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Play 17, The Purification of the Virgin


ABBREVIATIONS: AV: Authorized (“King James”) Version; Meditations: Meditations on the Life of Christ, trans. Ragusa and Green; MED: Middle English Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; RB: Richard Beadle, ed., York Plays; REED: Records of Early English Drama; YA: Davidson and O’Connor, York Art; York Breviary: Breviarium ad usum insignis ecclesie Eboracensis; York Missal: Missale ad usum insignis ecclesiae Eboracensis.

References to the Ordo paginarum are to REED: York, 1:16–27.

The Purification pageant is misplaced in the Register, from which it was initially omitted, very likely, according to Beadle, because it was not being played when the manuscript was assembled,1 though it was to be taken up by the Masons, with financial assistance from the Laborers, in 1477.2 The Ordo paginarum supplies proof that it was being produced by the religious guild associated with St. Leonard’s Hospital in 1415, and at that time its dramatis personae included a midwife and two of Simeon’s sons not present in the pageant text as we have it. At some time roles for the Presbyter and an angel were added. The pageant was not to be entered until John Clerke was assigned to do so in 1567, when it was given to the Laborers.3 Then it was copied into the Register out of order, immediately following the Emmaus pageant. There is a reference to it, partly erased, at the location in the Register where it should have appeared.4 The inconsistency in the stanza forms may be attributed to changes as the play changed hands and was passed down, finally being subjected to some modernization by John Clerke as well. The Masons seem to have remained the principal guild producing the pageant in the sixteenth century until when, after the 1530s, their fortunes declined on account of the halt in ecclesiastical construction and the poverty of the city. As noted, the Laborers had been drawn in to give support, but what role the Hatmakers played is unclear, as Beadle observes.5 The Purification was commemorated on Candlemas (February 2), one of the major feasts of the late medieval Church, but it is also important to remember that the “churching” of women following childbirth was a practice that was maintained as late as the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which retained most features of the medieval English Sarum rite. The woman was expected to wear a white veil, as likely was done by the actor playing Mary in the pageant. The play essentially follows the account in Luke 2:22–38 and other sources. It conflates the Purification ritual with that of the Presentation, which in Jewish tradition was a different ceremony.6

1–56 The long speech by the Presbyter returns to the Creation and to the giving of the law to lapsarian humanity, and then proceeds to cite the rule on the purification of women required by Leviticus 12. Conception “having received seed” and subsequent childbearing result in a state of defilement for the woman. She will remain impure for forty days (longer for girl children), after which the purification ritual is specified. The “beistes good” (line 26) required for the ceremony were a dove and a lamb for sacrifice, or, if on account of poverty she is not able to provide the lamb, two doves may be brought to the priest of the law. Lines 53–56 indicate that the Presbyter is the one who will receive Mary and the Child at the Temple in Jerusalem. His initial speech shows signs of being patched onto the beginning of the play to identify the location at the Temple and to provide context.

5 In nomber, weight, and mesure. See Wisdom 11:21.

57–86 The widow and prophetess Anna, now in her eighties, has been living in the Temple and predicting the coming of the one who will be “the redempcion of Israel” (Luke 2:38, quoted in line 184). Her appearance in the story normally would come after the introduction of Simeon. Here she is the one to introduce him.

76 The well of mekeness. Mary is represented as a fountain, filled with grace and a conduit of grace to believers (see Gray, Themes and Images, p. 89). Pseudo-Matthew had placed Mary’s first encounter with the angel of the Annunciation at a well (James, ed., Apocryphal New Testament, p. 74).

91 I ame wayke and all unwelde. Simeon’s lament lays great stress on his age, presumably as a centenarian, and his weakness; he is only holding onto life in the hope of seeing the Messiah, as the prophets have predicted (see lines 107–18). The Holy Spirit has promised him that he will live to see the Child, a promise repeated by the angel (lines 167–70), and in the pageant he will be greatly strengthened as he performs the Temple ritual — a sign that the writer was thinking in terms of dramatic effect. In Love’s Mirror Simeon is described as a “rightwisman,” who will come to the Temple at the opportune time since he is led there by the Holy Spirit (p. 47).

