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Art. 21, Alle herkneth to me nou


ABBREVIATIONS: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CCC: Corpus Christi College (Cambridge); CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); IMEV Suppl.: Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (Robbins and Cutler); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

2 strif. The MED defines the word in this context as “battle, war,” but the contest recounted is also intensely verbal and legalistic.

5 hys. “His own.” Possessive pronouns (his, mine, thine), used as substantives and bandied between Jesus and Satan, are a recurring feature of their debate over who possesses jurisdiction over the virtuous souls who currently reside in hell. This device underscores the legal argument: Who has robbed whom? Who rightfully holds dominion over the souls? What belongs judicially to Jesus and what to Satan?

36 losen us from the qued. This line bears a double sense: “to deliver us from evil” and “to release us from the contract.” See MED, quede (n.(1)), “evil, wickedness,” and quede (n.(2)), “promise, agreement, contract.”

43 The speech marker does not appear in the manuscript. For the sense of this line, see MED, gon (v.), sense 10(b), and gate (n.(2)), sense 2(e).

52 woh. “Wickedness, depravity, transgression”; see MED, wough (n.(2).

69 lay. “Domain, region.” See MED, lei (n.), sense 1.(a), which cites this line: “the area or region governed by a system of law; domain, country.”

79 bilevest. “Give up, abandon”; see MED, bileven (v.(1)), sense 1.(b).

81 Par ma fey. Satan speaks French in mock courtesy, and the phrase “by my faith” is itself sarcastic when uttered by the devil.

83 Resoun. This word carries an array of legal meanings: justice; fundamental principle; reckoning; compensation or payment. See MED, resoun (n.(2)), especially senses 4, 5, and 6.

88 Monrade. See MED, man-reden (n.), “a pledge of service, homage.”

108 ambes aas. Double aces, that is, a low score; misfortune. See MED,amber-as (n.).

134 yonge. Even though the first letter is a y, not a yogh or a g, the intended word is gonge, “gone”; compare Debate between Body and Soul (art. 22), line 78: Up hit shal aryse anon ant to the dom gonge.

166 froryng. “Comfort, solace”; see MED, frouringe (ger.).

229 bete. “Atone for, make amends for”; see MED, beten (v.(2)), sense 2.

231 hihte. “Ordered, commanded”; see MED, hoten, (v.(1)), sense 3a.(e). The patriarchal sequence moves from Adam’s infraction of God’s command to Moses’s upholding of the law.

238 The reminder of Doomsday links this work to the next item, the body-and-soul debate.


ABBREVIATIONS: As: Aspin; Bö: Böddeker; Bos: Bossy; Br: Brook; BS: Bennett and Smithers; BZ: Brandl and Zippel; B13: Brown 1932; B14: Brown 1952; DB: Dunn and Byrnes; Deg: Degginger; Do: Dove 1969; Gr: Greene 1977; Ha: Halliwell; Hal: Hall; Hol: Holthausen; Hor1: Horstmann 1878; Hor2: Horstmann 1896; Hu: Hulme; JL: Jeffrey and Levy; Ju: Jubinal; Kel: Keller; Ken: Kennedy; Le: Lerer 2008; Mc: McKnight; Mi: Millett; MR: Michelant and Raynaud; Mo: Morris and Skeat; MS: MS Harley 2253; Mu: H. M. R. Murray; Pa: Patterson; Pr: Pringle 2009; Rei: Reichl 1973; Rev1: Revard 2004; Rev2: Revard 2005b; Ri1: Ritson 1877; Ri2: Ritson 1885; Ro: Robbins 1959; Sa: Saupe; Si: Silverstein; St: Stemmler 1970; Tr: Treharne; Tu: Turville-Petre 1989; Ul: Ulrich; W1: Wright 1839; W2: Wright 1841; W3: Wright 1842; W4: Wright 1844; WH: Wright and Halliwell.

14 Crist. So MS, Hu. Ha: Christ.

16 Crist. So MS, Hu. Ha: Christ.

19 Ant. So Hu. MS: An. Ha: And.

20 Cristes. So MS, Hu. Ha: Christes.
oune. So MS, Hu. Ha: onne.

21 the. So Ha, Hu. MS: þ.

22 Crist. So MS, Hu. Ha: Christ.

26 then. So MS, Hu. Ha: than.

