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Play 21, Christ and the Doctors


1 Now for the doctors disputing with Jesus in the temple

2 We are recognized as the experts in the Sacred Scriptures

3 You said one of these three had taken [the form of] flesh and blood

4 [A] pure maiden and [a] mothe­r never yet in one person existed

5 Here they lead Jesus between themselves and have him sit in the higher seat, they taking the lower seats, and the second Doctor declares


Abbreviations: Bl: Ludus Coventriae, ed. Block (1922); MED: Middle English Dictionary; S: N-Town Play, ed. Spector (1991); s.d.: stage direction.

We have records of this play’s subject being performed in other parts of the British Isles besides Coventry, York, and Chester. There is even a play by John Bales on the topic. The five extant texts (York Play 20, part of Chester Play 11, Coventry Weavers’ Pageant [lines 719–1187], Towneley Play 18, and N-Town’s) are all based upon Luke 2:41–52. The York, Coventry, and Towneley plays are similar. Chester’s version, while briefer, is awkwardly yoked to the Purification Play. All of these plays depict the twelve-year-old Jesus as a prodi­gious scholar of the law who can summarize the Mosaic Law in one great command­ment. In the N-Town version, however, Jesus’ dispute with the doctors results in their musing upon the conundrum of the Christ’s fleshly and divine nature. Woolf (English Mystery Plays, pp. 214–15) regards this play as a marvelous scholastic debate on the natures of the Trinity and of redemption that finds echoes in the Summa (III.iii.8) as well as other N-Town Plays (2.182–85 and Play 23, Temptation). For a fuller discussion of the patristic bases (St. John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Augustine, Aquinas, Gregory the Great, Anselm, Peter Lombard, Jerome, etc.) for this debate, see Fry, "Unity," pp. 529–39, particularly his notes. It may even be possible to view the debate between Jesus and the doctors as a thinly veiled Jewish-Christian debate.

The play is written entirely in octaves.

1 Roughly translated in the following line. In the larger passage, lines 1–32, the doctors’ weaving of the Latin and the English ostentatiously displays their aca­demic status and learning. Their vaunting efforts are ironic, particularly in light of Herod’s demise in the previous play.
1–32 The doctors show their mastery of the jargon of the seven liberal arts: the Trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and the Quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy). Their "learned" exchange provides a mas­terful sub­version of their pretensions by the playwright that sets up the pointed spiritual insight of young Jesus’ interrogation of their "connynge" (line 40) which is so deficient in wisdom (n.b. lines 50–52, 57).

3 Loosely translated in the following line.

11–12 swete musyke . . . Seke no ferther but to oure presens! Although there is no evidence that live music accompanies this scene, that music is among the two doctors’ ac­com­plishments should surely be taken as "an indication that the doctors have their hearts in the right place" (Rastall, Minstrels Playing, p. 86).

16 astronomye. Astronomy, especially as Doctor 2 uses the term here, denotes what we would call astrology — the influential powers of stars and planets on earthly activities. Genius, in Gower’s Confessio Amantis, 7.633–1506, provides a good over­view of its scope. See Jean Gerson’s Trilogium astrologie theologizate on uses and abuses of the art.

17 negremauncye. On uses of astrological and mathematical calculation for magical arts, see Spector, S 2:481, which cites Russell, Witchcraft in the Middle Ages, pp. 85–86, and Thorndike, History of Magic, 4:124. Spector compares this line in N-Town with Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes (lines 4051–52): "What stood hym stede his nigromancye, / Calculacioun, or astronomye."

19 jematrye. Not only geometry, or the art of measuring and design, but also the occult art of geomancy (MED), in which numbers are correlated with letters where­by words may be read as numbers for mystical investigation, etc.

22 Caton, Gryscysme, nor Doctrynal. Cato’s Disticha de moribus ad filium, on ethics; The Gryscysme, by Evrad de Béthune, a grammatical treatise; and The Doctrinale, another grammar, or possibly a reference to Christian doctrine (MED).

33 Translated in the next line. Compare Ecclesiasticus 1:1: "All wisdom is from the Lord God, and hath been always with him, and is before all time." Compare with line 90 as well.