113–14 That he shulde comme with us to dwell . . . of light. King notes that this is a paraphrase of the Candlemas antiphon Lumen ad revelationem gentium (York Mystery Cycle, p. 125, citing York Missal, 2:18).

119–22 he shulde comme and harro hell . . . all on syde. Prophetic, predicting the Harrowing, when Jesus will come like “a gyant” to break down the gates of hell, release the captives in limbo, and put down the “feyndes.” In conventional iconography, Jesus at the Harrowing is depicted as much larger than the other figures, indeed like a giant.

130 Knytt in oure kynde. The “babb” (line 129) is of two natures, joining God and man inseparably.

137–64 Nowe Lorde, thowe grant to me . . . owte of dowte. These lines are mainly a prayer by Simeon asking that he might be allowed to have a sight of the holy one whom he craves to see.

166–67 Bodworde to thee I bryng . . . of myght. The messenger of the Holy Ghost is an angel, an intermediary who reinforces the promise that Simeon will see the Messiah.

195–222 Here in this Temple . . . I wolde. Mary, who has rehearsed the forty-day rule for purification, locates the holy family in Jerusalem, near the Temple to which they will proceed. In the lines which follow, they will discuss the need for the ritual, though Mary has not “conceyved with syn fleshely” (line 203). Mary will insist on fulfilling the law.

246–53 To riche to offer bothe . . . Reddy at hand. Their poverty is again stressed; thus they do not need to provide the lamb. The doves are ready in a basket, the conventional container that appears in iconography, as in the full-page woodcut in the Book of Hours printed at Rouen for York use in 1517 (Hore beatissime virginis Marie, fol. xviii; YA, p. 56).

263–64 Because Jesus is “the lame of God . . . / That all our syns shall take away,” they have the required lamb for the ritual. These words are adapted in translation from the Agnus Dei in the Ordinary of the Mass.

274 Lo, here is the Tempyll on this hyll. The Temple must be on the pageant wagon, Mary and Joseph in the street. Their approach to it should be a short procession, perhaps holding candles as in the Candlemas ceremony; see C. Davidson, Festivals and Plays, pp. 20–21. Processions have been documented as early as the fourth century in commemorations of the Purification (Duchesne, Christian Worship, pp. 499 and 548). The Stanzaic Life describes the approach of Jesus and his mother to the Temple as a procession, with candles (pp. 99–100).

281–99 The holy family has arrived at the Temple, and Mary prays that their offering may be accepted. In the following lines (299–323) the priest will focus entirely on the Child, the Savior of the world, since the mother is undefiled. As the Mirour of Mans Saluacioune says, Mary “ne had nothing nede of purificacioune” (line 1209, p. 79), confirming the pageant’s focus on the Presentation. Glass in Great Malvern Priory, perhaps by the York school of glass painters, shows Mary holding out the Child to be blessed; behind her is Anna, wearing a wimple and with a lighted taper (Rushforth, Medieval Christian Imagery, p. 106, fig. 38). In mid-fourteenth-century glass in York Minster, Anna has a candle in her left hand, and where there is now a patched area, her right hand had held the basket with the doves (YA, p. 57, fig. 14).

326 Welcome bright starne that shyneth bright as day. The central image of Anna’s welcome in lines 324–31. The emphasis on light is appropriate to Candlemas. Jesus is the Light of the World.

338–39 welcomme with all honour / Here in this hall. Joseph and Mary, with the Child, are prepared to come into the Temple, though in actual Jewish rites the woman would not have been allowed to enter. The English rites of Purification were done at the church door, and only thereafter the woman was allowed to come inside (see Rastall, Heaven Singing, p. 260). What follows seems dramatically unworkable without a time gap for the action that Simeon is directed to do.

341–42 Dresse thee furth in thyne array, / Come to the Temple. Simeon must put on his vestments, which, as in the Speculum humanae salvationis, may have involved garments and perhaps a miter reminiscent of those worn by contemporary bishops or abbots (Wilson and Wilson, Medieval Mirror, p. 160).