28 Y. So MS, Hu. Ha: I.

29 Crist. So MS, Hu. Ha: Christ.

41 Then. MS, Ha, Hu: þe.

42 Alse. So MS. Ha, Hu: Asse.
Y. So MS, Hu. Ha: i.

43 Harde. So MS, Hu. Ha: Hard.
hav Y. So MS. Ha, Hu: havy.
Dominus. As in Auchinleck MS (Hu, p. 5). MS: omitted.

70 woll Y. So MS, Hu. Ha: wolly.

197 [David]. A modern hand has written David in the right margin.

207 Crist. So MS, Hu. Ha: Christ.

213 Crist. So MS, Hu. Ha: Christ.

220 everuch. So Ha, Hu. MS: overuch.

231 Ich. So MS, Hu. Ha: I.

232 thou. So MS (þou), Hu. Ha: thon.

244 Crist. So MS, Hu. Ha: Christ.




















































Alle herkneth to me nou!   [Narrator]
A strif wolle Y tellen ou
Of Jesu ant of Sathan.
Tho Jesu wes to helle ygan
Forte vacche thenne hys
Ant bringen hem to parays,
The Devel hevede so muche pousté
That alle mosten to helle te.
Nas non so holy prophete
Seththe Adam ant Eve then appel ete
Ant he were, at this worldes fyne,
That he ne moste to helle-pyne;
Ne shulde he never thenne come
Nere Jesu Crist, Godes Sone,
Vor that wes seid to Adam ant Eve,
That were Jesu Crist so leeve,
Ant so wes seyd to Habraham,
That wes sothfast holy man,
Ant so wes seid to Davyd the kyng,
That wes of Cristes oune ofspryng,
Ant to Johan the Baptist,
That folewede Jesu Crist,
Ant to Moyses the holy whyt,
The hevede the lawe to yeme ryht,
Ant to mony other holy mon — ,
Mo then Ich telle con —
That weren alle in more wo
Then Y con ou telle fro.
Jesu Crist arew hem sore
Ant seide he wolde vacche hem thore.
He lyhte of ys heye tour
Into Seinte Marie bour;
He wes bore for oure nede
In this world in pore wede;
In this world he wes ded
Forte losen us from the qued.
Tho Jesu hevede shed ys blod
For our neode upon the rod,
In godhed toke he then way
That to helle-gates lay;
Then he com there, tho seide he
Alse Y shal nouthe telle the.

“Harde gates hav Y gon,   [Dominus]
Sorewen soffred mony on!
Thritty wynter ant thridde half yer
Hav Y woned in londe her.
Almost ys so muche agon
Seththe Y bycom furst mon —
Ich have seththe tholed ant wyst
Hot, cold, honger, ant thurst.
Mon hath do me shome ynoh
Wyth word ant dede, in heore woh —
Bounden ant bueten, yron of blode —
Demeden me to deye on rode.
For Adames sunne fol, ywis,
Ich have tholed al this!
Adam, thou havest aboht sore!
I nul soffre that no more!
Adam, thou hast duere aboht
That thou levedest me noht.
Y shal the bringe of helle-pyne
Ant with the alle myne!”

“Who ys that Ych here thore?   Sathan ait
Ich him rede speke na more!
For he may so muche do
That he shal us come to
Forte buen oure fere
Ant fonden hou we pleyen here!”

“Thou miht wyten, in thy lay,   Dominus ait
That mine woll Y have away.
Wost thou never whet Ych am?
Almost ys thritti wynter gan
That thou hast fonded me
Forte knowe wet Y be.
Sunne fond thou never non
In me as in other mon,
Ant thou shalt wyte wel today
That mine wolle Y have away.
Wen thou bilevest al thyn one,
Thenne myht thou grede ant grone!”

“Par ma fey, Ich holde myne   Sathan
Alle tho that bueth heryne!
Resoun wol Y telle the,
Ther ageyn myht thou nouht be:
Whose buyth any thyng,
Hit is hys ant hys ofspryng.
Adam hungry com me to —
Monrade dude Y him me do —
For on appel Ich yef hym,
He is myn, ant al hys kun!”

“Sathanas, hit wes myn —    Dominus
The appel that thou yeve hym,
The appel ant the appel tre —
Bothe were maked thourh me!
Hou myhstest thou on eny wyse
Of other monnes thyng make marchandise?
Seththe he wes boht wyth myn,
Wyth resoun wolle Ich haven hym!”

