Play 25, The Entry into Jerusalem
Play 25, THE ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM: EXPLANATORY NOTES
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.
Heavily dependent on the Palm Sunday liturgy, the Skinners’ pageant begins the portion of the cycle that dramatizes the events of Holy Week. Its importance is signaled by its length, 544 lines, with indications of music both during the approach to Jerusalem and at the end of the play, in this case suggesting singing during a procession to the next station. The Ordo paginarum specifies the music in the first instance as Benedictus Etc. (“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”), perhaps the common form used following the Sanctus in the Mass. A Benedictus qui venit also appears as a responsory in the York Processional for use on Palm Sunday.1 The Pepysian Gospel Harmony reports that “Jesus entred into the cite with gret processioun.”2 Palm branches were specified, but these, not being available in northern England, would have been replaced, probably by willows. Typically, in presenting Christ as the King coming to the gates of his city Jerusalem, the influence of the Royal Entry, itself intended as a reflection of the Palm Sunday procession, has also been acknowledged. The pageant is written in seven-line stanzas.
9 Rawnsom. Again mention of the ransom theory of the atonement. Jesus has been sent into the world to cancel the devil’s rights to people’s souls, releasing from bondage those who accept that he died for them and who follow his precepts — including those who were upright though they lived before his act of sacrifice.
13 Petir, Phelippe. The Ordo paginarum lists twelve apostles, with an interlinear correction to two, as in the play.
15 castell that is you agayne. The Vulgate has castellum quod contra vos (Matthew 21:2). The Douay-Rheims translation corrects to village, where the ass and her colt are found that will carry the King of Kings into the city on a humble beast — that is, in a manner opposed to the pomp of earthly monarchs; see, for example, Love, Mirror, pp. 141–42.
26–28 Doghtyr Syon . . . opon. Matthew 21:5, quoting the prophecy of Zacharias (9:9).
57 The beestis are comen. The ass and its colt are held in common by the village; hence the disciples go there as directed by Jesus with confidence that they will have a reasonable chance of taking them.
65 To loose thes bestis withoute leverie? The disciples are challenged by the porter because they have not shown the documentation required for legal possession of the animals.
88 That Lorde we lefte at Bephage. Further locating the action in space. The disciples have traveled a short distance from Bethpage, and surely this has involved the street-level playing area. Nor can the procession which will follow have been confined to a wagon and rather must have made use of the street.
93–94 I schall declare playnly his comyng / To the chiffe of the Jewes. The porter offers to give advance warning of Jesus’ coming into the city (his adventus). This he will do, thus informing the citizens of the news (see lines 120–26). There will be eight burgesses or leading citizens, presumably in livery designating their status, who, along with a group of children, will be present to represent those in attendance at the entry on the first Palm Sunday.
134 five thowsand men with loves fyve. Miracle story; as told in all four gospels.
136 Watir to wyne. At the marriage at Cana, dramatized in Play 22a, for which the text is lost; see above.
143 new lawes. Jesus was proclaimed to have set aside the old law and to have instituted a new dispensation of grace; the concept is asserted very strongly in the Pauline epistles.
152 Yf thei were dyme. The laws of Moses and the writings of the ancient prophets were considered dark, not capable of explanation without reference to the new dispensation; in iconography, this is illustrated in the contrast between the Synagogue, blindfolded, with crown falling off, and dropping the tables of the law, and the Church, which is represented as crowned and holding a model of a church, the place where the new law of mercy is proclaimed (YA, p. 182, for local examples).
200–01 And sone will bringe agayne . . . beheste. The porter trusts that the ass will be returned when the procession is completed, for “So thai beheste.”
230–31 Emang youreselff schall come grete seele . . . verray. Unidentified quotation, presumably from an Old Testament prophet.
260–61 Go we than with processioun / To mete that comely. The two processions of citizens and of Jesus’ party will set out from different places and then meet, as happened in the procession of the Host on Palm Sunday; see Erler, “Palm Sunday Prophets,” pp. 63–71, and Feasy, Ancient Holy Week Ceremonial, pp. 67–80. The two processions come together at the gates of the city.
262 With braunches, floures, and unysoune. The audience very likely may have joined in strewing flowers in Jesus’ way. The term unisoune implies monophonic singing in tune — i.e., “in agreement and concord” (Dutka, Music, p. 104; see also Carter, Dictionary, p. 536).
264–65 Our childir schall / Go synge before. As in the actual Palm Sunday procession, children sing “Osanna” in praise of “the sone of David” (see Play 30, line 343), presumably in Latin: Hosanna filio David. See, however, the specification in the Ordo paginarum, cited above. The Middle English Gospel of Nicodemus gives the meaning of Osanna as “Lord, save us, we thee pray” (pp. 28–29). The children probably were positioned not only at the head of the procession but also on the top of the city gates, as represented on a pageant wagon, for this seems be what is suggested by the Beadle in Play 30, lines 314–15. More certain is that the way was strewn with wildflowers and that some, representing rich men, put down thare robes before Jesus (Play 30, lines 343–45).
