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Play 28, Betrayal; Procession of Saints


1 Lines 183–84: And to every creature most sympathetic, gentle, and kind, indeed / And now for all these kindnesses is most shamefully disgrac­ed

2 From [the] darkness of conscience that you were fixed in


Abbreviations: MED: Middle English Dictionary; PP: Passion Play, ed. Meredith (1990); S: N-Town Play, ed. Spector (1991); s.d.: stage direction.

The play is written in octaves and quatrains.

9 oyle of mercy. A common image for salvation also seen in Wisdom (line 321), Mary Magdalene (line 759), Towneley (3.46). According to Spector (S 2:502), Seth jour­neyed to Paradise in search of this; in The Gospel of Nicodemus, the Son of God will anoint all believers with this oil.

20 My flesch qwakyth sore, for fere and peyn. The playwright stresses the pathos of Jesus’ humanity.

44, s.d. lattyng hem lyne. I.e., "letting them lie down or sleep."

52, s.d. host. A eucharistic wafer. These props are clearly fifteenth- or sixteenth-century ecclesiastical renditions of the Last Supper’s simple bread and wine.

57 Parlement of Hefne. Refers to 11.1–188 in which the Daughters of God debate the efficacy of Jesus’ incarnation.

60 dede. Bevington glosses it as "death," but, as Meredith indicates, the word is more likely "deed" (PP, p. 271).

61–62 This chalys ys thi blood; this bred is thi body, / For mannys synne evyr offeryd shal be. "The angel in effect administers Communion to Jesus" (Rastall, Minstrels Playing, p. 109).

64 all presthood. Meredith notes that this phrase brings the sacramental act into a contemporary context for the audience (PP, p. 191n945–48).

80, s.d. white arneys and breganderys. Meredith says that the white harnesses (or hardshell armor) and the flexible body armor are typical of fifteenth-century battle gear (PP, p. 191n964sd).

93 Aryse, serys! Whom seke ye? As Jesus bids the Jews to arise he echoes the Quem quaeritis trope that is at the foundation of the earliest liturgical drama, a rich irony in that the words marking the Resurrection here parody the ultimate meaning of the Passion as the blind seek to kill him.

104 For I wyst nevyr wher thu wace. By admitting that he had no idea where Jesus was (a lie), Judas is also admitting his spiritual perdition.

148, s.d. Meredith notes the simultaneous actions of Jesus’ arrest and Mary Magdalene’s report to the Virgin Mary (PP, p. 192n1032sd).

161–92 This is the Planctus Mariae or "Lament of the Virgin Mary" (PP, p. 192n1045–76). Spector notes that Woolf observes that the French mystery cycles (as op­posed to the English plays) place Mary’s Planctus earlier in the Passion accounts (S 2:504).

173 may I susteyn? Bevington emends the line to read "may I not susteyn," treating it as a question. Spector, like Bevington, puts "not" before "susteyn," but con­tinues with line 174, treating these two lines as a single statement. I prefer the latter treatment, but doubt that the "not" is necessary.

176 prongys. This is an evocative word choice, for according to the MED, the "pronges of deth" were death throes and "womanes pronges" were birth­ pangs. It also refers, as it does now, to pointed instruments.

179 betwyx tweyn bestys. As Meredith notes, this phrase refers to the ox and ass in Jesus’ nativity stall (PP, pp. 192–93n1063).

206 Compare Matthew 16:18–19.

207 Compare Matthew 4:18 and John 1:40.

210 bryght as the sonnbem. Clearly their luminary stature in the church, possibly stem­ming from their nicknames, "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17), as well as their pres­ence at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2, and Luke 5:10).

213–16 Compare Acts 6:5 and 8:26–39.

220 Berylmew. According to Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend, in his work in India, Bartholomew cast out many demons and overthrew a local god (trans. Ryan, 2:109–12).

221 Symeon Zelotes. Simon, the brother of Jesus. See Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3.

225–26 This could refer to Paul’s baptizing the Ephesians with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6) or to his divine revelations (2 Corinthians 12:1–4), all of which contribute to his sta­ture as an apostle (1 Corinthians 9:2, 2 Corinthians 11 and 12:2, 2 Timothy 3:10).

229 Johan Baptyst. Compare Play 22.

230 be naturall conseyvyng. Although Elizabeth conceived John through divine inter­vention (Luke 1:5-25), the playwright specifies the natural conception of John to differentiate his begetting from that of Jesus and the immaculate conception so elaborately detailed in Play 11.


