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Play 37, The Harrowing of Hell


1 Lines 374–75: Because, Lord, / Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.


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 Harrowing of Hell, detailing the story of Christ’s acts between his death and resurrection from the dead, has only a slight biblical source in 1 Peter 3:19 that reports Jesus “preach[ing] to those spirits that were in prison,” augmented by Old Testament predictions believed to be present in Isaias 9:2 and Psalm 23:7 (AV 24). The story, which is still considered of great significance by the Eastern Church and is mentioned in the Apostles’ Creed, developed a full narrative in the Gospel of Nicodemus.1 In England this source made the story accessible not only through the Middle English version of the Gospel of Nicodemus but also by means of other sources such as the Golden Legend.2 As King remarks, the Descensus is integral to the Holy Saturday liturgy.3 The York pageant, produced by the Saddlers, is nearly identical to the corresponding play in the Towneley manuscript, which, however, must have derived from an exemplar separate from the Register. According to the Ordo paginarum, the characters were twelve good spirits and six bad, but obviously the others present in the extant play could hardly have been left out. The verse form is an eleven-line stanza. Music is returned to the cycle in this play, with the singing of the patriarchs and prophets at the beginning and again especially as they are taken up into heaven by Michael. The stage set must have a typical hellmouth, at the doors of which Jesus will appear. The doors will fall before him so that he can enter to rescue the patriarchs and prophets. The iconography may be studied in glass now in All Saints, Pavement but formerly in the Church of St. Saviour.4

7–8 aboute nowe woll I bee / That I have bought for to unbynde. Jesus, or actually his soul (Anima Christi) since his “bodie bidis in grave” (line 23), will unbind those who have been in bondage in limbo on account of their lack of access to grace up to this time. With his (innocent) blood he has purchased those who will be released (lines 11–12) and hence in so doing he will have tricked the devil into surrendering his right to them.

36 s.d. Tunc cantent. The singing is ordered in a late addition to the manuscript, but no specific song is noted.

39 Foure thowsande and sex hundereth yere. Compare the lyric “Adam lay i-bowndyn”: “fowre thowsand wynter thowt he not too long” (Brown, ed., Religious Lyrics of the XVth Century, p. 120).

41–42 see I signe of solace seere, / A glorious gleme. A bright light that in the next speech by Eve will be identified with paradise. Possible means of creating such an effect are discussed by Butterworth, Theatre of Fire, pp. 55–78.

50–54 I, Ysaias . . . lende. Referring to Isaias 9:2, which reports the great light shining into the darkness unto “them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death,” but with borrowing from the Middle English Gospel of Nicodemus, p. 99; for example: “folke in merkenes dwellande” (MS. Add., line 1193).

58 That seede to save us nowe. Christ is the Son descended of the Father, hence derived from his “seede.”

65–68 Lorde, late thy servaunt . . . in lande. The Nunc dimittis; see the Purification pageant, Play 17, lines 415–27, above.

85–96 Of that same light lernyng have I . . . fro payne. Moses too has had previous experience of the light, at the Transfiguration when Elijah also had been present. Following his speech, the action turns to the denizens of hell.

101 this uggely noyse. The devils have heard the singing, and interpret the harmonious as its opposite. Devils were believed to be unmusical, capable of noise but not harmony to which they are hostile. Their shouting represents lack of restraint.

110 sperde in speciall space. That is, in limbo, mentioned above (line 102). Belsabub claims to be the “prince and principall” of this “space” (line 111).

119 Lucifer, lovely of lyre. Irony. The devils are conventionally very ugly indeed, and this is a sign that their values pertaining to physical beauty are upside down. For a fine example of the devil in the window of a York parish church (St. Martin Coney Street, located next to the Common Hall), see Inventory of the Historical Monuments, vol. 5, color pl. 61.

