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Play 25, Raising of Lazarus

The N-Town Banns declares that this play is "The grettest meracle that evyr Jhesus / In erthe wrouth" (lines 295–96). While there are Continental texts and two other English Laza­rus scenes in existence, Towneley Play 31 and N-Town are the only independent Lazarus plays. The Chester Glover's Play (Play 13) is combined with Jesus' Healing of the Blind Chelidonian; the York Capper's Play (Play 24) is in tandem with the Woman Taken in Adul­tery. All of these plays are based upon the John 11:1–46 account, but the N-Town version is still the longest and most detailed of the English plays. N-Town elaborates on the relation­ships among the three siblings of Bethany (Mary, Martha, and Lazarus), the roles of the conso­lators, and the sisters' extensive lamentations which prefigure those found in Passion Play 2.

The play is written entirely in octaves.

9 Mawdelyn. In the Middle Ages, she was commonly conflated with Mary of Beth­any. See Coletti (Mary Magdalene, pp. 22, 94–99, 128–39, 170–79, and 221–28) on the conflation of biblical Marys with Mawdelyn, especially by Gregory the Great. Mary Magdalene often was favored by social groups ranging from com­mercial organizations to theater groups, but especially for charities, which is particularly apt for Lazarus' appeal here. "In late medieval England the ide­ology of charity and the cult of Mary Magdalene converged in the hospital, the cultural institution most devoted to fostering charitable values and practices and to pro­moting, through its rounds of prayers and almsgiving, the spiritual health of its benefactors while also attending to the bodily sickness of its inmates" (Coletti, Mary Magdalene, p. 39).

61 ff. At the beginning of the play, the consolators offer hope that Lazarus will survive the illness. It is worth noting that all of the consolators' attitudes change toward death. At the beginning of the play, they display stoicism: "deth is dew to every man" (line 130) and "Of youre sorwynge . . . now ses . . . / And helpe he were buryed in a cley pitt" (lines 139–40). At the end, all four consolators attest to their altered viewpoints and to Jesus' divine nature, saying in unison: "For agens deth us helpyht not to stryve, / But agen youre myght is no resistens" (lines 446– 47). This same attitude can be seen in the Passion Plays in which most of the witnesses to the Passion undergo a similar change in attitude.

85 Since Consolator 4 also serves as a messenger to Jesus, he is also designated Nuncius as a speaker.

101–04 Martha's solicitous characterization is likely drawn from Luke 10:38–42. In this account, Martha seems overly concerned with worldly matters while Mary con­centrates on spiritual ones. Nonetheless, her observation "Ye shal have what ye wole thynke" ("you may have whatever you wish") resonates deeply, given the implications of intent and purpose layered within thynke. Compare line 296, Martha's "Whatso thu aske, thu shalt it have."

122–27 In her poignant sympathy, Magdalyn, always noted for her empathy, expresses a desire to die with Lazarus, just as Thomas offers to die with Jesus in John 11; so too in lines 141–44, 156–60, and 171–72 of this play. The loneliness of death ("why went he alone awey," line 125) is a potent terror often confronted in medi­eval literature on death, e.g., the emphasis on the solitude of Everyman in his play about dying.

130 Proverbial. Compare Whiting D97–101 and Wisdom, line 876.

131–32 Proverbial. Compare Whiting D96.

168 wepe all oure fylle. Mary is commonly given more leeway than most in matters of grief, since empathy is one of her defining characteristics (see, e.g., Crashaw's poem, "The Weeper"). Chaucer's Prudence defines the proper balance as she suffers Melibee "to wepe and crie as for a certein space" before advising him to suffer "in pacience as wel as he abideth the deeth of his owene propre persone" (CT VII[B2]978–84). Mary empathizes deeply at the appropriate time, then turns to the wise counsel of Jesus. One might well argue that the N-Town Raising of Lazarus is a study in counsel on the value and limitations of grief through Jesus' wise counsel on the Christian's reception of death that is clarified by the exam­ple of Lazarus' resurrection. See the note to lines 171–72, below.