350 Nowe wyll I to yon Temple goo. The Temple must be nearby, but at least on account of his newly found youthful gait he can move quickly to where he will greet Mary and the “babb.” He clearly stands before her by line 358 if not before.

366 Haill floscampy and flower vyrgynall. Terminology applying to the Virgin Mary. She is a flower of the field, a “ryall roose” and “unfadyng” (lines 370–71). The well-known carol states: “There is no rose of suche virtue / As is the rose that bare Jesu” (J. Stevens, ed., Mediaeval Carols, pp. 10–11).

374 mekly I beseke thee here where I kneyll. Simeon has been kneeling, probably from about line 354. Compare Love’s Mirror: “he kneled done and devoutly honourede and wirchiped him as he was in his modere armes born” (p. 47).

376 in my narmes for to heve thee. Simeon takes the Child in his arms (see Luke 2:28) and begins a long speech (lines 378–414) in which he asks the child to embrace him. There is no stage direction to indicate when Simeon will place the Child on the altar where he will be adored. Iconographic models suggest a freestanding square altar, with Simeon behind it and facing Mary.

415–23 In peace, Lorde, nowe leyf thy servand, / For myne eys haith seyn that is ordand . . . For evermore. Paraphrase of the Nunc dimittis. Simeon is now accomplishing that for which he has so long waited, and he can die in peace. The canticle is spoken in a paraphrase, not sung, while Simeon is still holding the Child. The Nunc dimittis would have been a very familiar canticle since it was sung daily for Compline, later absorbed into the service of Evening Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549. The text is from Luke 2:29–32. The Stanzaic Life explains that in this canticle Simeon specified three qualities of Jesus in order: “hele, light, joy of Israele” (line 2719, p. 92).

425–27 That with thee in thy kyngdome shall dwell . . . great care. An addition to the Nunc dimittis; at the Last Day, those destined for the heaven will be separated from those who will be “drevyn to hell.”

441 the sworde of sorro thy hart shal thryll. Luke 2:35. A reference to the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin which will pierce her heart, sometimes depicted literally in Dominican iconography.

459 God Son, thowe grant us thy blyssyng. The baby is asked for his blessing. The infant Jesus performing a blessing at his Presentation is quite common and has been observed by Shorr as early as an illumination in the ninth-century Drogo Sacramentary (“Iconographic Development of the Presentation,” p. 25, fig. 13).


ABBREVIATIONS: Bevington: David Bevington, ed., Medieval Drama (1975); Köbling: E. Köbling, “Beiträge zur Erklärung und Textkritik der York Plays”; LTS: Lucy Toulmin Smith, ed., The York Plays (1885); RB: Richard Beadle, ed., The York Plays (1972) (incorporating numerous emendations from other sources); RB2: Richard Beadle, “Corrections to The York Plays,” in Gerald Byron Kinneavy, A Concordance to the York Plays (1986), pp. xxxi–xxxii; s.d.: stage direction; Sykes: A. C. Cawley, ed., “The Sykes MS of the York Scriveners’ Play”; Towneley: Martin Stevens and A. C. Cawley, eds., The Towneley Plays.

The base text for this edition is London, British Library, MS. Add. 35290, called the “Register” in the York civic records and here identified by the abbreviation Reg. Some variations in lineation from the manuscript are not noted here; see RB and Beadle and Meredith’s The York Play: A Facsimile. In most cases the line numbering in the present text is consistent with RB. Lineation of alliterative verse throughout is based on Reg, with line numbering adjusted accordingly to account for half lines. Scribes are identified as follows: Scribe A; Scribe B: main scribe; JC: John Clerke; LH: later scribal hand (unidentified).

In JC’s hand, out of order in Reg. It is, however, noted by JC in Reg at fol. 74, where the pageant, identified as Purificacio Marie, should have appeared: It is entryd in the latter end of this booke next after the Sledmen, Palmers, and it begynnyth by the pr . . . “Allmyghty God in heven.” This is written over text that had been erased.

15 he. Reg: interlined by scribe.