50–52, 57 Jesus’ interrogation is similar to God’s confrontation of Job with the big ques­tions (Job 38–39). Line 57 might best be appreciated as a clever self-reference to the entire N-Town Cycle.

60 plasmacyon. Jesus out-jargons the jargoners.

66 oo God in Trynité. From the Athanasian Creed: "Fides autem catholica haec est: ut unum Deum in Trinitate . . . veneremur" (as cited in S 2:482).

81–92 See Spector, S 2:482, citing Block, Bl p. iii n2, who notes that this comparison of light and Trinity "is found in V. de Beauvais and goes back to Augustine," but does not cite specific passages. See also the Salutation (ll. 292, s.d.–312) and the Digby Candlemass, lines 485–96.

97–98 On the mystery of light passing through glass without harming its nature, see note to 11.252.

102 in the opyn felde. Another clear reference to the playing area as a field of contest. In this case, figuratively speaking, Jesus is a jouster who would defeat (convicte) Satan in this field of combat. See also note to Banns, line 399, above.

126–28 Compare with 2.100–03.

143–44, s.d. Although the two doctors were initially complacent academics, it is noteworthy that, through their conversation with young Jesus, they are able to see beyond the clever­ness of rhetoric to the inner meaning of their texts, to acknowledge the superiority of his wisdom, and to place him in the higher seat of learning, a dra­matic demonstration of the potency of true reading skills as the spirit of the text becomes supreme. Jesus has, in effect, taken them on a journey; whereas first he talked about wisdom coming from God (line 33) and then spoke of Trinitarian thought through the analogy of light passing through glass (lines 97–98), he now moves to a direct assertion of his hypostatic being. See line 149, where Jesus as Second Person of the Trinity addresses them in the first person.

149 My wytt and my lernynge. Although it has been our policy to use lowercase for Jesus as a human figure in N-Town, in this passage the hypostasis of his dual nature is made plainly evident: "I am of dobyl byrth and of dobyl lenage" (line 157). Indeed, convincing the doctors of this very fact seems both the point of his arguments and of the play itself, as Jesus speaks of himself as the one "without gynnynge" (line 158) who is also "endles" (line 162). That Jesus is successful in his arguments demonstrates that the true Jewish priesthood, as keepers of the Law, have within themselves a capacity of epiphany as they realize true divinity in their minds. See note to lines 281–88.
149–52 Compare York 20, lines 107–08: "Certis, I was or ʒe, / And schall be aftir ʒour"; and Towneley 18, lines 83–84: "certain, syre, I was or ye, / And shall be after you." Jesus attests to his true identity by revealing the divine source of his wytt (wisdom, knowledge, and memory). Or this worde contains a fine pun on "word" (as in this speech) and "world" (to which he was pre-existent).

157 I am of dobyl byrth and of dobyl lenage. As Jesus acknowledges his double birth he demonstrates the ambiguity of every human’s genealogy, which goes back to their earthly parents but, more importantly, to what Chaucer calls "the ferste stok," which is God himself, "the firste fader in magestee" ("Gentilesse," lines 1, 8, and 19). Although he acknowledges his "carnall" mother (21.163), he is "fadyrles" (21.175), his "Godhede" (21.167), like that of "the hygh Kynge of Blys" (21.171) being from the beginning. These passages on the hypostasis of the Trin­ity are central to much of the recurrent Trinitarian doctrine that runs through­out N-Town.

180–84 Compare Isaias 7:14: "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel"; and 7.1–16, above.

241–56 Jesus reveals the messianic secret that is meant to keep his true identity from Satan (see S 2:483). See also Woolf, English Mystery Plays, pp. 215–16. When Doctor 2 asks about Jesus’ biological parentage, he replies that his parents’ un­likely marriage, his mother’s "untimely" pregnancy, and Joseph’s fidelity (how­ever foolish in human eyes) were designed To blynde the devyl of his knowlache (line 245). Compare these lines to the demon’s prologue to Passion Play 1 (26.25–32, 41–42) and to the Parliament of Hell scene (23.14–39).

263 Faderys ware. Literally, "my father’s stock in trade." See Luke 2:49: "did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business?" Jesus, of course, refers to God’s spiri­tual business and spiritual concerns such as heaven and salvation.