171–72 Martha also expresses a desire to die with her brother. See note to lines 122–27 above. The playwright draws a fine line between empathy and the deadly sin of acedia, to which the sisters appear to be succumbing. In the late Middle Ages, the dual sins of acedia (sloth) and tristitia (despair, sadness, or grief) became con­flated; see Wenzel, Sin of Sloth, pp. 171–74. Martha's dilemma exempli­fies the dangerous road of excessive grief; Wenzel explains that "in the scheme of the Three Enemies [the World, the Flesh, and the Devil] the temptation of un­reasonable grief . . . accompan[ies] the Devil" (p. 171). The reasonable mourner, in contrast, understands both the futility of excessive sadness — she or he cannot, after all, resurrect the loved one — and its disruption of public life. See 2 Kings (2 Samuel) 12:18–24, where David grieves at the death of his and Bathsheba's first child; David explains to his public officials that "now that he is dead, why should I fast? Shall I be able to bring him back any more? I shall go to him rather: but he shall not return to me" (12:23).

192, s.d.–412 It is interesting to note that from line 97 to the end of the play the scribe some­times calls Consolator 4 Quartus Consolator, sometimes Nuncius, and on four occa­sions, both titles. Clearly, when this character acts as messenger — to retrieve Jesus and to give the sisters news of Jesus' impending arrival — he is Nuncius.

213–44 John 11:6 says that Jesus waited two days before making his way to Bethany. Spector compares Cursor Mundi 14218–29, where Thomas wishes to die with Lazarus, where in York 24.144–45 he would willingly die with Jesus. See also Towneley 31.37–38 (S 2:487).

221 ff. Twelve owrys. Jesus measures time according to the ecclesiastical clock, which divides daylight into twelve equal hours of different length, depending upon the time of year, but according to which the hours of prayer are told. The trope is apt in that Jesus is concerned with the way people stumble in darkness (lines 225–32), especially at death, and thus wish to bring Lazarus back to daylight so that he might instruct them all in preparation for the great night journey.

240 Oure frende is deed and undyr erth clad. Usually Lazarus is presented as lying in a cave or sepulcher, as in Luke. N-Town emphasizes his being laid in the earth (buried in clay), though at the actual raising, the stone is introduced at the door of a cave and all four consolators struggle together to bear its weight. In em­pha­sizing the clay, the playwright appears to be confirming two biblical traditions, one of Adam being created from clay, to which he returns in death, and the variant on that idea in John, where Jesus heals (re-creates the vision of) the blind man by placing clay on his eyes which then falls away.

277 Proverbial. Compare Whiting D85.

296–310 The lines are a close rendering of John 11:22–26.

357 Spector cites "Against Death Is No Defence," Religious Lyrics of the Fifteenth Century no.156 and Whiting D78 (S 2:488).

372 I must wepe lyke as ye do. Here Jesus affirms the spiritual value of empathy even as he demonstrates its limitation. The playwright focuses on the apparent con­tradiction of human and divine perspective in the opposite responses of the two consolators (lines 373–80). The detail of Jesus' weeping is not found in Lazarus plays in other cycles. See John 11:35: "Et lacrimatus est Iesus."

377 straw for thi tale! An interjective imprecation. Compare Harry Bailly's "straw for youre gentilesse!" directed toward the patronizing Franklin (CT V[F]695). The N-Town playwright is once again brilliant in his turning of a simple detail in John ("Jesus wept") into a remarkable/remarked-upon theological issue as the stage direction notes: "Hic Jhesus fingit se lacrimari" ["Here Jesus pretends that he is crying"]. Then the poet has Consolator 3 remark upon their friend's great empathy (see note to line 372). By having Nuncius rudely challenge the wise counselor he turns the emotional trial into a matter of faith, based on what they should all already know about this prophet. If he can heal a blind man, he can surely rescue Lazarus. The response is uniquely tied to the Gospel of John, the book of signs which puts such emphasis on teaching mankind to learn to read as the sixth sign leads to the seventh in anticipation of the eighth. This play­wright, instead, knows the pathways of biblical exegesis, to which he gives the­atrical life.

407–08 The consolators carry out Jesus' command without questioning, but this does not keep two of them (Consolators 2 and 4) from expressing their fears — that the stone is heavy and that Lazarus' corpse will be an unfortunate sight with an un­pleasant smell.

449 Now I have shewyd. This concluding speech is addressed to the audience.


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

4–8 MS: large play number 25 written in right margin.

33, s.n. MS: speaker's names lack rubrication on fol. 128r. Also applies to lines 41, s.n.; 43, s.n.; 45, s.n.; 47, s.n.; 49, s.n.; and 51, s.n.

61, s.n. CONSOLATOR 4. MS: iiiius Consolator et Nuncius. Applies to lines 97 and 285 as well.

63 deth. MS: eth blotted, corrected over other letters.

74 agayn. MS: altered from ageyn.

76 slayn. MS: altered from sleyn.

