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The Assumption and Mary as Queen of Heaven


1 My spirit was ravished and leapt in my body



Com, my swete, com, my flour. Not in Index. MS: Bodl. 17680 (Gough Eccl. Top. 4), fol. 128b (c. 1425). The verses occur in John Mirk's sermon De Assumpcione Beate Marie as dialogue in his narrative of the Assumption. Editions: T. Erbe, Mirk's Festial, EETS e.s. 96 (London: Kegan Paul, 1905), p. 224; Sisam, Oxford, no. 143 (first quatrain). Woolf quotes the verses in her discussion of Assumption lyrics (p. 299).

2 culver. The term of endearment suggests associations with the Immaculate Conception, for which the dove is a common symbol, and perhaps also of the Holy Ghost, by whom Mary conceived.

boure. See note to §56, line 15.

6 to thyn. See note to §55, line 4.


The infinite power essenciall. Index no. 3391. MS: BL Addit. 20059, fols. 99a-100a (this is a fifteenth-century addition to an older MS). Editions: B15, no. 38; Davies, no. 104.

8 Ecce virgo, radix Jesse. See Isaias 11:1 and §8, note to line 17. This phrase occurs in a Sarum antiphon for the None hour (text in Dreves and Blume, 10:107, no. 141, 31).

9 Tota pulcra. Canticles 4:7: "Thou art all fair, my love, and there is not a spot in thee."

to the lillé like. The lily symbolizes purity. See Canticles (RSV Song of Solomon) 2:2. The Fasciculus morum compares the lily to virginity. It smells sweet and pleasing when it is fresh and unbroken, but when it has been "crushed and broken by lust, it has a terrible stench" (pp. 704-05). See also Levi D'Ancona, p. 64.

10 saphures. The North Midland Lapidary describes several properties that make the sapphire's association with Mary appropriate: it is said to have powers to give physical and emotional comfort, to heal sickness and injury, and to free prisoners. The sapphire is the color of heaven; "He yt lokes appon a saphir, he most have in mynd ye joy of heven and most be in gret hope" (Joan Evans and Mary S. Serjeantson, English Mediaeval Lapidaries, EETS o.s. 190 [London: Oxford University Press, 1933], p. 43).

13 clerer . . . then the cristall. The London Lapidary provides a suggestive description of the crystal's property: "This stone conceiveth wele the fire atte the sonne-beem, and catcheth and brennyth" (Evans and Serjeantson, p. 37). Compare §86, line 8.

17 Oleum effusum. Canticles 1:2 (RSV Song of Solomon 1:3).

medsyne. Compare the hymn "Santa Maria, porta coeli," line 15: Medicina infirmorum (Mone, p. 505).

21 Phebus. The sun god of classical mythology, who here yields his glory to Mary.

abdominacioun. MS: abhominacioun, which clashes with the sense of line 23. Brown's emendation.

26-27 Trones and dominaciones . . . Angells, archangells. Four of the nine orders of angels (see note to §51, line 2) who honor Mary; note also seraphynnes at line 46.

27 dubbit. Two meanings are appropriate here and at line 51: I. "to invest with a dignity or title," or II.4: "to dress, clothe, array, adorn" (MED dub).

31 Columba mea. See §49, note to line 2.

38 the pellicane of perpetueté. The pelican is a common and fitting symbol for Christ because "according to legend, the pelican, which has the greatest love of all creatures for its offspring, pierces its breast to feed them with its own blood" (Ferguson, p. 23).

41 spectable. "worthy of regard, excellent, virtuous" (MED).

45 incontynent. The word is used here as an adverb meaning "straightway, forthwith, at once, immediately, without delay" (OED).

46 seraphynnes. See Isaias 6:2 and 6:6.

52 Trone of the Trinité. Compare §11, note to line 21.


Hayle, luminary and benigne lanterne. By John Lydgate. Index no. 1056. MS: Trinity College Cambridge 601 (R.3.21), fol. 162a-b and again at fol. 233a (mid-fifteenth century, Suffolk). Also in BL Harley 2251, fols. 34b-35a. Edition of Trinity: MacCracken, pp. 291-92.

2 holy ordres nyne. The orders of angels. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (c. 500) described nine orders in his Celestial Hierarchy: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations, powers, authorities, principalities, archangels, and angels. The terms come from Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21, 3:10; Colossians 1:16; and from 1 Peter 3:22.