Abbreviations: Bev: Medieval Drama, ed. Bevington (1975); Bl: Ludus Coventriae, ed. Block (1922); PP: Passion Play, ed. Meredith (1990); S: N-Town Play, ed. Spector (1991); s.d.: stage direction; s.n.: stage name.

1–4 MS: large play number 28 in right margin.

8 spouse. Bl, S, PP: spovse. MS: v written over the u.

38 my. MS: y my.

48 drede. MS: s drede.

61 blood. MS: l written over an o.

80, s.d. seyng. MS: s, remainder cropped.

81 Serys. MS: What Serys.

97 MS: and we at the end of the line.

104 wher. MS: h above the line.

106 MS: Petyr put his is written before the stage direction, but is crossed out.

111 haddyst be bettyr. So MS, Bl, Bev, PP. S: haddyst better, claiming that be is deleted in the manuscript.

122 lede. MS: final e written over a d.

128 A. MS: m A.

138 the. MS: corrected from this.

140 save. MS: sawe.

144 knowe. MS: knoue.

145, s.n. GAMALYEL. MS: name is cropped.

147 MS: fol. 161v marked 160.

157, s.n. MAGDALEN. MS: Magd, remainder cropped.

160 betyn. So Bev, PP, S. MS, Bl: bety.

173 may I susteyn. So MS, Bl, PP. Bev, S: supply not after I. See explanatory note 28.173–74.

178 promysyst. So MS, Bev, Bl. S: promysyd.

184 is now. So MS, Bl, Bev, PP. S states that now is deleted in MS.

187 myn. MS: written above the line.

After 192 MS: fol. 162r has 56mm blank; fol. 162v blank.

193–232 PP relegates this to an appendix, and calls it an interpolation (pp. 242–45). S calls this section "The Procession of Saints" and says that it recalls a Cor­pus Christi tableau (2:505). Bev says it may be incomplete, but ap­pre­ciates its parallels with Jesse Root Play (p. 520). But Bevington omits these lines from his Passion Play 1 text. This section written completely in quatrains.

211 chene. MS: l chene.

216 Cephas. MS: l petyr written above the word.

232 voys. So PP, S. MS, Bl: joys.
After 232 MS: Procession of Saints ends on fol. 163v. Fols. 164r and 164v are blank except for scribbles: In nomine Dei Amen, Ego R.H. Dunelmensis possideo, Wylliam.
  [Here Jhesus goth to Betany ward (toward Bethany), and his dyscipulys folwyng with sad contenawns (countenance), Jhesus seyng:





Now, my dere frendys and bretheryn echon:
Remembyr the wordys that I shal sey.
The tyme is come that I must gon
For to fulfylle the prophesey

That is seyd of me — that I shal dey,
The fendys power fro yow to flem,
Weche deth I wole not deney,
Mannys sowle, my spouse, for to redem.

The oyle of mercy is grawntyd playn
Be this jorné that I shal take.
Be my Fadyr, I am sent, sertayn,
Betwyx God and man, an ende to make.

Man, for my brother, may I not forsake,
Nor shewe hym unkendenesse, be no wey.
In peynys for hym, my body schal schake,
And for love of man, man shal dey.
each one; (t-note)

said; die
fiend’s; from; to banish
Which; deny
Man’s soul; redeem; (t-note)

(see note)
By; journey
By; certainly

unkindness, by

  [Here Jhesus and his discipulys go toward the Mount of Olyvet. And whan he comyth a lytyl ther besyde in a place lych (like) to a park, he byddyt his dyscipulys abyde hym ther and seyth to Petyr or he goth:


Petyr, with thi felawys, here shalt thu abyde
And weche tyl I come ageyn.
I must make my prayere here yow besyde.
My flesch qwakyth sore, for fere and peyn.
PETRUS Lord, thi request doth me constreyn.
In this place I shal abyde stylle,
Not remeve tyl that thu comyst ageyn,
In confermyng, Lord, of thi wylle.
watch; again

fear; (see note)

In accordance

  [Here Jhesu goth to Olyvet and settyth hym down on his knes and prayth to his Fadyr, thus seyng:


JHESUS O, Fadyr, Fadyr, for my sake
This gret Passyon, thu take fro me
Wech arn ordeyned that I shal take!
Yf mannys sowle savyd may be,
And yf it behove, Fadyr, for me
To save mannys sowle that shuld spylle,
I am redy in eche degré,
The uyl of thee for to fulfylle.

