John the Blind Audelay, Salutations


1 Here begin salutations to the blessed virgin Mary. Take care not to pass by here without first saying ave

2 “May they always be without woe who to me say ‘ave.’” This sentence contains a pun upon sine ve “without woe” and ave/a ve “hail”/“without woe.”

3 Here begins the song of Magnificat. This poem paraphrases and expands Luke 1:46–55.

4 He hath put down the mighty from their seat. Luke 1:52.

5 Here begins a salutation to Saint Bridget, virgin, and how the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her physically and gave her his blessing, says Audelay

6 Hail, with the works of mercy you obtained reward [for] yourself, surely

7 Hail, I shall confirm your status by bull that supersedes the pope’s

8 Thus the pope sanctified her place and hallowed it to Christ’s purpose

9 And Bridgit made herself of nuns another blessed convent

10 Lines 138–39: Hail, he granted royal dispensation to that holy place and called it Bridget Syon (i.e., Syon Abbey). / The pope confirmed that by papal bull through his special grace

11 All England is much obliged to pray for King Henry [V’s soul]

12 For they shall never show nor depict an image of a face

13 Readily they arise with great reverence scarcely out of their sleep

14 Lines 172–73: For it fares not by spiritual goods as [it] does by temporal — / [As when] men possess a part of it, each portion is less

15 But remove here the power of those who wars will awake

16 Here begins a salutation to Saint Winifred, virgin

17 Hail, the blessing of Beuno (Winifred’s uncle), thy healing was by grace

18 Pious virgin Winifred, mighty in miracles, / Cleanse us by your presence from the stain of sins, / And defend us from all the little hazards of life. / Pray for us, blessed Winifred, / Because through you grace is given to us

19 God, who commanded that by thy might the blessed virgin Winifred be brought back to life after the cutting off of her head, make us also [whole], we pray, by her interceding, [in our] present life and future assembly before thy very self through Christ our Lord. Amen

20 Whoever devoutly says this salutation every day in honor of Saint Anne, mother of Mary, will assuredly not die a wicked death

21 Rejoice, you brought forth that birth that did gladden all the world

22 Rejoice, here, so that that lady could illuminate all the world

23 Rejoice, she saved all mankind [for whom] death for sin was prepared

24 Pray for us, blessed Anne, because from the fruit of your womb grace has been given to us. Let us pray together

25 God, who wanted to make fruitful the blessed Anne, long sterile, with a glorious and salvific offspring for the human race, grant that all venerating in love the son and mother may deserve in the hour of death to rejoice in the presence of both, through thee, Jesus Christ, savior of the world, king of glory. Amen

26 Whoever has devoutly said this salutation in honor of the Savior for twenty days in a row, Pope Boniface IV has granted to those who have truly confessed all and are contrite, full remission of all sins, and this has been written at Rome in the church of Saint Peter before the altar of the savior

27 The light of thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us. Thou hast given gladness in my heart. Psalm 4:7.

28 God, who wished to leave signed for us as a memorial of thy countenance thy likeness stamped on the sudarium at the impetus of Veronica, grant by thy passion and cross that we may now on earth be able to vener­ate, honor, and worship him (i.e., Christ) through a glass in an obscure manner, just as then we [will see] thee, coming as judge over us, when we see face to face our Lord Jesus Christ thy son. Amen. Compare 1 Corinthians 13:12: Videmus nunc per speculum in enigmate tunc autem facie ad faciem, “We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face.”


Abbreviations: CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; NHC: Northern Homily Cycle; NIMEV: The New Index of Middle English Verse, ed. Boffey and Edwards; For manuscript abbreviations (ED, A, D, G, L, V), see the Introduction.

This four-part devotion consists of:
(1)    An innovative salutation in honor of Mary, the five joys, and Christ’s Incarnation;
(2)    A prayer benediction recalling Doomsday;
(3)    A prayer on the five joys;
(4)    An instructional couplet advocating daily remembrance of the five joys.
The sequence opens with Mary’s punning invitation to say “ave” and be without woe. After Scribe A copies the salutation, Scribe B copies the prayers and instructions that follow. Both prayers recall topics emphasized in the salutation, in layered form: Jesus and judgment at its nucleus; Mary and her joys in its frame. Anticipation of Doomsday and the longed-for sight of God’s face unite this devotion with the closing salutation sequence to the Holy Face.
incipits The two incipits are written in red by Scribe B on three lines. The first is a general opening and instruction to say “Ave.” The second one (which occupies its own line) conveys Mary’s words directly to the reader or spectator of her effigy. The salutation thus opens as a dialogue with Mary, who speaks first and actually requests the poem. Mary’s words, moreover, contain a pun: “May they always be without woe (sine ave) who to me say ‘Hail’” (ave = a ve, “without woe”); compare Prayer on the Joys of the Virgin, lines 11–12. I am indebted to Radd Ehrman for detecting the pun.