80 MS: hath written by another hand at the bottom of fol. 128v.

100 MS: Here goth he his way, as a stage direction or prompt note added by a reviser.

106 come. MS: a letter has been canceled before.

118 Magdalyn. MS: mad magdalyn.

122 sey. MS: say, corrected with e above canceled a.

146 chete. MS: reviser has altered to schete.

173 shame. MS: a letter has been canceled before.

207 dreye. MS: drre with deleting dots under first r, canceled before dreye.

211, s.n. MS: Nuncs.

219 MS: fol. 131v marked 130.

222 walke. MS: l written over another letter.

233 syknes. MS: k written over another letter.

237 knew. MS: a letter has been canceled before.

245 Thee for. MS: The for. It is also possible that an r was omitted, and that the word is Therfor.

250 seyd. MS: corrected from sayd.

257, s.n. MS: w in Mawdelyn corrected over another letter.

259 ston. So S. MS: stone entered by reviser.

283 while. MS: wyl while.

285, s.n. MS: Nunc, with remainder cropped.

292 was. MS: was was.

311 thee. MS: // follows the word.

326 releve. MS: a letter has been canceled before.

362 gentyl. So MS, Bl. S: jentyl. S believes that a reviser altered the j to a g.

365, s.n. MS: letter canceled before s.n.

370 to. MS: w to.

378 dede. MS: altered to dyde by reviser.

387 Deyd. MS: altered to dyyd by a reviser.

389 Glathe. MS: altered to gladd by reviser.

394 foure. MS: Iiij.
he. MS: w he.

396 hurte. MS: hurf hurte.

401 anon. MS: an; n canceled, and non inserted in left margin.

404 myself. MS: self altered from seff.

407 evy. MS: altered to hevy by reviser.

411 here. MS: in supplied by reviser after here.

412, s.d. MS: I thanke thee fadyr canceled in red with stage direction written at right.

420 thei. MS: altered to they by a reviser.

428, s.d. sepulti. So Bl, S. MS: sepult'.

429 bretheryn. MS: breryn bretheryn.

434 lowte. MS: unto inserted by reviser after lowte.

448 us. MS: ust us.

After 456 MS: remainder of fol. 135v (35mm.) blank except for some scribbles.






















































































[Hic incipit de suscitacione Lazari.

LAZARUS God, that all thynge dede make of nowth
And puttyst eche creature to his fenaunce,
Save thyn handwerke that thu hast wrought,
As thu art Lord of hygh substauns.
O, gracyous God, att thi plesauns,
Of my dysese now comforte me,
Which thurowe syknes hath such penawnce!
Onethys for heedache may I now se!

Systyr Martha and Mawdelyn eke,
With hast helpe me in bedde to dresse,
For trewly, I am so woundyrly seke
I may nevyr schape this grett seknes!
My deth is com now, I gesse.
Help into chawmere that I be led,
My grett desesse I hope shal lesse
If I were leyd upon a bed.

MARTHA Lazarus, brother, be of good cher!
I hope youre syknes ryght wel shal slake.
Upon this bed rest yow rygh here
And a good slep assay to take.
MAGDALYN Now, jentyl brothyr, for Goddys sake,
Lyfte up yowre hert and be not feynt.
An hevy housholde with us ye make
If dedly syknes have yow ateynt.

LAZARUS Forsothe, dere systeryn, I may not slepe —
My seknes so sore doth evyr encrese!
Of me I pray yow take ryght good kepe
Tyll that my peyne begynne relese.
MARTHA God graunt grace that it may sese.
Of syknes, God make yow sownde
Or ellys oure joy wyll sone dyscres
In so grett peynes if ye ly bownde.

MAGDALYN A, brothir, brothir! Lyfte up youre herte!
Your hevy cher doth us grevaunce.
If deth from us yow shulde departe,
Than were we brought in comberaunce.
Ye be oure brothyr, syb of alyaunce!
If ye wore deed, than had we none!
Ye do us brynge in distemperaunce
Whan ye us telle ye shal hens gone.

CONSOLATOR 1 Dame Martha and Magdalyne —
How faryth youre brothire? Lete us hym se.
MARTHA He is ryght seke and hath grett pyne!
I am aferde deed he shal be.
MAGDALYN A man may have ryght grett peté,
The fervent hete of hym to fele.
CONSOLATOR 2 Take ye no thought in no degré!
I hope that he shal fare ful wele.

MARTHA He may nat leve! His colowre doth chaunge!
Com to his bed — ye shal hym se.
MAGDALYN Iff he longe leve, it wyl be straunge,
But as God wole, so mut it be.
Chere hym, gode frendys, for charyté —
Comforte of hym we kan non gete.
Alas! Alas, what eylight me?
Myne herte for wo is wundyr grete.