121, 123 Attollite portas . . . eternales. Psalm 23:7 (AV 24:7). Jesus traditionally holds a cross staff with banner, and has a shroud draped over his body; see, for example, Hildburgh, “English Alabaster Carvings,” pp. 89–90, pl. XX. The staff would have been used to pound on the gates of hell, which do not collapse in this first instance; there is a similar use of a staff, in this case a bishop’s crozier, against the door in the consecration ritual of a church or cathedral. David’s speech (lines 127–32) affirms Jesus in the attack on the citadel of hell in terms of a battle. The Golden Legend reports that Jesus’ voice was “like thunder” (Jacobus de Voragine, 1:223).

134 All erthely men to me are thrall. Satan is, of course, mistaken; since in the Crucifixion humans have been redeemed from their bondage to him by one who seems a most unlikely choice — a man without regular lodging, house, or hall appropriate to royalty.

140 sette furthe watches on the wall. Embedded stage direction; devils must be dispatched to the walls, suggesting an upper level above the hellmouth itself. Such devils, for example, appear on the walls in the Harrowing in the Speculum humanae salvationis (Wilson and Wilson, Medieval Mirror, p. 194); this illustration has flames coming from the space within hell behind them. See also C. Davidson, From Creation to Doom, pp. 142–43.

159 I knowe his trantis fro toppe to taile. But Satan indeed will be tricked: he will be the beguiler beguiled by Jesus, who has deceived him by means of his appearance in human form and his humility.

165 I entered in Judas. A conventional notion, but a number of inconsistencies, as also in the story of Pilate’s wife, will be noted in Satan’s attempt to undermine Jesus.

181–83 Principes, portas tollite . . . rex glorie. The second challenge based on Psalm 23:7, substituting the final portion of the verse and differing from the Vulgate reading.

187–91 That may thou in my Sawter see. David’s reference is to Psalm 23, but see the Middle English Gospel of Nicodemus, p. 109, and Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend, 1:223.

194 Opynne up and latte my pepul passe. The third challenge, omitting Latin and echoing the Exodus theme. Now the gates must fall away, as the following speech by the first Devil indicates: “brosten are alle oure bandis of bras” (line 196). Limbo’s fortifications have fallen. In the panel of painted glass at All Saints, Pavement cited above, Jesus steps forth over broken gates and chains. Glass, possibly with York connections, at Great Malvern shows metal hinges and a devil pinned under the gates (Rushforth, Medieval Christian Imagery, pp. 385–86, fig. 177).

229–33 Thy fadir knewe I wele be sight . . . myght. Satan is deceived. The substance of the debate that will follow is predicated on Satan’s mistake in taking Jesus’ death as a sign of his victory over him; but as earlier theologians such as Gregory of Nyssa had insisted, Satan is like a great hungry fish who will take Jesus’ bait, while beneath his humanity is the hook of his divinity. Peter Lombard had spoken of the cross as a trap that had been baited by the blood of Christ, while Satan is the mouse caught therein; for discussion, see Nelson, “Temptation of Christ,” p. 219; Macaulay, “Play of the Harrowing of Hell,” pp. 115–19; and MacCulloch, Harrowing of Hell, pp. 203–04. See in particular lines 249–50: “Mi godhede here I hidde / In Marie modir myne.”

255 I schall thee prove be right resoune. Satan is a rationalist and sceptic, fully believing that he still has the right to the souls of those in limbo. Jesus will counter with Old Testament prophecy which predicts with certainty that he will “have thame boughte with bale” (line 275).

277–88 Nowe sen thee liste allegge the lawes, / Thou schalte be atteynted . . . in helle. Satan tries to turn biblical texts against Jesus. The citation of Job — “he that shall go down to hell shall not come up” (7:9) — is easily confuted by another familiar passage from Job regarded as prophetic. Jesus is a divine fisherman who can “draw out the leviathan with a hook, or . . . tie his tongue with a cord” (40:20; compare AV 41:1).

325 Nowe here my hande. A handshake was a normal way of concluding an agreement, and not, as today, a common sign of greeting. Satan is happy since he believes he is promised even more victims for torment in his torture house which is hell (line 328), and he plans to turne — i.e., corrupt — more people as a means to this end (line 332).

