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The Joys of Mary


1 Nor let me ever die in any of the seven [deadly] sins

2 When Jesus Christ arose from death, who was beloved and dear to you

3 You are in stable and stall where I draw near to death



Mary, for thine joys fyve. Index no. 2099. MSS: BL Royal 8.F.6, fol. 21a; Lincoln Cathedral 91 (Thornton), fol. 177b (mid-fifteenth century). The verses appear as a prayer tag in both MSS. They also appear with paintings of the Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the chancel wall of Broughton Church, Oxon (noted in Robbins and Cutler, Supplement). Editions: Rossell Hope Robbins, "Popular Prayers in Middle English Verse," Modern Philology 36 (1939), 348; Brown, Register, 1:362. Edition of Lincoln: Reginald M. Woolley, Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Lincoln Cathedral Chapter Library (London: H. Milford, 1927), p. 54; Carl Horstmann, Yorkshire Writers: Richard Rolle of Hampole (New York: Macmillan, 1895), p. 377.

1 joys fyve. Usually the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Assumption. But compare §77 and §74, in which the five joys are the Annunciation, the Nativity, Epiphany, the Resurrection, and the Assumption. And §73 combines both traditions to commemorate six joys.

1-2 Lincoln MS: Lady, for thy joyes fyve / Wisse me the waye of rightwys liffe. Amen.


Be glad, of al maydens flourre. Index no. 465. (Final quatrain: Index no. 1833.5.) MS: Huntington HM 127, fol. 53a-b (fifteenth century). Editions: B15, no. 34; LH, no. 187.

A song of the seven heavenly joys, not to be confused with the five earthly joys. These joys are all conditions of being: Mary is celebrated as queen of great honor, spouse of God, vessel of virtue, mediatrix, comforter, Mother of Christ, and flower of womanhood. Brown indicates that the seven heavenly joys do not appear in pre-fifteenth-century poetry. The poem is introduced in the MS as follows:

Hit is yfounde and ywrite that oure lady apered to Seint Thomas of Caunterbury and badde him and taught him to worschipe here for the sevene joyes durable and everelastinge that sche hath now in hevene as wel as he deede now for the five temperal joyes that sche hadde on erthe the which beth passed and these beth the sevene that folweth.

19 Jesu. MS: ih.


Heyle be thou, ladye so bryght. Index no. 1027. MS: Cambridge University Ii.6.43, fol. 88a-b or 90a-b (fifteenth century). Edition: B14, no. 92.

The poem is structured according to the joys of Mary; see note to §71, line 1.

1-3 These lines are indented in the MS, leaving space for an unfinished initial rubric.

4 swotyst. Most lovely, fairest, sweetest; a figurative term often used to describe Christ as well as Mary. (Compare 2 Corinthians 2:15: "For we are the fragrance of Christ for God," an allusion to the incense of triumphal procession or sacrifice.) See also MED st(e), 1.a. The poet's desire to engage all the senses in meditation is reinforced by the use of fonde, which may mean "taste," in line 7.

27 Holy Thursdaye. After the Last Supper, Jesus was betrayed and captured on Holy Thursday; see notes to §31.

32-33 thou wentyst wysse / To blys. A reference to the Assumption; see note to §77, lines 50-51.


Haile be thu, Mari maiden bright. Index no. 1029. Göttingen University Theol. 107, fol. 169a (early fourteenth century, Northern). The poem occurs only in this MS of the Cursor Mundi, in a group of prayers at the end of the MS. Editions: Richard Morris, Cursor Mundi, Part 5, EETS o.s. 68 (London, 1878; rpt. London: Richard Clay, 1966), lines 25619-83; Carl Horstmann, "Ein Beitrag zu Celestin," Anglia 1 (1878), 391; B14, no. 31; Sisam, Oxford, no. 82.

6 Mi. Morris supplies the missing initial letter.

9 levedi. MS: leved. Brown's emendation.