30 Unto. So LTS, RB; Un- deleted in Reg.
as I yow tell. Corrected in Reg from full yell.

33 after. So RB; Reg, LTS: after that.

149 relesse. So RB; Reg, LTS: reverse.

166 Bodworde. So RB; Reg, LTS: Bolde worde.

180 in. So Köbling; Reg, LTS, RB: that.

247 poore. So RB, following Köbling; Reg, LTS omit.

268 pay. So LTS, RB; Reg: pray.

389 telles. So LTS, RB; Reg: tell.

407 Line added in left margin by scribe in Reg.

433–60 The remainder of the pageant is entered on a sheet (a singleton) pasted into Reg.

438 wo. So RB; Reg, LTS omit.

449 gyant. So LTS, RB; Reg: gyane.

460 fyne. So RB; Reg, LTS: fynd.


Footnote 1 See RB, p. 435.

Footnote 2 REED: York, 1:115.

Footnote 3 REED: York, 1:351.

Footnote 4 RB, p. 436.

Footnote 5 RB, p. 437.

Footnote 6 See Shorr, “Iconographic Development of the Presentation,” p. 17.

The Hatmakers, Masons, and Laborers




























































































PRISBETER   Almyghty God in heven so hy,
The maker of all heven and erth,
He ordenyd here all thynges evenly,
For man he ment to mend his myrth.

In nomber, weight, and mesure fyne
God creat here al thyng, I say.
His lawes he bad men shulde not tyne,
But kepe his commandmentes allway.

In the mount of Syney full fayre
And in two tabyls to you to tell,
His lawes to Moyses tuke God there
To geve to the chylder of Israell,

That Moyses shull theme gyde alway
And lerne theme lely to knowe Goddes wyll,
And that he shulde not it denay
But kepe his lawes stable and styll.

For payn that he hadd putt therefore,
To stone all theme that kepis it nott
Utterly to death, both lesse and moore,
There shulde no marcy for them be soght.

Therefore kepe well Goddes commandement
And leyd your lyf after his lawes,
Or ells surely ye mon be shent
Bothe lesse and moore, ylkone on rawes.

This is his wyll after Moyses lawe:
That ye shulde bryng your beistes good
And offer theme here your God to knawe,
And frome your synns to turne your moode.

Suche beestes as God hais marked here,
Unto Moyses he spake as I yow tell,
And bad hyme boldly with good chere
To say to the chylder of Israell

That after dyvers seknes seer
And after that dyvers synes alsoo,
Go bryng your beestes to the preest even here
To offer theme up in Goddes sight, loo.

The woman that hais borne her chylde,
She shall comme hether at the forty day
To be puryfied where she was fylde
And bryng with her a lame, I say,

And two dove byrdes for her offerand
And take them to the preest of lay
To offer theme up with his holy hand.
There shulde no man to this say nay.

The lame is offeryd for Goddes honour
In sacrefyes all onely dight,
And the preistes prayer purchace secure
For the woman that was fylyd in God sight.

And yf so be that she be power
And have no lame to offer, than
Two tyrtle doves to Godes honoure
To bryng with her for her offrand.

Loo, here am I, preest present alway
To resave all offerandes that hydder is broght,
And for the people to God to pray
That helth and lyfe to theme be wroght.

ANNA PROPHETISSA   Here in this holy playce, I say,
Is my full purpose to abyde
To serve my God bothe nyght and day
With prayer and fastyng in ever ylk a tyde.

For I have beyn a wyddo this threscore yere
And foure yere to, the truthe to tell;
And here I have terryed with full good chere
For the redempcyon of Israell.

And so for my holy conversacion
Grete grace to me hais now God sent
To tell by profecy for mans redepempcion
What shall befall by Goddes intent.

I tell you all here in this place
By Godes vertue in prophecy
That one is borne to oure solace
Here to be present securely
Within short space,
Of his owen mother, a madyn free;
Of all vyrgens moost chaist suthly,
The well of mekenes, blyssed myght she be,
Moost full of grace.

