EVERYMAN: EXPLANATORY NOTES
Abbreviations: Cawley: Everyman, ed. Cawley (rpt. 1977); Dent: Dent, Proverbial Language in English Drama exclusive of Shakespeare, 1495-1616; Tilley: Tilley, Dictionary of the Proverbs in England; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences and Proverbial Phrases from English Writings.
1-21 The Messenger's speech is not present in the extant text of Elckerlijc, and may be the work of the translator.
6 How transytory we be all daye. Messenger calls attention to the transitory nature of human life. As Cooper and Wortham note in their edition of Everyman (p. 2), this motif appears in the Dance of Death tradition, which is invoked in the title-page woodcut used for the editions of the play printed by John Skot. See Introduction, pp. 6–7.
8 more gracyous. More filled with grace (i.e., God’s saving grace).
10-11 in the begynnynge . . . endynge. Proverbial; see Dent, F386. Compare Worlde and the Chylde, ed. Davidson and Happé, lines 484–85, and Tilley, E128; Whiting, E84. Cawley further suggests a source in Ecclesiasticus 7:36.
16-17 Jolyté . . . Pleasure. A mistake. These two allegorical characters do not appear in the play.
18 vade from thee as floure in Maye. Proverbial. As Death explains in the Lansdowne MS version of Lydgate’s Dance of Death, life “may be likned in all thyng / Unto a Flour . . . / Which with a Froste bigynneth riht sone to fade” (lines 236–38).
20 rekenynge. See Introduction, p. 8n42.
23 unkynde. Not only unappreciative or even blasphemous in speech and act, but also unnatural. An actor playing the role of God would have been positioned at a higher level representing Heaven, as demonstrably is the case in some of the mystery plays. The figure of God is necessarily Christ, who suffered for humankind, as lines 29–33 demonstrate. The iconographic tradition would suggest that he should show his wounds at the appropriate points in his speech.
29 My lawe. Replacing the Old Law of the Old Testament, this is the law of mercy and the offer of salvation made available by Christ’s act of suffering and sacrificial death on the Cross, when he was crowned with thorns and hung between two thieves.
33 I heled theyr fete. A reference to the washing of the disciples’ feet (John 13:4–12).
36-37 Seven Deedly Synnes . . . / As Pryde, Covetyse, Wrathe, and Lechery. Gluttony, Sloth, and Envy are omitted. Cawley notes (p. 29) that these “are sufficient to represent the World, the Flesh, and the Devil,” which were known as the Three Enemies of Man. Elckerlijc likewise presents an incomplete list, including only Pride, Avarice, and Envy — sins that may be regarded as most appropriately mentioned in the context of the Dutch mercantile culture.
41 theyr. There is a shift here to plural, indicating that Everyman means “every man” or, in preferred modern terms, “every person,” all humans.
50 one wolde by envy another up ete. For a comparison with King Lear 4.2.46–50, see Salter, “Lear and the Morality Tradition”; Cawley suggests the influence of Galatians 5:15: “But if you bite and devour one another; take heed you be not consumed one of another.”
51 Charytye. See Introduction, p. 8.
53 mansyon. John 14:2 promises that Heaven will contain “many mansions.”
54 electe. Chosen by God’s divine will, but here not implying predestination since good works are required for salvation. See Ryan, “Doctrine and Dramatic Structure,” pp. 723–25.
57 theyr beynge that I them have lente. Humans are not autonomous creatures, but owe their being to God. Kolve, “Everyman and the Parable of the Talents,” convincingly suggests that a major influence on the play is the parable of the talents, in which the servants are required to make a reckoning to their master upon his return from a distant land (Matthew 25:14–30).
63 messengere. Death is God’s agent who brings news of one’s inevitable end, an end common to all men and women, as in the Dance of Death tradition. At line 330, the protagonist calls Death the “hye Kinges chefe offycere.” Owst, Literature and Pulpit, p. 532, calls attention to a comment in a sermon collection (Cambridge, Caius College MS 334) by John Waldeby of the Augustinian friary at York concerning the point in life “when Death, who is God’s Bailiff, shall come to arrest” a man or woman. For another instance in drama in which Death is “Goddys masangere,” see the death of Herod sequence in the N-Town plays (20.168–284), but in that case Death’s role is different since he is an avenger to execute justice on a wicked monarch.
68 pylgrymage. The notion of life as a pilgrimage culminating in death was a commonplace and needs to be seen in the context of pilgrimage practice of the time, when one had to leave one’s comfortable life and possessions behind as one set out from the city gates (in the case of guild members, accompanied only that far by one’s fellow guildsmen) to travel, often walking, to holy sites of worship and veneration, many of them at great distances away. Scholars sometimes speak of pilgrims’ experiences as liminal or liminoid (see Turner, “Liminal to Liminoid”), a term applicable to Everyman in this play.
76 stryke with my darte. Death’s dart or spear is a commonplace of iconography, as in the deathbed scene in the famous Corporal Acts of Mercy window at All Saints, North Street, York. Death’s weaponry is surveyed by Oosterwijk (“Lessons in ‘Hopping’”), who cites the brass of John Rudyng at Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, which not only shows Death armed with several spears but also includes his description of himself, which she translates as follows: “I carry grim weapons, I harrass the world hard with the bite of violent death” (ibid., pp. 262–63, figs. 4–5). Though Death gives no warning, he may carry a bell that does. In MS Douce 322, fol. 19v, Death holds both a spear and a bell, the latter ringing out “dethe, deye, deye” all across the image (Pächt and Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts, no. 1097, pl. 102). As noted in the Introduction to the present edition, the title page of the Vorsterman text of Elckerlijc shows Death striking the protagonist with a spear. In Everyman, lines 178–79, Death threatens to “smyte” without warning and “to the harte.” A short lyric in a fourteenth-century commonplace book (National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ MS 18.7.21, fol. 87) concludes: “Deth is an Hardy Huntere” (Wilson, Descriptive Index, p. 23). See also Introduction, above, pp. 6–7.
78 almes dedes. Good works, essential for salvation.
81 Full lytell he thynketh on my cummynge. Death is also utterly unexpected in the Dance of Death by Lydgate. It is proverbial that death is certain, the time of death uncertain. A Latin form of this proverb is included in John of Grimestone’s commonplace book (fol. 87v); quoted by Wilson, Descriptive Index, p. 25. See also Tilley, Elizabethan Proverb Lore, p. 82.
95 in the hevenly spere. Since Elckerlijc has “in sijn rijck” (“in his kingdom”), this is a sign that the translator thought more specifically of an actor playing God stationed at a higher level that represents the region in medieval cosmology which is identified as the sphere encircling all the lower spheres of the moon, the sun, the planets, and the stars.
113 gyve. The original reading was apparently “gyve now,” to rhyme with “thou” (Kölbing, “Kleine Beiträge zur Erklärung,” as cited by Cawley, p. 31).
114 I knowe thee not. In their edition Cooper and Wortham compare Everyman’s failure to recognize Death with the Dance of Death “whereby Death is not recognized by the other participants of the dance until he singles them out” (p. 14).
116 rest. Compare Hamlet 5.2.336–37: “As this fell sergeant, Death, / Is strict in his arrest.”
126 pope, emperoure, kynge, duke, ne prynces. The order is reminiscent of the “descending order of importance” of the characters in the Dance of Death (Cawley, p. 31).
127 and I wolde receyve geftes. It is proverbial that Death takes no bribes. Tilley, D149; Dent, D149.
132 Deth geveth no warnynge. Proverbial. See explanatory note to line 81, above.
142 prove thy frendes yf thou can. In the tradition of friendship going back to antiquity, testing of one’s friends was considered to be “the first law of friendship” (Conley, “Doctrine of Friendship in Everyman,” p. 375). In the form of the story recorded in the Gesta Romanorum, the young man, a knight, sets out first to find and then to test friends at the behest of his father, a Roman emperor (Early English Versions of the Gesta Romanorum, ed. Herrtage, pp. 127–31). Everyman keeps to the motif of testing more clearly than Elckerlijc.
143 the tyde abydeth no man. Proverbial; see Whiting, T318; Dent, T323.
145 For Adams synne must dye of nature. See Genesis 3:19. In line 585, below, Adam is said to have “forfeyted” life “by his dysobedyens”; hence all humans, who inherit Adam’s lapsarian state, require redemption from their natural condition.
148 saynt charyté. Holy charity. Not a saint, but the invocation of charitable acts, by which salvation is made possible for the individual Christian. See Introduction, p. 8.
149 Sholde I not come agayne shortly? To this question, Death (in lines 150–52) will affirm the finality of dying and thus will deny metempsychosis or the return of the soul to earthly life within another body.
153 in hye sete celestyall. Another sign that God is imagined by the writer to be positioned on high, in this case on a throne, as in the Towneley Creation pageant where such a seat is indicated.
155 vale terestyall. As God exists on a (heavenly) height (see line 153), so also humans dwell in an earthly valley.
164 it was but lend thee. Referring to both life and possessions, mentioned in lines 161–62. Because of death, ownership can only be temporary. In the lines which follow, Death will continue to explain how property will be passed on to others, who in turn will also eventually need to surrender it. Absolute control of one’s life and possessions is an illusion. For an example in an earlier morality play, see Castle of Perseverance, lines 2969–3007, and Fletcher, “Coveytyse Copbord.” Anderson, Drama and Imagery, p. 77, calls attention to a misericord in a Dance of Death series at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, in which the rich man, situated among his chests of treasure and other signs of wealth, is approached by Death. There was a shift to concern about covetousness that corresponded with the increased wealth of the late Middle Ages; see Little, “Pride Goes before Avarice.”
168 wyttes fyve. Here the reference is merely to the five senses and not to the personification, Five Wits, who will later appear in the play at line 669.
171 whether shall I flee. Compare Vulgate Psalm 138:7.