CONSOLATOR 3 Al heyl, Syr Lazarus! How do ye fare?
How do ye fele yow in youre herte?
LAZARUS I am with syknes all woundyn in care.
And loke whan deth me shulde departe.
CONSOLATOR 4 Ye shal have hele and leve in qwart
If ye wol take to yow good chere.
LAZARUS Whan deth on me hath shet his dart,
I shal have hele and ly on bere!

CONSOLATOR 1 Be of good comforte, and thynke not so.
Put out of herte that idyl thought!
Youre owyn mysdemynge may werke yow wo
And cause yow sonere to deth be brought!
CONSOLATOR 2 With gret syknes, thow ye be sought
Upon youresylf have no mystruste.
If that ye have, I wundyr ryght nought
Thow ye be deed and cast in duste.

CONSOLATOR 3 Many on hath had ryght grett syknesse,
And aftyr, hath had his hele agayn.
And many a man, this is no lesse,
With his wantruste hymsylf hath slayn!
Ye be a man of ryght sad brayn.
Thow that youre syknes greve yow ryght ill,
Pluk up youre herte with myght and mayn
And chere youresylf with all youre wyll!

LAZARUS Ageyn my syknes ther is non ese,
But Jhesu Cryst, my maystyr dere —
If that he wyst of my dyssese
Ryght sone I trust he wolde ben here.
CONSOLATOR 4 I shal go to hym withoutyn dwere,
And of youre syknes telle hym serteyn.
Loke that ye be of ryght good chere
Whyll that I go and com ageyn.

MARTHA Now, jentyl frend, telle hym ryght thus:
He that he lovyth hath grett syknes,
Hedyr to come and comforte us.
Say that we prayd hym of his goodnes.
MAGDALYN Recomende us onto his hyghnes,
And telle hym all oure hertys wo.
But he comforte oure hevynes,
Oure werdly joy awey wyl go.

CONSOLATOR 4 The trewth, forsoth, all every dele
As ye have told, so shal I say.
Go to youre brothyr and cheryse hym wele,
For I walke forth streyte in my way.
MARTHA What chere, good brothyr? Telle me, I pray.
What wele ye ete? What wele ye drynk?
Loke what is plesynge to youre pay.
Ye shal have what ye wole thynke.

LAZARUS My wynde is stoppyd — gon is my breth!
And deth is come to make myn ende!
To God in hevyn, my sowle I qweth!
Farwell, systeryn, for hens I wende.

[Hic Lazarus moritur, et cetera.

MAGDALYN Alas! For wo myn here I rende!
Myn owyn dere brothyr lyth here now ded!
Now have we lost a trusty frende,
The sybbest blood of oure kynreed.

MARTHA Alas! Alas, and weleway!
Now be we tweyn bothe brotherles!
For who my hert is colde as clay!
A! Hoo shal comforte oure carefulnes?
Ther had nevyr woman more doolfulnes!
A, systyr Magdalyn, what is youre reed?
What whith may helpe oure hevynes
Now that oure brother is gon and deed?

MAGDALYN Alas, dere systyr, I cannot telle.
The best comforte that I can sey
But sum man do us sle and qwelle,
Lete us ly down by hym and dey!
Alas, why went he alone awey?
If we had deyd with hym also,
Than had oure care all turnyd to pley!
Ther now all joye is turnyd to woo.

CONSOLATOR 1 Be of good comforte, and thank God of al,
For deth is dew to every man.
What tyme that deth on us shal fal
Non erthely wyght the oure telle can.
MARTHA We all shul dye — that is sertan,
But yit the blood of kynde nature
Whan deth, the brothyr awey hath tan,
Must nedys murne that sepulture.

CONSOLATOR 2 Good frendys, I pray yow holde youre pes!
All youre wepynge may not amende itt.
Of youre sorwynge, therfore now ses
And helpe he were buryed in a cley pitt.
MAGDALYN Alas, that wurde myn herte doth slytt!
That he must now in cley be grave,
I wolde sum man my throte wulde kytt,
That I with hym myght lyne in cave.

CONSOLATOR 3 Bothe heed and foot now he is wounde
In a chete bothe fayr and clene.
Lete us bere hym streyte to that grounde
Where that ye thynke his grave shal bene.
MARTHA We be full lothe, that pytt to sen
But stondynge it may no bettyr be.
The coors take up yow thre between —
With carefull herte yow folwe shal we.