This opening salutation initially addresses Mary as Virgin Mother, and then it addresses Jesus as Redeemer. Direct access to Jesus is achieved gradually by means of worship of Mary and a contemplation of her five joys (lines 81–88). The poem itself mimics human mother-and-child form by embedding the anaphoric salutation to Jesus (“O Jhesu,” lines 91–153) inside an anaphoric salutation to Mary (“Hayle,” lines 1–90, 154–59). There are two different 2-line refrains: one for the Mary section and another for the Jesus section. Joined by meter — and by having one salutation nestled inside the other — the two parts of this poem operate as a single unit, the child enfolded in the mother. Citation of the five joys seems to cue a spiritual advance from Mary to her Son directly. Audelay’s Salutation to Jesus for Mary’s Love illustrates how fifteenth-century orthodox religion held that access to God was best achieved through the saints, a view challenged by Lollardy (Richmond, “Religion,” pp. 188–90; Hudson, Premature Reformation, pp. 311–13).

[Fols. 22vb–23va. IMEV, NIMEV 1068 (listing this item as joined to the next three items). Hands: Scribe A, poem in black; Scribe B, incipits in red (see above). Initials: Large H in blue with red filigree (three lines high) and medium O in red (two lines high), with face drawn in it (at line 91). Meter: Sixteen 10-line stanzas, ababbcbcDD4, with stanza 15 lacking its tenth line (see explanatory note to line 149). Edition: E. Whiting, pp. 149–54, 244.]
5–8 The salutation begins, appropriately, upon ideas of Jesus’s miraculous conception in the womb.

18 sowke. The word puns subtly with socur in line 14 above, underscoring Mary’s nurturing support. The idea of the sinner receiving divine succor, or grace, runs through the poem. Jesus will later be called “both solans and socour” (line 107) and one who can “sokore” the petitioner’s soul (line 128).

24 styyng. For the sense “growing,” see MED stiing(e, ger., where the usual sense is “ascending,” but compare stien, v. 6(c), “increase.”

33–34 The petitioner trembles as a sinner before Christ as Judge, the role of God that emerges forcefully in lines 141–54. There is also here a sense of approaching the mother to ask her to assuage the wrath of the Father.

54 Maré Mawdlen. An example of the saved sinner, which Audelay uses several times in The Counsel of Conscience. Compare Visiting the Sick and Consoling the Needy, line 145; Seven Hours of the Cross, line 35; and the Latin prose incipit His dicit Dominus Deus that concludes The Vision of Saint Paul.

56 he me. A verb may be left out; compare line 64, “He me save.”

61 Compare Salutation to Mary, line 74.

62 medicyn of al our syne. See Citrome’s discussion of Mary as female healer, where he cites this line and Salutation to Mary, line 101 (Surgeon, pp. 100–02, at 102).

71 On the formula of falling into sin through frailty, see explanatory note to Audelay’s Epilogue to The Counsel of Conscience, line 154.

81–88 This stanza recounts the Five Joys of the Virgin, a subject repeated in the prayer-poem that follows. The subject provides the penitent’s admittance to Jesus in line 91, “fore these joys v.” For a survey discussion of Middle English lyrics to the Virgin and her joys, see Woolf, English Religious Lyric, pp. 274–308.

91 The embedded salutation to Jesus, with new refrain, begins here. The enlarged initial O is drawn in red and contains a face (denoting direct address to God; compare Pope John’s Passion of Our Lord, line 89, and Deus qui beatam Annam, line 1). The salutation to Jesus is composed in lines that are tauter than the surrounding lines in address to Mary.

91–94 The syntax must be read as if the anaphoras — “O Jhesu” — are emotive exclamations interrupting the sentence, from which they are separate. The meaning here is: “For these Five Joys, which thy mother had of thee — she who was both virgin and wife — thus was none more honored than she.”

98 The allusion to “thi tabernakil in heven toure” suggests Jesus being addressed in the womb. Such allusions continue in the next stanza.

107 On Jesus as socour, see explanatory notes to lines 18 and 128.

114 Rewere. The MED confirms that the meaning is “Merciful One” in reference to God (reuer(e, n.[a]), not “river,” as glossed by E. Whiting.

128 sokore. This word culminates an intense appeal for mercy (lines 112–20), and then intense hope for salvation (lines 121–28), suggesting, with a play on the previous pun (line 18), that Jesus through his m