178 to the harte sodenly I shall smyte. The Dutch had specified “int crijt” (“in the ring”), which would refer to a duel or tournament; in either case, a circle or other marked-out space for a competition.
182-83 “This is the day . . . awaye.” Proverbial. The day of death, but the words also may echo the opening words (in Latin) of the gradual for Easter: “Haec dies.” It is a time of terror for Everyman, but it is also, even for one who has been neglectful of his spiritual life, a time that ultimately will translate into hope and then joy, which have been made possible by the Resurrection of Christ.
199 affyaunce. As Cooper and Wortham note in their edition, this word’s meaning also extends to a legal sense, “solemn promise or sworn agreement” (p. 18).
215 well spoken and lovyngly. Corresponding to “Ghi segt wel, boven screve” (“You speak well, certainly”) in Elckerlijc, a line omitted in van Elslander, and numbered 205 — with the next line numbered 205a — in our edition to maintain consistent line numbering for convenient reference to his edition. This line occurs not only in the Vorsterman edition but also in the Govaert Bac edition of c. 1501 and Brussels, Bibliothèque royale MS. IV–592. It is lacking only in the Snellaert edition of 1496.
217 I have pytye . . . destresse. The corresponding line in Dutch literally reads “you are so full of sadness, one could cut it out of you.”
218 ye shall revenged be. Fellowship is prone to wrath, of which being quick to revenge is a characteristic. However, as demonstrated subsequently, he is bluffing and hence proves himself to be both a braggart and a coward. See also lines 281–82.
222 set not a straw. Proverbial; see Whiting, S813; Dent, S917.
229 a good frende at nede. An echo of the proverb “A friend in need is a friend indeed”; see Tilley, F693; Whiting, F634.
245 Adonay. God (Hebrew), as a judge.
248 Promyse is dutye. Proverbial; compare Dent, P603; and Tilley, P603: “Promise is debt.”
265 by God that all hath bought. Through his atonement, Christ “bought” those who will be saved from Satan, whose rights to these souls were thus abrogated.
267 For no man . . . lyvynge. The literal translation of the corresponding line in the Dutch text is “for all creatures that God allows to live.”
272-273 ete and drynke . . . haunte to women. Implying Gluttony and Lechery, two of the Seven Deadly Sins that were associated with Fellowship. In the speech of God at the beginning of the play, Gluttony was not mentioned; see note to lines 36–37, above.
288 By Saynt Johnn. An appropriate oath, since St. John the Baptist has associations with the revelry of Midsummer, which occurred on the vigil of this saint’s nativity (St. John’s Eve, June 23).
292 gyve me a new gowne. Lester, citing the Paston Letters, notes that “payments were sometimes made in this way, and an old gown was sometimes given as a gratuity” (Everyman, ed. Lester, p. 75). But a new gown would be an expensive gift. The reference to a gown is absent in Elckerlijc.
302 partynge is mournynge. Proverbial; see Tilley, P82. Cawley cites Romeo and Juliet 2.2.184: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”
309-10 “In prosperyté . . . unkynde.” Proverbial. Compare Ecclesiasticus 6:10: “And there is a friend, a companion at the table, and he will not abide in the day of distress.” See also Whiting, F659; Dent, T301.
316 For kynde wyll crepe where it may not go. Proverbial; Whiting, K34; Dent, K49. Kinship relations may be called on covertly if not openly. Cawley notes the Towneley Secunda Pastorum: “I trow kynde will crepe / Where it may not go” (Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley, 13.853–54). Elckerlijc has the Dutch proverb corresponding to the modern “Blood is thicker than water.”
318 frendes and kynnesmen. The Dutch has “Maghe,” kin on his mother’s side, and “Neve,” kin on his father’s side; these have been identified in our translation of Elckerlijc for convenience as Kinsman and Cousin.
334 great enemy that hath me in wayte. The Devil, whose purpose is to capture Everyman’s soul at the moment of death. The iconography occurs in treatises on dying in which a devil waits in proximity to the deathbed. The wicked will be snatched away by him, while those who merit salvation will be saved from his clutches by their guardian angels.
346 I had lever fast breed and water. Probably proverbial; see Dent, B611.11.
348 Alas that ever I was borne. A sign of despair that is warned against in the ars moriendi texts, of which The Art and Crafte to Knowe Well to Dye (1490) was the first English edition. For a convenient summary, see Beaty, Craft of Dying, pp. 12–13. The phrasing here is proverbial; see Dent, B140.1.
353 by Saynt Anne. St. Anne, the Virgin Mary’s mother, was a popular saint, suitable here for Kindred’s oath, though her name also provides a convenient rhyme.
379 fayre wordes maketh fooles fayne. Proverbial; see Dent, W794. Cawley (p. 33) cites Early English Miscellanies, ed. Halliwell: “Fayre promese ofte maketh foollis fayne.”
411 to clene and puryfye. Theologically this would only be possible through the action of baptism, penance, and absolution, which are activated through God’s sanctifying grace. See line 536, below, in which Everyman is urged by Knowledge to go to Confession, who is described as a “clensynge ryvere” — and in line 545 also as a “gloryous fountayne that all unclennes doth clarify.”
413 “money maketh all ryght that is wronge.” Proverbial; see Whiting, M630; Dent, M1072. A verse in John of Grimestone’s commonplace book begins “Pecunia maket wrong riht” (fol. 14; quoted by Owst, Literature and Pulpit, p. 317).
414 I synge another songe. Proverbial; see Whiting S478 and Dent, S637.
419 Thy rekenynge I have made blotted and blynde. A sign of Goods’ envy (one of the Seven Deadly Sins), which would lead Everyman to his damnation, as Cooper and Wortham note in their edition (p. 28). Everyman, in turn, is here identified with Covetousness, another of the Deadly Sins (cited in line 37, above), for his love of Goods.
423 ferefull answere. The answer (giving an accounting) that Everyman must give to God at the Last Judgment.
431 yf thou had me loved moderately. If you had valued riches as a means rather than an end.
437 wenest thou that I am thyne? See explanatory note on line 164, above.
458 I gave thee that whiche shulde be the Lordes above. Inordinate love of Goods is idolatry. Cawley, p. 33, further cites Chaucer’s Parson’s Tale: “Soothly, whan man loveth any creature moore than Jhesu Crist oure Creatour, thanne is it deedly synne” (CT X[I]357). See St. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine 3.10.16 for an authoritative definition of the proposition.
481 Good Dede. The Dutch text specifies “Duecht.” This term appears in our translation as Virtue but implies very much the same thing as Good Deeds.
486 colde in the grounde. Not lying ill in bed, paralyzed, as in Elckerlijc; see note to line 487, below, for the more theologically astute reference in Everyman to being in bondage, with the physical depiction symbolizing spiritual condition.
487 synnes have me so sore bounde. Good Deeds’ fetters represent the bonds of sin from which release is possible, according to Catholic theology, only through loosing by means of the power of the keys granted to St. Peter and thereafter to the Church; see Matthew 16:19. The crisis for Everyman is that he cannot achieve Salvation unless he is loosed from the weight of his sins and his Good Deeds released from her bondage to assist him to his salvation, for without her he is lost. See lines 509–10 below, in which Everyman begs Good Deeds’ help, “Or els I am forever damned indede.” Good deeds are also proclaimed as a requirement for salvation in Elckerlijc.
494 of Jerusalem Kynge. The heavenly Jerusalem, of which Christ is King.
501 Yf ye had perfytely chered me. Conley, “‘If ye had parfytely chered me,’” notes a range of meanings for cheren and argues that Everyman should have extended to Good Deeds, now in the position of a person needing charity, those acts of kindness which would have included welcoming her into his house, giving her to drink and eat, and allowing her to warm herself at his fire — that is, three of the acts specified in Matthew 25 which later were codified as Corporal Acts of Mercy.
520 Knowlege. In the moral and spiritual sense of the word as well as an indication of knowledge of Christian doctrine and practice. This therefore implies self-knowledge in the sense of recognition of one’s faults and sins.
527 she. Knowledge, which will lead Everyman to the House of Salvation where his “smarte” or source of pain will be healed; sin is conceived as an illness. The emendation to “she” is based on the identification of Knowledge as Good Deeds’ sister (line 519), as suggested by Cooper and Wortham. Her gender is consistent with Elckerlijc.
540 House of Salvacyon. Meant to be understood as a specific location, probably a booth set at the back of the stage as depicted in Flemish illustrations of the time; see Hummelen, “Drama of the Dutch Rhetoricians,” p. 235. The House of Salvation of course represents the Church, the structure within which salvation is possible.
543 Confessyon. Below cited as Shrift, the “mother of Salvacyon” (line 552), though, differing from Elckerlijc, Confession is identified by masculine pronouns. Auricular confession is the second part of the Sacrament of Penance, following Contrition.
545 gloryous fountayne. See explanatory note to line 411. For the fountain as a sign of saving grace made effective through the Eucharist, see Davidson, “Repentance and the Fountain.” Cawley cites Zacharias 13:1: “In that day there shall be a fountain open to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: for the washing of the sinner, and of the unclean woman.” In a poem in Arundel MS 286, Jesus’ “woundes so wide / ben welles of life” from which people are urged “to drinke” in order “to fle fro the fendes of helle” (Browne, Religious Lyrics of the Fifteenth Century, p. 149). Cunningham cites an accession prayer, included in the Burntisland edition of the Sarum missal, which not only mentions the medicinal and cleansing benefits (spiritually speaking) of coming to the fountain of mercy but also outlines “in small the journey which Everyman makes” (“Comedic and Liturgical Restoration,” pp. 164–65). Everyman corrects the Dutch text as it has come down to us and which specifies “Bloome” (“flower”).
549 full contrycyon. Sorrow for one’s sins; the second part of the Sacrament of Penance, designated by Confession as a jewel (line 557).
