The Annunciation

THE ANNUNCIATION: FOOTNOTES


1 And of fair manner (bearing). Gabriel greeted her, saying thus:

2 Lines 15-16: Let us ask that Lord, go where we go, / Whom to you, sweet maid, Gabriel did send

3 Lines 13-14: Gently the mild maiden then began to answer him

4 Do not be afraid, but be joyful, certain and sure

5 Until he went out, bidding all the flock to battle

6 Hail maiden of maidens, through the Word conceiving

7 Lines 6-8: Mary, because of that birth you are the flower among women, / Mary, haven of sure rest in storms and also in strife: / Have mind of me in worldly woes, who trust to your protection

8 Grace that was most solemn settled in you, you might not flee

9 You who are full of all pity, sea star so clear

10 Lines 17-19: Lord that was conceived in you for the salvation of less and more, / Lord that would of you, maiden, so wondrously be born, / Lord that through you wrought that [which] prophecy spoke before

11 Lines 23-24: With you he is and you with him, between you may nothing interfere: / Help me, lady, to be with him, that I may see his face

12 Lines 30-32: You reign forever with your son, where no joy may fail, / You have power in heaven and earth and in hell to relieve suffering: / So that I come not to that place (i.e., hell), good lady, guide me

13 Lines 33-35: In heaven angels worship you night and day, / On earth the religion of Christians honors you, / In hell all foully arrayed fiends dread you

14 Lines 37-40: Mary comforts all women who are both good and wise, / Mary brought help to all women in sin that they may rise, / Help all woebegone women, in your manner, / And [help] me that day when I shall see your son, my judge

15 And since, lady, your greatness cannot be told

16 Lines 45-46: Blessed be that high father that created you such a one, / Blessed be his own son, who would alight in you

17 Lines 50-52: Fruit it was that was promised to come from Jesse's root, / Jesus, the fruit that blossomed from you for all mankind's salvation, / Be always my soul's food and life and thought

18 Lines 53-55: Womb, in you was Christ's bower, harbor of all purity, / Womb, in you as paradise full of sweetness, / Womb, in you was the palace of the prince of most prowess, / For the birth of that womb, help, Mary, in [my] distress

19 Lines 59-60: Thine is every Christian man on earth both most and least, / Because I am yours, you shield me from Satan, that foul beast

20 Lines 63-64: Jesus is king of all pity who has dealt so with man (see note) C / Now Jesus, Mary mother's son, be always in my thought

THE ANNUNCIATION: NOTES


          §1

In that time, als was ful wel. Index no. 1536. MS: Bodl. 2325 (Bodley 425), fols. 67b-68a (fourteenth century; West Midlands, with some northern features; Heuser suggests that the Psalter in which this poem appears originated in the West Midlands and was copied by a Northern scribe who uses sal for shall, salt for shalt, or occasionally a for o as in knaw or hali). Edition: W. Heuser, Anglia 29 (1906), 401-02.

This poem is a close translation of Luke 1:26-38. The translator adds only a few formulaic phrases (at lines 1 and 45). The poem appears in a mid-fourteenth-century MS which contains an English verse Psalter. Between Psalms 108 and 109 we find English versions of the four sequences (sung before the Alleluia in the liturgy) from the Gospels (often included in Books of Hours); this poem is one. Marian materials are often linked with the Psalms of David in that she is seen to be the flower that his songs proclaim. The MS also contains an English translation of Ave maris stella, "Heile sterne on the se so bright" (Index no. 1082, printed in B14, pp. 58-59).

2 Gabriel. Gregory of Nazianzus, a fourth-century commentator whose interpretations are incorporated into the CA, notes that Gabriel's name means "strength of God." Bernard of Clairvaux writes that Gabriel is the appropriate messenger because he announces the "coming of power" and comforts Mary: "Perhaps it would be better to say that he had the right to so great a name because he was to carry out so great a mission" (Homily 1, p. 7). Gabriel also appears to Zachariah with the news that Elizabeth will bear a son (Luke 1:5-25) and to the Old Testament prophet Daniel, to whom he shows visions (Daniel 8:16 and 9:21).

5 maiden. See Isaias 7:14, "a virgin shall conceive. . . ."

7 Josep of the house of Davi. St. Bernard writes: "Not only Joseph, but Mary as well, we must suppose, descended from the house of David. She would not have been engaged to a man of the house of David if she herself had not also been of this royal house" (Homily 2, p. 29). The apocryphal Gospel of the Birth of Mary attributed to St. Matthew (and once thought to have been translated by Jerome), claims that Mary was "sprung from the royal race and family of David" (1:1, in Lost Books of the Bible [Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Company, 1926]), p. 17.

11 ful of hape. The word hape is rich in meaning. For this poet, grace - the advent of conception - is an event, that which happens (MED 2.a). The word also suggests Mary's worthiness (MED 1.e: "favor, graciousness") and, more importantly, her good fortune, prosperity, and happiness (MED 1.c) as she receives this blessing.

29 in Jacob hous rike sal he. See 2 Kings (RSV 2 Samuel) 7:13-16 and Isaias 9:6-7.

32 Hou mai this be? Bernard of Clairvaux comments that Mary "does not doubt the event, but wonders how it shall occur. She is not asking whether it will happen, but how" (Homily 4, p. 48).

34 ful of miht. See note to line 2.

36 miht and heighest inshadw thee sal. According to Bernard, this mysterious explanation implies that only God and Mary are to know the means by which she will conceive (Homily 4, pp. 49-50).

37 heli. Bernard: "Why does he say simply the 'Holy' and nothing else? I think that it must have been because there was no name by which he could correctly or worthily qualify that extraordinary, that magnificent, that awesome being who was going to unite the Virgin's most chaste flesh to his own soul in the only begotten Son of the Father. Had he said the 'holy flesh' or the 'holy man' or 'the holy child', whatever he might have found to say would have seemed to him inadequate" (Homily 4, p. 50).


          §2

From heovene into eorthe. Index no. 877. MS: Jesus College Oxford 29, fols. 188b (first eleven lines) and 181a (last seven lines) (thirteenth century, Southwest Midlands). Edition: Morris, An Old English Miscellany, p. 100.

This fragment is one of the oldest extant vernacular Annunciation lyrics; Morris believes the poems in this MS were composed before 1250. The poem was apparently meant to be sung: the note Item cantus appears next to the first line, and the points in the MS seem to indicate rhythmic rather than syntactic breaks.

2 The name Gabryel has been written above that in a smaller hand.

5 wunyinde. This term is not easily glossed. "Dwelling" or "sojourning" are implied, or perhaps "living." The sense seems to point up the transience of Mary's life on earth.

12 This section of the poem begins on an earlier leaf of the MS. The sense of the poem suggests the omission of some lines paraphrasing Luke 1:35-37; now Mary is the speaker, but there is no clear physical evidence for this in the misbound MS.

13 wenche. The word, which originally meant "girl" or "young woman," connoted "servant" or "handmaid" in the Middle Ages (see OED wench, sb.1 and 3). There is no connotation of promiscuity in the usage.

15-18 Narrative poems about Mary often close in a prayer, either asking Christ to have mercy for his mother's sake, as in this case, or to Mary herself.


          §3

Gabriel, fram evene kingh. Index no. 888. MS: BL Arundel 248, fol. 154a (c. 1300; East Anglian - Dobson identifies it as Norfolk - dialect). In the MS, the Latin text appears under musical notes, in five twelve-line stanzas; the English text follows. The poem "Jesu Cristes milde moder" (§32), possibly by the same author, also appears in the MS. Editions: Frederick J. Furnivall, The Harleian MS 7334 of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Chaucer Society first series 73 (Ludgate Hill: Trübner, 1885), pp. 695-96; Furnivall, Cambridge MS Dd. 4. 24. of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (London: Chaucer Society, 1902), pp. 687-88; M. Jacoby, Vier Mittelenglische Geistliche Gedichte des XIII Jahrhunderts (Berlin: G. Bernstein, 1890), p. 35; B13, no. 44; Friedrich Gennrich, Formenlehre des Mittelalterlichen Liedes (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1932), p. 179 (music with Jacoby's lyrics); J. B. Trend, Music and Letters 9 (1929), 114; Hughes and Abraham, p. 116 (with music from Cambridge University Addit. 710, which gives Latin but not English lyrics); Davies, no. 32; Sisam, Oxford, no. 39; DH, no. 15 (with music); Weber, pp. 29-31 (Brown's ed.). Wenzel compares the poem to its Latin source in Preachers, Poets, and the Early English Lyric (pp. 35-42). Weber discusses the poem's structure (and that of its music) on pp. 32-46, noting that the movement of the poem toward a final petition "and the way the petition is formed in terms of sacred history is analogous to the Mass liturgy. Just as the Mass is the re-enactment of the crucifixion to unite the present congregation to God, so the poem which relates the event of the annunciation to the crucifixion of Christ is made by the poet into a prayer in order to apply the events to himself and his listeners for their 'god won'" (p. 40).