339–40 The archangel Michael is designated to bind Satan; among the apocalypse scenes in Great East Window in the Minster painted by John Thornton in 1405–08, Michael, who is chaining the Devil, holds a key; see French, York Minster: The Great East Window, p. 128. In the York pageant, Satan will be confined to a “selle” (line 342) where he must remain seated. It will do him no good to call on Mahounde. In the Northern Passion, it is Jesus who binds Satan, who will be “fested fast / With bandes that sall ever last, / And so he sall be bunden ay / Untill it be domes day” (1:213).

349–80 The Extraction of Souls. Conventionally Jesus takes Adam by the forearm and leads him out, followed by Eve and the others. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, Virgil recalls how “a Great Lord” wearing a crown of victory (vittoria cornato) “carried off the shade [ombra] of our first father, of his son Abel, and the shade of Noah, of Moses, the obedient legislator, of father Abraham, David the king, of Israel, his father, and his sons, and Rachel, . . . and many others” (Inferno, canto 4, lines 52–61). The Extraction is shown at York in the glass in All Saints, Pavement and in other depictions of the scene, including a restored wall painting at Pickering in the North Riding (YA, pp. 87–89, fig. 25; Tristram, English Wall Painting, p. 154). In the Pickering example, as in the Great Malvern glass cited above, Eve holds an unchewed apple that she will return to Jesus as a sign of the reversal of the Fall.

374–75 Ne derelinquas, Domine, / Animam meam in inferno. Psalm 15:10 (AV 16:10).

380 full of filthe. In the scene dramatizing the Fall of the Angels at the beginning of the York cycle, hell had been shown to be a filthy place. Its smell, as for Dante, was presumably of excrement (see Seiler, “Filth and Stench,” esp. p. 132).

384 s.d. Tunc cantent. Again a late rubric calling for singing, without identifying the piece to be sung. It appears that there will be a procession, with singing, as the souls are taken up by Michael into bliss.

400 blisse us with thi holy honde. In the Gospel of Nicodemus, Jesus holds out his hand and makes the sign of the cross, or, in a variant text of this work, makes a sign of the cross on Adam’s forehead (Gospel of Nicodemus, p. 119; James, ed., Apocryphal New Testament, p. 139).

408 Laus tibi cum gloria, etc. If this is a liturgical piece, it has not been identified. While it seems to be an incipit, with “etc.” signifying the continuation of the song, Rastall points out that this line, integral to the stanza, seems rather to introduce an unspecified song at the end of the pageant (Minstrels Playing, p. 35), in which case the citation of the song here is misplaced. It thus may be that the singing noted in the late rubrics added at line 384 was begun only after the last line of the play was spoken.


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).

1 JESUS. Reg: written by LH.

10 frewte. Compare Towneley: fraude.

36, s.d. Tunc cantent. Reg: stage direction by LH.

40 this stedde. Compare Towneley: darknes stad.

44 sesse. Compare Towneley: slake.

49 ISAIAH. So LTS, RB; Reg: Isaac.

58 seede. Possibly an error (for ?deede).

61 This. This edition; Reg, RB: Thhis; LTS: Yhis.

62 the. So Towneley, RB; Reg, LTS: this.

64 halsed homely. Compare Towneley: halsid hym homely.

83 laide. Letter e altered to a in Reg.

97 I DIABOLUS. Compare Towneley: Rybald.

99 II DIABOLUS. By a different hand in Reg; compare Towneley: Belzabub.

135 lad. So Towneley; Reg, LTS, RB: lady.

150 traveses. RB, following Towneley: travesses; Reg, LTS: traves.

185 what harlot. So LTS, RB, interpolated from Towneley; Reg omits.

195 I DIABOLUS. So RB; Reg omits I.
baill. Added in LH in Reg; compare Towneley: bayll.

196 of. Interlined by LH in Reg.

209 ferde. Compare Towneley: flayd.

211 At left, by JC: nota caret nova loquela (deleted).

228 wonne in mirthe. Compare Towneley: In blys to dwell.

242 neyd thowe crave. Reg: added by JC, canceling Scribe B’s thus thee I telle; compare Towneley: thurt thee crave.