561 scurge. The scourge of penance, in this case made of rope, since it is described as having knots at line 576. Though the type of penitential scourge varies, this is conventional iconography; see Nichols, Seeable Signs, pp. 235–38. Anderson, Drama and Imagery, p. 80, cites a misericord at New College, Oxford, which has Confession set off against, on the other side, a figure scourging himself. With the scourge one would have been expected to replicate the suffering of Christ at his scourging (see line 563) and thereby to identify with his Passion. (An excellent depiction of knotted rope scourges may be found in a Scourging in the Hildburgh Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum; see Cheetham, English Medieval Alabasters, no. 163.) However, while Jesus was innocent, Everyman has clearly been guilty, as he indicates when he turns the scourge on himself at lines 611–18, and the self-punishment is a way of expiation for him. For an explicit connection between satisfaction and flagellation in the Sherborne Missal, see Nichols, Seeable Signs, p. 236. On the other hand, the scene is also a theatrically effective piece of work. Good Deeds regains her strength as Everyman beats himself ever harder — a bit of simple theater “magic” and one place to argue for the text as a real playscript.
569 ye wyll saved be. This conditional promise by Confession has been taken as a signifying absolution (Cawley, p. 33), the third part of the Sacrament of Penance, though the words of absolution are missing and the fourth part, satisfaction, is yet to come. See also Discretion’s promise at line 693 “That all shall be well.”
572 Oyle of Forgyvenes. Promised to Adam in legend and subsequently identified with God’s mercy as extended through the Savior; see Conley, “The Phrase ‘the Oyle of Forgyuenes’ in ‘Everyman’.” Cawley had argued for seeing the “Oyle of Forgyvenes” as a reference to the rite of Extreme Unction (p. 34).
589 Raunsomer and Redemer. Reference to the ransom theory of atonement in which the Devil was held to have been given rights over human souls on account of the Fall of Adam; this condition required Jesus to be sacrificed in order to ransom the souls of his people, including the faithful who lived prior to his incarnation. These were released from Hell at the Harrowing, just as ordinary Christians will be saved ultimately, even if necessarily after a period of time in Purgatory, described at line 618 as “that sharpe fyre” in the Pynson fragment and the Huntington text of Everyman.
596 Moyses table. The two tables of the Law were interpreted as representing Baptism and Penance. This is an alteration of the meaning of the Dutch text, which refers to the book of life; see Wood, “Elckerlijc–Everyman,” p. 292.
597-98 Mary, pray . . . / Me for to helpe at my endynge. Invoking the Virgin Mary to mediate between the individual and her Son was held to be effective, since the Son would be especially responsive to the mother. The Hail Mary added to the biblical text the words “Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death.”
599 my enemy. The Devil.
614 delytest to go gaye and fresshe. Fashionably dressed, in bright colors. Cooper and Wortham, citing the Wife of Bath’s Tale in which the wife says her fifth husband was “fressh and gay” — i.e., sexually proficient and alluring — suggest an erotic connotation (p. 40). But principally such clothing denotes pride. This reference again sharpens the reference to recklessness traceable to the body.
615 the waye of dampnacyon. As opposed to the way of salvation. These are the two paths which humans may travel. The one avoided here is the “primrose way to th’ everlasting bonfire” (Macbeth 2.3.19).
617 I wyll wade the water clere. Penance reaffirms the cleansing effect of one’s baptism.
618 from Hell and from the fyre. This reading differs from the Huntington print and the Pynson fragment, which have “Purgatory and that sharpe fyre.” It would be hard to argue for a Protestant reading here, however, since the understanding of Priesthood and the Sacraments in the Huth text remains firmly Catholic, and this kind of extreme punishment was also believed to be present in Purgatory, albeit without condemnation to such suffering for eternity, as in Hell. Protestants of course rejected the idea of Purgatory.
619 now I can walke and go. Confession and Penance have had a healing effect as made visible through the ability of his Good Deeds to achieve health, to be delivered from “wo” (depression), and to rise up, stand, and walk. (See the beginning of Chaucer’s Parson’s Tale with its admonition from Jeremias 6:5 and 6:10 to arise, stand, see, walk, and find.) Good Deeds are meritorious toward salvation only when one’s sins are forgiven through these rites. In Elckerlijc, Virtue is explicitly returned to health.
623 be mery and gladde. Everyman has overcome despair, and, as line 627 says, his heart is permanently “lyght” and therefore free.
643 garmente of Sorowe. The garment of Contrition could have been made of rough, undyed cloth, in contrast to the fashionable clothes that Everyman had worn up to this point (see line 614). However, Craik (Tudor Interlude, p. 79) more plausibly offers the suggestion that it was a penitential robe of white that public penitents were required to put on. Such a change of costume, representing transformation of character, was conventional, but here would have, as Craik notes, the additional value of representing the shroud worn by Everyman when he subsequently enters the grave. The theological point is more clearly presented in Elckerlijc, which calls it a “garment of Remorse.”
660 Dyscressyon. The Dutch words wijsheit and vroetscap could be translated as “wisdom,” but Prudence is preferable as it adds experience, or common sense, to wisdom. This is consistent with Discretion in Everyman, but see also the explanatory note to line 686, below.
686 Five Wits. These are sight, hearing, smell, taste, and feeling, which are conveniently listed in The Worlde and the Chylde, lines 888–90, alongside the “other” five (spiritual) wits (lines 894–97). Discretion is the faculty of judgment applied to the Five Wits, and hence discriminates between true and false sensory perceptions. Conley, “Identity of Discretion in Everyman,” identifies the term with Prudence. In the play it is a translation from the Dutch Vroetscap.
687 for swete nor soure. Whether things turn out well or badly.
699 In almes half my good. For the importance of charity for salvation, see Introduction, pp. 8–9. That a rich man might give half his property to charity would not have been unusual.
701-02 the other halfe . . . / In quyet to be returned there it ought to be. Half his property is to be returned by way of a bequest to rightful owners. Restitution is, like giving to charity, necessary for Everyman’s account book to be set straight. Everyman uses the appropriate legal terminology that is missing in Elckerlijc.
707 Pryesthode. Subsequent lines, spoken by Five Wits, set forth the Catholic view of the Sacraments and the priest’s role in administering them as well as the doctrine of transubstantiation, the late medieval view of the elements of the Eucharist as changed into “Goddes precyous flesshe and blode” (line 724) under the forms of bread and wine. This view is reiterated at lines 737–39.
717 He bereth the keyes. See explanatory note to line 487, above. In Elckerlijc, the singular “slotel” designates the power to forgive sins.
719-20 God for our soules medycyne / Gave us out of his harte with great pyne. Referring specifically to Christ’s blood, given during his Crucifixion, which is identified with the Eucharistic act that reenacts his sacrifice “in this transytory lyfe for thee and me” (line 721); hence the Crucifixion becomes an event contemporary with the person who sees or partakes of the elements. Not uncommonly in late medieval depictions of the Crucifixion do we see angels with chalices collecting the blood flowing from the Savior’s wounds.
725 Penaunce. This Sacrament had been omitted from the corresponding passage in Elckerlijc and, as Cawley notes (p. 36), is oddly placed at the end here whereas traditionally it was third or fourth in the listing of Sacraments.
728 Fayne wolde I receyve that holy body. Everyman will receive only the bread, which in the rite is believed to have been transformed into the body of Christ; in Roman Catholic practice, the cup was reserved for the clergy until the Second Vatican Council.
737 With five wordes. The words of consecration in the Canon of the Mass are “Hoc est enim Corpus meum” (“This is my body”), derived from Luke 22:19.
740 byndeth and unbyndeth. The priest’s power to bind and loose sins. See explanatory note to line 487, above.
744 surgyon that cureth synne deedly. As mediators between God and penitents, priests function as physicians to cure the disease of deadly sin. See also explanatory note on lines 719–20, above.
747 God gave pryest that dygnyté. The power of the keys; see explanatory note to line 487, above.
749 above angelles in degré. Bevington (Tudor Drama and Politics, p. 36) cites Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ 4.5: “Grand is this Mystery; great too is the dignity of the Priests, to whom has been granted that which is not permitted to Angels. For none but Priests duly ordained in the Church, have power to celebrate this Sacrament, and to consecrate the Body of Christ.” Thomas likewise sees priests above the angels (ibid., 4.11), an idea that also may be found in a quotation attributed to St. John Chrysostom in a sermon in British Library MS Royal 18.B.xxiii (Middle English Sermons, ed. Ross): “This office of presthod ther myght never pure man ordeyn, nothur aungell, nothur archaungell. . . . And so perfite [God] mad presthode that never non aungell atteyned to so high perfite an office” (p. 280).
750-63 This criticism of unworthy priests also appeared in Elckerlijc, and represents a common complaint of the time which after 1517 led to the Protestant Reformation’s condemnation of indulgences and sacerdotal celibacy. Disapproval of the sale of indulgences, simony, and sexual abuses was not a preserve of Protestantism, however, since such behavior was at that time found at the highest levels of the hierarchy.
753 same Sacrament. Cawley (p. 36) supposes an error, since Elckerlijc has “Sacramenten seven.” In their edition of Everyman, Conley et al. emend the text to “seven sacramentes.” Cooper and Wortham point out, however, that “same Sacrament” is credible as the “one great Sacrament, the institution of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ,” from which “the seven individual sacraments ensued” (Summoning of Everyman, p. 48).
755-57 Saynt Peter the apostle . . . do bye or sell. Denunciation of simony. See Acts 8:18–24.
767 shepe . . . shepeherdes. Conventional metaphor for clergy and laypeople; see John 10:1–28.
770 satysfaccyon. See explanatory notes to lines 561 and 569, above. Everyman has now completed his penance, which began with contrition.
778 Rodde. Persons about to expire were advised to keep focused on a Crucifix (Rood), according to treatises on dying. However, Wood, “Elckerlijc–Everyman,” p. 279, suggested that a pilgrim’s staff (rod) might be meant, though he notes that Humulus, a Latin translation of the play, offered the word crucem.