269 these days thre. The three-day absence and Mary’s concern seem to prefigure the fearful dark night of the soul prior to the Resurrection. Or it is perhaps worth paralleling Jesus’ entrance into the temple to lead the two confused doctors toward the revelation they ultimately affirm to Play 35: Harrowing of Hell (2), which concludes in N-Town with the reassurance of Mary.

281–88 Although initially in this play the doctors had looked upon Jesus as a "lytyl babe . . . on thi moderys lappe" (line 41) who should return to suckle at his mother’s breast, now, having understood the progress of his instruction, they have placed themselves at his feet. Here, the playwright creates a dramatic moment of epi­phany whereby the First Doctor, even in the presence of Mary, freely and willingly recognizes the true divinity of Jesus within the hypostasis of the incarnation.

287 consummacyon. Either the performance "of this pageant" or the end of the whole pageant (see S 2:572).

289 Amen. See note to 15.321–22 on a response said by all.


Bl: Ludus Coventriae, ed. Block (1922); S: N-Town Play, ed. Spector (1991).

5–8 MS: large number 21 written in right margin.

7 all. MS: ll written over another letter.

15 argemente. MS: argern argemente.

16 metaphesyk. MS: a written over another letter.

23 retoryke. MS: retor retoryke.

24 be call. MS: reviser canceled and wrote over all above the line.

34 lent. MS: sent lent.

42 mokador. MS: second o written over another letter.

44 lest. MS: lyest lest.

56 descryve. S reads desscryve.

58 I. MS: can written by a reviser above the line after I.

61 derysyon. So S. MS, Bl: deryson.

62 dude. MS: altered to dyde by another hand.

80 synke. MS: f synke.

91 hyght. So MS, B. S: lyght.

93 I aske. MS: yitt I aske.

97 pers. MS: perysch, but corrected to pers by a reviser.

103 bolde. MS: bolde canceled, and bluddy written above by a reviser.

122 aproperyd. So MS, S. Bl: apperyd. aproperyd is likely an alternate spelling of either ypropren or propren, "To be appointed or assigned," referring to the persons of the Trinity (MED). Properyd is also used in Passion 1 (26.165).

134 naturall. MS: letter canceled before word.

139 doth. MS: w doth.

142 born. MS: bar born.

152 dede flowe. MS: dede flawe dede flowe.

159 MS: g written in top right corner of fol. 109r.

165 yough. MS: ʒoughʒ.

167 But myn. So MS, Bl. S supplies be after But.

174 modyr. MS: w modyr.

193 Now. So S. MS, Bl: No.

205 have you hym sent. So S. Bl: have him sent. MS: reviser, above the line, added you.

207 he. So S. MS, Bl: her.

210 good. MS: god good.

219 is. So S. Bl: omitted. MS: omitted, but added by reviser.

232 hygh. So S, Bl. MS: canceled.

Before 241 MS: fol. 110v marked 110.

249 MS: Jhus aduc has been canceled in the right margin.

250 And. MS: I And.

260 blysse. MS: canceled and replaced by comfort above the line in a reviser’s hand.

261 evy. MS: reviser wrote he over e.

280 forsake. MS: reviser has written to above the line before forsake.

289 MS: Amen written by two other hands above and below the original Amen. An O is written at the bottom of the page. The remainder of fol. 111r is blank. Fol. 111v is blank except for a few lines written at the top in a later hand: Hic incipyt Johannes Baptysta. Below that: Tho kinge the younger hath demised; as well as another scribble or inscription.
[Modo de doctoribus disputantibus cum Jhesu in templo.1





























DOCTOR 1 Scripture sacre esse dinoscimur doctos:2
We to bere the belle of all manere clergyse.
DOCTOR 2 Velud rosa omnium florum flos:
Lyke on to us was nevyr clerke so wyse.
DOCTOR 1 Loke what scyens ye kan devyse
Of redynge, wrytynge, and trewe ortografye.
Amongys all clerkys we bere the prysse
Of gramer, cadens, and of prosodye!

DOCTOR 2 No clerke abyl to bere oure book
Of versyfyeng nor of other scyens!
Of swete musyke, whoso wyll look —
Seke no ferther but to oure presens!
Of dyaletyk we have the hygh excellence
Of sophestrye, logyk, and phylosophye!
Ageyn oure argemente is no recystence
In metaphesyk ne astronomye.