“Jesu, wel Y knowe the   Sathan
(That ful sore reweth me!),
Thou art Louerd over al;
Wo ys him that the knowe ne shal!
Heovene ant erthe tac to the;
Soules in helle lef thou me —
Let me haven hem ant helde.
That thou havest wel mote thou welde!”

“Stille be thou, Sathanas!   Dominus
The ys fallen ambes aas!
Wendest thou Ich were ded for noht?
Thourh my deth ys monkune boht!
They that haved served me
Wyth me he shulen in hevene be.
Thou shalt buen in more pyne
Then eny that ther is heryne.”

“Ne may non me worse do   Sathan
Then Ich have had hiderto!
Ich have had so muche wo
That Y ne recche whyder Y go!
Yef thou revest me of myne,
Y shal reve the of thyne —
Y shal gon from mon to mon
Ant reve the of mony on!”

“God wot, Y shal speke the wyht,   Dominus
Ant do the to holde gryht!
So faste shal Y bynde the
Lutel shalt thou reve me;
Thou shalt buen in bondes ay
O that come Domesday.
Thou shalt never outwende
Monkunne forte shende,
For were thou among men,
Thou woldest me reven moni of hem.
The smale fendes that bueth nout stronge,
He shulen among men yonge;
Thilke that nulleth ageyn hem stonde,
Ichulle he habben hem in honde!
Helle-gates Y come nou to,
Ant Y wole that heo undo!
Wer ys nou this gateward?
Me thuncheth he is a coward!”

“Ich have herd wordes stronge —    Ianitor
Ne dar Y her no lengore stonde!
Kepe the gates whose may —
Y lete hem stonde ant renne away!”

“Helle-gates wolle Y falle   Dominus
Ant out taken myne alle!
Sathanas, Y bynde the! Her shalt thou lay
O that come Domesday!”

“Welcome, Louerd, God of londe,   Adam
Godes Sone, ant Godes sonde!
Welcome, Louerd, mote thou be,
That thou wolt us come ant se!
Louerd, nou thou art come to ous,
Bring ous of this lothe hous,
Bryng us of this lothe lond,
Louerd, henne, into thyn hond!
Louerd, wost thou whet Ych am?
Thou me shuptest of eorthe: Adam!
For Y thyn heste hueld noht,
Duere Ich habbe hit her aboht!
Have merci of us, Godes sone;
Let ous no more her wone!
Alle that herynne be
Yore haveth yyrned after the!
We hopeth wel thourh thy comyng
Of oure sunnes haven froryng.”

“Knou me, Louerd — Ich am Eve!   Eva
Ich ant Adam the were so leove,
Thou laddest ous to parays.
We hit forgulten ase unwys;
We thin heste dude forleten
Tho we then appel eten.
So longe we haveth buen herynne —
Deore have we aboht ur synne!
Louerd God, yef us leve,
Adam ant me, ys wyf Eve,
To faren of this lothe wyke
To the blisse of hevene ryke!”

“Adam, Ich have yeve mi lyf   Dominus
For the ant for Eve, thi wyf;
Wendest thou Ich were ded for noht?
For my deth wes monkune yboht.”

“Louerd Crist, Ich am   Habraham
That thou calledest Habraham!
Thou me seidest that of me
Shulde such a child ybore be
That us shulde brynge of pyne —
Me ant (wyth me) alle myne.
Thou art the child! Thou art the man
That wes ybore of Habraham!
Do nou that thou byhihstes me:
Bring me to hevene up with the.”

“Habraham, Ych wot ful wel   Dominus
Wet thou seidest, everuch del —
That mi leve moder wes
Boren ant shaped of thi fleyhs.”

“Louerd, Ich am David the kyng   [David]
That bore was of thyn ofspring.
Do me ase thou bihete
Thourh the lawe of the prophete.
Nou thou art come to ous,
Bring us from this dredful hous.”

“David, thou were bore of my kyn.   Dominus     
For thi godnesse art thou myn,
More for thi godnesse
Then for eny sibnesse.”

“Louerd Crist, Ich am Johan,   Iohannes
That the folewede in Flum Jordan.
Tuelf moneth is agon
That Y tholede martirdom.
Thou sendest me the ryhte wey
Into helle, forte sey
That thou, Crist, Godes Sone,
Sone shuldest to helle come
Forto lesen of helle-pyne
Alle that thou holdest thyne.
Nou thou art come! Nou thou do
That thou seidest fer ant tho.”