787 Judas Machabé. Judas Maccabeus, one of the Nine Worthies, recognized as powerful men in history. Conley, “Reference to Judas Maccabeus,” however, points to the Nine Worthies as symbols of the vanity of the world — and hence the reference to this figure is appropriate for Strength, who in spite of his protests will desert Everyman only a few lines later. The author of Everyman has added the name here for the sake of rhyme.
793 turne to erth. In addition to the Ash Wednesday liturgy (“Remember, man, that you are earth and to earth you shall return”), see also the popular poem Erthe upon Erthe (ed. Murray). A version of this poem appeared in a wall painting at Statford-upon-Avon in conjunction with a representation of the Dance of Death; see Davidson, Guild Chapel Wall Paintings at Stratford-upon-Avon, pp. 30, 48–49, fig. 14.
801 I take my tappe in my lap. Bevington, Medieval Drama, p. 960, glosses: “I’ll gather up my spinning and be on my way.” In addition to flax on a distaff, the word “tappe” may simply mean “a bundle of combed wool prepared for spinning” (OED). The reading cap of the Huth print seems to be an error. The reference to an apparent stage property in Everyman does not appear in Elckerlijc.
803 I loke not behynde me. The Dutch text literally reads “I polish my behind.” The meaning is that Beauty’s promise is retracted.
804 and thou wolde gyve me all the golde in thy chest. In iconography, the wealth of the dying man could be represented as a chest at the foot of his bed; see the Introduction, pp. 5–6, for reference to Hieronymus Bosch’s Death of the Miser. Hence this can be read as “If you give me all the gold that you have accumulated” — less extravagant than the Dutch play’s “all the world’s riches.” Logically, of course, Beauty must be left behind at death, as also will be his Strength, Discretion, Five Wits, and, at the last, Knowledge, who is not able to pass into the grave with Everyman. See lines 862–63, for Knowledge’s promise not to leave Everyman until “I se where ye shall become” — i.e., if he successfully passes into the life after death.
817 Ye be olde ynough. Sarcasm.
828 She. Strength as a feminine personification is an oddity. A male is represented in the factotum woodcut in the Huth edition (sig. A1v) showing the characters in the play. In the extant fragment The Pride of Life, Strength is presented as a knight who challenges Death.
843 whan Deth bloweth his blaste. The sound of the trumpet. This instrument is associated with Judgment, especially the Last Judgment, when angels were believed to be prepared to sound their trumpets. But there were variants of this iconography. Devils attempt to blow horns in the Doomsday wall painting at Stratford-upon-Avon; see Davidson, Guild Chapel Wall Paintings, fig. 17. In Continental examples, Death also might be shown blowing a horn; see Briesemeister, Bilder des Todes, figs. 1, 3, 32, 34, 38.
850 and there an ende. Proverbial; see Dent, E113.1.
852 I wyll byde wyth thee. Good Deeds will prove to be the only friend to abide with Everyman unto his judgment before the high seat of Heaven, even though he had loved all the others (as listed in lines 871–72) better.
863 Tyll I se where ye shall become. See explanatory note to line 804, above.
867 all ye that this do here or se. Hearing and seeing imply actual stage production, but this line is directly translated from Elkerlijc and hence cannot be cited as proof with regard to the English play. Everyman’s admonition to the audience seems modeled on the O vos omnes tradition of Christ’s speech to bystanders from the Cross; for an example, see Browne, Religious Lyrics of the Fifteenth Century, pp. 151–56. See also the discussion in Woolf, English Religious Lyric in the Middle Ages, pp. 40–45.
870 All erthly thynge is but vanyté. See Ecclesiastes 12:8: “all things are vanity.”
875 stande by me thou moder and mayde, holy Mary. See note to lines 597–98, above. According to the doctrine of her perpetual virginity, Mary is a maid, or virgin, though she is married to Joseph, conventionally depicted as an old (and impotent) man. See the antiphon Alma redemptoris mater, the song of the “litel clergeon” in the Prologue to Chaucer’s Prioress’ Tale: “You who, while nature wondered, gave birth to your own sacred Creator and yet remained a virgin afterward as before” (text, translation, and transcription of the Sarum rite music in Davidson, Substance and Manner, p. 22).
876 I wyll speke for thee. Good deeds, especially the Corporal Acts of Mercy, are the distinguishing factor at the judgment of the individual by God. Depictions of the Last Judgment occasionally included the traditional iconographic motif of the weighing of souls on a set of scales, sometimes with the Virgin Mary helping to tip the scales to the person’s benefit by placing a rosary on it to counteract his or her bad deeds. See Perry, “On the Psychostasis in Christian Art — II,” p. 215.
880 Into thy handes, Lord, my soule I commende. In imitation of Jesus, echoing his dying words on the Cross, according to Luke 23:46. The Latin text is recited in lines 886–87 as Everyman is about to enter the grave with Good Deeds. For a similar case of a dying man speaking the Latin text, see The Rohan Master: A Book of Hours, pl. 63. Rastall, “Music and Liturgy in Everyman,” p. 308, points out that “these words belong to the additional verses said following the office of Extreme Unction.” They are also recommended in the ars moriendi texts; see Beaty, Craft of Dying, p. 21.
885 saved at the Dome. Everyman’s soul is now directly facing the particular Judgment, to be followed at the end of history by the general Judgment when all must appear before God to be dispersed to Heaven or to Hell.
891 I here angelles synge. Veni electa mea and Veni de libano sponsa mea are perhaps the best candidates for the item to be sung here since these are the alternatives suggested by line 894; other possibilities are listed by Rastall, “Music and Liturgy in Everyman,” p. 309. Veni electa mea was used in the York Assumption play, and, since it alludes to the Song of Songs, this is one of the available items appropriate for “the soul’s mystical marriage to Christ,” as Cowling suggests (“Angels’ Song in Everyman,” p. 302).
894 Cume, excellent electe spouse. See explanatory note to line 891, above, and compare the Angel’s speech in Elckerlijc.
895 Here above. Further verification that the location for Heaven was to be thought of as raised above the playing area.
897 Now thy soule is taken thy body fro. If the body has entered into the grave, how the soul is subsequently to appear to be separated from the body is unclear. In the visual arts, the soul is often a small doll-like figure that is taken from the dying man’s mouth at his last breath. In the Carthusian Miscellany (British Library MS 37,049, fol. 29), for example, the soul of the dying man is saved by an angel, who rescues it from a waiting devil, who in turn expresses his anger at the loss in the accompanying text. For a brief discussion of the iconography, see Rogers, “Particular Judgement,” pp. 125–27.
899 Now shalt thou into the hevenly spere. The text in the Carthusian Miscellany that accompanies the angel’s rescue promises the dying man that he will “bere thi saule to blis on hye” (British Library MS 37,049, fol. 29r).
901 Day of Dome. Last Judgment, at the end of history. Following this line, Rastall, “Music and Liturgy in Everyman,” p. 311, suggests music as the angel takes Everyman’s soul up to Heaven, probably in a napkin as in a conventional iconography (e.g., in a tomb sculpture at Ely Cathedral or, for a Continental example, on an altarpiece attributed to Simon Marmion, both illustrated in Boase, Death in the Middle Ages, figs. 29, 31).
902 DOCTOR. In Everyman, the epilogue is assigned to the Doctor (of theology or philosophy), who speaks of the play as a “memoryall” (but called a “morall” only in the Huntington print). The object has been to construct a drama that will call to mind the existential realities of life lived between deadly sin (Pride, which in some sense encompasses all the Seven Deadly Sins) and the necessity for charitable works (Good Deeds), which are one’s only true friends.
912 after deth amendes may no man make. The time of mercy is past, as line 913 indicates.
915 Ite maledicti in ignem eternum. “Go, wicked ones, into the eternal fire”; see Matthew 25:41, Jesus’ condemnation of those who have failed to do the Corporal Acts of Mercy and who hence will be consigned to Hell. Compare Matthew 25:30, which similarly damns the “unprofitable servant” in the parable of the talents to “the exterior darkness” where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
917 Hye in Heven he shall be crounde. In Heaven the souls of the righteous will receive crowns.
919 body and soule togyther. For the resurrection of the body, see the Nicene Creed.
922 Amen. Rastall, “Music and Liturgy in Everyman,” p. 311, suggests the possibility of the audience joining the cast in saying “Amen” at the end of the play. In the Dutch text, it will be noted, “Amen” preceded the Epilogue.
EVERYMAN: TEXTUAL NOTES
Only the principal variants from the copytext (Huth 32) are given here. Complete bibliographic information for the editions cited in the list of abbreviations below appears in the Select Bibliography.
Abbreviations: BL: British Library C.21.c.17; Cawley: Everyman, ed. Cawley (rpt. 1977); Douce: Douce Fragment, Bodleian Library; Hunt: Huntington Library copy; Huth: British Library, Huth 32.
14 thy soule. So Huth. Hunt: the soule.
29 lawe. So Huth, Hunt. Cawley: love.
30 so. So Huth. Hunt omits.
31 cannot. So Hunt. Huth: caunot.
41 not. So Huth. Hunt: nothynge.
73 cruelly. So Hunt. Huth: truely.
77 depart. So Huth. Hunt: to departe.
109 spente. So Hunt. Huth: spede.
111 ado that thou. So Cawley. Huth: ado that we; Hunt: I do we.
113 rekenynge. So Hunt. Huth: rekenyuge.
119 whan. So Hunt. Huth: what.
129 All. So Huth. Hunt: But.
135 twelve. Huth, Hunt: .xii.
141 thee. Huth: the; Hunt: that.
168 Everyman. So Hunt. Huth: Euenyman.
mad, that. So Huth. Hunt: made thou.
180 out of. So Huth. Hunt: out of thy.