DOCTOR 1 Of calculacyon and negremauncye —
Also of augrym and of asmatryk —
O lynyacyon that longyth to jematrye —
Of dyetis and domys that longyth to phesyk —
In all this scyens is non us lyke
In Caton, Gryscysme, nor Doctrynal!
And for endytynge with retoryke
The hyest degré is oure be call.

DOCTOR 2 In grett canon and in cevyle lawe,
Also in scyens of polycye
Is non to us wurthe an hawe!
Of all cunnynge we bere the maystrye!
Therfore, in this temple we sytt on hye
And of most wurchep kepe the sovereynté:
Ther is on erthe no man so wurthye
The hygh stat to holdyn as we tweyn be.

JHESUS Omnis sciencia a Domino Deo est:
Al wytt and wysdam of God it is lent.
Of all your lernynge withinne youre brest
Thank hyghly that Lord that hath yow sent.
Thorwe bost and pryde, youre soulys may be shent.
Of wytt and wysdome, ye have not so mech
But God may make, at hese entente,
Of all youre connynge many man yow lech.

DOCTOR 1 Goo hom, lytyl babe, and sytt on thi moderys lappe,
And put a mokador aforn thi brest,
And pray thi modyr to fede thee with the pappe!
Of thee for to lerne, we desyre not to lest.
DOCTOR 2 Go to thi dyner, for that behovyth thee best!
Whan thu art athreste, than take thee a sowke!
Aftyr, go to cradyl therin to take thi rest,
For that canst thu do bettyr than for to loke on book.

JHESUS Stondynge that ye be so wytty and wyse —
Can ye owth tellyn how this werde was wrought?
How longe shal it laste? Can ye devyse
With all the cunnyge that ye han sought?
DOCTOR 1 Nay, all erthely clerkys that telle can nought!
It passyth oure wytt that for to contryve!
It is not possyble abought to be brought:
The worldys endyng no man kan descryve!

JHESUS How it was wrought, and how longe it shal endure?
That I telle be good delyberacyon.
Not only therof, but of every creature —
How it is wrought, I knowe the plasmacyon.
DOCTOR 2 Of thi wurdys I have skorne and derysyon!
How schulde a chylde that nevyr lettyr dude lere
Com to the wytt of so hygh cognysion
Of tho grete werkys that so wundyrfull were?

JHESUS All thynge is brought to informacyon
Be thre personys, oo God in Trynité.
And on of tho thre hath take incarnacyon,
Bothe flesch and blood of a mayd fre.
And be that myght of tho personys thre,
Hevyn and erth and all thynge is wrought.
And as it plesyth that hygh Magesté,
Allthynge shal leste and lenger nowght.

DOCTOR 1 I grawnt weyl allthynge that God dyde make,
And withowtyn hym, nothynge may be,
But o thynge thu seydyst, and that I forsake,
That oo God alone was personys thre.
Ryght onpossyble that is to me!
That on is thre I kannot thynke.
If thu canst preve it anon lett se,
For in oure hertys it may nevyr synke.

JHESUS In the sunne, consydyr ye thyngys thre:
The splendure, the hete, and the lyght.
As tho thre partys but oo sunne be,
Ryght so thre personys be oo God of myght.
DOCTOR 2 In very feyth, this reson is ryght!
But yitt, fayr babe, oo thynge we pray yow:
What do all tho thre personys hyght?
Us to enforme, ye sey to me now.

JHESUS The fyrst is calde the Fadyr of Myght;
The secunde the Sone of Wysdam and Wytt;
The Holy Gost the thyrde, of Grace he is hyght;
And in oo substauns all these thre be knyt.
DOCTOR 1 Another questyon I aske yow yitt:
Ye seyd on of these thre toke flesch and blood,3
And sche a clene mayde? I kannot beleve it —
Clene mayde and modyr nevyr yit in oo persone stood.4

JHESUS Lyke as the sunne doth pers the glas,
The glas not hurte of his nature;
Ryght so the Godhed entryd has
The Virgynes wombe, and sche mayd pure.
That maydonys childe shal do grett cure:
Convicte the devyl in the opyn felde,
And with his bolde berst fecch hom his creature,
Mankende, to save — his brest shal be the shelde.