This piece is a free translation of the thirteenth-century Latin hymn Angelus ad Virginem (the song sung by Nicholas in Chaucer's The Miller's Tale). On the Latin source (and music) see DH, pp. 178-83.

Furnivall indicates that the initial þ is to be read as h. Following Brown, I have emended the text accordingly, replacing the with he at lines 4, 47, 53, and 60.

3 hire. MS reads thire, which Brown glosses as "this," but Dobson emends to hir on the grounds that thire, which would mean "these," is inconsistent with the dialect of the text (p. 180).

26 herde. MS: therde.

29 theumaiden. Furnivall reads thenmaiden (then=hen=hand?); if theu=theow, however, then the word means "servant-maiden" (compare OE þeowe).

35 withhuten lawe. An exception to the law of nature (according to which a virgin cannot conceive a child).

38 sithte. The word may be, as Furnivall reads, sichte.

39 MS: And crossed out at beginning of line.

49 Maiden moder makeles. Compare §13, lines 1-2.

51 thee. Corrected from be (Brown's emendation).


          §4

The angel to the vergyn said. By John Audelay. Index no. 3305. MS: Bodl. 21876 (Douce 302), fol. 24a-b (fifteenth century; West Midlands Shropshire dialect). Edition: Ella Keats Whiting, ed., The Poems of John Audelay, EETS o.s. 184 (1931; rpt. New York: Kraus, 1971), pp. 159-60.

This lyric appears in the works of John Audelay, in a group of four Marian poems. Audelay may have been a priest; he spent the last years of his life at Haghmond, an Augustinian abbey, and wrote for the monks there. The poem is a closer translation of Angelus ad virginem than §3. Though it is written in carol form, Dobson does not believe this version was meant for singing (p. 179).

At the head of the poem, the MS reads: Hec salutacio composuit Angelus Gabrielus.

2 Entreng into here boure. In the Protevangelium, Gabriel first visits Mary at a well, then reappears in her room.

3-4 Fore drede . . . He said, "Haile!" Gabriel uses a familiar greeting to avoid frightening Mary.

6 MS: s deleted after Lord.

9 gate of heven. This is a common image from the liturgy. Its source is Ezekiel 44:1-4, in which God shows Ezekiel a closed gate and explains: "This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it: because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it, and it shall be shut for the prince. The prince himself shall sit in it, to eat bread before the Lord: he shall enter in by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go out by the same way." Medieval commentators interpret this as a prefiguring of the Immaculate Conception and virgin birth: only the Holy Spirit would have access to Mary's womb. Compare Lydgate's Life of our Lady, Book 2, line 568, and "Marye, mayde mylde and fre" (§88), lines 49-52. See the order for Sext of the Divine Office for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception; note also the Biblia Pauperum leaf for the Annunciation. Frederick Warren's introduction to the Sarum mass of the B.V.M. explains that one reason for celebrating her mass is that Saturday is "a door and entrance" to Sunday (Sarum, Part 2, p. 74).

12 No syn never I knew. The word refers to carnal sin - Mary is a virgin - and it implicitly affirms the Immaculate Conception, the absence of all human sin. The double negative form, used for emphasis, is common.

14 stedfast. Whiting's emendation of MS sedfast.

16 boost. Written in a different hand in MS. Whiting believes the second hand may reflect corrections and additions supervised by Audelay himself (p. ix).

17 serten and sere appear on a separate line in the MS.

19 pere. Whiting glosses this "pure," comparing the spelling of sere for "sure" (a fifteenth-century West Midlands form) in line 17. It could, however, be "peer," Christ dwelling as a human; compare dere for "dear" in line 36).

23 as odur do. Written in a different hand.

24 burthe. In a different hand and repeated in margin.

27 the. MS: þ.

29 holé. MS: hohole.

kene. The MED gives two definitions for kenen (v.) that seem appropriate: "to engender" (a), and "to generate (sth.), develop" (c).

30-50 These lines are written in a different hand.

34 wombe and waast. A trope for physicality - not simply incarnate but with a belly that consumes and digests earthly food. As confirmation of this physicality, after the Resurrection Jesus will eat food and permit Thomas to touch the hole in his side ("wombe and waast," so to speak).

37 For thay ther that thay nyst nott hwat, in law as we fyende. I.e., the Bible (the law) indicates that God sent Christ for the sake of sinners, those who "know not what they do" (compare Luke 23:34).

39 agaynes al monkynde. I.e., against all laws of human nature - but, ironically, for the sake of humankind. Compare §3, line 35.

45 thy. Corrected in MS from thou.


          §5

Nowel el el el . . . . Index no. 2113. MS: BL Sloane 2593, fol. 10a (mid-fifteenth century). Editions: Wright, Specimens, no. 6; Wright, Songs (Warton Club), p. 29; Sandys, p. 7; EEC, no. 242; Rickert, p. 13; Greene, Selection, no. 54.
Songs, meditations, and carols on the Joys of Mary are common in medieval literature. In England (particularly in the carol form), the number of joys is usually five (the Annuncation, the Nativity, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Mary's Assumption); some continental poetry describes seven or twelve, and Lydgate often expands the number to fifteen. The number five (associated with the five senses and thus with the flesh) is frequently associated with Mary, and many songs in her honor employ a five-stanza form.

The Latin lines are the final lines of each stanza of the hymn Gaude virgo, mater Christi; for the text see §87, below. The English lines do not translate the hymn, but they treat the same material.

1 Nowel. From a French word meaning "birth." According to the OED, the first recorded use of this word in English occurs in the late fourteenth century, in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Perhaps the twelve els have revelational significance.

2 gret with. This may be a pun on greeted/great: Mary was greeted (MED greten, v.2) by Gabriel, and Mary was great with child (MED greten, v.1, to become pregnant) by means of Gabriel's announcement - conception by the Word (for this sense, compare lines 5 and 6).

17 To helle he tok the ryghte way. Compare the Apostles' Creed: "he descended into hell."


          §6

Unto Marie he that love hath. By James Ryman. Index no. 3725. MS: Cambridge University Ee.1.12, fols. 26a-27b (1492). Editions: Zupitza, Archiv 89, 189-90; EEC, no. 257. The text is based on the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55. Mary's song of praise to God is used as a hymn in the vespers liturgy. In the context of the biblical story, translations of the song also appear in several Corpus Christi cycles, e.g., the Wakefield "Salutation of Elizabeth." See DBT, "Magnificat."

1-2 These lines appear in large letters - Ryman's burdens are approximately double the size of the verses. The burden, addressed to the "audience," clearly encourages participation; by synge he means "sing along with me."

6 verily. MS: verify. Zupitza's emendation.

7 he. Added above the line.

20 By his swete Sonne. Luke reads: "He has shown might with his arm." Here and at line 26, Ryman makes interpretive adaptations to the scripture in order to call attention to Christ as the embodiment of strength and help. His interpretation agrees with those of Bede and Theophylact (d. 750) in the CA, who equate the Son with God's arm. Theophylact writes: "For in His arm, that is, His incarnate Son, He hath shewed strength, seeing that nature was vanquished, a virgin bringing forth, and God becoming man" (CA, Luke 1:51).

28-29 He toke nature in Ysraell / And became man to save mankynde. Luke reads "He has given help to Israel" (1:54).

31-34 Joy be to God . . . . Compare the Gloria Patri of the liturgy.


          §7

Nowel, nowel, nowel / Syng we with myrth. Index no. 3822. MS: Bodl. 29734 (Eng. Poet e.1), fols. 47b-48a (mid-fifteenth century). Editions: Wright, Songs (Percy Society), no. 61; EEC, no. 261; Rickert, pp. 20-21; Silverstein, no. 92; Greene, Selection, no. 56; Davies, no. 133.

The MS, consisting of seventy-six religious and secular songs, written on paper in several hands, may be a minstrel's collection. The heading in the MS, A song upon (now must I syng &c.), must refer to a now-lost carol tune.

The carol resembles carols and chansons d'aventure in which a betrayed maiden laments her pregnancy (see EEC nos. 452-57); as Greene notes, "The blessed state of the Virgin and her rejoicing would have the effect of a striking contrast to hearers familiar with the type of song parodied" (EEC, p. 408).

Rickert writes that although the vision poem is popular in the fifteenth century, this one is "alone in representing Mary as prophesying the event, and picturing herself as singing the lullaby" (p. 149).

31 lyghtnesse. Perhaps a play on "heaviness," as in "heavy with child," but also suggesting illumination.

33 fod. Greene glosses the word as "child." But the metaphor suggests Christ's role as source of spiritual nourishment (food) as well. (The older meaning of fode is "food"; MED fode, n.2, "child," seems to come from the idea that a child is one who is fed or nurtured.)


          §8

Edi beo thu, hevene quene. Index no. 708. MS: Corpus Christi College Oxford 59, fol. 113b, with music (late thirteenth century; Southeast Midlands; see below). Editions: R. Morris, Old English Homilies of the Twelfth Century, vol. 2, EETS o.s. 53 (1873; rpt. New York: Kraus, 1973), pp. 255-57, music, p. 261; Patterson, no. 30; B13, no. 60; Davies, no. 12; M. Bukofzer, "The Gymel, The Earliest Form of English Polyphony," Music and Letters 16 (1935), 79; DH, no. 13.