5 Eclypsyd. Harley: ay clypsed.

27 Tetragramaton. The four letters of the Hebrew name of God, a name believed too sacred to utter.

31 So lyst the Holygost in thee hys wynges wrappe. "So yearned the Holy Ghost to wrap you in his wings," or perhaps "So desired the Holy Ghost to wrap his wings in you."


Lefdy blisful, of muchel might. Index no. 1832. MS: Merton College Oxford 248, fol. 148b, col. 2 (fourteenth century). Editions: B14, no. 38; Silverstein, no. 36.

This is a translation of the second half of the hymn Quem terra pontus aethera (Daniel 1:144, and Connelly, no. 95), sometimes ascribed to Venantius Fortunatus, and often included in medieval breviaries for Marian feasts. The stanzas translated here often appear independently as O gloriosa domina excelsa (Mone, 2:129-30; Connelly, no. 95, lines 21-32).

5-6 Thet thet Eve us hadde bynome . . . thy sone. See note to §9, line 8.

8 Thorw . . . thorwgeth. As the prepositional system of modern English is taking shape during the Middle English period, pleonasm is not uncommon.

9 kynges gate. See note to §4, line 9.


Haill, quene of hevin and steren of blis. Index no. 1077. MS: BL Arundel 285, fols. 196b-97a. (late fifteenth century). The poem appears among a group of several Marian pieces. Editions: B15, no. 21; Bennett, STS third series 23, p. 298: Davies, no. 179.

2 thi sone thi Fader is. Compare §60, lines 1-6. The phrase Parens et puella in §83, line 4, likewise suggests "mother and daughter."

5 fontane. See Canticles 4:12-15 and Psalm 35:10 (RSV 36:9): "For with thee is the fountain of life; and in thy light we shall see light."
Crist sayde to hur:
   "Com, my swete, com, my flour,
   Com, my culver, myn owne boure,
   Com, my modyr, now wyth me:
   For hevyn qwene I make thee."
Then the body sat up, and lowted to Crist, and sayde:
   "My swete sonne, with al my love
   I com wyth thee to thyn above;
   Wher thou art now, let me be,
   For al my love ys layde on thee."
The infinite power essenciall
Me thoght I sawe verrement
Procedyng from his trone celestiall
To a dere damsell that was gent.
Songes melodious was in their tent,
Of angells synging with gret solemnyté
Before a quene whiche was present:
   Ecce virgo, radix Jesse.
Tota pulcra, to the lillé like,
She was set withe saphures celestiall;
The odour of hir mowthe aromatike
Dyd coumford the world unyversall.
Moche clerer she was then the cristall;
She is the flowre of all formosité,
Devoide of actes crymynall:
   Ecce virgo, radix Jesse.
Oleum effusum, to languentes medsyne,
O Maria by denominacioun,
Fulgent as the beame celestyne,
Called unto hir coronacioun:
Phebus persplendent made his abdominacioun,
Devoidyng all in tenebrosité
For gret love of hir exaltacioun:
   Ecce virgo, radix Jesse.
Ryght diligent were the mynstrells divine
Trones and dominaciones for to expresse,
Angells, archangells, dubbit in doctryne,
To mynystre to that regall arayed in rychesse.
The Prynce perpetuall spake to that pryncesse,
Smylyng in his suavyté,
"Columba mea, the cloystre of clandnesse,
   Ecce virgo, radix Jesse.
"Surge, true tabernacle of virginité,
Bothe mother and maiden inculpable:
Cum furthe of thy consanguinité
Unto glorie incomparable."
Then kneled this oryent and amyable
Before the pellicane of perpetueté,
And he crowned that regyent venerable:
   Ecce virgo, radix Jesse.
By the spectable splendure of hir fulgent face
My sprete was ravesshed and in my body sprent; 1
Inflamed was my hert with gret solace
Of the luciant corruscall resplendent.
Then this curious cumpany incontynent
Withe the seraphynnes in their solemnyté
Solemply sang this subsequent:
   Ecce virgo, radix Jesse.
O Deifere delecate and doghter dyvyne,
Mother of mercy and meyden melleffluus,
Devoide of dysseyte, dubbet in doctryne,
Trone of the Trinité, treite thow for us.
Us defende from the dongeon dolorous
And bring to abide in blisse withe thee,
There to love our Godd most glorious:
   Ecce virgo, radix Jesse.
Hayle, luminary and benigne lanterne:
Of Jerusalem the holy ordres nyne
As quene of quenes laudacion eerne
They yeve to thee, O excellente virgyne!
Eclypsyd I am for to determyne
Thy superexcellence of Cantica canticorum;
The aureat beames do nat in me shyne:
   Ave regina celorum!
Hayle, verray mater misericorde,
And peereles pryncesse of excellence,
Of aungelles aloft pray Sol justicie,
Thy swete son of most magnificence,
That no perylous plage of pestilence,
Syth thow art laus Apostolorum,
Entyr in Englond, thy dower, with reverence:
   Ave regina celorum!
Hayle, holy maydyn, modyr and wyfe,
That brought Israel out of captyvyté,
As sterre of Jacob by a prerogatyfe
With the blessyd bawme of thy virginité,
The holyest roote that sprang out of Jesse,
Prymrose of plesaunce, callyd flos florum,
Thou were tryacle ageyn olde antiquité:
   Ave regina celorum!
Hayle, gloryous lady, O rosa marina,
Whyche hast fostryd lying in thy lappe
Tetragramaton, that fed us with Manna,
Of Leviathan mawgre the sleyghty trappe,
To thys worlde a lyghte sprong ys from thy lappe,
With virginall mylke ut castitas lilium,
So lyst the Holygost in thee hys wynges wrappe:
   Ave regina celorum!
Hayle, fayrest and fresshe of consolacion,
Us to conduct by the pathe of paradyse,
Above all women, without comparyson,
Of bewté be thow blessyd floure delise,
A dew diamant, most precyous of pryse,
As Gabryell seyd, Dominus tecum,
O myrrour of mekenes most prudent and wyse:
   Ave regina celorum!
Hayle, condute of comfort, with watyr crystall,
Perpetually our peynes to wasshe and repell,
Geyve sorow of sekenes, o sugor celestiall,
Pes, victory, and grace graunt with us to dwell,
Pray gentyll Jesu, of mercy the well,
To blysse above that we may all come,
Where more joy ys then tung may telle:
   Ave regina celorum!
Lefdy blisful, of muchel might,
Heyere thanne the sterres light,
Hym the thee made wumman best
Thou gove hym souken of thi brest.
Thet thet Eve us hadde bynome
Thow hast iholde thorw thy sone.
Thow art in hevene an hole imad
Thorw which the senful thorwgeth glad.
Thow art the kynges gate idyght;
Brightore thow art than eny light.
Lif thorw Marye us is iwrought,
Alle ben glade thet Crist hath ibought.
Haill, quene of hevin and steren of blis:
Sen that thi sone thi Fader is,
How suld he ony thing thee warn,
And thou his mothir and he thi barne?
Haill, fresche fontane that springis new,
The rute and crope of all vertu,
Thou polist gem without offence:
Thou bair the Lambe of Innocence.
(see note)