Which; ordained
behooves me
man’s; be ruined


  [Here Jhesus goth to his dyscipulis and fyndyth hem sclepyng (sleeping), Jhesus thus seyyng to Petyr:


Petyr, Petyr, thu slepyst fast!
Awake thi felawys and sclepe no more!
Of my deth, ye are not agast?
Ye take your rest, and I peyn sore!

am in great pain

  [Here Cryst goth ageyn the second tyme to Olyvet and seyth knelyng:


Fadyr in hevyn, I beseche thee:
Remeve my peynes be thi gret grace,
And lete me fro this deth fle,
As I ded nevyr no trespace!
The watyr and blood owth of my face
Dystyllyth for peynes that I shal take.
My flesche qwakyth in ferful case
As thow the joyntys asondre shuld schake!

remove; by; (t-note)
never did sin

though the joints asunder

  [Here Jhesus goth agen to his discipulis and fyndyth hem asclepe, Jhesus thus seyng, lattyng hem lyne letting: (see note)


Fadyr, the thrydde tyme I come ageyn,
Fulleche myn erdon for to spede —
Delyvere me, Fadyr, fro this peyn
Weche is reducyd with ful gret drede!
Onto thi Sone, Fadyr, take hede!
Thu wotyst I dede nevyr dede but good.
It is not for me, this peyn I lede,
But for man, I swete bothe watyr and blode.
Fully my errand; complete
Which; recalled; (t-note)

know; did; deeds

  [Here an aungel descendyth to Jhesus and bryngyth to hym a chalys with an host therin. (see note)



ANGELUS Heyl, bothe God and man, indede!
The Fadyr hath sent thee this present.
He bad that thu shuldyst not drede,
But fulfylle his intent
As the Parlement of Hefne hath ment,
That mannys sowle shal now redemyd be.
From hefne to herd, Lord, thu wore sent,
That dede appendyth onto thee.

This chalys ys thi blood; this bred is thi body
For mannys synne evyr offeryd shal be.
To the Fadyr of Heffne that is almythty,
Thi dyscipulis and all presthood shal offere fore thee.

Heaven; intended; (see note)
man’s; redeemed
earth; were
deed belongs; (see note)

chalice; bread; (see note); (t-note)

(see note)

  [Here the aungel ascendyth agen sodeynly.

JHESUS Fadyr, thi wyl fulfyllyd shal be.
It is nowth to say agens the case:
I shal fulfylle the prophesye
And sofre deth for mannys trespace.

not to go against

suffer; man’s

  [Here goth Cryst ageyn to his dyscipulys and fyndyth hem sclepyng stylle.



Awake, Petyr, thi rest is ful long!
Of sclep, thu wylt make no delay!
Judas is redy with pepyl strong
And doth his part, me to betray.
Ryse up, serys, I you pray!
Onclose youre eyne for my sake!
We shal walke into the way
And sen hem come that shul me take!

Petyr, whan thu seyst I am forsake
Amonge myn frendys and stond alone,
All the cher that thu kanst make
Geve to thi bretheryn everychone.


Open; eyes

see them; shall


  [Here Jhesus with his dyscipulis goth into the place, and ther shal come in a ten personys weyl beseen in white arneys (armor) and breganderys (battle gear) and some dysgysed in odyr garmentys with swerdys, gleyvys (lances), and other straunge wepone as cressettys (oil lanterns) with feyr and lanternys and torchis lyth. And Judas formest of (in front of them) al conveyng hem to Jhesus be contenawns (gesturing), Jhesus thus seyng: (see note); (t-note)




JHESUS Serys, in your way, ye have gret hast
To seke hym that wyl not fle!
Of yow, I am ryth nowth agast.
Telle me, serys, whom seke ye?

LEYON Whom we seke here, I telle thee now,
A tretor is worthy to suffer deth!
We knowe he is here among yow —
His name is Jhesus of Nazareth.

JHESUS Serys, I am here that wyl not fle.
Do to me all that ye kan,
Forsothe, I telle yow, I am he,
Jhesus of Nazareth, that same man.
Sirs; haste; (t-note)
seek; flee
not at all afraid



  [Here alle the Jewys falle sodeynly to the erde (earth) whan thei here Cryst speke. And qwan byd­dyth hem rysyn, thei rysyn agen, Cryst thus seyng:



Aryse, serys! Whom seke ye? Fast have ye gon!
Is howth youre comyng hedyr for me?
I stond beforn yow here, echon,
That ye may me bothe knowe and se.

REWFYN Jhesus of Nazareth we seke,
And we myth hym here aspye.
JHESUS I told yow, now with wordys meke
Beforn you all, that it was I.

