Item 15, A Prayer to Mary


Title No title or incipit. The manuscripts of the Latin Speculum Christiani that give a title to the prayer most frequently call it an Oracio ad virginem Mariam. The English translation of the Speculum Christiani in British Library MS Harley 6580 titles the poem A Prayer to Our Lady Seynt Mary. The text begins roughly one-third down the page of fol. 22v.

3 Modour and Mayd. This paradoxical catchphrase appears widely thoughout the Marian tradition as a signal of the mysteriousness of the Incarnation. See, for example, lyric 13 in Saupe’s Middle English Marian Lyrics, “I syng of a maiden.”

9 thi joys fyve. The Five Joys of Mary were usually considered to be the Annun­ciation, the Nativity, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Assumption, though in some versions the Epiphany replaces the Ascension.

16 hell pyne. Mary was sometimes referred to as the Queen of Hell for her ability to rescue the damned; see the introduction to The Jealous Wife (item 22).

28 dyghe therin. Death while in a state of (unconfessed) deadly or mortal sin insured damnation, whereas death in a state of venial sin merited time in purgatory.

36 Aves fyve. The Ave Maria (“Hail Mary”) was a commonly prescribed prayer for penance and daily devotion. See the introduction to this text.

37 a Pater Noster and a Crede. These are the prayer “Our Father” and one of the ac­cepted statements of belief used in Catholic liturgy, most commonly the Apos­tles’ Creed, believed to have been composed by the twelve apostles.


1 MS: Initial M is two lines tall.

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Item 15, A Prayer to Mary






fol. 23r   


Mary modour, wele thou be;
Mary modour, thinke on me.
Modour and mayd was never none
In this werld bot thou alone.
Mary modour, mayden clene,
Scheld me this dey fro sorow and tene.
Mary, out of synne helpe me
And out of dette, for charyté.
Mary, for thi joys fyve,
Helpe me to lyve in clene lyve.
For the terys thou letyst under the rode,
Grante to me my lyfes fode
Wherewith I may me cloth and fede
And in treuth my lyff to lede.
Helpe, Lady, and all myn,
And kepe us ever fro hell pyne.
Scheld me todey fro vylony
And fro all wekyd company.
Thou scheld me fro all werldys schame
And from all other wyked fame.
Suete Lady, mayden myld,
Fro the fend thou me schyld,
That the fend me note dere;
Suete Lady, thou me were.
Both by dey and eke by nyght,
Helpe me, Lady, with all thi myght.
They that be in dedly synne,
Late them never dyghe therin.
Pray to thi sone, hevyn kynge,
That he send us all gode endyng,
That we may thether wend
Ther as joy is withouten end.
Mary, also I tryst in thee
That thes prayers thou wylle grante me;
Every dey whyle I ame on lyve,
I schall thee grete with Aves fyve,
Therto a Pater Noster and a Crede,
For to have heven to my mede.
God it grante for his pyté,
That I may fynd it so be.
Amen, Amen, for charyté.
(see note); (t-note)

(see note)


five joys; (see note)

cried beneath the cross

          hell’s punishment; (see note)
disgrace (misfortune)

not tempt

(see note)

a good death
go there
There where

(see note)
(see note)

Go To Item 16, The Debate of the Carpenter’s Tools, introduction
Go To Item 16, The Debate of the Carpenter’s Tools, text