no pennys.
Hayll, put furth thy dall;
I bryng thee bot a ball.
Have and play thee withall
And go to the tenys.

The Fader of heven,
God omnypotent,
That sett all on seven,
His Son has he sent.
My name couth he neven
And lyght or he went.
I conceyvyd hym full even
Thrugh myght as he ment,
And now is he borne.
He kepe you fro wo;
I shall pray hym so.
Tell furth as ye go
And myn on this morne.

Farewell, lady,
So fare to beholde
With thy child on thi kne.
Bot he lygys full cold.
Lord, well is me.
Now we go, thou behold.
Forsothe, all redy
It semys to be told
Full oft.
What grace we have fun.
Com furth, now ar we won.
To syng ar we bun;
Let take on loft.

Explicit pagina pastorum. 17
 








(see note)

storms; (see note)
covered
almost inert




wrapped; (t-note)






simple; (see note); (t-note)

nearly
irrelevant


our arable land; (see note)

know
restrained
Overtaxed; beaten down
submissive
gentry

deprive us of
curse
bound to a lord




point

under


If

painted sleeve; (see note)
broach; nowadays
grieve
once
no one; reprove
Whatever
neglect


purveyance; (see note)
bragging



swain
peacock
wagon

obliged
before






once


by myself

complaint


ridge; (see note)

soon
by God


Before; noon

(see note)
signify


spiteful
(t-note)
hideous; (t-note)
eyes



shoes freeze




married men
Endure much


Silly Copple; (see note)


croak; (see note); (t-note)
groan; cluck; (t-note)
cock; (t-note)




ill served
sigh quietly
knows




found

bound




breaks

destiny drives

(see note)







wooing

wary; wedding

known
(t-note)



misfortune
hour



epistle; (see note)
one for my companion
(see note)
briar; (see note)
bristle
sour-looking demeanor
once; whistle; (see note)

“Our Father”
whale


run until; (see note)

crowd; (see note)
deafly
mouth
tarrying
Saw; anywhere; (see note)
fallow land
heard; blow





lie to us both
Unless; wary

assist



could; heed


brittle
slips
never fared so before


everything changes

since Noah’s flood

rains
keen
staggered
suppose





bears


at night
livestock
see unexpected sights

is cheered
rascals peep
monsters
(see note)

spoken
heath
do light penance
stub


(see note)

something to eat

lazy servant
wishes to
Wait until after
eaten
luck; head





sweat; toil
Eat
displeases me
wet; weary
sleep
very slowly
dines
quickly

run
reduce our wages


promise
fare
(see note)
receive
(see note)
play



argue

a cheap bargain
Poorly repays


(see note)

wealth
bade
idle chatter
afraid

For your tricks


(see note)
Lauds





before we go



agree
tenor; (see note)
treble
mean




(see note); (t-note)
moon; stars
more; name
Your will, Lord, is unclear to me
(t-note)
brains

children; (t-note)

pipes; (see note)
knew; fared




tidings
each one
heed; things



I am a yeoman; (see note)

(t-note)
Messenger
such

(t-note)



strange; (see note)

do you wish to play the saint
yearn [to]
counterfeit


be flogged



southern tooth
turd

eye


could harm; (t-note)



be earnest
Rascal, look


reputation


steel
know
sickness; (see note)
hot

order; (t-note)
(see note)



(see note)
needle
month

(t-note)
she; (t-note)
[She] lies sprawling; cross

brood

(see note)

(t-note)

each year
baby


Even if I were; (t-note)

would be
shelter
sweetheart

vouch for
worse
know
(see note)

Tomorrow directly
funeral mass

know; tired; (see note)

even if; took
hire

fire
overly tired


lie; beside






hinder; together; (see note)
whisper
fear
head; toe
(see note)

Christ’s; assist




lacks; wants
secretly then
sheepfold
nimbly

pay the consequences


rush


wealth

circle; (see note)
moon
Until; what
noon
lie
Until; finished

few
Aloud

eyes; destroy
effort
If

how
hear

learn
scared
seize [a sheep] tightly
come here

(t-note)

fleece; wager





such din; (t-note)

(see note)

to earn
curse them aloud

housewife
Continually interrupted
profit
chores

hatch; (see note)

allow; draw the latch
sweetheart
need; consider

(see note)
hang

food; (see note)
bind
toil; sweat


lot
fortune
disgrace

escaped; (see note)
blow
(see note)



omen



skinned
wish to
year; glad

they; before
hear; bleat
taken
sweat
lock
entry

if; behind you
suffer; (see note)
worse

jest
know
hide
until
cradle

lie
childbed
get ready
delivered; (see note)
boy
happy to me is the day
conceived

disguise
clever trick
woman’s advice

spies
Back again
Unless; before; (see note)


crowd
walk stealthily
As if
took their sheep

(see note)



foot sleeps
stumble with hunger; (t-note)




eel; (see note)
feel
leaf

Blessed
I quake; (t-note)
[my] skin
Whatever the cause
noise
brows; pale; (see note)
door; go
wake up
four
anywhere
before

went; nowhere

wrapped

dressed
especially
(t-note)
trick

noise
(t-note)
mad
illusion; cross




long


Saint James
walk
will recover
lain wrong; (see note)