[Hic portauit corpus ad sepelliendum.

MAGDALYN Alas, comforte I se non othyr
But all of sorwe and care and woo!
We dulfull women must burry oure brothir!
Alas, that deth me wyl not slo.
If I to pitt with hym myght go,
Therin evyrmore with hym to abyde;
Than were my care all went me fro,
Ther now grett sorwe doth wounde me wyde.

CONSOLATOR 1 This coors we burry here in this pytte,
Allmyghty God, the sowle mut have.
And with this ston, this grave we shytte
Fro ravenous bestys, the body to save.
MAGDALYN He is now brought into his cave.
Myn hert for wo, this syght doth kylle!
Lete us sytt down here by the grave
Or we go hens, wepe all oure fylle.

MARTHA Us for to wepe, no man may lett
Beforn oure face to se this syght.
Alas, qwy doth deth us not fett,
Us for to brynge to this same plyght?
CONSOLATOR 2 Arys, for shame! Ye do not ryght!
Streyth from this grave ye shul go hens.
Thus for to grugge ageyns Godys myght,
Agens hygh God ye do offens!

MAGDALYN Syth I must nedys with yow hens gon,
My brotherys grave lete me fyrst kys.
Alas, no whith may helpe my mon!
Farewel, my brothyr! Farewel, my blys!
CONSOLATOR 3 Hom to your place we shal yow wysse,
For Goddys love, be of good chere.
Indede ye do ryght sore amys
So sore to wepe as ye do here!

MARTHA Lete us go hom, than, to oure place.
We pray yow all with us to abyde,
Us to comforte with sum solace
Tyl that oure sorwe doth slake and sclyde.
CONSOLATOR 1 Yow for to comforte at every tyde,
We shall dwelle here bothe nyght and day,
And God that made this werd so wyde
Be yowre comforte that best may.

[Hic Consolator 4 et Nuncius loquitur Jhesu, dicens:1

CONSOLATOR 4 Heyl, holy prophete, Jhesu be name!
Martha and Mawdelyn, tho systeryn too
Recomende hem to youre hygh fame
And bad me sey to yow thus, loo:
How that Lazare, qwhich that ye lovyd so,
With grett syknes is sore dyssesyd!
To hym they prayd yow that ye wolde goo
If that youre hyghnes therwith were plesyd.

JHESUS Dedly syknes Lazare hath non
But for to shewe Goddys grete glorye,
For that syknes is ordeynyd alon
The Sone of God to gloryfie.
NUNCIUS They be in dowte that he shal deye,
Grett syknes hym sore doth holde.
For vervent hete his blood doth dreye;
His colore chaungyth as they me tolde.

JHESUS Goo hom ageyn and telle hem thus:
I shal come to hem whan that I may.
NUNCIUS At your comaundement, O prophete Jhesus.
I shal hem telle as ye do say.
JHESUS Come forth, bretheryn, walke we oure way —
Into Jurye go we anon.
I cam not there ful many a day;
Therfore, thedyr now wyl I gon.

OMNES DISCIPULI The Jewys ageyn thee were grym and grylle:
Whan thu were there, they wolde thee aslayn!
With stonys they sowte thee for to kyll,
And wylt thu now go thedyr ageyn?
JHESUS Twelve owrys the day hath, in certeyn.
In them to walke, both clere and bryght
He shal not stomble ageyn hyll nor pleyn.
That goth the wey whyl it is daylyght.

But if men walke whan it is nyght,
Sone they offende in that dyrknes
Becawse they may have no cler syght.
They hurte there fete ofte in suche myrkenes.
But as for this, yitt nevyrthelesse,
The cawse, therfore, I thedyr wyl wende
Is for to reyse from bedde expresse
Lazare that slepyth, oure althere frende.

OMNES DISCIPULI Of his syknes, he shal be save;
If that he slepe, good sygne it is.
JHESUS Lazare is deed and leyd in grave.
Of his slepynge, ye deme amys.
I was not there — ye knew weyl this —
To strengthe youre feyth, I am ful glad.
Therfore, I telle yow the trewthe, iwys:
Oure frende is deed and undyr erth clad.

THOMAS Than goo we all ryght evyn streyth thedyr
Thereas oure frende Lazare is deed,
And lete us deye with hym togedyr
Theras he lyth in the same stede.
JHESUS Thee for to deye, have thu no drede;
The wey streyth thedyr in hast we take.
Be the grett myght of myn Godhede,
Oute of his slepe he shal awake.