The MS comes from Llanthony, an Augustinian Priory, in Gloucestershire. Brown believes the poem was composed there. Dobson disagrees. He believes lines 41-64 are not part of the original poem: the first five stanzas, concluding in a prayer to Mary, constitute a unified religious love poem, in the first person (and Marian lyrics frequently employ a five-stanza structure). The last three stanzas are more impersonal. While stanza 6 elaborates on what has come before, 7 and 8 shift into an "explicitly doctrinal" mode and employ none of the courtly love conventions of the earlier stanzas. The prayer that ends stanza 8 simply reiterates the earlier prayer, in a new rhyme scheme. Furthermore, based on the features of dialect and orthography, Dobson believes the first five stanzas are a Southwest Midlands scribal copy of a poem composed in the Southeast Midlands. He theorizes that the scribe recorded these stanzas from memory (there are apparent errors), and he dismisses the last three stanzas as later additions.

The poet borrows numerous phrases (as well as metrical form) from Latin hymns. Yet he combines the traditions of that genre with conventions from secular French poetry: each stanza ends in a kind of refrain; the speaker declares himself Mary's knight (line 16) and her man (line 22), describes his "love bond" and worships her as the finest of women, noble in lineage.

1 beo. Dobson identifies this as a Southwest Midlands spelling of a Southeast Midlands form.

hevene quene. An epithet from the liturgy. See, for example, the Sarum Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Prymer (Maskell, 2:78). See also the "Queen of Heaven" poems in this volume.

1-2 Brown notes the similarity of these lines to a Latin antiphon found in Mone's collection: Salve mundi domina / regina caelorum / Sanctorum laetitia / vita beatorum (Mone, 2:210).

9-10 Brown notes the similarity to the beginning of a Latin hymn: "to SS. Tiberius, Modestus, and Florentia [Chevalier, No. 1620]: 'Aurora caeli praevia / a nocte lucem separat / divisa divina clare'" (p. 213).

10 Morris and Patterson add dai3 in brackets after from.

17 Spronge blostme of one rote. "And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him" (Isaias 11:1-2). If Mary is the flower, Jesus is the fruit.

20 heore. MS: hore. So emended by Morris and Patterson.

25 eorthe to gode sede. Compare The Myroure of oure Ladye: "Blyssed be thow moste worthy sower that haste sown a grayne of the beste whete in the best lande, wette wyth the dew of the holy goste" (p. 201).

26 On thee lighte the heovene deugh. An allusion to Gideon's fleece. The wet fleece in the desert was a sign to Gideon of God's purpose (Judges 6:36-40). Commentators regularly gloss the fleece as a sign of the Virgin Mary's immaculate conception. The Biblia Pauperum Annunciation leaf includes this image; compare also Psalm 71 (RSV 72):6.

36 draucht. This word conveys a host of applicable connotations: desire, motion, attraction, inclination, education, and draught/drink, like a love potion with Mary as the full vessel.

37 sschildghe. Morris, Patterson, and Dobson separate the word: schild 3e ("shield, yea"), Dobson declaring Brown's schild3e an impossible form.

41-42 heghe kunne, / Of David. See §1, note to line 7.

44 evening. MS: evenig. Emended by Morris.

45 derne. Commonly used in Middle English love poems to designate secrecy or private, personal love.

46 swete. Dobson emends to trewe; see note to line 49.

46-58 The lower right corner of the MS is gone; missing line-ends are supplied from earlier editions.

47 Thi love us brouchte. As corrected in margin. Text reads Thus bring us in to.

49 Seolcudliche. Text reads swetelic; margin reads Seolcudliche, with i.e., treuwe above (next to the first letters of swete from line 46). All editors except Dobson read i.e., treuwe as a gloss on Seolcudliche.

51 That al this world bicluppe ne mighte, / Thu sscholdest of thin boseme bere. Patterson cites the third lesson for Matins in the Prymer: "Hooli modir of god, that deseruedist worthili to conceyue him that al the world myghte not holde" (Maskell, 2:10).


          §9

Heyl, levedy, se-stoerre bryht. Attributed to William Herebert. Index no. 1054. MS: BL Addit. 46919, fol. 207a-b (Herebert's commonplace book; early fourteenth century, Southwest Midlands). Editions: Wright and Halliwell 2:228-29; Patterson, no. 42; B14, no. 17; Silverstein, no. 25; LH, no. 185; Reimer, pp. 120-21.

This poem recalls the Annunciation by echoing the "hail" or Ave in a prayer for Mary's protection, guidance, and intercession. It is a translation of the Latin hymn Ave maris stella, sung at the canonical hour of Nocturns, the Saturday Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Feast of the Annunciation. The Latin text is as follows:
Ave maris stella,   
Dei mater alma   
Atque semper virgo,   
Felix coeli porta.   
    
Sumens illud Ave   
Gabrielis ore,   
Funda nos in pace,   
Mutans nomen Evae.   
    
Solve vincla reis,   
Profer lumen caecis,   
Mala nostra pelle,   
Bona cuncta posce.   
    
Monstra te esse matrem,   
Sumat per te precem,   
Qui pro nobis natus   
Tulit esse tuus.   
    
Virgo singularis,   
Inter omnes mitis,   
Nos culpis solutos   
Mites fac et castos.    
Vitam praesta puram,   
Iter para tutum,   
Ut videntes Iesum   
Semper collaetemur.   
    
Sit laus Deo patri   
Summo Christo decus   
Spiritui sancto   
Honor trinus et unus.   
    
(Daniel 1:204)   
    
For later variations on the hymn, see §10, §58, B14, no. 45, and B15, no. 19.

1 se-stoerre. As David Jeffrey notes, the image of Mary as stella maris, star of the sea, originated in a scribal error; St. Jerome (Liber Interpretationis Nominorum Hebraicorum) translated the Hebrew name Miriam (in Exodus) as "drop of the sea," but stilla (drop) became stella (DBT, "Stella Maris," p. 735). Bede, for example, perpetuates the error as he glosses Mary's name in Luke: "Maria, in Hebrew, is the star of the sea" (CA Luke 1:26-27). The epithet found its way into poetry and hymns, e.g., Ave maris stella (Daniel 1:204), the antiphon for the None hour, and the Evensong hymn "Hail, sterre of the see." Numbers 24:17, Balaam's fourth oracle, provides support for the image: "A star shall rise out of Jacob and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel."

Bernard elaborates on the idea:

Surely she is very fittingly likened to a star. The star sends forth its ray without harm to itself. In the same way the Virgin brought forth her son with no injury to herself. . . . She it is whose brightness both twinkles in the highest heaven and pierces the pit of hell, and is shed upon earth, warming our hearts far more than our bodies, fostering virtue and cauterizing vice. . . . O you, whoever you are, who feel that in the tidal wave of this world you are nearer to being tossed about among the squalls and gales than treading on dry land, if you do not want to founder in the tempest, do not avert your eyes from the brightness of this star. (Homily 2, p. 30)

The incipit Ave maris stella, etc. appears in the right margin.

3 vurst and late. A gloss on the Latin semper virgo. Voiced labial fricatives (v for f) are typical of the Southern dialect Herebert uses.

late. The a appears above the line.

4 Of heveneriche sely gate. A translation of the common Latin epithet Felix coeli porta. See note to §4, line 9. Joseph Connelly's note is useful here: "Mary is the gate of heaven primarily because, through her, God came on earth; but she is also the gate of heaven in relation to men since she is our mother as well; cf. John 19:26" (p. 161).

5 Ave. Luke 1:28.

In margin: Sumens illud Ave.

7 In gryht. The Latin hymn reads in pace.

8 That turnst abakward Eve's nome. I.e., Eva/Ave. The second-century commentator Irenaeus glossed Ave as a vae or ab vae (without woe) and elaborated on the pairing (see Adversus Haereses, 3.22.4 and 5.19.1), as did later writers. Just as Satan (the fallen angel) visited Eve, so Gabriel visited Mary; Mary's obedience made possible Christ's atonement for Eve's disobedience; the pain of childbirth (Eve's punishment) is balanced by the painless birth of one child who will provide "bote for bale"; the tree of Eden bore forbidden fruit, but the tree of Calvary (the cross) bore Christ and salvation. Jacobus de Voragine discusses the parallels between the Fall and the Annunciation, even citing the legend that the Fall, the Annunciation, and the Crucifixion all took place on Friday, March 6 (Golden Legend 1:208-09). See also John Donne's poem "Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day, 1608."

9 In margin: Salve vincla reis.

13 The Latin line Monstra te esse matrem appears in the margin.

17 Margin: Virgu singularis.

21 Margin: Vitam presta puram.

24 ever. The r is written above the line.

25 MS: To þe uader cryst and to þe holy gost, with þe and to þe marked for deletion.

25-26 Patterson notes that the Gloria Patri "was regularly appended to all hymns in the services" (p. 185).