JUDAS Welcome, Jhesus, my mayster dere!
I have thee sowth in many a place!
I am ful glad I fynd thee here,
For I wyst nevyr wher thu wace.
sirs; (see note)
ought; hither

If; might; spot

did not know where; were; (see note); (t-note)

  [Here Judas kyssyth Jhesus. And anoon (soon) all the Jewys come abowth hym and ley handys on hym and pullyn hym as thei were wode (crazy) and makyn on hym a gret cry all atonys (at once). And aftyr this, Petyr seyth:

PETYR I drawe my swerd now, this sel!
Shal I smyte, mayster? Fayn wolde I wete!
right now
strike; gladly you know; (t-note)

  [And forthwith he smytyth of (off) Malcheus here (ear), and he cryeth “Help! Myn here! Myn here!” And Cryst blyssyth it, and tys hol.











JHESUS Put thi swerd in the shede, fayr and wel,
For he that smyth with swerd, with swerd shal be smete.

A, Judas, this treson cowntyrfetyd has thu?
And that thu shalt ful sore repent!
Thu haddyst be bettyr a ben unborn now.
Thy body and sowle thu hast shent.

GAMALYEL Lo, Jhesus, thu mayst not the cace refuse!
Bothe treson and eresye in thee is fownde.
Stody now fast on thin excuse
Whylys that thu gost in cordys bownde.
Thu kallyst thee kyng of this werd rownde!
Now lete me se thi gret powere,
And save thiself here hool and sownde,
And brynge thee out of this dawngere!

LEYON Bryng forth this tretoure! Spare hym nowth!
Onto Cayphas, thi jewge, we shal thee lede.
In many a place we have thee sowth,
And to thi werkys, take good hede.

REWFYN Come on, Jhesus, and folwe me!
I am ful glad that I thee have!
Thu shalt ben hangyn upon a tre,
A melyon of gold shal thee not save!

LEYON Lete me leyn hand on hym in heye!
Onto his deth, I shal hym bryng!
Shewe forth thi wychecrafte and nygramansye!
What helpyth thee now, al thy fals werkyng?

JHESUS Frendys, take hede, ye don unryth!
So unkendely with cordys to bynd me here,
And thus to falle on me be nyth
As thow I were a thevys fere?
Many tyme beforn yow I dede apere
Withinne the temple, sen me ye have,
The lawys of God to teche and lere,
To hem that wele here sowlys save.

Why dede ye not me dysprave
And herd me preche, bothe lowd and lowe?
But now as woodmen, ye gynne to rave
And do thyng that ye notwth knowe.

GAMALYEL Serys, I charge yow, not o word more this nyth,
But onto Cayphas, in hast, loke ye hym lede!
Have hym forth with gret dyspyte
And to his wordys take ye non hede.
sword; sheath
smites; smitten

treason contrived

to have been; (t-note)

treason; heresy
While; go; cords
call yourself; world
whole; sound
yourself; danger

traitor; not
judge; lead; (t-note)

million; (t-note)

lay hands; in haste

black magic

are doing ill
cruelly; cords
to attack; by night
though; a thief’s accomplice
did appear
seen; (t-note)
to teach and give counsel
them; their souls; (t-note)

did; disprove
madmen; begin
not know; (t-note)

Sirs; one; night; (t-note)
haste; lead
insult; (t-note)
no heed

  [Here the Jewys lede Cryst outh of the place with gret cry and noyse, some drawyng Cryst forward and some bakwarde, and so ledyng forth with here (their) weponys alofte and lytys brennyng. And in the menetyme, Marye Madgalene shal rennyn (run) to our Lady and telle here of oure Lordys takyng, thus seyng: (see note)












MARIA MAGDALENE O, inmaculate modyr of all women, most meke,
O, devowtest in holy medytacyon evyr abydyng,
The cawse, lady, that I to youre person seke
Is to wetyn yf ye heryn ony tydyng

Of youre swete sone and my reverent Lord Jhesu,
That was youre dayly solas, your gostly consolacyon.
MARIA I wold ye shuld telle me, Mawdelyn, and ye knew,
For to here of hym, it is all myn affeccyon.

MARIA MAGDALENE I wold fayn telle, lady, and I myth for wepyng!
Forsothe, lady, to the Jewys, he is solde!
With cordys thei have hym bownde and have hym in kepyng.
Thei hym betyn spetously and have hym fast in honde!
MARIA A! A! A! How myn hert is colde!
A hert hard as ston, how mayst thu lest
Whan these sorweful tydyngys are thee told!
So wold to God, hert, that thu mytyst brest!

A, Jhesu, Jhesu, Jhesu, Jhesu!
Why shuld ye sofere this trybulacyon and advercyté?
How may thei fynd in here hertys, yow to pursewe,
That nevyr trespacyd in no maner degré,
For nevyr thyng but that was good thowth ye.
Wherefore, than, shuld ye sofer this gret peyn?
I suppoce, veryly, it is for the tresspace of me,
And I wyst that myn hert shuld cleve on tweyn!