NUNCIUS All heyl, Martha and Mawdelyn, eke!
To Jhesu I have youre massage seyd.
I tolde hym how that youre brothyr was seke
And with grett peyn in his bed leyd.
He bad ye shulde not be dysmayde —
All his syknes, he shal askape!
He wyll byn here within a brayde
As he me tolde he comyth in rape.

MAGDALYN That holy prophete doth come to late!
Oure brothyr is beryed thre days or this!
A grett ston stoppyth the pyttys gate —
Thereas oure brothere beryde is.
NUNCIUS Is Lazare deed? Now God his sowle blys.
Yit loke ye take non hevynes —
So longe to wepe, ye don amys.
It may not helpe your sorynes.

MARTHA Oute of myn herte all care to lete,
All sorwe and wo to caste away.
I shal go forth in the strete
To mete with Jhesu, if that I may.
CONSOLATOR 2 God be your spede, bothe evyr and ay,
For with youre sustyr we wyl abyde.
Her to comforte we shal asay
And all her care to caste assyde.

CONSOLATOR 3 Mary Mawdelyn, be of good herte,
And wel bethynke yow in youre mynde.
Eche creature hens must depart:
Ther is no man but hens must wende.
Deth to no wyht can be a frende:
Allthinge to erth he wyl down cast.
Whan that God wol, allthynge hath ende,
Lengere than hym lyst, nothynge may last.

MAGDALYN I thanke yow frendys for youre good chere —
Myn hed doth ake as it shulde brest.
I pray yow, therfore, while ye ben here
A lytil whyle that I may rest.
CONSOLATOR 4 / NUNCIUS That Lord that made bothe est and west
Graunt yow good grace suche rest to take.
That onto hym shulde plese most best
As he this worlde of nought dyd make.

MARTHA A, gracyous lord, had ye ben here,
My brother Lazare this tyme had lyved!
But foure days gon upon a bere,
We dede hym berye whan he was ded.
Yitt now I knowe withowtyn drede
What thynge of God that thu do crave —
Thu shalt spede of the hygh Godhede.
Whatso thu aske, thu shalt it have.

JHESUS Thy brothyr Lazare agen shal ryse,
A levynge man agen to be.
MARTHA I woot wel that at the grett last syse
He shal aryse, and also we.
JHESUS Resurreccyon thu mast me se,
And hendeles lyff I am also.
What man that deyth and levyth in me,
From deth to lyve he shal ageyn go.

Eche man in me that feythful is
And ledyth his lyff aftere my lore,
Of hendeles lyff may he nevyr mys.
Evere he shal leve and deye nevyrmore.
The body and sowle I shal restore
To endeles joye — dost thu trowe this?
MARTHA I hope in thee, O Cryst, ful sore!
Thu art the Sone of God in blys!

Thy Fadyr is God of Lyff endeles;
Thiself is Sone of Lyff and Gras.
To sese these wordlys wrecchydnes,
From hefne to erth, thu toke the pas.
JHESUS Of hevynly myght, ryght grett solas
To all this world me shul sone se.
Go calle thi systyr into this plas;
Byd Mary Mawdelyn come hedyr to me.

MARTHA At thi byddyng I shal her calle —
In hast we were here yow beforn.
MAGDALYN Alas, my mowth is bytter as galle!
Grett sorwyn my herte on tweyn hath scorn,
Now that my brothyr from syth is lorn!
Ther may no myrth my care releve!
Alas, the tyme that I was born!
The swerde of sorwe myn hert doth cleve.

CONSOLATOR 1 For his dere love that all hath wrought,
Ses sumtyme of youre wepynge,
And put all thynge out of thought
Into this care that yow doth brynge.
CONSOLATOR 2 Ye do yourself ryght grett hyndrynge
And short youre lyff or ye be ware!
For Goddys love, ses of youre sorwynge,
And with good wysdam refreyn youre care!

MARTHA Sustyr, Magdalen, com out of halle!
Oure maystyr is com, as I yow say!
He sent me hedyr, yow for to calle.
Come forth in hast, as I yow pray.
MAGDALYN Ha! Where hath he ben many a longe day?
Alas, why cam he no sonere hedyr?
In hast I folwe yow, anon the way!
Methynkyth longe or I come thedyr.

CONSOLATOR 3 Herke, gode frendys, I yow pray
Aftyr this woman in hast we wende!
I am aferde ryght, in good fay,
Herself for sorwe that she wyl shende.
CONSOLATOR 4 Her brothyr so sore is in hir mende,
She may not ete, drynke, nor slepe.
Streyte to his grave she goth on ende
As a mad woman therfor to wepe.