13 fra hevene toure. MS: fra heve. Brown's emendation.

17 broght. MS: brogh. Morris' emendation.

21 The. Initial letter missing in MS. Morris' emendation. So also at lines 26 and 41.

22 Als sun schines thoru the glas. See note to §17, lines 18-20.

30 Mir, reclis, and gold red. Jacobus de Voragine suggests that "these three gifts corresponded to Christ's royal power, divine majesty, and human mortality" (Golden Legend 1: 83).

32 The reclis fel til his goddhed. Incense, reclis, is sometimes used in the Mass to symbolize the ascendance of prayer or the spirit to God.

33 Mir to man that sal be dede. Myrrh is a balsam gum used in embalming, so the gift signifies Jesus' mortality.

35 Levedi. MS: Levid. Brown's emendation.

42 Compare John 7:36.


Heyl be thou, Marie, milde quene of hevene. Index no. 1030. MS: St. John's College Cambridge 256, pp. 269-70 (early fourteenth century). Also in Bodl. 3938 (Eng. Poet a.1, the Vernon MS), fol. 115b (c. 1385); BL Royal 17.A.27, fol. 81a (early fifteenth century); Lambeth 559, fol. 15b (fourteenth century). Edition of St. John's: B14, no. 26. Editions of Vernon: Carl Horstmann, The Minor Poems of the Vernon MS, vol. 1, EETS o.s. 98 (London: Kegan Paul, 1892), pp. 30-32; Patterson, pp. 149-51.

3 mene. Vernon: make.

4 sennes sevene. The seven deadly sins are pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and lechery. See Chaucer's The Parson's Tale and Gower's Confessio Amantis. See also M. W. Bloomfield, The Seven Deadly Sins: An Introduction to the History of a Religious Concept, with Special Reference to Medieval English Literature (East Lansing: Michigan State College Press, 1952), and Siegfried Wenzel, "The Seven Deadly Sins: Some Problems of Research," Speculum 43 (1968), 1-22.

5 The Latin lines appear in red.

6 Heil. Vernon, Royal: Ladi.

7 thou haddest wan Crist the aungel sende. Vernon: thou were inne whon god his angel dude sende.

8 bodi. Inserted above line.

wende. Vernon: lende.

9 Thou bring me out of sinne and schuld me fram the fende. Vernon: Thou bringe me to that blisse that is withouten ende.

11 withouten eni drede. Vernon: therof have I no drede.

13 in bok. Omitted in Vernon and Royal.

14 that joie. Vernon: the love of him.

15 Vernon inserts an additional stanza after this line:
Sete ladi thou rewe on me and mak myn herte clene,
Bring us out of sunne that doth us traye and tene,
Wo hit us byginneth in werkes as we han sene,
Schild us from the peynes ther non may other mene.
22-23 The lines are transposed in Vernon.

23 woundes five. Jesus received five wounds on the cross: two in his hands, two in his feet, and one in his side.

24 Thou help me out of senne. Vernon: Get me hevene blisse.

27 thiself lete. Vernon: for thi son thu lete.

28-29 Royal: Thow give me grace in erthe my sines to bete / and that I may in heven sitte before thi fet.

32 and redi. Vernon: in saumple.

34 me . . . save me at the nede. Vernon: us . . . schild us from mis dede.

36 flour of alle. Vernon: Seinte Marie.

38 Thou be in stude and stalle ther I draue to ded. Vernon: Thou help me at myn ende whon I drawe to the dede.

stude and stalle. Stude is a form of stode, or stable, suggesting that Mary will be present at the final moments of the speaker's imprisonment in his mortal, bestial state. But MED also cites uses of stude to indicate a) a state of mental perplexity, and b) a place or room in which to read, write, or study. Stalle might then allude to a meditational compartment or carrel, in which case the phrase could refer to the speaker's final moments of spiritual contemplation.

41-50 These stanzas are transposed in Royal.

43 to hevene. Vernon: in to his riche.

is evere inne. Vernon: schal never blynne.