And Symeon, that senyour
That is so semely in Godes sight,
He shall hyme se and do honour
And in his armes he shall hym plight,
That worthy leyd.
Of the Holy Goost he shall suthly
Take strength and answere when he shall hy
Furth to this Temple and place holy
To do that deyd.

SYMEON   A, blyssed God, thowe be my beylde
And beat my baill bothe nyght and day.
In hevynes my hart is hylde
Unto myself, loo thus I say.
For I ame wayke and all unwelde,
My welth ay wayns and passeth away
Whereso I fayre in fyrth or feylde
I fall ay downe for febyll, in fay.

In fay I fall whereso I fayre,
In hayre and hewe and hyde I say;
Owte of this worlde I wolde I were.
Thus wax I warr and warr alway
And my myscheyf growes in all that may.
Bot thowe myghty Lorde my mornyng mar,
Mar ye, for it shulde me well pay,
So happy to se hyme yf I warr.

Nowe certys then shulde my gamme begynne
And I myght se hyme, of hyme to tell,
That one is borne withouten synne
And for mans kynde mans myrth to mell;
Borne of a woman and madyn fre,
As wytnesse Davyt and Danyill,
Withouten synne or velanye,
As said also Isacheell.

And Melachiell that proffett snell
Hais tolde us of that babb so bright
That he shulde comme with us to dwell
In oure Temple as leme of light;
And other proffettes prophesieth
And of this blyssed babb dyd mell
And of his mother, a madyn bright,
In prophecy the truth gan tell.

That he shulde comme and harro hell
As a gyant grathly to glyde
And fersly the feyndes malles to fell
And putt there poors all on syde.
The worthyest wight in this worlde so wyde
His vertues seer no tong can tell,
He sendes all soccour in ylke tyde
As redemption of Israell.
Thus say they all,
There patryarkes and ther prophettes clere:
“A babb is borne to be oure fere,
Knytt in oure kynde for all our chere
To grete and small.”

Ay, well were me for ever and ay
If I myght se that babb so bright
Or I were buryed here in clay;
Then wolde my cors here mend in myght
Right faithfully.
Nowe Lorde, thowe grant to me thy grace
To lyf here in this worlde a space
That I myght se that babb in his face
Here or I dy.

A, Lorde God, I thynke may I endure,
Trowe we that babb shall fynde me here.
Nowe certys with aige I ame so power
That ever it abaites my chere.

Yet yf kynde fale for aige in me,
God yett may length my lyfe suthly
Tyll I that babb and foode so free
Have seyn in sight.
For trewly, yf I wyst relesse
Thare shulde nothyng my hart dyseas.
Lorde, len me grace yf that thowe pleas
And make me light.

When wyll thowe comme, babb, let se, have done.
Nay, comme on tyte and tarry nott,
For certys my lyf days are nere done,
For aige to me grete wo hais wroght.

Great wo is wroght unto mans harte
Whan he muste want that he wolde have.
I kepe no longar to have quarte
For I have seen that I for crave.

A, trowes thowe these two eyes shall see
That blyssed babb or they be owte?
Ye, I pray God so myght it be:
Then were I putt all owte of dowte.

ANGELUS   Olde Symeon, Gods servaunt right,
Bodworde to thee I bryng, I say,
For the Holy Goost moost of myght,
He says thowe shall not dye away
To thowe have seen
Jesu the babb that Mary bare
For all mankynde to slake there care.
He shall do comforth to lesse and mayr,
Both morne and even.

SYMEON   A, Lorde, gramarcy nowe I say
That thowe this grace hais to me hight
Or I be buryed here in clay
To se that semely beam so bright.

No man of molde may have more happ
To my solace and myrth allway,
Than for to se in Mary lapp
Jesu my joy and Savyour ay.
Blyssyd be his name.
Loo, nowe mon I se, the truth to tell,
The redempcion of Israell,
Jesu my Lorde Emanuell,
Withouten blame.