287 The dialogue now returns to the first procession, and at line 287 the children will begin to sing, if they have not already started to do so. Pauper in lines 310–12 calls attention to the second procession of the citizens who are going out to meet Jesus “with melodye.”
334–91 The healing of the blind and the lame does not occur in the New Testament narrative during the procession on Palm Sunday, but earlier. These miracles are merely noted at this time; see Matthew 21:14.
392–460 Zacheus, the rich publican and a short man, will climb a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. This episode also occurs prior to Palm Sunday; see Luke 19:2–28.
447 Me schamys with synne, but noght to mende. He is ashamed of his sin, but now he is not any longer ashamed of mending his ways.
448–53 I synne forsake . . . asith agayne. The correction of I to Mi by a later hand in line 448 is not necessary. Zacheus is affirming his decision to forsake his sin. He will give half his available goods to the poor, and will make restitution to those he has wronged. This is the type of statement one might find in a contemporary will, where such charitable acts were commonly designated. Compare Everyman, lines 697–702. But in the York pageant these lines may be taken as a confession, leading to absolution in lines 454–57.
468 Petir, take this asse me fro. Jesus now dismounts; Peter will lead it away so that it can be returned, as promised. The porter is nearby, and Peter is able to hand it over to him already at lines 482–83.
470–71 I murne, I sigh, I wepe also / Jerusalem on thee to loke. See Luke 19:41–44, which is the only gospel to note Christ’s tears before Jerusalem. At lines 475–79, Jesus predicts the fall of the city. As Love, elaborating on Luke, explains, Jesus’ tears are for Jerusalem’s “detruccion therof, that came aftere, and sorowynge for heere gostly blyndnes” (Mirror, p. 142).
489–541 Hayll. Hail lyrics, exuberantly lauding the triumphant king in a profusion of praise and metaphor and ending with reference to Jesus’ role at Doomsday. Related to the Hail lyrics associated with the Nativity — and to the spirit of Levation prayers at the celebration of the Eucharist.
544 s.d. Tunc cantant. The singing resumes with perhaps, as Rastall suggests, Ingrediente domino, a responsory that was used at York for the entrance to the church on Palm Sunday (Minstrels Playing, p. 55).
Play 25, THE ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM: TEXTUAL NOTES
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).
11 is. So LTS, RB; Reg: is I.
33 this thyng. In Reg, ?ki interlined between these words.
41 go. So RB; Reg, LTS, omit.
71 hartely. Letter t interlined in Reg.
85 JANITOR. Added by JC in Reg.
108 tham. So RB; Reg, LTS: hym.
162 VII BURGENSIS. So RB; Reg and LTS place at line 160.
204 I say. So RB; Reg: I say I (second I canceled).
211 youre childer with. So LTS, RB; Reg: youre with.
228 telle. So RB; Reg, LTS: felle.
247 thought. Reg: JC has th interlined above thorn (þ).
248 latt. Written by JC above consayte (canceled) in Reg.
260 I BURGENSIS. So RB; Reg locates at line 261.
265 Omit II BURGENSIS in this edition.
280 this thing. So RB; Reg, LTS: thing.
286 lyst. So RB; Reg, LTS: lyfe.
287, s.d. Tunc cantant. Added in left margin by LH in Reg.
296–337 Lineation scrambled in Reg; text follows LTS and RB.
298 bene of tendyr yere. So LTS, RB; Reg: of tendyr yere bene.
303 I witte. So LTS, RB; Reg: witte.
320 right. So LTS, RB; Reg: righ.
332 aghe. So LTS, RB; Reg: age.
346 syght. So LTS, RB; Reg: syight.
359 Reg: in margin by later scribe: hic caret.
367 Following line is missing in Reg.
382 Reg: line written on previous page, deleted, and then added by JC, incorrectly with my for myn, at right of line 381.
402 Following line is missing in Reg; LTS suggested New lawes to lare.
429 hid. So RB; Reg, LTS: it.
431 Wille. So LTS, RB; Reg: Whiche.
448 I. Reg: altered to Mi in LH.
449 Halve. So RB; Reg, LTS: Have.
482 Reg: adds at hande at end of line (deleted).
495 Hayll. So RB; Reg: hall, as emended by LH.
499 bright. So LTS, RB; Reg: brigh.
501 we. So RB; Reg, LTS: with.
544 s.d. Tunc cantant. Added in LH in left margin in Reg.
Play 25, THE ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM: EXPLANATORY NOTE FOOTNOTES
Footnote 1 But see Rastall, Minstrels Playing, pp. 17 and 54, and comment on lines 264–65, below. For descriptions of the Palm Sunday ritual, see, for example, Rastall, Heaven Singing, pp. 265–71; Erler, “Palm Sunday Prophets and Processions”; and King, York Mystery Cycle, pp. 131–42.
Footnote 2 Pepysian Gaspel Harmony, p. 76.
Go To Play 26, The Conspiracy