46 Marie. Vernon: Ladi. So also at line 51.

52 Now I thee biseche. Vernon: Love of alle blisse.

58 Thou helpe me. Vernon: Thou gif me miht and grace.

59 withoute ende. Vernon: ever newe.

nyght. Corrected in MS above canceled lyght.

64 And geve me grace in erthe my sinnes to reue sare. Vernon: And send me hosul and schrift ar I hethene fare.

66-70 Omitted in Vernon and Royal.


Levedy, for thare blisse. Index no. 1833. MS: Jesus College Oxford 29, fol. 181a-b (late thirteenth century). Editions: Morris, EETS o.s. 49, pp. 87-88; Patterson, no. 68; B13, no. 41.

The MS introduces the poem: Her bigynneth the vif Blyssen of ure levedi seynte Marie.

6 Sunnen. MS: smen. Brown's emendation.

12 That scop thee and alle thing. Compare the Sarum Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Evensong capitulum: "Blessid art thou virgyn marie, that hast born the lord maker of the world; thou hast getyn hym that made thee" (Maskell, 2:61); and Matins, responsory after second lesson: "Blessid art thou maide marie, that baar the lord maker of the world: thou hast engendrid him that made thee, and thou dwellist mayde with outen ende" (Maskell, 2:11).

18 gled and blithe. MS: blithe and gled, marked for transposition.

25 Munt of Olyvete. According to the account in Acts 1:6-12, after Jesus' ascension into heaven, his disciples returned from the Mount of Olives and gathered in the upper room; Mary was part of this group.


Mary, for thine joys fyve,
Teche me the vey to ryth lyve.


Be glad, of al maydens flourre,
That hast in hevene swich honoure
To passe in hye blisse
Aungelys and othur seints also;
The joye is nought like therto
Of eny that ther isse.

Be gladde, Goddis spouse bright,
That gevest ther gretter light
To the hevenli place
Than evir dede sunne on erthe here
When hit was brightis and most clere
In the midday space.

Be glad, of vertues vessel clene,
To whom obeith as right quene
The court of heven on hyghe,
And worschipeth withoute stynting
Thorwe thankinges and be blessing
And endeles melodie.

Be glad, moder of Jesu dere,
That spedist alle way thi prayere
Byfore the Trinité.
As God wil, suich is thi wille;
There may no wight sinful spille
On whom thou has pité.

Be glad, moder of hevene king,
Swich he wol, aftir plesing,
To thi servaunt trewe
Graunt bothe mede and reward
Here and also aftirward
In joye that ever is newe.

Be glad, mayden and moder swete,
Next the Sone thou hast a sete,
Iglorified blisfulli.
And this we saddely beleve,
But how, openly descrive
Ne may no thing ertheli.

Be glad, of oure gladnesse welle,
That art seker ay to dwelle
In mirthe that hath non ende,
Which schal never were ne wast;
Therto bringe us, moder chast,
When we hen wende.

Thus, thou blessed quene of hevene,
I worschipe thee with joyes sevene
In alle that y may.
When y schal leve this soreful lyf,
Be to me redy in that strif,
Lady, y thee pray.

Lady, for these joyes sevene
And for thi gladnesse five,
Bringe me to the blisse of hevene
Thorwe grace of clene lyfe.


Heyle be thou, ladye so bryght:
Gabriel that seyde so ryght,
   "Cryst ys wyth thee."
Swettyst and swotyst in syght,
Modyr and mayde of myght,
   Have mercy on mee.

Hayle be thou, fynest to fonde:
Jesu thy sone, y undyrstonde,
   Of thee borne he was.
Glad were thou, lef in londe,
Tho thou haddyst in honde
   The prynce of oure pees.

Heyle, ladye, flower of alle thynges:
Ryally three ryche kynges,
   Derely dyght,
Comely wyth knelynges,
Broughten thi sone three thynges;
   The sterre was lyght.