          §10

Blessed Mary, moder virginall. Index no. 534. MS: Bodl. 21575 (Douce 1), fol. 77a-b (fifteenth century). Editions: B15, no. 44; Davies, no. 107.

Another version of Ave maris stella (see §9), this poem appears in a small parchment book of offices, prayers, and hymns for private devotion.

2 Integrate. The word means "intact," "whole," "entire," suggesting chastity, purity, honesty.

sterre of the see. See note to §9, line 1.

5 Myrroure without spot. Compare Wisdom 7:26: "For she [Wisdom] is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God's majesty, and the image of his goodness." The unspotted mirror is an iconographic symbol of the Immaculate Conception.

rose of Jerico. See Ecclesiasticus 24:18 (Sirach 24:14), in which Wisdom says of herself: "I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho." Compare "Of on that is so fayr and bright" (§83), line 11, and "Hale, sterne superne" (§91), line 8.

6 Close gardyn. The hortus conclusus image comes from Canticles (RSV Song of Solomon) 4:12, and appears in the liturgy. On the allegorical significance of gardens in medieval literature, see D. W. Robertson, Jr., "The Doctrine of Charity in Mediaeval Gardens: A Topical Approach through Symbolism and Allegory," Speculum 26 (1951), 24-49.


          §11

Ave: Hayle mayden of maydyns, thorgth worde consaywyng. Index no. 1059. MS: Bodl. 21700 (Douce 126), fol. 92a-b (early fifteenth century, Northwest Midlands). Edition: Heuser, pp. 320-23.

This poem is found in a MS which also contains Bernard of Clairvaux's dialogue with Mary on the Passion.

The rhetorical technique employed here is anaphora, though it might also be described as epimone, which Richard Lanham defines as "frequent repetition of a phrase or question, in order to dwell on a point" (A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, second ed. [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991], p. 68).

The Ave Maria came into general use during the twelfth century; the prayer combines Gabriel's greeting (Luke 1:28) with Elizabeth's (Luke 1:42):
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Compare B14, no. 131, "Heil! and holi ay be þi name," a late-fourteenth-century acrostic on this prayer.

1 thorgth worde consaywyng. Geometer, a seventh-century Greek commentator, writes: "By the word behold, he denotes rapidity and actual presence, implying that with the utterance of the word the conception is accomplished" (CA, Luke 1:30-33). The iconographic tradition symbolizes the conception with the dove (representing the Holy Spirit) speaking into Mary's ear.

8 sokour. MS: sokou; the leaf is trimmed at the edge of the word. Heuser's emendation.

15 see sterre. See note to §9, line 1.

17 lesse and more. All humankind, regardless of class.

19 profycy. See 2 Kings (2 Samuel) 7:13-16 and Isaias 9:6-7.

21 the Trinité pyghth hys owen place. Mary is often described as "chamber of the Trinity"; compare, for example, §88, line 2. The image of her womb enclosing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is common in medieval visual art (see, for example, Plate C). On the Trinity, see §66, note to line 36. It is worth noting that the singular hys is used with Trinité here, emphasizing the idea of the three in one.

22 doe. Do is commonly used in Middle English as a sign of causative aspect; thus "bring" or "cause for us."

24 to be. Added in margin.

26 ley in stalle. See Luke 2:7.

33 The beginnings of the Latin words are cut off on fol. 92b, which begins with this line.

34 honowereth. MS: honowre thet. Heuser's emendation.

36 ne maye. "May not [help]"; i.e., where I lack the capacity to help myself. Mary is often called upon as mediatrix; see poems below.

44 manyfolde. The initial letter has been obliterated.

49 swote. MS: swete, emended for rhyme.

50 Fruyt . . . byhote to come oute offe Jesses rote. See §8, note to line 17.

63 that soe with man hathe wrowghth. The phrase is difficult to gloss. It may refer to Jesus' actions toward man, or with man may mean "in human likeness"; the word wroughth, in any case, suggests a double meaning: God acts, does, or creates [himself] both with and as man.


          §12

Hayle, glorious lady and hevenly quene. By John Lydgate. Index no. 1045. MS: Trinity College Cambridge 601 (R.3.21), fol. 274a-b (1461-83, Suffolk). Also in Longleat 30, fol. 25a; and Huntington HM 142 (formerly Bement), fols. 21a-22b. Edition of Trinity MS: MacCracken, EETS e.s. 107, pp. 280-82.

The poem is prefaced with the following inscription: "His sequitur Salutacio Angelica per dictum dompnum Iohannem Lydegate translata" [Here follows the Salutation of the Angel translated by the aforementioned master John Lydgate]. It is a meditation on the joys of Mary (in this case, the Immaculate Conception, the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Purification, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Assumption). The poem is found in a miscellany of English poetry, containing devotional prayers and instructions, as well as several poems by Lydgate. The Latin lines appear in red in the Cambridge MS.

2 cage. A place of security. Mary is commonly depicted as dwelling (or being) in a cloister or enclosed place.

6 Cuius honore tu nobis fave. "By which honor (i.e., the honor of the holy conception) grant us favor (or protect us)."

24 Ave Maria, gracia plena. See Luke 1:28.

32 Gracia plena, dominus tecum. See Luke 1:28.

35-36 And yet thow madyst thy purificacion, / To puryfy oure sowles. The virgin birth meant that Mary had no need of purification. Bede writes that although Mary was exempt according to the Jewish law, she willingly underwent the ritual in order "that we might be loosed from the bonds of the law" (CA, Luke 2:22-24). See Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend on the Feast of the Purification, 1:143-51.

40 Dominus tecum, benedicta tu. See Luke 1:28.

48 Benedicta tu in mulieribus. See Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42.

56 Et benedictus fructus ventris tui. See Luke 1:42.


          §13

I syng of a myden. Index no. 1367. MS: BL Sloane 2593, fol. 10b (fifteenth century). Editions: CS, no. 54; B15, no. 81; A. H. Bullen, Carols and Poems (London: J. C. Nimmo, 1886), pp. 4-5; W. W. Greg, "I Sing of a Maiden that is Makeless," Modern Philology 7 (1909), 166; Rickert, p. 6; Cecil, p. 30; Auden and Pearson, p. 29; Chambers, p. 91; Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, The Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1901), pp. 34-35; Segar, p. 59; John Jacob Niles, The Anglo-American Carol Study Book (New York: G. Schirmer, 1948), p. 27; Mason, p. 175; Speirs, pp. 67-68; Manning, PMLA 75 (see below), 8; Davies, no. 66; Stevick, no. 54; Silverstein, no. 79; LH, no. 181; Gray, Selection, no. 6; Burrow, p. 301; Dunn and Byrnes, p. 515; Manning, Wisdom and Number, p. 159; Reiss, p. 158; Wilhelm, no. 284.

This is one of the most famous of the Marian lyrics, set exquisitely to music in Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols.

The following essays on "I Sing of a Maiden," all excerpted in LH (pp. 325-49), offer a variety of readings of the poem: Thomas Jemielty, "'I Sing of a Maiden': God's Courting of Mary" in Concerning Poetry 2 (Bellingham: Western Washington State College, 1969), 53-71; Stephen Manning, "'I Syng of a Myden,'" PMLA 75 (1960), 8-12; D. G. Halliburton, "The Myden Makeles," Papers on Language and Literature 4 (1968), 115-20; Leo Spitzer, "Explication de Texte Applied to Three Great Middle English Poems," Archivum Linguisticum 3 (1951), 1-22 and 137-56. See also George Kane, Middle English Literature (London: Methuen, 1951), pp. 161-65; and Speirs, pp. 67-69; Davies, pp. 14-19; Weber, pp. 55-60; Douglas Gray, "Typology in Some Medieval English Religious Lyrics," Typology and English Medieval Literature, ed. Hugh T. Keenan (New York: AMS, 1992), pp. 275-88.

Greg's article discusses the relationship between this poem and §16. Manning suggests that the poet has adapted the earlier six-stanza poem to five stanzas to correspond to the five joys and the five letters in the name Maria (LH 226).

1 I syng of a myden. MS: I syng A of a myd (with line over e to indicate n).

1-4 Compare §16, lines 3-4.

2 makeles. Without a mate or husband; also and/or without an equal or peer; and, without spot - immaculate. Compare lines 17-18.

4 che ches. This might be seen as an unusual interpretation of the dynamics of the event; it is God who chooses Mary (compare §3, line 51 and §11, line 21). But several commentators, notably Bernard, discuss the importance of her willingness, which amounts to her choosing. The phrase also evokes the chivalric circumstances of a knight approaching his lady to seek her favor in, as Jemielty puts it, "what is to be a most far-reaching love affair" (LH, p. 330).

5 stylle. The word connotes gentleness, absence of commotion or violence, and silence. Jemielty interprets it as suggesting God's "reverential hesitation" (LH, p. 329).

7 dew in Aprylle. This is a common image in the liturgy, recalling Gideon's fleece. See §8, note to line 26, and compare Deuteronomy 32:2 and Isaias 45:8. Jemielty comments that the April dew marks a season of rebirth: it is the beginning of the medieval year and the beginning of the "new year of salvation in Mary's womb" (the Annunciation is celebrated on March 25, nine months before Christmas).