205 good felawshyp. So Hunt. Huth: god felawshyp.
248 dutye. Huth: duyte; Hunt: duty.
252 here as. So Huth. Hunt: here as well as.
260 agayne cume. So Cawley. Huth: cume agayne; Hunt: come agayne.
278 to folye wyll. So Huth. Hunt: wyll.
300 omit FELLOWSHIP (misplaced in Huth).
301 FELLOWSHIP. So Hunt. Huth: EVERYMAN.
endynge. So Cawley. Huth, Hunt: ende.
303 EVERYMAN. So Hunt. Huth omits.
317 them. So Cawley. Huth, Hunt, BL: them go.
327 Gramercy. So Hunt, BL. Huth: Geamercy.
365 Now. So Hunt. BL: Nowe; Huth: Nw.
375 my owne. So Huth. Hunt: myne owne; BL: myne owne lyfe.
390 It. So Huth, BL. Hunt: He.
401 trouble. So Huth. Hunt, BL: sorowe.
406 gyve. So Hunt, BL. Huth: gyne.
415 vyages. Greg notes possibly vyages longe.
432 of. So Hunt. Huth: for; BL: for the love of.
436 my spendynge. So Huth, Hunt. BL: myspending.
442 condycyon. So Hunt. BL: condition; Huth: condycyons.
455 gladde. So Huth, Hunt. BL: right gladde.
457 longe. So Hunt. Huth omits.
475 into. So Hunt, BL. Huth: in.
489 feare. So Huth. Hunt: fere; BL: great feare.
504 Beholde. So Huth. Hunt, BL: Ase.
527 she. Huth, Hunt, BL: he.
530 at. So Hunt, BL. Huth: at the.
538 you. So Hunt, BL. Huth: yon.
instructe me by intelleccyon. So Huth. Hunt: gyve me cognycyon; BL: gyve me cognisyon.
539 man. So Hunt, BL. Huth: vertue.
549 Repent . . . full. So BL. Hunt: Redempte . . . full; Huth: Redempe . . . full of.
565 scape that paynful. So Huth, Hunt. BL: passe thy.
566 Knowlege, kepe hym. So Hunt, BL. Huth: Knowlege hym and kepe hym.
568 sure. So Huth. Hunt, BL: seker.
580 clerely. So Hunt, BL. Huth: crelery.
594 of thy benygnyté. So Huth. Hunt, BL: in this hevy lyfe.
unworthy. So Hunt, BL. Omit Huth.
602 partetaker. So Huth. Hunt: partynere; BL: partinere.
603 meanes. So Hunt. Huth, BL: meane.
606 gyve acqueyntaunce. So Hunt. Huth: gyve a quytaunce. BL: have aquaintaunce.
610 And. So Hunt. BL: Nowe; Huth: Thus.
615 the. So Hunt, BL. Huth omits.
616 and. So Huth. Hunt, BL: of.
618 Hell and from the. So Huth. Hunt: purgatory and that sharpe; BL: purgatory that sharpe.
622 good. So Hunt, BL. Huth: god.
624 do come. So Huth. Hunt: cometh now; BL: commeth nowe.
640 Lest . . . it be unswete. So Huth. Hunt: Or elles . . . you may it mysse; BL: Or els . . . ye may it misse.
656 KNOWLEDGE. So Cawley. Huth, Hunt: KINDRED; BL: KINDREDE.
666 KNOWLEDGE. So Cawley. Huth, Hunt: KINDRED; BL: KINDREDE.
670 redy. So Huth, BL. Hunt: all redy.
692 vertuous. So Hunt, BL, Douce. Huth: vertues.
702 In quyet. So Huth. Hunt: In queth; BL, Douce: I it bequethe.
716 benygne. So Hunt, Douce. BL: benigne; Huth: benynge.
717 he cure. So Huth. Hunt: the cure; BL, Douce: cure.
726 seven. Huth, Hunt, BL, Douce: .vii.
732 good Pryesthod. So Huth. Hunt, BL, Douce: preesthode.
737 five. Huth, Hunt, BL, Douce: .v.
738 make. So Huth, Hunt. BL, Douce: take.
746 all onely. So Huth, Hunt. BL, Douce: alone on.
770 satysfaccyon. So Hunt. BL: satisfaction; Huth: satysfaccoon.
774 than. So Hunt. Huth: thou. BL omits.
782 gone. So Huth, BL, Douce. Hunt: done.
786 STRENGTH. So BL. Huth, Hunt, Douce omit.
793 to erth. So Hunt. Huth: to the erth; BL, Douce: to the erthe.
801 tappe. So Hunt, BL. Huth: cap.
806 goeth . . . and from me. So Huth. Hunt: gothe . . . fro me; Douce: gothe . . . and hye; BL: dothe . . . hye.
827 He that. So Huth, Hunt, Douce. BL: But I se well he that.
828 She hym deceyveth. So Huth, Hunt, Douce. BL: Is greatly disceyved.
829 Both . . . forsaketh me. So Huth, Douce. Hunt: Bothe . . . forsaketh me; BL: For . . . hath forsaken me.
830 fayre and lovyngly. So Huth, Hunt, Douce. BL: stedfast to be.
838 ones pyteously. So Huth, Hunt. Douce: ones petyously; BL: and thou shalt se.
854 good. So Hunt, BL, Douce. Huth: god.
855 Dedes. So Hunt, BL, Douce. Huth: Dede.
870 erthly. Hunt, Douce. Huth: ertly; BL: erthely.
885 Dome. So Huth, Douce. Hunt, BL: Day of Dome.
902 memoryall. So Huth, BL, Douce. Hunt: morall.
914 rekenynge. So Hunt, Douce. BL: rekening; Huth: rekenyuge.
915 eternum. So Hunt, BL, Douce. Huth: eternam.
921 Say ye. So Huth. Hunt, BL, Douce: Amen saye ye.
922 Amen. So Huth. Hunt, BL, Douce: Finis.
|The Mirror of Everyman’s Salvation|
How Everyman is summoned to give a reckoning to God.
Here begins a nice little book made in the manner of a play or drama on every human being.
At first God Almighty speaks thus:
GOD I see from my throne above
that all that is of human kind
lives without fear of God, ignorant.
I see the people so blinded
by sin, that they don’t recognize me as God.
They are enamored of worldly treasures,
which they have chosen over God,
and have forgotten me, who heretofore
had suffered death for the profit of man.
O Pride, Avarice, and Envy,
powerful among the Seven Deadly Sins,
how you have progressed now in the world.
Because of the Seven Deadly Sins together
has my vengeance been awakened; therefore I weep
with all the heavenly hosts.
The Seven Virtues, which were powerful,
are all driven out and chased away,
for the innocent one has sorely complained to me about it.
Everyman now lives without concern;
still they are not sure about tomorrow.
I see how the more I spare the people,
the worse it gets from year to year.
All that grows up becomes ever worse.
Therefore I will now, as it is fitting,
have the reckoning of Everyman.
For if I let the world continue in such a state
in this way of life, in these tempests,
the people would become worse than beasts
and would devour each other.
Pure belief in me, which is completely forgotten,
that which I myself commanded them to keep,
it weakens, it disappears, it gets cold;
for this I died the death out of love,
in innocence, out of my free will and without constraint,
because I hoped that through this
they would enjoy my everlasting glory,
for which I had expressly chosen them.
Now I think that everything is lost,
though I loved them at such a price.
How many goods have I freely lent them
out of the treasure of my mercy
that thus belong to them by right. However, they are so foolish,
and blinded by earthly goods,
that justice must be done
on Everyman, who is living so without fear.
Where are you, my Death, who no one spares?
Come here! Hear what I shall say to you.
DEATH At your command at all times,
Almighty God! Say what you demand.
GOD Go hence to Everyman at once,
and tell him immediately in my name
that he must set forth on a pilgrimage
which no one in the world can escape,
and that to me he shall come to make his reckoning
without delay: that is my command.
DEATH It shall be accomplished, Almighty God.
I shall go forth to reign in the world;
also I shall quickly, without delay,
go to Everyman. He lives so beastly
without fear of God and too fleshly.
He worships earthly goods above God,
for which he will have to lack eternal joy.
There I shall go to him soon.
Here he comes walking. Help, Lord God.
How little he anticipates my coming!
Oh, Everyman, you will soon lose
what you think you hold firmly.
You will stand with a heavy burden
and in misery before Almighty God.
Everyman, where are you going
so beautifully dressed? Have you entirely forgotten God?
EVERYMAN Why do you ask?
DEATH This you will certainly discover,
if you listen to me in this hour.
Urgently I have been sent to you
by God from Heaven’s plain.
EVERYMAN Sent to me?
DEATH Yes I was, certainly!
Although you have forgotten him, as it appears,
he thinks of you in his kingdom,
as I will explain to you.
EVERYMAN What does God want from me?
DEATH That I will tell you:
he wants to receive a reckoning from you
without any delay.
EVERYMAN How am I to understand that?
Reckoning? What does that mean?
DEATH Although it may seem strange to you, it must be.
Also, you must without delay undertake
a pilgrimage, from which no one is able to
return by any way or means.
Bring your writing and your papers
with you, and look them over carefully,
for you must before God Almighty
give an account, be sure of that,
of how you have spent your time,
of your works, good and bad.
Also on this matter do not delay
about that. Because it must be accounted now.
EVERYMAN I am hardly prepared just now
to give reckoning just for God alone.
Who are you, messenger?
DEATH I am Death, who does not spare anyone,
but Everyman shall, by
God’s command, give reckoning to me.
EVERYMAN Oh, Death, you are come so near to me
when I least expected it.
Death, do you want money from me?
I will give you a thousand pounds
so that I may retain my life
and be released from this.
DEATH Everyman, that cannot be.
I am not moved by goods, treasure, or property.
Pope, duke, king, nor count
do I spare, after God’s command.