Hayle, gladdyst of alle wyve:
Aryse fro deth to lyve
   Thy sone, tho thou syghe.
Blyssyd be thoo woundys fyve
That made mannys soule to thryve
   In heven so hyghe.

Heyle, joye in hert and in yghe:
Wyth yghe thy sylf thoo thou syghe
   On Holy Thursdaye,
Jesu thi sone all upstyghe
Hoom into heven so hyghe,
   The apostles to paye.

Heyle, ladye, full of all blys,
Tho that thou wentyst wysse
   To blys soo bryght,
That blys God lete us never mysse,
Marye; thou us wysely wysse
   Be daye and be nyght. Amen.


Haile be thu, Mari maiden bright:
Thu teche me the wais right.
I am a sorful, dreri wight,
   Als thu mai se,
Quer I sal in the hard pine of hel be.

Mi sinful saule sighes sare:
Lived I have in sin and care,
Leve I wil and do na mare.
   Mi levedi fre,
Saul and bodi, liif and dede, biteche I thee.

Thar thu lay in thi bright boure,
Levedi, quite als lelé floure,
An angel com fra hevene toure,
   Sant Gabriel,
And said, "Levedi, ful of blis, ai worth thee wel!"

Stil thu stod, ne stint thu noght,
Thu said til him the bodword broght,
"Al his wil it sal be wroght,
   In his ancele."
Levedi, bifor thi suete sun mak us lele.

The tother joy I wate it was,
Als sun schines thoru the glas,
Sua ert thu, levedi, wemles,
   And ai sal be.
Levedi, for that suete joy thu reu on me.

The thrid joy I understand,
Thre kinges com of thrin land,
To fal thi suete sun til hand,
   And gaf him gift:
Mir, reclis, and gold red, als it was right.

The king was riche, the gold was rede,
The reclis fel til his goddhed,
Mir to man that sal be dede
   For ur sake.our
Levedi, to thi suete sun at ane us make.

The feird it es al thoru his grace,
Wuen he fra dede to liif ras,
Wuen he sua hard suongen was
   On rode tre.cross
Levedi, of ur sinnes al thu make us fre.

The fiift, thu was til heven broght:
The Juus thee soght and fand thee noght,
Als thi suete sun it wroght,
   Almighti king.
Levedi Mari, be ur helpe at ur ending.

Levedi, for thi joies five,
Thu kid thi might and help us suith,
Levedi Mari, moder o live,
   Wid flur and fruit,
Rose and leli, thu sprede ay wide and helpe thi suite.

Levedi Mari, wele thu wast,
The feindes fraistes me ful fast,
Wele I hope I sal thaim cast
   Thoru might of thee,
Quen I neven thi suete nam I ger thaim fle.

Thir jois er said als I can sai
Mi site, mi soru, I cast away,
Nu help me, levedi, wele thu may,
   And be mi spere.
Fra the har pain of hell thu me were.

All that singes this sang
And all that ligges in paines strang,
Thu lede thaim right thar thai ga wrang,
   And have merci
On all that trous that Godd was born of thee, fair levedi.


Heyl be thou, Marie, milde quene of hevene,
Blessed be thi name, and god it is to nevene;
To thee I mene mi mone: I preie thou her mi stevene,
Ne let me nevere deie in none of the sennes sevene. 1
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Heil, seinte Marie, quene cortas and hende,
For the joye that thou haddest wan Crist the aungel sende,
And seide that the holi gost scholde in thi bodi wende;
Thou bring me out of sinne and schuld me fram the fende.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Joyful was thin herte withouten eni drede
Wan Jhesu Crist was of thee boren fayrest of alle thede;
And thou mayde bifore and after as we in bok rede,
Lefdi, for that joie thou helpe me at nede.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Ladi, ful of grace, gladful was thi chere
Wan Jhesu Crist fram deth aros, that was thee lef and dere; 2
Ladi, for the love of him that lay thin herte nere,
Help me out of senne ther wile that I am here.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.
Ladi, ful of myghte, mek and milde of mode,
For the love of swete Jhesu that don was on the rode,
And for his woundes five that runnen alle ablode,
Thou help me out of senne, ladi fayr and gode.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Ladi, seinte Marie, fair and goud and swete,
For the love of the teres that thiself lete
Wan thou seye Jhesu Crist nayled hond and fete,
Thou geve me grace in herte my sennes for to bete.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