MAGDALYN A, sovereyn lord and mayster dere!
Had ye with us ben in presens —
Than had my brother on lyve ben here,
Nat ded, but qwyk that now is hens!
Ageyn deth is no resystens!
Alas, myn hert is woundyrly wo
Whan that I thynke of his absens,
That ye, youreself in herte, lovyd so.

CONSOLATOR 1 Whan we have mynde of his sore deth,
He was to us so gentyl and good.
That mend of hym, oure hertys sleth —
The losse of hym doth marre oure mood.
CONSOLATOR 2 Be bettyr neybore nevyr man stood;
To every man he was ryght hende;
Us he dede refresch with drynk and food.
Now he is gon — gon is oure frende.

JHESUS Yowre grett wepynge doth me constreyne
For my good frend to wepe also.
I cannot me for wo restreyn,
But I must wepe lyke as ye do.

[Hic Jhesus fingit se lacrimari.

CONSOLATOR 3 Beholde this prophete, how he doth wepe, lo!
He lovyd Lazare ryght woundyrly sore!
He wolde not ellys for hym thus wepe so
But if that his love on hym were the more.

NUNCIUS A straw for thi tale! What nedyth hym to wepe?
A man born blynde — dede he nat geve syght?
Myght he nat thanne his frende on lyve kepe
Be the vertu of that same hygh myght?
JHESUS Where is he put? Telle me, anon ryght!
Brynge me the weye streyth to his grave.
MARTHA Lord, at youre wylle, we shal brynge yow tyght
Evyn to that place ther he doth lyne in cave.

MAGDALYN Whan that we had the massangere sent
Or he had fullych half a myle gon,
Deyd my brother and up we hym hent.
Here in this grave we beryed hym anon.
JHESUS The myght of the Godhed shal glathe yow everychon,
Suche syght shal ye se hens or ye wende.
Sett to youre handys — take of the ston.
A syght lete me have of Lazare, my frende.

MARTHA He stynkygh ryght fowle longe tyme or this!
Foure days gon, forsothe, he was dede!
Lete hym ly stylle ryght evyn as he is.
The stynke of his careyn myght hurte us, I drede!
JHESUS As I have thee tolde, syght of the Godhede
Thyself shuldyst have, feythful if thu be.
Take of the ston! Do aftyr my rede!
The glorye of the Godhede anon ye shal se.

CONSOLATOR 1 Youre byddynge shal be don anon ful swyfte!
Sett to youre handys and helpe echon!
I pray yow, serys, help me to lyfte!
I may not reyse it myself alon!
CONSOLATOR 2 In feyth, it is an hevy ston,
Ryth sad of weyth and hevy of peys!
CONSOLATOR 3 Thow it were twyes so evy as on,
Undyr us foure we shal it reyse.

CONSOLATOR 4 Now is the ston take from the cave.
Here may men se a rewly sygth
Of this ded body that lyth here grave
Wrappyd in a petefful plyght.

[Jhesus elevatis ad celum oculis dicit:

JHESUS I thanke thee, Fadyr, of thin hygh myght,
That thu hast herd my prayour this day.
I know ful wel, bothe day and nyght
Ever thu dost graunt that I do say.

But for this pepyl that stondyth about
And beleve not the power of thee and me,
Them for to brynge clene out of dowt,
This day oure myght thei all shul se.

[Hic Jhesus clamat voce magna, dicens:

Lazare! Lazare, my frende so fre!
From that depe pitt come out anon!
Be the grett myght of the Hygh Magesté —
Alyve thu shalt on erth ageyn gon.

LAZARUS At youre comaundement, I ryse up ful ryght!
Hevyn, helle, and erth, youre byddyng must obeye,
For ye be God and man and Lord of most myght!
Of lyff and of deth ye have both lok and keye.
Here begins the raising of Lazarus

did; nothing
divine purpose
Scarcely for [my] headaches

also; (see note)
haste; get in bed
wondrously ill
escape; sickness

my room

right here


Honestly, dear sisters

good watch

heart; (t-note)
countenance causes us grief

Then; distress
of common parentage
were dead, then
When; hence


high fever; to feel

not live

wills, so must

can get none
very heavy

wound up in
look when; cause me to part
well-being; live in health; (see note); (t-note)
cheer up
When; shot; (t-note)
well-being; on a bier

it would be no wonder if

Many [a] one
health; (t-note)
this is no lie
lack of trust; (t-note)