244 as. Reg: interlined by later scribe.
knave. Reg: written over the Scribe B’s braide.

253 Line as written at bottom of page, deleted in red ink, and rewritten on next page in Reg.

271 servauntis. So LTS, RB; Towneley: servandys.

274 in. Added in Reg by LH.

301 movys. So LTS; Reg: monys; RB, after Towneley: menys.

342 selle. Compare Towneley: sete.

347 dolle. This edition; Reg: dolee; LTS, RB: dole.

354 hundreth. So Towneley.

375 in. So LTS, RB, after Towneley; Reg omits.

378 saules fro thee be. Compare Towneley: thi sayntys to se.

380 repleye. Compare Towneley: not fle.

384 OMNIS. So RB; Reg, followed by LTS, has Omnis as part of dialogue (not ruled off from previous speech).

384 s.d. Tunc cantent. Reg: stage direction in LH.

400 honde. Reg: Scribe B: hende, corrected by LH to honde.

408 etc. Reg: added in LH at end of line.


Footnote 1 See James, ed., Apocryphal New Testament, pp. 123–42. An overview appears in Turner, “Descendit ad Inferos.”

Footnote 2 Middle-English Harrowing of Hell and Gospel of Nicodemus, pp. 97–121; Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend, 1:222–24.

Footnote 3 King, York Mystery Cycle, pp. 157–58.

Footnote 4 YA, p. 88, fig. 25. For discussion, see especially Sheingorn, “'Who can open the doors of his face?'” and, for practical aspects, Meredith, “Iconography of Hell.”

The Sadilleres


















































































JESUS   Manne on molde, be meke to me
And have thy Maker in thi mynde,
And thynke howe I have tholid for thee
With pereles paynes for to be pyned.
The forward of my Fadir free
Have I fulfillid, as folke may fynde;
Therfore aboute nowe woll I bee
That I have bought for to unbynde.
The feende thame wanne with trayne
Thurgh frewte of erthely foode;
I have thame getyn agayne
Thurgh bying with my bloode.

And so I schall that steede restore
For whilke the feende fell for synne;
Thare schalle mankynde wonne evermore
In blisse that schall nevere blynne.
All that in werke my werkemen were,
Owte of thare woo I wol thame wynne,
And some signe schall I sende before
Of grace to garre ther gamys begynne.
A light I woll thei have
To schewe thame I schall come sone.
My bodie bidis in grave
Tille alle thes dedis be done.

My Fadir ordand on this wise
Aftir his will that I schulde wende
For to fulfille the prophicye
And als I spake my solace to spende.
My frendis that in me faith affies
Nowe fro ther fois I schall thame fende,
And on the thirde day ryght uprise
And so tille heven I schall assende.
Sithen schall I come agayne
To deme bothe goode and ill
Tille endles joie or peyne;
Thus is my Fadris will.

   Tunc cantent.

ADAME   Mi bretheren, harkens to me here:
Swilke hope of heele nevere are we hadde.
Foure thowsande and sex hundereth yere
Have we bene heere in this stedde.
Nowe see I signe of solace seere,
A glorious gleme to make us gladde,
Wherfore I hope oure helpe is nere
And sone schall sesse oure sorowes sadde.

EVA   Adame, my husband hende,
This menys solas certayne;
Such light gune on us lende
In paradise full playne.

ISAIAH   Adame, we schall wele undirstande;
I, Ysaias as God me kende,
I prechid in Neptalym, that lande,
And Zabulon even untill ende.
I spake of folke in mirke walkand
And saide a light schulde on thame lende.
This lered I whils I was levand;
Nowe se I God this same hath sende.
This light comes all of Criste,
That seede to save us nowe;
Thus is my poynte puplisshid,
But Symeon, what sais thou?

SYMEON   This, my tale of farleis feele,
For in the Temple his frendis me fande.
I hadde delite with hym to dele
And halsed homely with my hande.
I saide, “Lorde, late thy servaunt lele
Passe nowe in pesse to liffe lastand,
For nowe myselfe has sene thy hele,
Me liste no lengar to liffe in lande.”
This light thou has purveyed
To folkes that liffis in leede,
The same that I thame saide
I see fulfillid in dede.