Since last evening; (see note)
Saint Stephen; (t-note)
frightened by; vision; (see note)



labor; hard
Well-nigh; cock-crow
(see note)
add to our flock

(see note)


bellies
brains
children
bread

leave

examine my sleeve
steal nothing

anything
fare


livestock; (see note)
ahead

Where
thorn tree; (see note)

(t-note)

noise; (t-note)
waning [moon]; (see note)


(see note); (t-note)

Guile
sound
held by
work
brief moment

fuss
comment
plays
scratches; toes



hoarse




(t-note)


shepherds




expect; well-pleased

By God
game
suspect; (t-note)



promised

swaddle
cradle
greater trick
could
immediately
cover; (see note)


companion
(see note)
help


Listen
soon


(see note)




quickly
hear
unless; trick





disgrace
ram; lost; (see note)
God forbid; (see note)


rascal
searched
sheltering brushwood; (see note)
young sheep; (see note); (t-note)



(see note)
Either
Was involved

saw
slanders
ought

thrive
die



thither
run
bread
Until I know the truth

meet
[fol. 43v]
accost

promise
(see note)

Where

warble; (see note)
likes to croon
Heard
tune


soon
spoke
noon
aloud

(see note)



sick
unwell
rather; dead
Before; annoyance

breathe
Each footstep
Goes; nose
high





run
wet


nurse; hire
Do you still remember; (see note)
paid; wages


children
more; enough



dined before you went
sweat (work hard); (see note)
neither

ails; (see note)
tend
stolen

drink [this]

paid dearly
(see note)
displeases



Either

suspicion

search

took her; (see note)
obtained
steer

since; (see note)

loyal

meal; (see note)

happiness

quickly; steal
could
faint
home
purposely



child
Do not go near him there
Knew; fared



given birth; (see note)

middle



lies; cradle



destroy; brain
woeful




by the holy garments; (see note)

soft

empty plates

Livestock; (see note)


strong; smelled


been mistaken
beguiled
thoroughly
(t-note)
boy



grabs

(see note)
happy
godparents; (see note)
soon ready
fair; (see note)
lie

[fol. 44v]; (see note); (t-note)

He who; disturbance
long leg


united
look after myself
amends



love


farthing; (see note)
rush
Wait for


child
disgrace
fared
grieve
day star; (see note)
leave (permission)

sixpence; (t-note)

peeps (is awake)



leave
cloth


deformed
(see note)
(see note)




nature; crawl
walk

clever trick
shrewd scheme
high fraud
it was
burn; slut

false scold
Will hang

swaddle
middle

before; (see note)

(t-note)
fuss; [fol. 45r]
begat

be named
Mak’s heir


saw
pretty
woman’s knee
darling, by God
make; laugh

ear mark
proof

nose
Afterwards
bewitched

avenged
weapon
attacked by
(t-note)
clock
transformed

(see note)
Same; place
affirm
Let them be put to death
again
Cut off
I am at your mercy
take my advice; (t-note)

curse; argue
chide
immediately
(see note)

(t-note)
burst

rest
score (group of 20); (see note); (t-note)
weighed
anywhere
desire


think
be angry




virtuous shepherds

from the fiend
Those that; lost; (see note)
devil; destroy

friend

promises
Bethlehem
lies; noble one

Between; beasts; (see note)

the most marvelous voice; [fol. 45v]
(t-note)
mention
scared

aloft
woods; flash of light; (see note)
made

child
Bethlehem
So signifies that star
seek


Heard
(see note)
warbled
quick note

meanwhile
trilled

croon
moon

Listen; (see note)



afraid
tarry too long



reward; receive
fuss
therefore
Even if; wet; weary

must not lose [this opportunity]; (t-note)


noise
Isaiah
more; remember


alight
suppress
relieve


(t-note)




lovable one
is almighty

once and forever





clothed
lowly; gracious

Patriarchs; (see note)



completely
lost
suppose
Before
As a sign
touch

steel
That which







eager
together
bright one
(see note)
unlearned
some kind of merriment
comfort; creature

fair; pure; (see note)


maiden; gracious
cursed; suppose
devil
beguiler; harm; (see note)

plays merrily
laughs; sweet one
fortunate encounter
kept my promise
cherries

sovereign savior

noble child; flower; (see note)
made

out of nothing
cower
bird
child
baby
creed; top
from your cup; (see note)
day star


divinity


countenance


such poor clothing
pennies
hand; (see note)


tennis; (see note)



created all in seven [days]

could; name; (see note)
alighted before

intended




remember

[fol. 46v]
fair

lies


Truly


found
saved
bound; (see note)
Begin loudly


 

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