8 gras. Manning interprets the grass as a symbol of humility (LH, p. 334).

12 flour. Mary is often compared to a flower, a symbol of purity; compare, for example, the burden to §26. See also Canticles 2:1-2: "I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters."

16 spray. Compare Isaias 11:1: Mary as flower, or branch, growing from the root of Jesse. In this poem, the image completes an ascending motion from gras (line 8) to flour (line 12) to spray (line 16), a counter-motion of Mary's yearning (choosing) to the falling of the dew (God's loving motion) upon the mother's place (line 6), her bower, (line 10), and her supine body itself (line 14).

17-20 Compare §16, lines 19-20.


          §14

At a spryng wel under a thorn. Index no. 420. MS: Magdalen College Oxford 60, fol. 214a (fourteenth or fifteenth century). The MS is a collection of exempla. Editions: Coxe, p. 37; B14, no. 130; Speirs, p. 64; Mason, p. 149; Greene, Selection, no. 55; Davies, no. 114; Dronke, p. 69 (with commentary); Silverstein, no. 49; LH, no. 192.

This poem appears in a Latin exemplum, de confessione ("on confession"), in which the poem's symbols are interpreted. It is a story of a nobleman turned poor, who is ashamed to come to court to receive grace. Gray discusses the poem's kinship to medieval romance (Themes, pp. 92-93). Peter Dronke's note on the poem merits inclusion here: "It was at a fountain, beside a thornbush, that, according to some of the early Christian apocryphal writings, the angel's annunciation to Mary took place. This is the moment of the incarnation, the 'bote of bale' for all mankind. It is to a fountain, too, that girls in the romances and dance-songs of medieval Europe often come to meet, or dream about, their beloved. The poet is aware of both associations: impalpably he makes the bridge that joins the omnitemporal moment to the particular one. The annunciation took place 'a little while ago'; but still a maiden is standing at that fountain, rapt in the fullness of love. It is at once the Virgin, whose true love can absorb all human love, and any girl made beautiful by loving. The image is left unbroken, hence enigmatic: this girl opens the gate of poetic imagination behind which 'heavenly things are joined to earthly ones, divine to human'" (p. 70). See also Wenzel, Preachers, pp. 231-33.

1 spryng wel. Gray and Coxe read sprynge wel. In the Protevangelium account of the Annunciation, Gabriel greets Mary at a well. In the exemplum, the spryng wel is identified with the wound in Christ's side. Compare §82, and see also The Shewings of Julian of Norwich, ed. Georgia Ronan Crampton (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1994), p. 55.
 
Print Copyright Info Purchase

The Annunciation

 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
25   
 
 
 
 
30   
 
 
 
 
35   
 
 
 
 
40   
 
 
 
 
45   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
 
25   
 
 
 
 
30   
 
 
 
 
35   
 
 
 
 
 
40   
 
 
 
 
45   
 
 
 
 
 
50   
 
 
 
 
55   
 
 
 
 
60   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
 
25   
 
 
 
 
30   
 
 
 
 
 
35   
 
 
 
 
40   
 
 
 
 
 
45   
 
 
 
 
50   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5
 
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
 
25   
 
 
 
 
 
30   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
25   
 
 
 
 
 
30   
 
 
 
 
35   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
 
25   
 
 
 
 
30   
 
 
 
 
 
35   
 
 
 
 
40   
 
 
 
 
45   
 
 
 
 
 
50   
 
 
 
 
55   
 
 
 
 
 
60   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
 
 
25   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
25   
 
 
 
 
 
 
30   
 
 
 
 
 
 
35   
 
 
 
 
 
 
40   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
45   
 
 
 
 
 
 
50   
 
 
 
 
 
 
55   
 
 
 
 
 
 
60   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
65   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
 
25   
 
 
 
 
30   
 
 
 
 
 
35   
 
 
 
 
40   
 
 
 
 
 
45   
 
 
 
 
 
50   
 
 
 
 
55   
 
 
 
 
 
60   
 
 
 
 
 
65   
 
 
 
 
70   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
 
 
10   
 
 
 
 
 
15   
 
 
 
 
 
20   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5   
 
 
 
                    §1
 
In that time, als was ful wel,
Sende is the aungel Gabriel
Fro God in til a cité,
Hat Nazareth in Galilé,
Unto a maiden wedded riht
Til a man, whos name hight
Josep of the house of Davi;
And name of the maiden Mari.
And when the aungel was in gon,
Unto hire he saide onon:
"Haile, ful of hape, God is with thee;
In wemmen blissed thou be!"
When that sho hade herde thisse,
In his sagh drofede sho isse,
And sho soght for bi anni thing
What that migt be this hailsing.
Then saide the angel witerli
To hir that was so hali:
"Mari, drede thee nothing nou,
For hape at Gode funden has tou.
Loke, in wombe onfong thou mon,
And forthi salt tou bere a son,
And thou salt kalle his name Jesus,
For God wil that it be thus.
Swithe mekel sal he be,
And Son of Heighest be kald sal he,
And Louerd sal give him ther with
The sete of his fadir hous David,
And in Jacob hous rike sal he,
And of his rike no ende sal be."
Unto the aungel saide Mari:
"Hou mai this be? no man knaw I."
And ansuerd the angel bright,
He saide to hire was ful of miht:
"The Hali Gaste sal come in thee al,
And miht and heighest inshadw thee sal,
And forthi that heli born of thee,
Godes Sone be kalde sal he.
And loke, Elizabeth, thi nece unwelde,
Onfonges a son in hir elde,
And this moneth sext til hire is yhit,
Gelde unberand that kald is it.
For unimiht sal noght be
At God, no worde I sai to thee."
Then seide Mari with milde chier:
"Godes handemaiden lo me here!
Als tou has saide, so mot it be
After thi worde unto me!"
 
 
                    §2
 
From heovene into eorthe, God gretynge he sende
Bi on archaungle that to Marye wende.
Milde wes that mayde, swete and swithe hende,
And of fayre ibere. Gabriel hire grette, thus quethinde: 1
"Edy beo thu, mayde, thus wunyinde;
Ther schal a child in thee kenyen and springe,
Ilef me Marie."
Marie him onswerede, myd stephne swithe mylde,
"Hw myhte hit iwurthe that ich were myd childe?
Monnes imone on me ne may nomon fynde."
Ofdred wes that mayde.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Of thine swete wordes ich am swithe gled.
Ich am Godes wenche; ful wel ich habbe isped.
Al his wille beo ifuld, as thu havest iseyd."
Bidde we thilke Louerd, wende hwer we wende,
That to thee, swete mayde, Gabriel gon sende 2
That for his swete moder luve, that feyr is and hende,
Bringe us to the blisse that lesteth buten ende. Amen.
 
 
                    §3
 
Gabriel, fram evene kingh
Sent to the maide swete,
Broute hire blisful tiding,
And faire he gan hire greten:
"Heil be thu, ful of grace arith,
For Godes Sone, this evene lith,
For mannes loven
Wile man bicomen
And taken
Fles of thee, maiden brith,
Manken fre for to maken
Of senne and devles mith."
 
Mildeliche im gan andsweren
The milde maiden thanne: 3
"Wichewise sold ichs beren
Child withhuten manne?"
Th'angle seide, "Ne dred te nout;
Thurw th'Oligast sal ben iwrout
This ilche thing
Warof tiding
Ichs bringe.
Al manken wrth ibout
Thur thi swete chiltinge,
And hut of pine ibrout."
 
Wan the maiden understud
And th'angles wordes herde,
Mildeliche with milde mud
To thangle hie andswerde:
"Hur Lordes theumaiden iwis
Ics am, that her aboven is.
Anenttis me
Fulfurthed be
Thi sawe,
That ics, sithen his wil is,
Maiden withhuten lawe
Of moder have the blis."
 
Th'angle wente awei mid than
Al hut of hire sithte;
Hire wombe arise gan
Thurw th'Oligastes mithe.
In hire was Crist biloken anon:
Suth God, soth man ine fleas and bon,
And of hir fleas
Iboren was
At time,
Warthurw us kam God won.
He bout us hut of pine
And let im for us slon.
 
Maiden moder makeles,
Of milche ful ibunden,
Bid for hus im that thee ches,
At wam thu grace funde,
That he forgive hus senne and wrake,
And clene of evri gelt us make;
And evne blis
Wan hure time is
To sterven
Hus give for thine sake
Him so her for to serven
That he us to him take.
 
                    §4
 
The angel to the vergyn said,
Entreng into here boure,
Fore drede of quakyng of this mayd
He said, "Haile!" with gret honour;
"Haile be thou, quene of maidyns mo!
Lord of heven and erth also
Consayve thou schalt, and bere withale the Lord of myght,
Hele of al monkyn.
He wil make the thee gate of heven bryght,
Medesyne of al our syn."
 