JOHANNES BAPTISTA   Als voyce criand to folke I kende
The weyes of Criste als I wele kanne;
I baptiste hym with bothe my hande
Even in the floode of flume Jordanne.
The Holy Goste fro hevene discende
Als a white dowue doune on hym thanne;
The Fadir voice, my mirthe to mende,
Was made to me even als manne;
“This is my Sone,” he saide,
“In whome me paies full wele.”
His light is on us laide,
He comes oure cares to kele.

MOYSES   Of that same light lernyng have I;
To me, Moyses, he mustered his myght
And also unto anodir, Hely,
Wher we were on an hille on hight.
Whyte as snowe was his body
And his face like to the sonne to sight;
No man on molde was so myghty
Grathely to loke agaynste that light.
That same light se I nowe
Shynyng on us sarteyne,
Wherfore trewly I trowe
We schalle sone passe fro payne.

I DIABOLUS   Helpe, Belsabub, to bynde ther boyes,
Such harrowe was never are herde in helle.

II DIABOLUS   Why rooris thou soo, Rebalde? Thou royis,
What is betidde, canne thou ought telle?

I DIABOLUS   What, heris thou noght this uggely noyse?
Thes lurdans that in lymbo dwelle,
Thei make menyng of many joies
And musteres grete mirthe thame emell.

II DIABOLUS   Mirthe? Nay, nay, that poynte is paste;
More hele schall thei never have.

I DIABOLUS   Thei crie on Criste full faste
And sais he schal thame save.

BELSABUB   Ya, if he save thame noght, we schall,
For they are sperde in speciall space;
Whils I am prince and principall
Schall thei never passe oute of this place.
Calle uppe Astrotte and Anaball
To giffe ther counsaille in this case,
Bele-Berit and Belial,
To marre thame that swilke maistries mase.
Say to Satan oure sire
And bidde thame bringe also
Lucifer, lovely of lyre.

I DIABOLUS   Al redy, lorde, I goo.

JESUS   Attollite portas principes,
Oppen uppe, ye princes of paynes sere,

Et elevamini eternales,
Youre yendles gatis that ye have here.

SATTAN   What page is there that makes prees
And callis hym kyng of us in fere?

DAVID   I lered levand, withouten lees,
He is a kyng of vertues clere,
A Lorde mekill of myght
And stronge in ilke a stoure,
In batailes ferse to fight
And worthy to wynne honnoure.

SATTAN   Honnoure, in the devel way, for what dede?
All erthely men to me are thrall.
The lad that calles hym Lorde in leede
Hadde never yitt herberowe, house, ne halle.

I DIABOLUS   Harke, Belsabub, I have grete drede,
For hydously I herde hym calle.

BELLIALL   We, spere oure gates, all ill mot thou spede,
And sette furthe watches on the wall.
And if he calle or crie
To make us more debate,
Lay on hym than hardely
And garre hym gange his gate.

SATTAN   Telle me what boyes dare to be so bolde
For drede to make so mekill draye.

I DIABOLUS   Itt is the Jewe that Judas solde
For to be dede this othir daye.

SATTAN   Owe, this tale in tyme is tolde;
This traytoure traveses us alway.
He schall be here full harde in holde,
Loke that he passe noght, I thee praye.

II DIABOLUS   Nay, nay, he will noght wende
Away or I be ware;
He shappis hym for to schende
Alle helle or he go ferre.

SATTAN   Nay, faitor, therof schall he faile,
For alle his fare I hym deffie.
I knowe his trantis fro toppe to taile;
He levys with gaudis and with gilery.
Therby he brought oute of oure bale
Nowe late Lazar of Betannye;
Therfore I gaffe to the Jewes counsaille
That thei schulde alway garre hym dye.
I entered in Judas
That forwarde to fulfille;
Therfore his hire he has
Allway to wonne here stille.