“Johan, Johan, Ich wot ful wel   Dominus
Whet thou seidest everuch del —
Thou shalt seo whet Y shal do
That Y seyde er the to.”

“Louerd, thou knowest al wyth skyl   Moyses
The lawe of Synay upon the hyl.
Ich am Moyses the prophete,
That hueld the lawes that thou byhete,
That thou, Jesu, Godes Sone,
Woldest to the helle come,
Ant that thou woldest come to bete
The sunnes that Adam thohte suete.”

“Moyses, that Ich hihte the   Dominus
In the Olde Lawe, thou dudest me,
Ant alle the other that mine buen
Shule to blisse with me tuen.
They that nolden on me leven
Shule with Sathanas bileven.
Ther hue shulen wonen ay
O that come Domesday.”

God, for is moder love,   [Narrator]
Let us never thider come!
Louerd, for thi muchele grace,
Graunte us in heovene one place.
Let us never be forloren
For no sunne, Crist ycoren.
Ah, bring us out of helle-pyne,
Louerd, ous ant alle thyne,
Ant yef us grace to libbe ant ende
In thi service ant to hevene wende.
All listen to me now!   [Narrator]
I'll tell you of a contest
Between Jesus and Satan.
When Jesus had gone to hell
To fetch from there his own
And bring them to paradise,
The Devil had so much power
That all were made to go to hell.
There was never a prophet so holy
Since Adam and Eve had eaten the apple
That he, at this world’s end,
Could avoid going to hell-pain;
Nor could he ever escape from thence
Were it not for Jesus Christ, God’s Son,
For it was prophesied to Adam and Eve,
Who were so dear to Jesus Christ,
And thus was said to Abraham,
Who was a steadfast holy man,
And thus was said to David the king,
Who was of Christ’s own lineage,
And to John the Baptist,
Who followed Jesus Christ,
And to Moses the holy man,
Who had the law to govern rightly,
And to many other holy men —
More than I can name —
Who were all in more agony
Than I can describe to you.
Jesus Christ pitied them deeply
And said he would fetch them from there.
He descended from his high tower
Into Saint Mary’s womb;
He was born for our need
In this world in a poor garment;
In this world he died
To deliver us from an evil contract.
When Jesus had shed his blood
For our sake upon the cross,
In godhead he went the next way
That led to hell-gates;
When he came there, then he spoke
As I will now tell you.

“Hard experiences I've endured,   [Lord]
Suffered many a sorrow!
Thirty-three and a half years
Have I dwelled here on earth.
So very much has happened
Since I first became man —
I’ve since then suffered and known
Hot, cold, hunger, and thirst.
Men have done me extreme dishonor
By word and deed, in their wickedness —
Bound and beaten, dripping in blood —
They judged me to die on cross.
For Adam’s foul sin, indeed,
I’ve suffered all of this!
Adam, you’ve paid grievously!
I’ll not tolerate it anymore!
Adam, you’ve paid a high price
Because you didn’t believe in me.
I shall deliver you from hell-pain
And all of mine with you!”

“Who is that I hear there?   Satan speaks
I command him to speak no more!
For he may create so much havoc
Were he to approach us
As our peer in combat
And discover how we operate here!”

“Be informed that, in your domain,   Lord speaks
My property I will take away.
Don’t you know who I am?
Almost thirty years have elapsed
Since you tested me
To find out who I am.
You never found any sin
In me as in other men,
And you’ll surely see today
How I will take mine away.
When you give up all of yours,
Then may you wail and groan!”

“By my faith, I claim as mine   Satan
All those who are in here!
I'll explain to you a legal fact,
Against which you can't dispute:
Whoever buys anything,
It and its offspring belong to him.
Adam came to me hungry —
I made him pledge himself to me —
For an apple that I gave to him,
He is mine, and all his kin!”

“Satan, it was mine —    Lord
The apple that you gave to him,
The apple and the apple tree —
Both were created by me!
How might you in any way
Make a purchase with another man’s thing?
Since he was bought with my property,
By legal right I will claim him!”

“Jesus, I know you well   Satan
(I’m very sorry about that!),
You are Lord over all.
Woe is he who'll never know you!
Heaven and earth belong to you;
Leave the souls in hell to me —
Let me have and keep them.
May you rule well what you already have!”

“Be quiet, Satan!   Lord
To you fall double aces!
Do you think I died for nothing?
By my death mankind’s redeemed!
They who have served me
Will be with me in heaven.
You will be in more pain
Than any who are here.”