MARY   Joseph, my husbonde and my feer,
Ye take to me grathely entent,
I wyll you showe in this manere
What I wyll do, thus have I ment:
Full forty days is comme and went
Sens that my babb Jesu was borne;
Therefore I wolde he were present
As Moyses lawes sais hus beforne,

Here in this Temple before Goddes sight
As other women doith in feer,
So methynke good skyll and right
The same to do nowe with good chere,
After Goddes sawe.

JOSEPH   Mary, my spowse and madyn clene,
This matter that thowe moves to me
Is for all these women bedene
That hais conceyved with syn fleshely
To bere a chylde.
The lawe is ledgyd for theme right playn
That they muste be puryfied agayne,
For in mans pleasoure for certayn
Before were they fylyd.

But Mary, byrde, thowe neyd not soo
For this cause to be puryfiede, loo,
In Goddes Temple;
For certys thowe arte a clene vyrgyn
For any thoght thy harte within
Nor never wroght no flesly synne
Nor never yll.

MARY   That I my madenheade hais kept styll
It is onely throgh Godds wyll,
That be ye bold;
Yett to fulfyll the lawe ewysse
That God almyghty gon expresse
And for a sample of mekenesse,
Offer I wolde.

JOSEPH   A, Mary, blyssed be thowe ay;
Thowe thynkes to do after Goddes wyll;
As thowe haist said, Mary, I say,
I will hartely consent theretyll
Withouten dowte.
Wherefore we dresse us furth oure way
And make offerand to God this day,
Even lykwyse as thyself gon say
With hartes devowte.

MARIA   Therto am I full redy dight.
But one thyng, Joseph, I wolde you meyve.

JOSEPH   Mary, my spouse and madyn bright,
Tell on hartely, what is your greyf?

MARIA   Both beest and fewell hus muste neydes have,
As a lambe and two dove byrdes also.
Lame have we none nor none we crave;
Therefore, Joseph, what shall we do,
What is your read?
And we do not as custome is,
We are worth to be blamyd iwysse;
I wolde we dyd nothyng amys,
As God me speyd.

JOSEPH   A, good Mary, the lawe is this:
To riche to offer bothe the lame and the byrd,
And the poore two tyrtles iwys.
Or two doyf byrdes shall not be fyrd
For our offerand,
And, Mary, we have doyf byrdes two
As falls for hus, therefore we goo.
They ar here in a panyer, loo,
Reddy at hand.

And yf we have not both in feer,
The lame, the burd, as ryche men have,
Thynke that us muste present here
Oure babb Jesus, as we voutsave
Before Godes sight.
He is our lame, Mary, kare thee not,
For riche and power none better soght.
Full well thowe hais hym hither broght,
This our offerand dight.

He is the lame of God, I say,
That all our syns shall take away
Of this worlde here.
He is the lame of God verray
That muste hus fend frome all our fray,
Borne of thy wombe, all for our pay
And for our chere.

MARIA   Joseph, my spowse, ye say full trewe,
Than lett us dresse hus furth our way.

JOSEPH   Go we than, Mary, and do oure dewe
And make meekly offerand this day.
Lo, here is the Tempyll on this hyll
And also preest ordand by skyll,
Power havand.
And Mary, go we thyther forthy,
And lett us both knele devowtly
And offre we up to God meekly
Our dewe offrand.

MARIA   Unto my God highest in heven
And to this preest ordand by skyll,
Jesu my babb I offer hyme
Here with my harte and my good wyll
Right hartely.
Thowe pray for hus to God on hyght,
Thowe preest, present here in his myght,
At this deyd may be in his sight,
Accept goodly.

JOSEPH   Loo, sir, and two doyf byrddes ar here.
Receyve them with your holy handes,
We ar no better of power,
For we have neyther rentes ne landes
Bott good sir, pray to God of myght
To accepte this at we have dight
That we have offeryd as we arr hight
Here hartely.

PRESBITER   O God and graunter of all grace,
Blyst be thy name both nyght and day,
Accepte there offerand in this place
That be here present to thee alway.
A, blyssed Lorde, say never nay,
But lett thy offerand be boot and beylde
Tyll all such folke lyvand in clay
That thus to thee mekly wyll heyld.