"How schuld I consayve and get?
No syn never I knew.
How schuld I breke that I have forehete
Of thoght stedfast and trewe?"
"The grace al of the Holé Gost
Schal bryng ale forth, without boost;
Ne dred thou tak, bot joy thou make, serten and sere. 4
This message he send to thee
To dwel withyn thee ful pere
Throgh myght of his Fader fre."
 
The angel went thie lade fro;
This womons wombe with wele,
Hit wax gret as odur do.
This blessid burthe of hele,
He was in here wome, I wene,
The nombur ful of monethis nene;
Hent he out ged, batelis bede to al the flok, 5
Beryng on his chulderis bloo
The holé cros that kene a knok
Unto oure dedly foo.
 
Thys may bare chyelde with mylde chere;
This childe bede kepe hyer chaast.
Goddus Sone heo broght us forthe and bere,
Geffyng hym wombe and waast.
Then he blessud here sydus sere,
And so he did here pappus dere.
For thay ther that thay nyst nott hwat, in law as we fyende
How these werkus wright arne
Hit was agaynes al monkynde,
A maydon to ber a barne.
 
Make joy, modir of oure Lorde,
That Cryst concevedust cleene;
Angelus, men, and al this worlde,
God pes and rest us leane.
Mary, thy son thou for us pray,
As ye beth ful of mercy ay,
And sen us to, and soo to do away oure syn,
And gef us helpe of thee,
Heven blys we may dwel in
Afftur thys owtlary.
             Explicitur.
 
 
                    §5
 
       Nowel el el el el el el el el el el el:
       Mary was gret with Gabriel.
 
Mary moder, meke and mylde,
Fro schame and synne that ye us schyllde,
For gret on grownd ye gon with childe,
Gabriele nuncio.
 
Mary moder, be not adred;
Jhesu is in your body bred,
And of your bryst he wil be fed,
Cum pudoris lilio.
 
Mary moder, the frewt of thee
For us was naylid on a tre;
In hevene is now his magesté,
Fulget resurrecio.
 
Mary moder, the thredde day
Up he ros, as I yow say;
To helle he tok the ryghte way,
Motu fertur proprio.
 
Mary moder, after thin sone
Up thou steyist with hym to wone;
The aungele wern glad quan thou were come
In celi palacio.
 
 
                    §6
 
       Unto Marie he that love hath,
       To here synge he Magnificat.
 
Thus seide Mary of grete honoure:
"My soule my Lord dothe magnifie,
And in my God and savyoure
My spirite rejoyseth verily.
 
"For he the mekenes hath beholde
Of his handemayde, that Lorde so good;
That I am blessed manyfolde
Alle kynredes shall say, of myelde moode.
"For he that is so full of myght
So grete thinges to me hath done;
Holy his name is ay of right,
By whome our goostly helth is won.
 
"And in alle tho that hym doth drede
(Truly thus seithe holy scripture)
His mercy dothe bothe spring and sprede,
And of heven they be fulle sure.
"Thys myghty Lorde of grete renowne
By his swete Sonne the helthe hath wrought
Of meke people, and hath put downe
Prowde people onely with a thought.
 
"Tho that desireth that Lorde, oure helth,
That king of grace soo goode and swete,
Fro whome cometh alle goodenes and welth,
With alle vertue they be replete.
 
"Of his grete mercy havyng myende,
He toke nature in Ysraell
And became man to save mankynde,
To oure faders as he did telle."
 
Joy be to God in Trinitie,
Fader and Sonne and Holi Goost,
That was and is and ay shall be
Both three and one, of myghtes most.
 
 
                    §7
 
       Nowel, nowel, nowel,
       Syng we with myrth:
       Cryst is come wel
       With us to dewell
       By hys most noble byrth
 
Under a tre
In sportyng me
Alone by a wod syd
I hard a mayd
That swetly sayd,
"I am with chyld this tyd.
 
"Gracyusly
Conceyvyd have I
The Son of God so swete;
Hys gracyous wyll
I put me tyll
As moder hym to kepe.
 
"Both nyght and day
I wyl hym pray
And her hys lawes taught,
And every dell
Hys trewe gospell
In hys apostles fraught.
"Thys goostly case
Dooth me embrace
Withowt dyspyte or moke:
With my derlyng
'Lullay' to syng
And lovely hym to roke.
 
"Withowt dystresse
In grete lyghtnesse
I am both nyght and day;
This hevenly fod
In hys chyldhod
Schal dayly with me play.
 
"Soone must I syng
With rejoycyng
For the tym is all ronne
That I schal chyld
All undefyld
The kyng of hevens sonne."
 
 
                    §8
 
Edi beo thu, hevene quene,
Folkes froure and engles blis,
Moder unwemmed and maiden clene,
Swich in world non other nis.
On thee hit is wel eth sene,
Of all wimmen thu havest thet pris;
Mi swete levedi, her mi bene
And reu of me yif thi wille is.
 
Thu asteghe so the daiy rewe
The deleth from the deorke nicht;
Of thee sprong a leome newe
That al this world haveth ilight.
Nis non maide of thine heowe
Swo fair, so schene, so rudi, swo bricht;
Swete levedi, of me thu reowe
And have merci of thin knicht.
 
Spronge blostme of one rote,
The Holi Gost thee reste upon;
Thet wes for monkunnes bote
And heore soule to alesen for on.
Levedi milde, softe and swote,
Ic crie thee merci, ic am thi mon,
Bothe to honde and to fote,
On alle wise that ic kon.
 
Thu ert eorthe to gode sede;
On thee lighte the heovene deugh,
Of thee sprong theo edi blede
The Holi Gost hire on thee seugh.
Thu bring us ut of kare of drede
That Eve bitterliche us breugh.
Thu sschalt us into heovene lede;
Welle swete is the ilke deugh.
 
Moder, ful of thewes hende,
Maide dreigh and wel itaucht,
Ic em in thine love bende,
And to thee is al mi draucht.
Thu me sschildghe from the feonde,
Ase thu ert freo, and wilt and maucht;
Help me to mi lives ende,
And make me with thin sone isaught.
Thu ert icumen of heghe kunne,
Of David the riche king;
Nis non maiden under sunne
The mei beo thin evening,
Ne that swo derne lovighe kunne
Ne non swo swete of alle thing;
Thi love us brouchte eche wunne:
Ihered ibeo thu, swete thing.
 
Seolcudliche ure Louerd hit dighte
That thu, maide withute were,
That al this world bicluppe ne mighte,
Thu sscholdest of thin boseme bere.
Thee ne stighte ne thee ne prighte
In side, in lende, ne elles where:
That wes with ful muchel righte,
For thu bere thine helere.
 
Tho Godes Sune alighte wolde
On eorthe al for ure sake,
Herre teghen he him nolde
Thene that maide to beon his make;
Betere ne mighte he thaigh he wolde,
Ne swetture thing on eorthe take.
Levedi, bring us to thine bolde
And sschild us from helle wrake.
                                  Amen.
 
 
                    §9
 
Heyl, levedy, se-stoerre bryht,
Godes moder, edy wyht,
Mayden ever vurst and late,
Of heveneriche sely gate.
 
Thylk Ave that thou vonge in spel
Of the aungeles mouhth kald Gabriel,
In gryht ous sette and shyld vrom shome,
That turnst abakward Eve's nome.
 
Gulty monnes bond unbynd,
Bryng lyht tyl hoem that boeth blynd,
Put vrom ous oure sunne
And ern ous alle wynne.
 
Shou that thou art moder one,
And he vor thee take oure bone
That vor ous thy chyld bycom
And of the oure kunde nom.
 
Mayde one thou were myd chylde
Among alle so mylde:
Of sinne ous quite on haste
And make ous meoke and chaste.
 
Lyf thou gyf ous clene,
Wey syker ous yarke and lene
That we Jesus ysoe
And ever blythe boe.
 
To Vader, Cryst, and Holy Gost beo thonk and heryinge,
To threo persones and o God, o menske and worshypinge.
 
 
                    §10
 
Blessed Mary, moder virginall,
Integrate mayden, sterre of the see,
Have remembraunce at the day fynall
On thy poore servaunt now prayng to thee.
 
Myrroure without spot, rede rose of Jerico,
Close gardyn of grace, hope in disparage,
Whan my soule the body parte fro
Socoure it frome myn enmyes rage.
 
                    §11
 
Ave
   Hayle mayden of maydyns, thorgth worde consaywyng, 6
   Hayle mayden and moder, with thi mylke Cryst Jesu norescheng,
   Hayle heven joye, thy blessednes that feddest heven kyng:
   For hys love helpe thou me in peryle here leveyng.
 
Maria
   Mary, Cristes moder, thy body was hys boure,
   Mary, for that brythe offe wommen thou are floure,
   Mary, haven offe seker rest in stormys and eke in stowere:
   Have mynde of me in worldys wawys, that hope to thy sokour. 7
 
Gratia
   Grace that was hyest was holy lyghth in thee,
   Grace that kyndest was made thee Jesus moder to be,
   Grace that was saddest in thee setteld, thou myghth noghth fle: 8
   Now gracyus lady, of that grace sum qwhat graunte thou me.
 