DOCTOR 2 This childys doctryne doth passe oure wytt.
Sum aungel of hevyn I trowe that he be!
But blyssyd babe, of oo dowte yitt.
We pray yow, enforme us for charyté:
Which toke flesch of the personys thre,
Ageyn the fende to holde such batayle?
JHESUS The secunde persone, forsothe, is he
Shal fray the fende withowte fayle.

DOCTOR 1 Why rather he than any of that other?
The fyrst or the thyrde, why come they nowth?
JHESUS This is the cawse why, sertys, and non other.
Ageyn the secunde, the trespas was wrought
Whan the serpent Adam to synne browth.
He temptyd hym nowght be the Faderys myght.
Of the Gostys goodnes spak he ryght nowght,
But in connynge he temptyd hym ryght.

Myght is the Faderys owyn propyrté;
To the Gost aproperyd is goodnes.
In none of these tweyn temptyd he.
Mankende to synne, whan he dede dresse,
To the Sone connynge doth longe expres.
Ther with the serpent dyd Adam asay.
“Ete of this appyl,” he seyd no lesse,
“And thu shalt have connynge as God, verray.”

Thus the secunde person attrybute
Was only towchyd be temptacyon,
Wherfore hymself wyl hold the sewte
And kepe his propyrté fro maculacyon.
DOCTOR 2 This is an hevynly declaracyon!
Oure naturall wytt it doth excede!
So yonge a childe of such informacyon
In al this werld nevyr er non yede.

DOCTOR 1 We be not worthy to kepe this sete
Whyll that oure mayster is in presens.
The maystry of us, this childe doth gete!
We must hym wurchep with hygh reverens.
Come forth, swete babe of grett excellens,
The whysest clerke that evyr yett was born!
To yow we geve the hygh resydens,
Us more to teche as ye have done beforn.
(see note)
two are the best of all clergy
As the rose of all flowers, (we are) the flower; (see note)

learning; conceive of; (t-note)
reading; orthography
are the most eminent; (t-note)
grammar, rhetoric; versifying

can compare with us
For sweet music; (see note)

formal reasoning
subtle disputation
Against; argument; (t-note)
metaphysics nor; (see note); (t-note)

sorcery; (see note)
computing; art of measuring
use of lines in geometry; (see note)
diets; medical opinions
there is none like us
Cato, Graecismus; Doctrinale; (see note)
writing; rhetoric; (t-note)
ours for the asking; (t-note)

political science
Everyone is worthless compared to us
we are the masters


position; two do

All wisdom is from the Lord God; (see note)

Be thankful; sent to you
boasting; destroyed
so much
at his will
cleverness; men such as you

little; mother’s
bib on; (t-note)
her breast
From thee; to listen; (t-note)
dinner; fits thee
thirsty, then have a suck
your cradle
read a book

world was made; (see note)
cannot tell that
to understand
to be done
world’s end; describe; (t-note)

was it made; (see note)
by; (t-note)

made; creation; (see note)
For; derision; (t-note)
did learn his letters; (t-note)
such high comprehension
those great works

made manifest as knowedge
By three; one; (see note)
one; those; taken
noble maid

last and no longer

one; said; reject
one; three; conceive
prove; now let’s see
penetrate; (t-note)

three; (see note)
radiance; heat
those three; one
are one

yet; one; ask you
those; call themselves
tell me

third; is called; (t-note)
are united
yet; (t-note)

pure maiden

pierce; (see note); (t-note)
its nature
has entered
Virgin’s; maiden
maiden’s; go to great lengths
Defeat; in battle; (see note)
[the child’s] fair breast; (t-note)
His (Christ’s) breast

I think
one; yet

Against the fiend; battle
Who shall attack the fiend

of the others
third; not
reason why, certainly
Against; sin was committed
When; brought
not by; Father’s
Spirit’s; spoke not
him alone

Father’s; attribute
Holy Ghost assigned; (t-note)
when he did cause it
cunning is long associated
did tempt Adam; (see note)

attribute from defilement


never before has lived

seat [of honor]
mastery over us; has won; (t-note)

wisest; (t-note)
give; seat; (see note)

  [Hic adducunt Jhesum inter ipsos et in scanno altiori ipsum sedere faciunt, ipsis in infer- ioribus scannis sedentibus, et ait Doctor 2:5





























DOCTOR 2 So yonge a chylde, suche clergye to reche,
And so sadly to sey it, we woundyr sore:
Who was youre mayster who dede yow teche?
Of what man had ye this wurthy lore?
JHESUS My wytt and my lernynge is no yonge store.
Or this worde was wrought, allthinge dede I knowe.
Fyrst, or ye wore borne, yerys many score
Thorwe the myght of my Fadyr, my wytt in me dede flowe.