That this babb, Lord, present in thy sight,
Borne of a madyns wombe unfylde,
Accepte for there specyall gyft
Gevyn to mankynde, both man and chylde,
So specyally,
And this babb borne and here present
May beylde us that we be not shent,
But ever reddy his grace to hent
Here verely.

A, blyssyd babb, welcome thowe be,
Borne of a madyn in chaistety,
Thowe art our beylde, babb, our gamme and our glee
Ever sothly.
Welcome oure wytt and our wysdome,
Welcome our joy all and somme,
Welcomme redemptour omnium
Tyll hus hartely.

ANNA PROPHETISSA   Welcome blyssed Mary and madyn ay,
Welcome mooste meke in thyne array,
Welcome bright starne that shyneth bright as day,
All for our blys;
Welcome, the blyssed beam so bryght,
Welcome the leym of all oure light,
Welcome that all pleasour hais plight
To man and wyfe.

Welcome thowe blyssed babb so free,
Welcome oure welfayre wyelly
And welcome all oure seall, suthly,
To grete and small.
Babb, welcome to thy beyldly boure,
Babb, welcome nowe for our soccoure,
And babb, welcomme with all honour
Here in this hall.

ANGELUS   Olde Symeon, I say to thee,
Dresse thee furth in thyne array,
Come to the Temple, there shall thu see
Jesus that babb that Mary barre,
That be thowe bolde.

SYMEON   A, Lorde, I thanke thee ever and ay,
Nowe am I light as leyf on tree;
My age is went, I feyll no fray,
Methynke for this that is tolde me
I ame not olde.

Nowe wyll I to yon Temple goo
To se the babb that Mary bare;
He is my helth in well and woo
And helps me ever frome great care,
Haill blyssed babb that Mary bare,
And blyssed be thy mother, Mary mylde,
Whose wombe that yeildyd fresh and fayr
And she a clean vyrgen ay unfyld.

Haill, babb, the Father of heven own chylde,
Chosen to chere us for our myschance;
No erthly tong can tell fylyd
What thy myght is in every chance.
Haill, the moost worthy to enhance,
Boldly thowe beylde frome all yll,
Withoute thy beylde we gytt grevance
And for our deydes here shulde we spyll.

Haill floscampy and flower vyrgynall,
The odour of thy goodnes reflars to us all;
Haill, moost happy to great and to small
For our weyll.
Haill ryall roose, moost ruddy of hewe,
Haill flour unfadyng, both freshe ay and newe,
Haill the kyndest in comforth that ever man knewe
For grete heyll.

And mekly I beseke thee here where I kneyll
To suffre thy servant to take thee in hand,
And in my narmes for to heve thee here for my weyll,
And where I bound am in bayll to bait all my bandes.

Nowe come to me, Lorde of all landes,
Comme myghtyest by see and by sandes,
Come myrth by strete and by strandes
On moolde.
Come halse me, the babb that is best born,
Come halse me, the myrth of our morne,
Come halse me, for ells I ame lorne
For olde.

I thanke the Lord God of thy greet grace
That thus haith sparyd me a space,
This babb in my narmes for to inbrace
As the prophecy telles.
I thanke thee that me my lyfe lent,
I thanke thee that me thus seyll sent,
That this sweyt babb, that I in armes hent
With myrth my myght alwais melles.

Mellyd are my myndes ay with myrth,
Full fresh nowe I feyll is my force,
Of thy grace thowe gave me this gyrth
Thus comly to catch here thy corse
Moost semely in sight.
Of helpe thus thy freynd never faills,
Thy marcy as every man avaylls
Both by downes and by daylls;
Thus mervelous and muche is thy myght.

A, babb, be thow blyssed for ay,
For thowe art my Savyour, I say,
And thowe here rewles me in fay
In all my lyfe.
Nowe blist be thi name,
For thowe saves hus fro shame,
And here thou beyld us fro blame
And frome all stryfe.

Nowe care I no moore for my lyfe
Sen I have seen here this ryall so ryfe,
My strength and my stynter of stryfe,
I you say.
In peace, Lorde, nowe leyf thy servand,
For myne eys haith seyn that is ordand,
The helth for all men that be levand
Here for ay.