Though; grieve
Take heart

Against; relief

knew; disease

certainly (without doubt); (see note)



heart’s woe
Unless; sadness

truly; every bit

care for him well
go straightaway; (t-note)
How are you; (see note)

Consider; desires
whatever you will wish

sisters; I go hence

Here Lazarus dies, etc.

woe; hair; tear out

closest; kindred

(cry of woe)
we two
woe my heart
Who; sorrow
counsel; (t-note)
person (wight); woe

(see note); (t-note)
Unless; kill

Then; sorrow; happiness

due; (see note)
(see note)
No earthly creature; hour
close relatives
When; taken
mourn; burial


him to be
be buried
lie in the grave

sheet; (t-note)

unwilling; see
corpse; among you three
sorrowful hearts

Here they carry the corpse to the sepulcher

no other


Then; sorrow


From; beasts

Before; hence; (see note)


why; fetch; (see note)
Arise; (t-note)
to complain; God’s

needs; hence
no person; alleviate my sorrow


lessen; abate


(see note)

those two sisters


in fear

fervent heat; (t-note)

them when
(see note)
Judea; now
not long ago

against; cruel
have killed
stones; sought; (t-note)
hours; certainly; (see note)

Soon; stumble

their; darkness
reason; travel there
that very bed
friend of us all

saved; (t-note)
judged wrongly
dead; buried; (see note)

there right now

die together
to die; (t-note)
straight there in haste


be; short time

too; (t-note)
grave’s entrance; (t-note)

May God; bless
no sadness





Every man
no one; (see note)
wills everything
Longer than he (God) likes

ache; burst


the most

did; bury; (t-note)

(see note)

know; judgment

you may see [in] me
who dies; believes

endless; lack

completely; (t-note)

You are; Life; Grace
cease this world’s
shall see in Me


sorrow; in two has cut
sight is lost
can relieve my sorrow; (t-note)

sword of sorrow; heart; split


shorten; before you know it
God’s; cease
refrain from mourning

the house


here no sooner
haste; follow; right now
too long before

haste we go
very afraid; faith
sorrow; kill herself
so much; mind


Then; alive would be
Not; living; gone
Against; (see note)
incredibly woeful

remember; awful
memory; slays our hearts

By; (t-note)

compels me
restrain myself
(see note)

Here Jesus pretends that he is crying


That’s absurd!; (see note)
not then; alive
By virtue; power
right now
lie in his grave

Before; a full half-mile
picked him up; (t-note)
at once
gladden everyone; (t-note)
see here before you go

stinks; before
truly; (t-note)

corpse; (t-note)

off; as I say

now; swiftly; (t-note)


heavy; weight
Though; twice as heavy as one; (see note); (t-note)

pitiful sight
buried; (t-note)
pitiful state

Lifting his eyes to heaven, Jesus says; (t-note)


Here Jesus cries out in a loud voice, saying


right now

  [Hic resurget Lazarus ligatis manibus et pedibus ad modum sepulti, et dicit Jhesus:2; (t-note)







JHESUS Goo forthe, bretheryn, and Lazare ye untey
And all his bondys losyth hem asundyr.
Late hym walke hom with yow in the wey
Ageyn Godys myght, this meracle is no wundyr.

PETRUS At your byddynge, his bondys we unbynde.
All thynge muste lowte youre magesté!
Be this grett meracle, opynly we fynde
Very God and man, in trewth, that ye be!
JOHANNES That thu art very God every man may se!
Be this meracle so grett and so mervayll,
All thynge undyr hevyn must nedys obey thee!
Whan agens thee thowh deth be, he may not prevayll.

OMNES CONSOLATORES We all with o voys for God do thee knowe!
And for oure Savyour we do thee reverens!
All oure hool love now in thee doth growe.
O, sovereyn Lord of most excellens:
Helpe us of youre grace whan that we go hens,
For agens deth us helpyht not to stryve,
But agen youre myght is no resistens.
Oure deth ye may aslake and kepe us stylle on lyve.

JHESUS Now I have shewyd in opyn syght
Of my Godhed, the gret glorye.
Toward my Passyon I wyl me dyght:
The tyme is nere that I must deye
For all mankynde, his sowle to bye.
A crowne of thorn shal perchyn myn brayn
And on the Mont of Calvarye,
Upon a cros I shal be slayn.
untie; (t-note)
take off
Let him

obey; (t-note)

By; marvelous

against; though



when; hence
help us
keep away; alive; (t-note)

(see note)

prepare myself

to redeem



Go To Passion Play 1 (Plays 26–28)