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Art. 51, Jesu Crist, heovene kyng: Introduction

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).

In Jesus Christ, Heaven’s King, the speaker seeks a good outcome for his soul beyond this sad world of “care, serewe, ant pyne” (line 24). The poet of this verse prayer does not wish to construct a dramatic monologue such as is found in the similarly penitential An Old Man’s Prayer (art. 45). The chanson d’aventure opening at line 10 (“This ender day in o morewenyng”) begins to situate the speaker in a specific moment, but, lacking narrative development, it remains a simple device imported from secular lyric style. A similar but more developed instance occurs in An Autumn Song (art. 63), lines 11–13. The scribe sets Jesus Christ, Heaven’s King in a thematic sequence on fols. 75–76 (arts. 49–53) (Revard 1982, p. 134–36). For commentary, see the bibliography in MWME 11:4341–42; and Durling, p. 278.

[Fol. 75va–b. IMEV, NIMEV 1678. MWME 11:4190 [16 ]. Scribe: B (Ludlow scribe). Quire: 8. Meter: Four 6-line tail-rhyme stanzas, aa4b3cc4b3, with a prefacing 3-line prayer, aa4b3, which could attach to stanza 1. Layout: Double columns. Editions: Wright 1842, pp. 59–60 (no. 19); Böddeker, pp. 193–94; Patterson, pp. 88–89; Brown 1952, pp. 9–10 (no. 8); Brook, pp. 52–53 (no. 16). Other MSS: None.]

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