BELSABUB   Sir Sattanne, sen we here thee saie
That thou and the Jewes wer same assente,
And wotte he wanne Lazar awaye,
That tille us was tane for to tente,
Trowe thou that thou marre hym maye,
To mustir myghtis what he has mente?
If he nowe deprive us of oure praye
We will ye witte whanne thei are wente.

SATTAN   I bidde you be noght abasshed
But boldely make youe boune
With toles that ye on traste,
And dynge that dastard doune.

JESUS   Principes, portas tollite,
Undo youre gatis, ye princes of pryde,
Et introibit rex glorie,
The kyng of blisse comes in this tyde.

SATTAN   Owte, harrowe, what harlot is hee
That sais his kyngdome schall be cryed.

DAVID   That may thou in my Sawter see
For that poynte of prophicie
I saide that he schuld breke
Youre barres and bandis by name
And on youre werkis take wreke;
Nowe schalle ye see the same.

JESUS   This steede schall stonde no lenger stoken:
Opynne uppe and latte my pepul passe.

I DIABOLUS   Owte, beholdes, oure baill is brokynne,
And brosten are alle oure bandis of bras.
Telle Lucifer alle is unlokynne.

BELSABUB   What, thanne, is lymbus lorne, allas?
Garre Satan helpe that we were wroken;
This werke is werse than evere it was.

SATTAN   I badde ye schulde be boune
If he made maistries more.
Do dynge that dastard doune
And sette hym sadde and sore.

BELSABUB   Ya, sette hym sore, that is sone saide,
But come thiselffe and serve hym soo;
We may not bide his bittir braide:
He wille us marre, and we wer moo.

SATTAN   What, faitours, wherfore are ye ferde?
Have ye no force to flitte hym froo?
Belyve loke that my gere be grathed,
Miselffe schall to that gedlyng goo.
Howe, belamy, abide,
With al thy booste and bere,
And telle to me this tyde
What maistries makes thou here?

JESUS   I make no maistries but for myne,
Thame wolle I save, I telle thee nowe.
Thou hadde no poure thame to pyne
But as my prisonne for ther prowe.
Here have thei sojorned, noght as thyne
But in thy warde, thou wote wele howe.

SATTAN   And what devel haste thou done ay syne
That never wolde negh thame nere or nowe?

JESUS   Nowe is the tyme certayne
Mi Fadir ordand before
That they schulde passe fro payne
And wonne in mirthe evermore.

SATTAN   Thy fadir knewe I wele be sight;
He was a write his mette to wynne,
And Marie me menys thi modir hight,
The uttiremeste ende of all thi kynne.
Who made thee be so mekill of myght?

JESUS   Thou wikid feende, latte be thy dynne;
Mi Fadir wonnys in heven on hight
With blisse that schall nevere blynne.
I am his awne Sone,
His forward to fulfille,
And same ay schall we wonne,
And sundir whan we wolle.

SATTAN   God Sonne, thanne schulde thou be ful gladde
Aftir no catel neyd thowe crave.
But thou has leved ay like a ladde
And in sorowe as a symple knave.

JESUS   That was for hartely love I hadde
Unto mannis soule it for to save,
And for to make thee mased and madde.
And by that resoune thus dewly to have
Mi Godhede here I hidde
In Marie modir myne,
For it schulde noght be kidde
To thee nor to none of thyne.

SATTAN   A, this wolde I were tolde in ilk a toune.
So sen thou sais God is thy sire,
I schall thee prove be right resoune
Thou motes his men into the myre.
To breke his bidding were thei boune,
And, for they did at my desire,
Fro paradise he putte thame doune
In helle here to have ther hyre.
And thyselfe, day and nyght,
Has taught al men emang
To do resoune and right,
And here werkis thou all wrang.

JESUS   I wirke noght wrang, that schal thou witte,
If I my men fro woo will wynne;
Mi prophetis playnly prechid it,
All this note that nowe begynne.
Thai saide that I schulde be obitte,
To hell that I schulde entre in
And save my servauntis fro that pitte
Wher dampned saulis schall sitte for synne.
And ilke trewe prophettis tale
Muste be fulfillid in mee,
I have thame boughte with bale,
And in blisse schal thei be.