If I were to be tempted by treasures,
I would obtain all worldly goods.
Now everyone must dance with me,
so I give neither delay nor respite.
EVERYMAN Miserable, poor wretch, O woe!
Now I do not see any way to avoid this
reckoning: my record
is so confused and in such disarray
that I see no way to set it straight.
Therefore my heart is in fear.
Oh, if I might live another twelve years,
then I would set straight my records
and review them. Please do stop speaking
of punishment, dear Death,
until I am prepared for this business.
This I implore you, by God’s mercy.
DEATH Neither begging nor groaning will do you any good.
Therefore think what you should do.
EVERYMAN Dear Death, just let me know one thing:
though I must undertake this journey,
could I not return soon
when I should have settled my reckoning?
DEATH No, never!
EVERYMAN Almighty power of God,
have pity on me in this need!
May I take no one, high or low,
along there, if I could manage?
DEATH Yes, if there were anyone so bold
that he dares to go that journey with you.
Hurry up, because God, who sees into / all depths with his divine eyes,
commands you to come before him to show
your account of what you have done.
What do you think, that life on earth
and worldly goods were just given to you?
EVERYMAN Alas, so I thought!
DEATH How can you be so foolish,
Everyman, you have five senses after all,
and are so impure inside,
never expecting that I come so hastily.
EVERYMAN Miserable wretch, where shall I flee,
that I might escape from this great distress?
Dear Death, give me respite until tomorrow,
so that I can ponder on this.
DEATH That I will not allow,
nor will I ever do so at any time.
I can smite anyone at once in the ring,
without warning, with one stroke.
Therefore prepare yourself, even today.
I shall depart from your sight.
See that you seriously begin
to say: “Now comes the day
that Everyman cannot avoid.”
EVERYMAN Oh, Everyman, why was I ever born?
I see my life already lost
now that I must take this long journey
for which I am so badly prepared.
I have never done any good;
thus very little has been written down.
How shall I justify myself clearly?
Alas, I now wish that I did not exist:
that would be to my soul a great comfort.
Where might I now seek help or counsel?
Lord God, who foresees all things,
it helps me not so to complain.
Time is passing quickly, it is after noon.
Alas, what am I to do now?
To whom might I complain concerning this matter?
Let’s see, if I first spoke to my Fellowship
and propose to him to come with me,
would he refuse it? No, I think:
in our days in the world we have had
such great friendship together;
so I anticipate all blessings from him.
I see him, which really makes me happy.
I will talk to him without delay.
Good day, Fellowship!
FELLOWSHIP Everyman, a good day
may God give you, and health!
How sad you look; tell me:
is there something special that bothers you?
EVERYMAN Yes, Fellowship.
FELLOWSHIP Poor Fellow, why are you so upset?
Dear Everyman, tell me about your distress.
I will stay with you until death,
because of the good friendship and loyalty that wehave sworn!
EVERYMAN Well said, Fellowship, for all is lost!
FELLOWSHIP I must know all your pain and suffering:
“It is so thick you could cut it with a knife.”
If any harm were done to you, I will help you to avenge it,
even if I would be stabbed to death
and I knew it clearly in advance.
EVERYMAN Thank you, Fellowship.
FELLOWSHIP No thanks at all.
Therefore tell me your grief.
EVERYMAN Fellow, if I should make it clear
and the burden is too heavy for you,
then I would be more distressed.
But you say well; may God reward you.
FELLOWSHIP Well, I am serious, that is no lie.
EVERYMAN You speak well, certainly.
I have never found anything but loyalty in you.
FELLOWSHIP And you will never find differently!
EVERYMAN May God and our Lady reward you for it.
Fellow, you have somewhat given me strength.
FELLOWSHIP Everyman, do not be faint of heart.
I will go with you, even if it might be to Hell.
EVERYMAN You speak as a real fellow.
I will pay you back, as best I can.
FELLOWSHIP There is no need for thanks.
He who would not prove it by deeds
is not worthy to be a fellow.
Therefore reveal to me your trouble
as a true friend.
EVERYMAN I will tell you certainly
here now, in all seriousness.
I have been ordered that I must go
on a long journey, harsh and painful.
Also, I must give a reckoning by command
before the highest King almighty.
Now I pray that you be inclined
to go with me, as you promised.
FELLOWSHIP It is quite obvious:
the promise I consider binding.
But should I undertake such a journey
at your request, I would regret it.
I would be frightened of this burden.
But let’s think it over
and do the best we can.
EVERYMAN Oh, just listen to this sermon!
Did you not say, if I had need of it,
to go with me into infernal death,
or into Hell, if I had desired it?
FELLOWSHIP That I certainly would, but such a journey
is out of the question, honestly speaking.
To tell you the truth: if we set out on the journey,
when should we come back thereafter?
EVERYMAN There is no coming back.
FELLOWSHIP Then I do not want to be there.
Who has brought the message to you?
EVERYMAN Alas, Death!
FELLOWSHIP Help, holy God almighty,
has Death been the messenger?
For no living creature
would I go if I could avoid it.
EVERYMAN But you promised.
FELLOWSHIP That I frankly admit.
If it were for a serious bout of drinking,
I would go with you until the break of day,
or if it were to go to the fair, outside the city limits,
or to where the beautiful women would be.
EVERYMAN You would surely go with me there.
If it were only to go out for pleasure, then you were compliant.
FELLOWSHIP Here I will not go, God knows.
But if you wanted to go on a pilgrimage,
or if you wanted to slay somebody,
I would help you strip him to his pants and cleave him in two.
EVERYMAN Oh, that is a useless answer!
Fellow, what you want differs completely from what I require now that the need arises.
Fellow, think about that great loyalty
that we to one another many years ago
FELLOWSHIP Loyalty here, loyalty there:
I do not wish it, case closed.
EVERYMAN Nevertheless I beseech you, if it were not unpleasant for you,
give me courage, lead me out, take me / up to the gates.
FELLOWSHIP Not one step, by St. James!
But if you had remained in the world,
I would not have forsaken you.
Our Dear Lord may accompany you now.
I will depart from you.
EVERYMAN Is that parting
without looking back? Alas, indeed!
Now I see well: it is a weak support,
Fellowship, when need arises.
But if I still were in great prosperity,
people would be laughing with me all the time.
Alas! They will not weep with me.
They say: “In prosperity one finds a friend
who in need is of little use.”
This should be a warning to others.
Where shall I look for help now?
I know well: with my Friend and Kinsman.
I will go to them to complain of my distress.
Though my Fellowship has abandoned me,
they will certainly stand by me in distress.
For as the saying usually goes,
“Blood is thicker than water.”
I shall test this that I may live.
Where are you, Friends and Kinsman?
KINSMAN We are here, cousin,
at your service, bold and brave.
COUSIN Everyman, do you need us?
Tell us frankly.
KINSMAN Yes, without delay.
We’ll take care of you, whatever you may undertake.
Even if you wished to kill someone,
we would help you with it.
COUSIN For so must it be,
if one truly practices the duties of kinship.
EVERYMAN May God reward you, my dear friends.
I lament to you, with saddened heart, of my predicament,
that I have been commanded, as clearly as can be,
to go on a far pilgrimage
from which there is no returning.
There I must give reckoning, which is hard,
before the Lord, to whom all is revealed.
KINSMAN What is it of which you must give a reckoning?
EVERYMAN Of my works, to speak concisely:
how I have squandered my time here
on earth and wasted away in sins
and of what I have done
in that time, lent to me, not given.
Just go with me, that the Almighty God may reward you,
and assist in clearing my reckoning.
My grief will be less.
KINSMAN What, go with you there?
COUSIN Well, is that all that is the matter?
Truly, I thought it was something else.
KINSMAN I am bowled over!
COUSIN No use pretending:
happily and willingly I’ll send my maid there.
She likes to go to parties.
KINSMAN That is what I say, too.
I would be frightened in the end.
EVERYMAN Will you then not go with me?
COUSIN Don’t go so fast, my dear.
It is not a matter of going to any party
EVERYMAN Now, then, to make an end of it,
say, will you go with me, without delaying?
KINSMAN Cousin, I shall take counsel, a recess, a time-out,
and an adjournment until the appropriate time.
COUSIN We would like some breathing room.
EVERYMAN How could I be glad?
Whatever fine words they offer me,
when the need comes, then it is all for naught.
Alas! How things have transpired here!
COUSIN Everyman, cousin, may God keep you.
To be blunt, I do not want to come with you.
I also have some business to settle,
for which I still am badly prepared.
Hence I shall stay here.
EVERYMAN So be it.
Fie, Everyman, did you place trust
in your Kinsman? The ones who promised so bravely
leave you in this misery.
Look, it is as if someone has driven them from here.
I see: one speaks well with one’s mouth
out of hypocrisy, but without the deed.
Then they say: “Cousin, if you lack anything,
I am here for you.” It surely is nothing.
And Fellowship says the same thing; yet
it is all betrayal and deceit.
Whoever wishes may rely on it.
Now where can I turn?
Remaining here any longer is useless.
What friends would assist me now?
A new thought comes to me:
I have given great love to my Goods.
If that would assist me to my benefit,
I would not have lost everything yet.
From him I still expect my comfort.
O Lord, who shall judge all,
open thy grace to me.
Where are you, my Goods?
GOODS I lie here locked up,
neglected, mouldy, as you see me,
heaped up, filthy; I cannot
move, pressed as I am together.
What will you have of me?
EVERYMAN Come forward here immediately,
quickly, Goods, and show yourself.
You must help me.
GOODS What counsel must you have from me?
If you have any need in the world,
I will set it right.
EVERYMAN Something entirely different troubles me.
It is not of this world, you understand.
I have been summoned to where I must go
on a long pilgrimage, without delay.
I must also give, and that is the worst of all,
a reckoning before the Lord most high,
for which I seek help from you.