Plena
   Fulle of grace, madyn withouten pere,
   Fulle offe alle worschepe, for heven kyng thou bere,
   Fulle that art offe alle peté, thou see sterre so clere; 9
   When in synne I begynne to synken, here, lady, my prayere.
 
Dominus
   Lorde that in thee conseywyd was for savyng offe lesse and more,
   Lorde that wolde offe thee, mayden, so wonderly be bore,
   Lorde that in thee wroghth that profycy seyde before: 10
   For thi sake have mercy onne me, that I be noughth forlore.
 
Tecum
   With thee the Trinité pyghth hys owen place,
   With thee, when Christ wolde manne become to doe us alle grace,
   With thee he ys and thou with hym, atwyn ye maye noughth pase:
   With hym to be, helpe thou me, ladye, that I maye see hys face. 11
 
Benedicta
   Blyssyd madyn, pereles amonge wommen alle,
   Blessyd moder that was worthy oure Lorde to ley in stalle,
   Blessyd be thou in every tyme, ever blyssyd I wylle thee calle;
   Nowe blisful lady, blesse thou me, to dethe qwhen I schal falle.
 
Tu
   Thou syttes, qwene icrownyd, an heye in heven blysse,
   Thou reygnyst ever with thy sone, qhwere noe joye may mysse,
   Thou hast powere in heven and erthe and in helle peyn to lysse:
   That I come noughth to that place, good lady, thou me wysse. 12
 
In
   In heven thee worschepyn angels nyghth and daye,
   In erthe thee honowereth alle cristenmens laye,
   In helle thee dredeth fendes alle that bethe offe fowle araye: 13
   Soe myghthtyfulle lady helpe, qhwere that I ne maye.
 
Mulieribus
   Wommen alle comforteth Mary, that bethe bothe good and wyse,
   Wommen alle in synne broghth helpe Mary that they may ryse,
   Wommen alle with woe begoe helpe Mary on thy gyse,
   And me that daye, qwhen I schalle see thy sone, my justyse. 14
 
Et
   And sethen, lady, howe grete thou art, yt mowe noughth be tolde, 15
   And also howe mercyable bothe to yonge and olde,
   And howe thou savyst men with myghth oute offe the fendes holde —
   Thy sokoure, lady, I prey also, that helpyth soe manyfolde.
 
Benedictus
   Blessyd be that hey Fader that schope thee sweche a wyghth,
   Blessyd be hys owen Sone, in thee that wold alyghth, 16
   Blessyd be that Holygost that made thee so bryghth.
   That blessyd Trinyté, thee to serve, sende me grace and myghth.
 
Fructus
   Fruyt that offe thy wombe sprange that ys soe fayre and swote,
   Fruyt yt was that was byhote to come oute offe Jesses rote,
   Fruyt Jesus that blossimmyd offe thee for alle mannys kyndys bote,
   My sowle foode and lyf als soe ay thoughth thee be yt mote. 17
 
Uteri
   Wombe, to thee was Cristus bowere, harbar offe alle clennes,
   Wombe, to thee als paradyse fulle offe alle swetnesse,
   Wombe, offe thee was prinsys palyce that most ys offe prowes, 18
   For the byrghth of that wombe helpe, Mary, in dysstres.
 
Tui
   Thyn ys alle heven court, redy at thyn heste,
   Thyn ys here alle holycherche, bothe by west and este,
   Thyn ys every crysten man in erthe, bothe mest and leste,
   For thyn I am, thou schylde me frome Satan, that fowle beste. 19
 
Jesus
   Jesus ys oure blyssed Lorde that made alle thynge offe noughth,
   Jesus ys oure sawyour that with hys blode ous boughth,
   Jesus ys kyng offe all peté that soe with man hathe wrowghth —
   Nowe Jesus, Mary moder sone, ay be ye in my thowghth. 20
 
Amen
   Amen nowe seythe alle lerned men with here letturure,
   Amen seythe nowe lewede men dewotely thee to honoure,
   Amen to thee with alle here myghth say every creature,
   Amen, worchep ever be to thee, qwyle any thynge schalle dure.
           Amen.
 
 
                    §12
 
Hayle, glorious lady and hevenly quene,
Crownyd and regnyng in thy blysfull cage,
Helpe us pylgryms in erthely tene,
In worshyp of all thy pylgremage.
Thy holy concepcion was thy furst pylgremage,
 
Cuius honore tu nobis fave;
And here we knelyng before thyne image
Tibi concepte dicimus "Ave."
Hayle, glemeryng sterre now in thy byrthe,
To all this world thow spredyst thy lyght;
Thy joyfull name yeveth us myrthe.
Now blessyd be he that Mary thee hyght,
For thorow all the worlde thow yevest thy lyght,
O maris stella, domina pia.
With all oure hert and all oure might
Tibi clamamus "Ave Maria."
 
Hayle, gloryous lady, as Gabriell seyde
When he came doune on hys message;
God was made man, hys modyr a mayde:
Lo, lady, thys was thy swete mariage.
So full of grace, unbynde oure bondage,
Mater divina, virgo serena,
And thus shall we sey for oure homage,
Ave Maria, gracia plena.
 
Hayle, joyfull lady in the byrthe of Cryste,
God is with thee, kyng in thy lappe;
With ox and asse in a crybbe thou lyest,
With Joseph, and Jesu sokyng thy pappe.
Well ys thee, lady, that dydyst hym wrappe,
Ipsum exora que manes secum
That he wold yeve oure enemy a knappe:
Gracia plena, dominus tecum.
 
Hayle, floure of clennes without corrupcion,
Thow beryst the frute of all chastité,
And yet thow madyst thy purificacion,
To puryfy oure sowles for thy charyté.
Have mynde, good lady, of oure freelté,
Et vita nostra plena reatu;
Now pray thy son of hys benignité,
Dominus tecum, benedicta tu.
 
Hayle, wofull lady in hys swete passion,
Scorgyd and naylyd, dying on the roode;
Sende us thy comfort in oure tribulacion,
For thy sonnys love that shed hys bloode.
But joyfull gladnes dyd change thy moode,
Cum surrexit sanis vulneribus,
And ever in the feth, full trew thou stoode,
Benedicta tu in mulieribus.
 
Hayle, blessyd lady in Crystes assension,
Bothe glad and hevy when he dyd sty;
Make in thy prayers for us som mencion,
That we may folow when we shall dy.
Aftyr thy socoure we call and cry
Ut mereamur luce frui,
That we may deserve the blessyd lyght to sty,
Et benedictus fructus ventris tui.
 
Hayle, blessyd lady in thyn assumpcion,
Next to the Trinitie syttyng in trone,
And holde excusyd our gret presumpcion
To whom we make oure carefull mone.
Oure hertys ar dry and hard as a stone:
Funde lacrimarum nobis consolamen,
And he be oure comfort hens when we gone,
Fructus ventris tui Jesus Christus. Amen.
 
Now farewell, lady, and pray for us,
For thy fyve festes and thy joyes fyve,
That thy son swete, oure Lord Jesus,
Wyll save us all, bothe dede and alyve.
For thyse fyve joyes on thee woll we clyve,
And above all angeles now joyes has thou sevyn;
Helpe us, fayre lady, thys lyfe whyle we dryve,
And after our endyng God send us hevyn.
 
 
 
                    §13
 
I syng of a myden
   That is makeles:
Kyng of alle kynges
   To here sone che ches.
 
He cam also stylle
   Ther his moder was
As dew in Aprylle
   That fallyt on the gras.
 
He cam also stylle
   To his moderes bowr
As dew in Aprille
   That fallyt on the flour.
 
He cam also stylle
   Ther his moder lay
As dew in Aprille
   That fallyt on the spray.
 
Moder and mayden
   Was never non but che;
Wel may swych a lady
   Godes moder be.
 