“No one can do any worse to me   Satan
Than I’ve already experienced!
I’ve had so much agony
That I don’t care which way I go!
If you rob me of mine,
I’ll rob you of yours —
I’ll go from man to man
And rob you of many a one!”

“God knows, I’ll speak to you boldly,   Lord
And bid you to hold your peace!
I’ll bind you so tightly
That you’ll rob me of little;
You’ll remain bound forever
Till the coming of Doomsday.
You’ll never escape
To destroy mankind,
For were you among men,
You would rob me of many of them.
The minor fiends who aren’t strong,
They shall go among men;
Those who will not resist them,
I decree that they take them in hand!
I now arrive at hell-gates,
And I bid that they be opened!
Where’s now this gatekeeper?
I think he’s a coward!”

“I’ve heard forceful words —    Gatekeeper
I don’t dare stand here any longer!
Keep the gates whoever wants to —
I leave them standing and run away!”

“I’ll make hell-gates fall,   Lord
And take out all of mine!
Satan, I bind you! Here will you lie
Till the coming of Doomsday!”

“Welcome, Lord, God of earth,   Adam
God’s Son, and God’s gift!
Welcome, Lord, may you be,
Who wished to come and see us!
Lord, now that you've come to us,
Deliver us from this hateful house,
Deliver us from this hateful land,
Lord, from hence, into your hand!
Lord, do you know who I am?
You created me of earth: Adam!
Because I disobeyed your command,
Dearly have I paid for it here!
Have mercy on us, God’s Son;
Let us dwell here no more!
All who are in here
Long have yearned for you!
We hope dearly by your coming
To have solace for our sins.”

“Know me, Lord — I am Eve!   Eve
I and Adam were so precious to you,
You led us to paradise.
We forfeited it unwisely;
We utterly neglected your command
When we ate the apple.
So long we’ve been in here —
Dearly have we paid for our sin!
Lord God, give us permission,
Adam and me, his wife Eve,
To travel from this hateful home
To the bliss of heaven’s realm!”

“Adam, I have given my life   Lord
For you and for Eve, your wife;
Do you think that I died for nothing?
For by my death was mankind bought.”

“Lord Christ, I am   Abraham
He whom you called Abraham!
You said that from me
Such a child would be born
Who would deliver us from pain —
Me and (with me) all mine.
You are the child! You are the man
Who was born of Abraham!
Do now what you promised me:
Bring me up to heaven with you.”

“Abraham, I acknowledge fully   Lord
What you’ve said, every word —
That my dear mother was
Born and created of your flesh.”

"Lord, I am David the king,   [David]
Who was born of your lineage.
Do to me as you promised
Through the law of the prophet.
Now that you have come to us,
Deliver us from this dreadful house.”

“David, you were born of my kin.   Lord
For your goodness you are mine,
More for your goodness
Than for any kinship.”

“Lord Christ, I am John,   John [the Baptist]
Who followed you in the River Jordan.
Twelve months have passed
Since I suffered martyrdom.
You sent me on the right way
Into hell, in order to prophesy
That you, Christ, God’s Son,
Soon would come to hell
To release from hell-pain
All whom you consider yours.
Now you have come! Now do
What you proclaimed far and long ago.”

“John, John, I acknowledge fully   Lord
What you’ve said, every word —
You shall see that I will do
What I said before to you.”

“Lord, you wisely know all   Moses
The law of Sinai upon the hill.
I am Moses the prophet,
Who held the laws wherein you vowed
That you, Jesus, God’s Son,
Would come to hell,
And that you would come to atone for
The sins that Adam considered sweet.”

“Moses, what I ordered you to do   Lord
By the Old Law, you did for me,
And all the others who are mine
Shall proceed to bliss with me.
They who wouldn’t believe in me
Shall remain with Satan.
There they shall dwell forever
Till the coming of Doomsday.”

May God, for his mother’s love,   [Narrator]
Let us never come thither!
Lord, by your abundant grace,
Grant us a place in heaven.
Let us never be damned
For any sin, as Christ’s chosen.
Ah, bring us out of hell-pain,
Lord, us and all that’s yours,
And give us grace to live and die
In your service and go to heaven.

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Go To Art. 22, In a thestri stude Y stod, introduction
Go To Art. 22, In a thestri stude Y stod, text