SATTAN   Nowe sen thee liste allegge the lawes,
Thou schalte be atteynted or we twynne,
For tho that thou to wittenesse drawes,
Full even agaynste thee will begynne.
Salamon saide in his sawes
That whoso enteres helle withynne
Shall never come oute, thus clerkis knawes;
And therfore, felowe, leve thi dynne.
Job, thi servaunte also,
Thus in his tyme gune telle
That nowthir frende nor foo
Shulde fynde reles in helle.

JESUS   He saide full soth, that schall thou see,
That in helle may be no reles,
But of that place than preched he
Where synffull care schall evere encrees.
And in that bale ay schall thou be
Whare sorowes sere schall never sesse,
And for my folke therfro wer free;
Nowe schall thei passe to the place of pees.
Thai were here with my wille,
And so schall thei fourthe wende,
And thiselve schall fulfille
Ther wooe withouten ende.

SATTAN   Owe, thanne se I howe thou movys emang
Some mesure with malice to melle,
Sen thou sais all schall noght gang
But some schalle alway with us dwelle.

JESUS   Yaa, witte thou wele, ellis were it wrang,
Als cursed Cayme that slewe Abell
And all that hastis hemselve to hange
Als Judas and Archedefell,
Datan and Abiron,
And alle of thare assente
Als tyrantis everilkone
That me and myne turmente.

And all that liste noght to lere my lawe
That I have lefte in lande nowe newe,
That is my comyng for to knawe
And to my sacramente pursewe.
Mi dede, my rysing, rede be rawe,
Who will noght trowe, thei are noght trewe.
Unto my Dome I schall thame drawe
And juge thame worse thanne any Jewe.
And all that likis to leere
My lawe and leve therbye
Shall nevere have harmes heere
But welthe as is worthy.

SATTAN   Nowe here my hande, I halde me paied,
This poynte is playnly for oure prowe.
If this be soth that thou hast saide
We schall have moo thanne we have nowe.
This lawe that thou nowe late has laide
I schall lere men noght to allowe,
Iff thei it take thei be betraied,
For I schall turne thame tyte, I trowe.
I schall walke este and weste
And garre thame werke wele werre.

JESUS   Naye, feende, thou schall be feste
That thou schalte flitte not ferre.

SATTAN   Feste, that were a foule reasoune;
Nay, bellamy, thou bus be smytte.

JESUS   Mighill, myne aungell, make thee boune
And feste yone fende that he noght flitte.
And Devyll, I comaunde thee go doune
Into thy selle where thou schalte sitte.

SATTAN   Owte! Ay, herrowe — helpe, Mahounde!
Nowe wex I woode oute of my witte.

BELSABUB   Sattan, this saide we are,
Nowe schall thou fele thi fitte.

SATTAN   Allas, for dolle and care,
I synke into helle pitte.

ADAME   A, Jesu Lorde, mekill is thi myght
That mekis thiselffe in this manere
Us for to helpe as thou has hight
Whanne both forfette, I and my feere.
Here have we levyd withouten light
Foure thousand and six hundreth yere;
Now se I be this solempne sight
Howe thy mercy hath made us clene.

EVE   A, Lorde, we were worthy
Mo turmentis for to taste,
But mende us with mercye
Als thou of myght is moste.

BAPTISTA   A, Lorde, I love thee inwardly
That me wolde make thi messengere
Thy comyng in erth for to crye
And teche thi faith to folke in feere,
And sithen before thee for to dye
And bringe boodworde to thame here
How thai schulde have thyne helpe in hye.
Nowe se I all thi poyntis appere
Als David, prophete trewe,
Ofte tymes tolde untill us;
Of this comyng he knewe
And saide it schulde be thus.

DAVID   Als I have saide, yitt saie I soo,
Ne derelinquas, Domine,
Animam meam in inferno,1
Leffe noght my saule, Lorde, aftir thee
In depe helle where dampned schall goo,
Ne suffre nevere saules fro thee be,
The sorowe of thame that wonnes in woo
Ay full of filthe, that may repleye.