 
                    §14
 
At a spryng wel under a thorn
Ther was bote of bale a lytel here aforn;
Ther bysyde stant a mayde
Fulle of love ybounde.
Ho so wol seche trwe love
Yn hyr hyt schal be founde.
(see note)
 
as
Sent; (see note)
From; into a city
Called; Galilee
properly; (see note)
To; was called
Joseph; David; (see note)
[was] Mary
gone
her; at once
full; grace; (see note)
Among women
she had heard this
By his saying disturbed she is
sought for any reason
greeting
clearly
holy
fear you; now
grace from; found have you
Look; conceive you shall
consequently shall you
shall call
wills
Very great shall
Highest (God) be called
Lord
throne; father's
rule shall; (see note)
reign
 
may; knew; (see note)
 
He who was full of might said to her; (see note)
Holy Ghost; upon you
power of the highest overshadow you shall; (see note)
consequently; holy [one]; (see note)
 
kinswoman barren
Conceives; old age
this is the sixth month [of her pregnancy]
She who is called barren
impossible shall nothing
With; no word I say
mild countenance
behold
As you have said, so let it be
According to
 
 
(see note)
 
God sent greeting
By an; went; (see note)
very courteous
 
Blessed be you; dwelling; (see note)
you quicken and spring forth
Believe
with voice very
How; happen; I; with
Male company/intercourse; no one
Afraid
 
(see note)
servant; fared; (see note)
be fulfilled; said
(see note)
 
mother's love; gentle
lasts without
 
 
(see note)
 
heaven's king
 
her; (see note)
did he greet her
Hail; truly
heavenly light
 
Will (desires to) become man
[desires to] take
Flesh; bright
Mankind free to make
From sin; devil's might
 
 
 
How should I bear
without
The angel said, "Dread thee not
Through the Holy Ghost shall be accomplished
same
Whereof news
I
mankind will be redeemed
Through; child-bearing
out of suffering [be] brought
 
When
the angel's; (see note)
heart
the angel she
Our Lord's handmaiden truly; (see note)
I; who is here above
Concerning me
Carried out be
Your saying
So that I, since it is his will
A maiden outside the law [of nature]; (see note)
Enjoy the bliss of motherhood
 
The angel; with that
out; her sight; (see note)
womb grew; (see note)
Through the Holy Ghost's power
enclosed
True; true; flesh; bone
her flesh
Born
At term
Whereby God came to dwell with us
bought (redeemed) us out of torment
himself for us be slain
 
mateless/matchless/immaculate; (see note)
mercy; abounding
Pray for us to him who chose you; (see note)
With whom you found grace
our sin and injury
clean of every sin
heaven's bliss
our
die
Allow us
[Let us] serve him so here
 
 
(see note)
 
 
Entering; her room; (see note)
For fear of frightening; (see note)
 
numerous
(see note)
Conceive; thereby
Salvation; mankind
(see note)
Medicine for
 
conceive and get with child
sin (i.e., sexual intercourse); (see note)
break what I have promised
With; (see note)
Holy
boast; (see note)
(see note)
 
full purely; (see note)
Father free
 
departed from the lady
woman's; weal
grew; others; (see note)
birth; salvation; (see note)
her womb; know
nine months
(see note)
shoulders bruised
holy cross; dealt a blow; (see note)
foe; (see note)
 
maiden bore [the] child
bid; herself chaste
God's Son she; bore
Giving; belly and waist; (see note)
sides both
breasts dear
knew not what; find; (see note)
works be wrought
against all [laws of] nature; (see note)
virgin; bear; child
 
mother
Who; conceived purely
Angels
Good peace; lend
(see note)
you are; ever
see to us; sue
give us help from you
Heaven's bliss
After this outlawry
The end
 
 
(see note)
 
(see note)
greeted by; (see note)
 
meek
Shield us from shame and sin
great with child you walk on earth
With Gabriel as messenger
 
afraid
quickened
breast
With the lily of modesty
 
fruit (Jesus)
tree (cross)
 
The resurrection shines forth
 
third
tell you
straight path; (see note)
Of his own volition
 
 
ascend; dwell
angels were; when
Into the palace of heaven
 
 
(see note)
 
(see note)
her
 
said
 
 
(see note)
 
meekness; (see note)
 
 
generations; reverently
 
 
ever justly
spiritual salvation
 
those; fear
says
grow
 
 
salvation; (see note)
 
Proud; only
 
Those who
 
From
will be filled
 
Remembering his great mercy
He became incarnate; Israel; (see note)
 
prophesy
 
(see note)
 
 
 
 
 
(see note)
 
 
Sing; mirth
 
dwell
By hys most noble byrth.
 
 
While entertaining myself
wood side
heard; maiden
sweetly
season
 
By God's grace
 
 
 
submit to
keep
 
 
 
hear his
every bit
true
entrusted
spiritual condition
Does embrace me
despite; mockery
darling
'Lullaby'
lovingly; rock
 
 
lightheartedness; (see note)
 
food/child; (see note)
childhood
daily
 
 
 
time; arrived
give birth [to]
undefiled
heaven's
 
 
(see note)
 
Blessed be you, heaven's queen; (see note)
comfort; angels'
immaculate (unblemished); pure
Such; no other is
In you it is easily seen
you; prize
lady, hear my prayer
have pity on me if
 
You ascend like the ray of dawn; (see note)
Which separates; (see note)
From you sprang a new light
That has lit all this world
There is no; complexion (demeanor)
So; beautiful; fresh
have compassion
have pity on your knight
 
Blossom sprung from a single root [of Jesse]; (see note)
rested upon you
mankind's benefit
their; redeem; (see note)
sweet
I; servant
Both hand and foot (i.e., completely)
In all ways that I know
 
You are earth; good seed; (see note)
On you alighted heavenly dew; (see note)
From you; the blessed fruit
here; sowed
out; care; fear
bitterly [for] us brewed
lead
this same dew
 
noble virtues (ways)
patient; instructed
I am; love bond
desire; (see note)
shield; fiend (devil); (see note)
As you are noble, and will and may
my life's end
reconcile me with your son
high (great) lineage; (see note)
powerful
There is no
Who may be your equal; (see note)
Nor who so intimately can love; (see note)
so sweet in all things; (see note)
brought joy to each of us; (see note)
Praised be you
 
Marvelously; Lord arranged it; (see note)
husband
[He] whom; confine; (see note)
from your womb bear
You neither flinched nor felt pain
loin
completely right (appropriate)
you bore your healer (savior)
 
When God's Son
earth; our
Higher he would not tie himself
Than to; be his mother/mate
He might not have done better
 
dwelling place (abode)
shield; hell's vengeance
 
 
 
(see note)
 
Lady, sea-star bright; (see note)
God's; blessed one
first and last (i.e., always); (see note)
kingdom of heaven [the] blessed gate; (see note)
That same; received; speech; (see note)
From; mouth called
 
security set us; shield from shame; (see note)
name; (see note)
 
mankind's bondage; (see note)
light to them who are
sin
procure for us; joy
 
Show; alone; (see note)
So that he for your sake receive our prayer
[He] who for; became
from you our [human] nature took
 
alone; with child
gentle; (see note)
deliver us quickly
meek
 
give us fully; (see note)
Prepare and grant us a secure passage
So that; may see
happy be; (see note)
 
Father; be thanks; praise; (see note)
one; with honor
 
 
(see note)
 
 
Perfect; star; sea; (see note)
final (Judgment Day)
praying
 
(see note)
Enclosed garden; disgrace; (see note)
When my soul parts from the body
Shelter; enemy's
 
(see note)
 
 
(see note)
nourishing
feeds heaven's
peril; living
 
 
bower (chamber)
 
 
(see note)
 
 
wholly settled/shining/alighted
most generous
 
something
 
 
of; maiden; equal
worship; heaven's; bore
(see note)
sink, hear
 
 
(see note)
 
(see note)
on; not lost
 
 
With you; chose; own; (see note)
do; (see note)
 
(see note)
 
 
peerless
lay; stall; (see note)
will you call
death when
 
 
sit; crowned; on high
 
 
 
 
 
(see note)
(see note)
 
where I may not; (see note)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
fiend's
succor; helps so many; (see note)
 
 
 
 
bright
 
 
 
of; is so fair; sweet; (see note)
(see note)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
birth; distress
 
 
Thine; heaven's; command
in west
 
 
 
 
things from nothing
savior; blood; us bought
(see note)
 
 
 
say; their letters
now ignorant; devoutly
with all their might
while; last
 
 
 
(see note)
 
 
Crowned; cloister; (see note)
misery
pilgrimages
 
 
By which honor, protect us; (see note)
kneeling
To you, who has conceived, we cry "Hail"
glimmering; birth
 
gives; joy
who called you Mary
throughout; give
O pious lady, star of sea
hearts; might
To you we cry "Hail Mary"
 
 
down with his message
his mother a virgin
marriage
unbind our bonds
Mother of God, serene virgin
our
Hail Mary, full of grace; (see note)
 
 
lap (womb)
manger
sucking at your breast
who did clothe him
Beseech him, you who remain with him
blow
Full of grace, the Lord is with you; (see note)
 
flower of cleanness
bear; fruit; chastity
(see note)
 
Remember; frailty
And our life full of guilt
mercy
The Lord is with you, blessed are you; (see note)
 
woeful
Scourged and nailed; cross
 
son's; who; his
did
When he arose with wounds healed
faith; true
Blessed are you among women; (see note)
 
Christ's ascension
heavy; did rise
some mention
die
For your protection
That we may deserve to enjoy the light
to the blessed light to rise
And blessed is the fruit of your womb; (see note)
 
assumption
on throne
excuse our great presumption
[You] to whom; plea
hearts
Pour out for us the consolation of tears
when we go hence
The fruit of your womb, Jesus Christ
 
 
feasts
 
 
to you will we cleave
now you have seven joys
while we endure this life
 
Amen.
 
 
(see note)
 
maiden; (see note)
matchless/mateless/immaculate;(see note)
 
For her son she chose; (see note)
 
as peacefully; (see note)
Where
(see note)
falls; (see note)
 
 
bower (chamber)
 
flower; (see note)
 
 
 
 
foliage (branch); (see note)
 
(see note)
she
such
 
 
 
(see note)
 
well spring; thorn bush; (see note)
help for suffering; before; (see note)
stands
bound
Whoever would
her it

Go To The Nativity