That helth, Lorde, hais thowe ordand, I say,
Here before the face of thy people,
And thy light hais thowe shynyd this day
To be knowe of thy folke that was febyll
For evermore.
And thy glory for the chylder of Israell
That with thee in thy kyngdome shall dwell
Whan the damnyd shall be drevyn to hell
Than with great care.

JOSEPH   Mary, my spowse and madyn mylde,
In hart I marvell here greatly
Howe these folke spekes of our chylde.
They say and tells of great maistry
That he shall doo.

MARIA   Yea certes, Joseph, I marvell also,
But I shall bere it full styll in mynde.

JOSEPH   God geve hyme grace here well to do,
For he is comme of gentyll kynde.

SYMEON   Harke, Mary, I shall tell thee the truth or I goo.
This was putt here to welde us fro wo,
In redemption of many and recover also,
I thee say.
And the sworde of sorro thy hart shal thryll
Whan thowe shall se sothly thy Son soffer yll
For the well of all wrytches, that shall be his wyll
Here in fay.

But to be comforth agayn right well thowe may,
And in harte to be fayne, the suth I thee say,
For his myght is so muche thare can no tong say nay
Here to his wyll.
For this babb as a gyant full graythly shall glyde
And the myghtiest mayster shall meve on ylke syde,
To all the wightes that wons in this worlde wyde,
For good or for yll.

Tharefore babb, beylde us that we here not spyll
And fayrwell the former of all at thy wyll,
Fayrwell starne stabylyst by lowde and be styll,
In suthfastnes.
Fayrwell the ryolest roose that is renyng,
Fayrwell the babb best in thy beryng,
Fayrwell God Son, thowe grant us thy blyssyng
To fyne our dystresse.
high; (see note)

intended; joy

(see note)

bade; break

(i.e., entrusted)

should; guide
teach; truly
deny it; (t-note)



may be damned
each one in order



various illnesses; (t-note)


the law





(see note)




space [of time]

fount; (see note)

old man




remedy my misery

weak; feeble; (see note)
fare [forth] in woods; field

hair; hue; skin

grow; worse and worse

grief; destroy (i.e., take away)

game (joy, mirth)


David; Daniel
villainy (evil)

Malachi; wise
(see note)


harrow; (see note)
giant directly to enter (glide into)
powers; aside


nature; (see note)

body; regain its strength

(see note)

ere I die

age; poor

nature fail
Until; child

if I [should] know release [from life]; (t-note)
give; please


need (desire)

think thou


Message; (see note); (t-note)

diminish; suffering

(i.e., many thanks)

earth; luck



pay attention truly to my intent


say to us

(see note)


carnal sin



very assured
iwisse (to be sure)
did reveal

undertake; on our way

point out


fowl we



rich folk; bird; (see note)
turtledoves; (t-note)
dove; rejected


are willing


(see note)

Who must defend us
advantage; (t-note)

set forth


(see note)



(see note)




this which we
are called


(i.e., don’t refuse)
assistance; comfort



comfort; condemned

comfort; joy

redeemer of all [the world]
To us sincerely

(see note)

(i.e., source)


sheltering bower

(see note)

(i.e., Put on your vestments); (see note)

very certain

gone; feel; trouble

(see note)

prosperity; woe

[if] defiled


flower of the field; (see note)
rises up



kneel; (see note)

arms; take you up; (see note)
bale; release; bonds


space [of time]
arms; embrace

sweet; carried
strength; infuses


hills; dales

rules; faith

us from

royal [child]; (i.e., remarkable)

leave (allow); (see note)



(see note)
When; driven
Then; suffering

bear; quietly


protect; (t-note)

pierce; (see note)
suffer ill (evil)
well (source); riches


giant; truly; glide; (t-note)
men; live

shelter; come to grief

star most stable; (i.e., ?constant)

most royal rose; reigning
(see note)
end; (t-note)

Go To Play 18, The Flight to Egypt