DOCTOR 1 Or that we weryn born? Nay, that may nat be!
The yongest of us tweyn is thre score yere of age!
And thiselfe art but a chylde — al men may wel se.
Late camst out of cradyl as it semyth be thi vesage.
JHESUS I am of dobyl byrth and of dobyl lenage:
Fyrst, be my Fadyr, I am without gynnynge,
And lyke, as he is hendeles in his hygh stage,
So shal I also nevyrmor have endynge.

For be my Fadyr, Kynge Celestyall
Without begynnyng, I am endles.
But be my modyr that is carnall,
I am but twelf yere of age — that is expres.
My body of yough doth shewe wyttnes
Which of my modyr here I dude take
But myn hygh Godhede, this is no lesse.
Allthynge in this worlde forsothe dude I make.

DOCTOR 2 Be youre fadyr that endles is —
Who is your modyr? Telle us, we pray!
JHESUS Be my Fadyr, the hygh Kynge of Blys,
A modyrles chylde I am, veray.
DOCTOR 1 Who was youre fadyr, to us than say,
Be youre modyr, a woman that was!
JHESUS I am fadyrles. As for that may
Of fleschly luste, she dude nevyr trespas.

DOCTOR 2 Telle us, I pray yow, what is youre name?
What hyght youre modyr, telle us also.
JHESUS Jhesu of Nazareth, I am the same,
Born of a clene mayd — prophetys seyd so.
Ysaye seyd thus: “Ecce virgo” —
A mayd shal conceyve in clennes a chylde,
Yitt ageyn nature and al kende, loo,
From all wem of synne, pure and undefylde.

Mary, the chylde of Joachym and Anne,
Ys that clene mayd, and her childe am I.
The frute of her wombe shal save every manne
From the grett dowte of the fyndys tormentry.
DOCTOR 1 All the clerkys of this worlde, trewly,
Cannot brynge this to declaracyon
Lesse than thei have of God Almyghty
Sum influens of informacyon!

DOCTOR 2 Now, jentyl Jhesu, we yow pray
Whyl that we stodye awhyle to dwelle
In cas mo dowtys that we fynde may
The trewth of hem ye may us telle.
JHESUS Goo, take youre stodye, and avyse yow well,
And all youre leysere I shal abyde.
If any dowtys to me ye mell,
The trewth therof I shall unhyde.

MARIA Alas, alas myn hert is wo!
My blyssyd babe awey is went!
I wott nevyr whedyr that he is go!
Alas, for sorwe myn hert is rent!
Jentyl husbond, have you hym sent
Out on herrande to any place?
But yf ye knowe were he ys bent,
Myn hert for woo asondyr wyl race.

JOSEPH On my massage I hym not sent,
Forsothe, good wyff, in no degré.
How longe is it that he hens went?
What tyme dude ye youre childe last se?
MARIA Trewly, gode spowse, not these days thre!
Therfore, myn herte is cast in care,
Hym for to seke wherso he be!
In hast, good husbonde, lete us forth fare!

JOSEPH Than to Hierusalem lete us streyte wende,
For kynred gladly togedyr wole gon.
I hope he is ther with sum good frende;
Ther he hath cosynys ryght many on.
MARIA I am aferde that he hath fon,
For his grett wyttys and werkys good
Lyke hym of wytt, forsoth, is non:
Every childe with hym is wroth and wood.

Also, my babe, my blys, my blood —
Whedyr art thu thus gon fro me?
My sowle, my swetyng, my frute, myn food —
Send me sum wurd where that thu be!
Telle me, good serys, for charyté —
Jhesu, my childe, that babe of blysse,
Amonge this compayné dude ye hym se?
For Godys hygh love — telle where he is!