her (Mary's corpse)
Come; flower
dove; bower; (see note)
queen of heaven


with you; (see note)

(see note)

dear lady; gentle


Behold a virgin, root of Jesse; (see note)

All beautiful, like the lily; (see note)
sapphires; (see note)
mouth aromatic
Did comfort
Much clearer; than; (see note)
Without sin

Oil poured out, medicine to the suffering; (see note)

Phoebus; abdication; (see note)
Eliminating all in darkness

Thrones; dominations; (see note)
dubbed; (see note)
regal [one]
My dove, the cloister of purity; (see note)


Come forth from your humanity

pearl; amiably
pelican everlasting; (see note)

virtuous splendor; shining; (see note)

shining shimmering resplendent [one]
immediately; (see note)
seraphim; (see note)
solemnly; following

God-bearer; daughter divine

Devoid of deceit, dubbed
Throne; entreat; (see note)

(see note)

orders nine; (see note)
eager praise
(see note)
Song of songs
golden; not
Hail queen of heaven

true mother of mercy

Sun (Son) of justice

perilous plague of pestilence
Since you are the glory of the Apostles
Enter in[to]


flower of flowers

rose of the sea
(see note)
despite; deceptive
a light is sprung
milk as a chaste lily
desires; wrap you in his wings; (see note)

beauty; fleur-de-lis
diamond; worth
God is with you

conduit; clear

divine sweetness
Pray to gentle Jesus, well of mercy
That we may all come to bliss above

(see note)

Lady; great strength
Higher; stars'
who made you
gave suck
That which; deprived us of; (see note)
regained through
in heaven a hole made
sinful pass (glide) through; (see note)
called; (see note)

accomplished for us
Be glad, all whom Christ has redeemed

(see note)

star of bliss
Since your son is your Father; (see note)
should he deny you anything

fountain; springs; (see note)
root; crop; virtue
polished; flaw