Because, since my younger years,
I had great joy in you,
and my confidence rests entirely on you.
So I beg you, my dear Goods,
that you go with me without hesitation.
For you could easily clear me before God,
since Goods can erase stains completely.
GOODS No, Everyman, I might hinder you there.
I follow no man on such a journey.
And even if I went with you, do consider,
you would fare far worse off because of me,
for reasons I will tell you candidly:
I have botched your accounts terribly.
Since you have given your whole being
to me, for this you may be sorry.
Your reckoning will not be in order
before God Almighty, through my fault.
EVERYMAN That I may well repent
when I must give a strict account.
Up, let’s go together.
GOODS No, I will not budge.
Therefore I simply will not follow you.
EVERYMAN Alas! But I have loved you
my whole life until the present day.
GOODS That means everlasting damnation for you:
love for me is contrary to Heaven.
But had you loved me in moderation
and shared me with the poor,
then you would not need to whine now,
nor be sad, which is painful for you.
EVERYMAN Alas, God! I admit that this is true.
GOODS Think you that I am yours?
EVERYMAN I had thought so.
GOODS Be silent! I am only lent to you
by God; he tests, it is as clear as day,
how you shall handle your wealth.
Many more are lost because of me
than are saved, be sure of that.
Do you think that I will follow you, Everyman,
from this world? No, certainly not!
EVERYMAN That I thought for sure, because I always loved you so much.
GOODS Therefore I know Goods as a thief of souls.
When you are gone from here now, this is for sure:
I will deceive another,
just as I did one prior to your time.
EVERYMAN Oh false Goods, curse on you!
How you have caught me in your net,
traitor to God!
GOODS You have done it all to yourself,
which amuses me now.
It makes me laugh!
EVERYMAN You are pleased about this,
that you have robbed me of God?
He is foolish who puts his trust in any goods.
This I, Everyman, may well lament.
Will you not go with me then?
GOODS Absolutely not!
EVERYMAN Oh, to whom shall I then complain
to go with me in this great need?
First I had counted on Fellowship,
who repeatedly made me beautiful promises
but who was not faithful to me afterwards.
Then I found that it was all deception.
Thereafter I went also to my kinsmen,
who promised it to me clear as glass.
In the end I found it to be all foolishness.
Then I started to think of my Goods,
on which I had set my heart.
That gave me neither help nor counsel
other than that Goods stands damned.
Therefore I may as well spit at myself.
Fie, Everyman, you may indeed shudder,
how thoroughly can I despise you!
Lord God, who will now help me
by which I yet would be happy?
No one better than my Virtue.
But, alas! She is so weak in her limbs
I think she would not be able to move from her place.
Ah, shall I not then dare to speak to her?
Shall I? No! I shall nevertheless.
Fare as it may, I must go there.
Where are you, my Virtue?
VIRTUE I lie here all withered
in bed, paralyzed and entirely dejected.
I cannot move a limb.
Thus you have made me with your misdeeds.
What do you desire?
EVERYMAN You must help me,
for I need it to my benefit.
VIRTUE Everyman, I have understood
that you have been summoned to a reckoning
before the Lord who is over all things.
EVERYMAN Oh, about that I want to complain to you.
I come to ask you urgently
that you go there with me.
VIRTUE Even if I might gain all the world,
I could not stand by myself.
EVERYMAN Alas! Are you so feeble?
VIRTUE You have done all this to me.
Had you altogether gone along with me,
I would have cleansed your reckoning,
which now is unclean, and that is why your soul is so sad.
Look at your records and your deeds,
how they lie here.
EVERYMAN May God’s power strengthen me!
One does not see a single letter that is clean.
Are these all my records?
VIRTUE I certainly believe so.
You can see that from the state of my health.
EVERYMAN My dear Virtue, from the goodness of your heart,
I beg you to help me to my advantage,
or I will be lost forever.
For Fellowship, Friend, Kinsman, and Goods
have forsaken me, in just humility
help me to balance my reckoning here before the highest Lord.
VIRTUE Everyman, you have my deepest sympathy.
I would help you, if I were able.
EVERYMAN Virtue, would you indeed advise me?
VIRTUE This I intend,
though I cannot move from my place.
Yet I have a sister who will go with you.
Her name is Knowledge, who will guide you
and show you another who will prepare you
for setting forth to the reckoning, which is severe.
KNOWLEDGE Everyman, I shall protect you.
EVERYMAN I believe I feel better now.
I am a little reassured by this.
In this God may be praised.
VIRTUE When without delay she has led you
where you shall cleanse yourself from stains,
then I shall receive my health and help you
and go with you to the reckoning as Virtue,
to help you with your accounting, to your joy,
before the Lord who is over all.
EVERYMAN Thank you, Virtue, my favorite!
I am extremely comforted
by your sweet words.
KNOWLEDGE Now we will go
to Confession. She is a clear river,
she will cleanse you.
EVERYMAN With pure intent
we shall go there. Pray, tell me, both of you:
where does Confession live?
KNOWLEDGE In the House of Salvation.
There we shall find her, I think.
EVERYMAN Our Lord may grant us grace
with her, who may comfort us.
KNOWLEDGE Everyman, this is Confession; fall at her feet.
She is very dear and precious to God.
EVERYMAN O glorious flower, that shines
and makes dark stains to disappear,
I kneel before you. Do cleanse me
of my sins. Into your sight
I come with Knowledge for my salvation,
sad of heart and very afraid,
because I have been summoned by Death
to go on a great pilgrimage.
Also, I must give a reckoning, as is clear,
before him, who sees through all reasoning.
Now I pray, Confession, mother of health:
cleanse my records, for Virtue is very ill.
CONFESSION Everyman, to me your suffering is well known.
Because you have come to me with Knowledge,
I will help you to your advantage.
Also, I will give you a perfect jewel,
that is simply called Penance.
With that you shall chastise your body
with abstinence and suffering.
Imagine, see the pure scourge:
that is Penance, hard and sour.
Remember that Our Lord also was beaten
with scourges, which he willed to endure,
just before his cruel pilgrimage.
Knowledge, keep him on this path;
then his Virtue will become strong.
And always humbly hope in God,
for your time will soon end.
Beg mercy of him; you will find it fully,
and always use the hard knots of the scourge.
Knowledge, see that you are beside him
when he turns to Penance.
KNOWLEDGE Gladly, Confession.
EVERYMAN God be honored in this!
Now I shall begin my penance,
for the light has enlightened me within,
though these knots are harsh and hard.
KNOWLEDGE Everyman, however unpleasant it may become for you,
see that you carry out your penance.
I, Knowledge, will help you,
so that you can openly show your reckoning.
EVERYMAN O living Life! O heavenly Bread!
O Way of truth! O Divine Being,
who descended from his Father’s bosom,
coming down into a pure Maid,
because you wanted to heal Everyman,
whom Adam disinherited by Eve’s counsel.
O Holy Trinity of supreme excellence,
do forgive me my misdeeds,
for I seek mercy from you.
O divine Treasure! O royal Seed!
O Refuge for the entire world,
ever-replenishing Food of angels,
Mirror of joy on whom all depends,
whose light covers Heaven and earth,
hear my crying, even if it may be too late.
Receive my prayer at the throne.
Though I am sinful, wicked and evil,
write me in the book of Heaven,
for I seek mercy from you.
O Mary, mother of the heavenly Almighty,
stand carefully by me in need
so that the Devil does not overpower me.
For mighty Death is approaching me.
Pray diligently for me to your Son,
so that I am able to walk on the right path
re not crooked.
Impart to me the kingdom of your Child,
so that I can bathe in his Passion,
for I desire mercy from you.
Knowledge, give me the scourge for my own good
which by name is called Penance.
I shall begin, may God favor me.
KNOWLEDGE Everyman, may God give you time!
I will give [the scourge] to you in the name of our Lord,
to whom you must come to give reckoning.
EVERYMAN In the name of the Father and the Son, also
the Holy Ghost, in the Trinity,
I am beginning to do my penance.
Take this, body, for the fact that you were so reckless
to lead me on the path of disaster.
Therefore now you must be beaten.
You have truly indeed deserved it.
Oh, brothers, you must truly
wade through penance in preparation for the time you go on your pilgrimage,
which Everyman must undertake.
VIRTUE Thank God, I am beginning to feel well,
because Everyman has healed me.
Therefore I shall be with him forever.
I shall also testify to his good deeds; for that I shall go with him at once.
KNOWLEDGE Everyman, be happy and pleased:
Good Deeds comes to you, now rejoice!
EVERYMAN Who can it be, Knowledge?
KNOWLEDGE It is your Virtue,
whole and healthy on her legs.
EVERYMAN I weep for joy.
Now I will strike harder than before.
VIRTUE Everyman, elect pilgrim,
blessed be you, son of victory,
for the light of glory is coming to you.
You have made me completely healthy;
therefore I shall remain with you forever.
God will have mercy on you, be assured.
EVERYMAN Welcome, Virtue, my eyes grow misty
in truly humble, sweet joy.
KNOWLEDGE Strike no more, cheer up:
God on his throne sees you live.
Put on this garment as your reward.
It is soaked with your tears,
so wear it freely, in perseverance;
otherwise you would be lacking before God.
EVERYMAN What is this garment called?
KNOWLEDGE The garment of Remorse.
It will please God very much.
VIRTUE Everyman, wear this garment
that Knowledge has put on you.
EVERYMAN Thus I will receive Remorse,
because God values this garment so highly.
Now let us go without fear.
Virtue, have you our reckoning clear?
VIRTUE Yes, Everyman.
EVERYMAN Then I have no fear.
Let’s go, friends, do not part from me.
KNOWLEDGE Not us, Everyman.
VIRTUE You must take with you also
three persons of great power.
EVERYMAN Who might they be?
VIRTUE Prudence and your Strength;
your Beauty may not stay behind.