DOCTOR 1 Of oo qwestyon I am bethought:
All of youre modyr, that blyssyd may —
In what governauns is she brought?
How is sche rewlyd be nyght and day?
JHESUS An old man Joseph, as I yow say,
Her weddyd be meracle onto his wyff,
Her for to fede and kepe alway
And bothyn in clennesse be maydonys o lyff.

DOCTOR 2 What nede was it her to be wedde
Onto a man of so grett age,
Lesse than thei myght bothe ago to bedde
And kept the lawe of maryage?
JHESUS To blynde the devyl of his knowlache
And my byrth from hym to hyde,
That holy wedlok was grett stopage,
The devyl in dowte to do abyde.

Also, whan sche shulde to Egypte gon
And fle from Herowde for dowte of me,
Becawse she shulde nat go alon;
Joseph was ordeyned her make to be.
My Fadyr, of his hygh magesté,
Her for to comforte in the way.
These be the cawsys, as ye may se,
Why Joseph weddyd that holy may.

MARIA A, dere childe! Dere chylde, why hast thu thus done?
For thee we have had grett sorwe and care!
Thy fadyr and I thre days have gone
Wyde, thee to seke of blysse ful bare.
JHESUS Why have ye sought me with evy fare?
Wete ye not wele I muste been
Amonge hem that is my Faderys ware,
His gostly catel for to ovyrsen.

MARIA Youre Faderys wyl must nedys be wrought.
It is most wurthy that it so be,
Yitt on youre modyr have ye sum thought
And be nevyrmore so longe fro me!
As to my thynkynge, these days thre
That ye absente have ben away
Be more lengere in ther degré
Than all the space of twelf yere day.

JHESUS Now for to plese my modyr mylde,
I shal yow folwe with obedyence.
I am youre sone and subjecte childe
And owe to do yow hygh reverence.
Home with yow I wyl go hens;
Of yow clerkys my leve I take.
Every childe shulde, with good dyligens,
His modyr to plese, his owyn wyl forsake.

DOCTOR 1 O, blyssyd Jhesu, with yow we wende!
Of yow to have more informacyon,
Ful blyssyd is youre modyr hende
Of whom you toke youre incarnacyon.
We pray yow, Jhesu, of consolacyon
At oure most nede of yow to have.
All that hath herd this consummacyon
Of this pagent, youre grace them save.
learning; reach
maturely; wonder greatly
teacher; did teach you
not recent; (see note)
Before; world

Before; were
two; years

cradle; by your face
double; lineage; (see note)
by my Father; beginning
endless; throne; (t-note)


by my mother
twelve years; is clear
youth; bear witness; (t-note)
mother; did
Everything; truly did

[Swearing] by your father

Father; Bliss
motherless; truly
father; then
[Swearing] by your mother; (t-note)
did never sin

I ask you
What is your mother called

pure maid; (see note)
“Behold, a virgin”
in virginity
Yet against; natural law
all stain

great fear; fiend’s torment
cannot say this
Unless they
inspired source

ask you; (t-note)
study; to stay
more doubts
studies; reflect
leisure; await
doubts; tell

is gone
don’t know where; gone
sorrow; heart; broken
you sent him; (t-note)
on an errand
Unless; bound; (t-note)
heart; break into pieces

On an errand
Truly; no way; (t-note)
In haste; go forth

Then; go directly
kin; would go together
cousins; many a one
Because of; wits; works
angry and raging

my darling, my son

God’s; (t-note)

one; I have thought
blessed maiden
In whose keeping
ruled by
say to you
wedded miraculously

both be virgins for life

(see note); (t-note)

Unless; have gone
from knowing

to keep in doubt

when; went; (t-note)
fled; out of fear; (t-note)

ordained to be her mate

are the causes


Widely; seek; sorrowfully; (t-note)
heavy faces; (t-note)
Know you not well
them; Father’s business; (see note)
spiritual goods to oversee

Father’s; must be done

Yet of your mother
(see note)

Seemed longer
your entire twelve years

follow you

ought; you

you clerks

mother; (t-note)

we will go; (see note)

gracious mother

heard; performance; (see note)

(see note); (t-note)

Go To Play 22, Baptism