In counsayl thou art best, and trewe in alle nede,
To sinful men wel prest and redi in goud dede;
Ladi, for the love of him thou seye on rode blede,
Thou help me now and evere and save me at the nede.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Ladi, flour of alle, so rose in erber red,
To thee I crie and calle, to thee I make my bed;
Thou be in stude and stalle ther I draue to ded 3
Let me nevere falle in hondes of the qued.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Marie, for that swete joie that thou were than inne
Wan thou seie Jhesu Crist, flour of al mankinne,
Steye up to hevene ther joye is evere inne,
Of bale be thou mi bote and bring me out of sinne.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Marie, for that swete joye wan thou fram erthe was tan
Into the blisse of hevene with aungeles mani an,
And iset bi swete Jhesu in fel and flecsch and ban,
Thou bringe me to joyes that nevere schal be gon.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Marie, ful in grace, that sittest in trone,
Now I thee biseche thou graunte me mi bone;
Jhesu to love and dred, my lif t'amende sone,
And bringe me to that heye kyng that weldeth sune and mone.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

For thi joies five, ladi fair and bryght,
And for thi maydenhede and thi moche myght,
Thou helpe me to come into tha iche lyght
Ther joye is withoute ende and day withote nyght.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Ladi, Seynte Marie, yif that thi wille were,
As thou art ful of joye and I am ful of care,
Thou help me out of sinne and lat me falle namare;
And geve me grace in erthe my sinnes to reue sare.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.

Ladi, quene of hevene, thou here me wit wille;
Y praye thou her mi stevene and let my soule nevere spille
In non of the sinnes sevene thorw no fendes wille
Nou bring my saule to hevene, therin a place to fille.
   Ave Maria gracia plena dominus tecum.


Levedy, for thare blisse
That thu heddest at the frume,
Tho thu wistest myd iwisse
That Jhesus wolde beo thi sune,
The hwile we beoth on lyve thisse
Sunnen to don is ure wune;
Help us nu that we ne mysse
Of that lif that is to cume.

Moder, blithe were thu tho,
Hwanne thu iseye heoven-king
Of thee ibore withute wo
That scop thee and alle thing.
Beo ure scheld from ure ivó,
And gef us thine blessying,
And biwyte us evermo
From allekunnes suneging.

Levedi, al myd rihte
Thu were gled and blithe
Tho Crist thureh his myhte
Aros from dethe to lyve,
That alle thing con dihte,
And wes iboren of wyve.
He make us clene and bryhte
For his wundes fyve.

From the Munt of Olyvete
Tho thi sone to heovene steyh,
Thu hit byheolde myd eye swete,
For he wes thin heorte neyh.
Ther he haveth imaked thi sete
In o stude that is ful heyh;
Ther thee schulen engles grete,
For thu ert bothe hende and sleyh.

The king that wes of thee ibore,
To heovene he thee vette,
To thare blisse that wes forlore,
And bi hymseolve sette
Vor he hedde thee icore.
Wel veyre he thee grette;
Blythe were thu thervore,
Tho engles thee imette.

Moder of milce and mayde hende,
Ich thee bidde as I con
Ne let thu noht the world us blende,
That is ful of ure ivon,
Ac help us at ure lyves ende,
Thu that bere God and mon,
And us alle to heovene sende
Hwenne we schulle this lif forgon.