ADAME   We thanke his grete goodnesse
He fette us fro this place;
Makes joie nowe more and lesse.

OMNIS   We laude God of his grace.

   Tunc cantent.

JESUS   Adame and my frendis in feere,
Fro all youre fooes come fourth with me;
Ye schalle be sette in solas seere
Wher ye schall nevere of sorowes see.
And Mighill, myn aungell clere,
Ressayve thes saules all unto thee
And lede thame als I schall thee lere
To paradise with playe and plenté.
Mi grave I woll go till,
Redy to rise upperight,
And so I schall fulfille
That I before have highte.

MICHILL   Lord, wende we schall aftir thi sawe,
To solace sere thai schall be sende,
But that ther develis no draught us drawe,
Lorde, blisse us with thi holy honde.

JESUS   Mi blissing have ye all on rawe.
I schall be with youe wher ye wende,
And all that lelly luffes my lawe,
Thai schall be blissed withowten ende.

ADAME   To thee, Lorde, be louyng
That us has wonne fro waa.
For solas will we syng,
Laus tibi cum gloria, etc.
earth; obedient; (t-note)

worked (suffered)
unequaled; suffered

go about; (see note)

won by trickery
fruit; (t-note)
(i.e., in my control)



win [back]

cause; mirth



(i.e., has faith)
foes; defend


Then they sing; (see note); (t-note)

well-being; ere
(see note)
place; (t-note)
(see note)

cease; (t-note)

did; (i.e., shine)

instructed; (see note)

darkness walking


progeny [of the Father]; (see note); (t-note)

wonders many; (t-note)
found; (t-note)

held [him] affectionately; (t-note)
(see note)
in peace; everlasting

desire; longer

to them

crying; taught



I am pleased
cool (assuage)

(see note)





turmoil; before

shout; talk nonsense; (t-note)

hear; (see note)


health (well-being)

imprisoned; (see note)

perform such outrages

body; (see note)

Lift up your gates, O princes; (see note)

And be ye lifted up, O eternal gates; (see note)

upstart; press (commotion)

learned [while] living

every struggle

subject; (see note)
in man; (t-note)


bar; prosper
(see note)

make; go [on]; way


attacks (contradicts); (t-note)

plans; destroy
ere; far

tricks; (see note)
lives; tricks; guile
(see note)
reward (punishment)

together agreed
taken; (i.e., guard)

(i.e., such might as he has)
tell when

tools; trust

Princes, open your gates; (see note)

And the king of glory shall enter in
at this time


Psalter; (see note)

[metal] bands

place; closed
(see note)

jail; (t-note)
burst; (t-note)

limbo lost
Make; [so] that we may be revenged

ordered; bound (tied up)

if; more

afraid; (t-note)
Quickly; prepared; (t-note)

crying out

exercise no mastery (power)
power; torment


approach; near ere

dwell; (t-note)

(see note)
carpenter; food; earn
was called

dwells; high


animals (humans) need; (t-note)


bewildered; insane


town; (t-note)

by; reason; (see note)
you argue


(i.e., argue illogically)



story (prophecy)
purchased; suffering

wish [to] expound; (see note)

Solomon; sayings

began [to]

release from

suffering; increase

many; cease

peace (rest)
forth go

intend all the while; (t-note)

or else

Dathan; Abiram


on earth recently

(i.e., understood rightly)
[Last] Judgment

well-being (bliss)

paid (rewarded); (see note)

more [souls]
just now; proclaimed

corrupt; quickly

cause; much worse

fast (confined)

must; struck

Michael; bound; (see note)

cell; (t-note)

wax; mad

experience; punishment

dole; (t-note)

(see note)
offended; companion (Eve)


pure (free from sin)

More; experience

all together


(see note)

redeem; (see note); (t-note)



Then they sing; (see note); (t-note)




(i.e., do not trick us)
bless; hand; (see note); (t-note)

in order

truly love

won; woe

Praise to you with glory; (see note); (t-note)

Go To Play 38, The Resurrection