KNOWLEDGE You must also without delay have
your Five Senses as your assistants.
EVERYMAN How should I obtain them?
KNOWLEDGE Call all of them.
They will hear all about it without delay.
EVERYMAN My friends, come all on this my day:
Prudence, Strength, Beauty, and Five Senses!
STRENGTH Here we are, all of us, at your service.
What do you want us to do?
VIRTUE That you will go with Everyman
to help him complete his pilgrimage.
For he has been summoned to come
at once before God for a reckoning.
See if you want to come with him.
BEAUTY We all want to go with him
to help and assist him.
PRUDENCE That we will, certainly.
EVERYMAN O Almighty God, mercy!
I praise you that I thus have brought along
Prudence, Beauty, Five Senses, and Strength,
and my Virtue and clear Knowledge.
Now I have company here that pleases me.
I have no more wishes for myself.
STRENGTH I shall remain with you, bold and brave,
even if it meant to going into battle.
FIVE SENSES Me too, even if we had to go the whole wide world,
I shall not part from you in any distress.
BEAUTY Neither shall I until death,
come of it what may!
PRUDENCE Everyman, what I wanted to tell you:
go with foresight, calm and collected.
We will counsel you in all good things
and guide you in the right direction.
EVERYMAN These are friends who do not fail;
may God, the heavenly Father, reward them.
Now listen, all my friends:
I am going to make my will
before all of you here present.
In charity and genuine humility
I distribute to the poor of my goods
one half, and the other half thereafter
I assign to where by right it should go.
I do this now to shame the Devil,
to get out of his claws,
when my life ends this day.
KNOWLEDGE Everyman, listen to what I say:
go to the priesthood
and see that you from them receive
the Sacrament and the Chrism.
Then come back to this place here.
We shall all wait for you.
FIVE SENSES Yes, Everyman, go prepare yourself.
There is no emperor, king, duke, or count
who has from God such a gift
as does the lowliest priest alone.
Of all the pure sacraments
he has the key, always ready
for humankind’s salvation,
which God for a medicine
gave us from out of his heart
here, in this earthly life.
The Seven Holy Sacraments:
Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders,
and the Eucharist, God’s flesh and blood,
Marriage and the Extreme Unction also:
these are the seven unblemished:
Sacraments of great value.
EVERYMAN I will receive God’s body with love
and go with humility to the priest.
FIVE SENSES Everyman, that is well done.
May God allow you to accomplish this to your salvation!
The priest is above all things:
he teaches us Scripture
and turns humankind from sins.
God has given him more power
than the angels in eternity.
For every priest can without doubt make,
with five words on the altar
during Mass (be sure about this),
God’s body, true flesh and blood,
and holds his Creator in his hands.
The priest binds and looses all bonds
in Heaven and on earth.
O noble priest of great worth,
if we kissed your footsteps, you are worthy of it!
Whoever needs comfort from sins
can find no refuge
but with a priest.
This the Lord has bestowed upon the priest,
and he is present here [in the world] in his place.
Thus he is placed above the angels.
KNOWLEDGE That is true, for those who stay unblemished.
When he hung in great pain
on the Cross, he gave us then from his heart
the Seven Sacraments in sorrow.
He did not sell them to us, the Lord!
Therefore St. Peter says
that they are all damned
who buy or sell God
and make heaps of money out of this.
They set a bad example for the sinner.
Their children walk in the temple,
and some of them live with women
in bodily corruption.
They have after all been robbed of their senses.
FIVE SENSES I hope, God willing, that none do this.
Let us therefore honor the priests
and always follow their teachings.
We are their sheep and they our shepherds,
by whom we all are protected.
Let’s not talk about this anymore.
VIRTUE Everyman comes; he has settled up.
Therefore let us all be on guard.
EVERYMAN Lord God, I am so happy
that I weep for joy just like a child.
I have received my Sacrament
and the Unction also. Thanks to the one who advised it.
Now, friends, without any further delay,
I thank God that I found all of you.
Place your hands on this little pilgrim’s cross
and follow me then promptly.
I will lead the way to the place I want to be.
Our Lord God, he will guide me!
STRENGTH Everyman, we will not part from you
before you have made this journey.
PRUDENCE We will continually stay with you,
as for a long time we have assured you.
KNOWLEDGE Oh, this is a very tough pilgrimage,
on which Everyman has to go.
STRENGTH Everyman, see how we stand by you:
strong, brave, and have no fear.
EVERYMAN Alas, my limbs are so heavy
that they begin to tremble with fear.
Dear friends, let us not turn back now.
If I am to complete my pilgrimage
then I must go down here
into this pit and become earth.
BEAUTY What? Into this pit?
EVERYMAN Yes, into such
we, both great and small, must turn.
BEAUTY What, smother in here?
EVERYMAN Yes, smother in here and die
to the world, but be alive forever
before the supreme Lord.
BEAUTY I take back everything.
Adieu! Farewell! I take my leave; I go as the dumb.
EVERYMAN What? Beauty!
BEAUTY I am totally deaf; oh, I do not look back
even if it would gain me all the world’s riches.
EVERYMAN In what shall I trust?
Beauty flees as if chased away.
Though when I asked her earlier,
she would live and die with me.
STRENGTH Everyman, I will also leave you.
Your game does not entirely please me.
EVERYMAN Strength, will you also flee from me?
STRENGTH Yes, I will surely go away.
The matter is closed, once and for all.
EVERYMAN Dear Strength, please wait.
STRENGTH By St. Eloy I will not!
Do you think that I want to smother in that pit?
EVERYMAN Will you leave me then?
STRENGTH Yes, it is all in vain,
though you may cry yourself into a hernia.
EVERYMAN Will you thus redeem your promise?
You said you would stay with me.
STRENGTH I have guided you far enough.
Then too, you are old enough, I think,
to go on your pilgrimage alone.
I regret now that I came here.
EVERYMAN Alas, dear Strength, am I angering you?
STRENGTH It is all in vain. Rest your head,
and go into that dark house.
EVERYMAN I had never thought this of you.
Who will trust in his Strength?
It flees like mist from the ditch.
Beauty is like a wind that flees!
Alas, trusty friends, that you lie so,
after making promises to me.
PRUDENCE Everyman, I also will go away
and wish to put this off.
Do you think that we want to go in here?
Don’t think of it, I know better.
EVERYMAN O Prudence, Prudence!
PRUDENCE I will not go with you.
It is clearly imprudent.
EVERYMAN Dear Prudence, come at least closer,
so that you can see the bottom of the earth in here.
I humbly beg this of you.
PRUDENCE By St. Eloy, I will not do this!
I regret that I ever came so close.
EVERYMAN Oh, everything that is not God will fail.
Beauty, Strength, great Prudence,
they fly from Everyman when Death approaches.
Poor mankind, on whom shall I rely now?
FIVE SENSES Everyman, I will also leave
and follow the others who turn their backs on you.
EVERYMAN Oh, dear Five Senses!
FIVE SENSES I will not gain anything from this;
it is no use to cry so much.
EVERYMAN Oh, are you all going to leave me?
VIRTUE No, Everyman. Rest assured.
EVERYMAN Alas, my Five Senses!
FIVE SENSES Cry all that you want.
You will not see my face again.
EVERYMAN Dear Virtue, will you stay with me?
VIRTUE I will never leave you in the lurch,
for life, death, or any torment.
EVERYMAN You are able to know your true friends here.
Those who leave me altogether,
I loved them more than my Virtue alone.
Knowledge, will you also leave me?
KNOWLEDGE Yes, Everyman, when you end your life,
but definitely not before, no danger of that.
EVERYMAN Thank you, Knowledge.
KNOWLEDGE I will not depart from here
before you are where you belong.
EVERYMAN Alas, I think we must go on,
to give reckoning and pay my debt.
My time is almost up.
Whoever hears and sees this: take example from it.
And see how all flee from me;
my Virtue only will go with me.
VIRTUE All earthly things are nothing at all.
EVERYMAN But see, Virtue, how all flee from me now.
VIRTUE Beauty, Strength, Prudence, who deserted him,
Fellowship, who were Friends and Kinsmen.
EVERYMAN Now see how all flee from me,
except my Virtue, who will go with me.
Mercy, King of the angelic host,
Mercy, Mother of God, stand by me.
VIRTUE I will appear unblemished before God.
EVERYMAN Mercy, King of the angelic host!
VIRTUE Shorten the pain for us, do not let it worsen,
make the end for us light and free.
EVERYMAN Mercy, King of the angelic host,
Mercy, Mother of God, stand by me.
Into thy hands, Father, however it may be,
I commend to you my spirit in peace.
I go with Virtue.
Knowledge He has undergone
what we all have to pay.
Virtue will now herself testify
before him who shall judge everything.
I think I hear the sound of angels
here above; certainly, Heaven is opened,
wherein Everyman will be taken in.
The Angel says:
Come chosen bride,
here above, and hear that sweet sound
of the angels because of your good Virtue.
I take the soul out of the body:
her reckoning is pure and clean.
Now I take her onto the plain of Heaven,
where all together we may
enter, great and small.
Accept this, small and great,
and see how Everyman comes to his Death.
Fellowship, Friends, and Goods
desert Everyman; be sure about this.
Beauty, Strength, Prudence, and Five Senses,
it is all fleeting, bear this in mind.
Only Virtue follows before all others.
But when Virtue is so weak
that she may or cannot come along,
poor Everyman, how then will you go
to the reckoning before the Lord?
Then you will perish of woe, of pain,
for after Death it is difficult to reform;
no intercession or pleading will help you then.
Ah, Everyman, how are you able to be
Very honorable audience,
mark this mirror, hold it before your eyes
and avoid pride
and all other sins as well.
Now let us pray at once
that this may be imprinted into everyone’s heart
in order that we come pure before God in the end.
May the heavenly Father grant us this.
Say “Amen” all together.
God be praised!