Jesus, for thire moder bene
That is so veyr and so bryht,
Al so wis, so heo is quene
Of heovene and eorthe, and thet is ryht:
Of ure sunnes make us clene,
And gef us that eche lyht,
And to heovene us alle imene,
Louerd, thu bryng, for wel thu miht.
(see note)

(see note)
way to live right

(see note)

flower of all maidens
surpass; high

any; is


did sun
it; brightest

clean vessel of virtues

Through; by

(see note)
perpetually sends forth prayers

one; perish

Such he will, as it pleases him
reward and recompense

You have a seat next to the Son
Blissfully glorified
plainly describe

well (source) of our gladness
sure always
endless joy
wear or waste
go hence

honor you

I pray you

five joys


(see note)

(see note)

Sweetest and most fragrant; (see note)


beloved on earth
When; hand

Richly arrayed
kneelings (respect)


Arose from death to life
while you sighed
those five wounds
man's; thrive

heart; eye
your own eyes though you sighed
(see note)

When; went directly; (see note)
permit; to miss
By day

(see note)

[to] you
You teach; ways
sorrowful, dreary one
As you may see
Where I shall; suffering of hell

soul; sorely; (see note)

Cease; no more
lady noble; (see note)
Soul; life and death, I commit to you

Where; bower
white as lily flower
from; (see note)
grace, ever blessed

Quietly you kept watched, nor stopped not
You; to; message brought; (see note)
All his will it shall be done
Through; handmaiden

other (second); know; (see note)
As; shines through the glass; (see note)
So are you, lady, spotless
ever shall
have pity

three different lands
fall before your sweet son
Myrrh, incense; (see note)

incense fell (was appropriate) to; (see note)
Myrrh for man who shall die (Christ); (see note)

make us one with your sweet son; (see note)

fourth it is all through
When he from death to life rose
so hard scourged

free us from all our sins

fifth, you were brought to heaven
Jews sought you and did not find you; (see note)
As; wrought


Exercise your power; sweetly
of life
lily; stretch

well you know
fiends assail
I shall cast them [off]
Through your might
When I name; name; make them free

These joys I tell as I can
care; sorrow
From; hard; protect

who sing; song
lie; strong suffering
You guide them


(see note)

[to] you; gentle
good; name
intend; plaint; hear; voice; (see note)
(see note)
(Luke 1:28); (see note)

courteous; gracious; (see note)
when; (see note)
into; pass; (see note)
shield; from; devil; (see note)

fear; (see note)
born; people
book (Bible); (see note)
Lady; in [my] need; (see note)
(see note)


sin during the time

put; cross; (see note)
bloody; (see note)
good; (see note)

tears; shed; (see note)
saw; feet; (see note)

true; need
very prompt; (see note)
saw; cross bleed
(see note)

flower; like; garden; (see note)
(see note)
hands; devil (evil one)

(see note)

Ascend; where; (see note)
pain; relief

taken; (see note)
many a one
placed; skin; flesh; bone
shall; gone

prayer; (see note)
to amend soon
high; wields

great might
same; (see note)
Where; (see note)


no more
sorely rue; (see note)

hear; eagerly; (see note)
I; voice; die
none; through; fiend's

(see note)

that joy
you had; beginning
When; knew with certainty
be; son
While we are in this life
To sin is our custom; (see note)
now; do not lose

joyful; then
When you saw
Of you born; pain
Who created you; (see note)
our shield; our foe
protect; evermore
human sin

glad; joyful; (see note)
When; through his might

Who did all things ordain
was born of woman
made us pure; virtuous
By means of; five wounds

Mount of Olives; (see note)
When; ascended
beheld it with; loving
was near to your heart
has prepared your seat
a place; high
There angels shall greet you
you are; courteous; prudent

was; born
he took you
the grace; was lost
himself placed you
For he had chosen you
fairly; greeted

When angels met you

mercy; courteous
beseech you as I do
Do not let the world blind us
our foes
But; our lives'
You who bore God and man

When; depart

your good mother
fair; pure
And so wise, that she is queen
our sins; pure
give; same light
Lord; might


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