For these langowrys may I susteyn?
The swerd of sorwe hath so thyrlyd my meende!
Alas, what may I do? Alas, what may I seyn?
These prongys, myn herte asondyr thei do rende.

O Fadyr of Hefne, wher ben al thi behestys
That thu promysyst me whan a modyr thu me made?
Thi blyssyd sone I bare betwyx tweyn bestys,
And now the bryth colour of his face doth fade.

A, good Fadyr, why woldyst that thin owyn dere Sone shal sofre al this?
And ded he nevyr agens thi precept, but evyr was obedyent?
And to every creature most petyful, most jentyl, and benyng, iwys;
And now for all these kendnessys is now most shameful schent?1

Why wolt thu, gracyous Fadyr, that it shal be so?
Why man not ellys be savyd be non other kende?
Yet, Lord Fadyr, than, that shal comforte myn wo
Whan man is savyd be my chylde and browth to a good ende.

Now, dere sone, syn thu hast evyr be so ful of mercy
That wylt not spare thiself, for the love thu hast to man.
On all mankend, now have thu pety,
And also thynk on thi modyr, that hevy woman.
mother; meek

know; have heard any news

solace; spiritual
if you

gladly; if I may; (t-note)

beat cruelly; (t-note)
(see note)
heart; last

I wish to God; break

their hearts; pursue
in any way
my sin
know; break in two

sorrows; endure; (see note); (t-note)
sword; pierced; mind
agonies; asunder; (see note)

Heaven; are; promises
mother; (t-note)
bore between two beasts; (see note)

did; law


by some other way
then; (t-note)

since you have

grieving; (t-note)












DOCTOR 1 O, thou altitude of al gostly ryches!
O, thu incomperhensibele of grete excyllence!
O, thu luminarye of pure lyghtnes,
Shete out thi bemys ontyl this audyens!

DOCTOR 2 O, Fily Altissimi, clepyd by eternalyté!
Hele this congregacyon with the salve of thi Passyon.
And we prey thee, Spiritus Paraclete,
With the fyre of thi love, to slake all detraccyon.

DOCTOR 1 To the pepyl not lernyd, I stonde as a techer
Of this processyon, to geve informacyon;
And to them that be lernyd, as a gostly precher
That in my rehersayl, they may have delectacyon.

DOCTOR 2 Welcome of the apostelys, the gloryous qwere!
Fyrst, Petyr, youre prynce and eke youre presydent.
And Andrewe, youre half-brother, togedyr in fere
That fyrst folwyd Cryst, be on assent.

DOCTOR 1 O, ye tweyn luminaryes, Jamys and Jhon,
Contynualy brennyng as bryght as the sonnbem,
With the chene of charyté, bothe knyt in on
And offeryd of youre modyr, to Cryst in Jherusalem.

DOCTOR 2 Welcome, Phelypp, that convertyd Samaryan
And convertyd the tresorere of the Qwene Candas
With Jamys, the Lesser, that apud Jherosolyman
Was mad fyrst patryarke by the ordenauns of Cephas.

DOCTOR 1 Heyl, Mathew, the apostel and also evangelyst
That was clepyd to the flok of gostly conversacyon
From thyrknes of concyens that ye were in fest2
With Berylmew that fled all carnall temptacyon.

DOCTOR 2 Heyl, Symeon Zelotes, thus be your name,
And Judas that bothe wel lovyd oure Lord.
Therefore, ye have bothe joye and game
Wher nevyr is stryff, but good acorde

DOCTOR 1 Heyl, Poul, grett doctour of the feyth
And vessel chosyn be trewe eleccyon!
Heyl, Thomas, of whom the Gospel seyth
In Crystys wounde was youre refeccyon.

DOCTOR 2 Heyl, Johan Baptyst, most soveryn creature
That evyr was born be naturall conseyvyng,
And hyest of prophetys, as wytnessyth scrypture.
Heyl, voys that in desert was allwey cryeng.
highest; spiritual; (t-note)

Shoot; unto

Son of the Most High; eternalness
Holy Paraclete
end all slander

speaking; delight

to; choir
leader; (see note)
in company; (see note)
by one assent

burning; sunbeam; (see note)
chain; knit in one; (t-note)

who; (see note)
at Jerusalem
made; order; (t-note)

called; spiritual life

Bartholomew; (see note)

(see note)


faith; (see note)

Christ’s; sustenance

(see note)
by; (see note)
rejoicing; (t-note)


Go To Passion Play 2 (Plays 29–34)