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Play 36, Announcement to the Marys; Peter and John at the Sepulcher


1 Here Mary Magdalene, Mary Jacobi, and Mary Salome will come to the sepulcher, and Mary Magdalene says

2 Then Mary Magdalene looks into the sepulcher, saying

3 Mary Magdalene says to Peter and the other disciples

4 Here, John and Peter run together to the sepulcher, and John arrives first at the monument, but does not enter

5 Here Peter speaks to all the apostles gathered together


Abbreviations: Da: Corpus Christi Play, ed. Davies (1972); MED: Middle English Dictionary; PP: Passion Play, ed. Meredith (1990); s.d.: stage direction.

This play is written in octaves with one sestet.

Before 1, s.d. Mark 16:1 says that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James (Jacobi), and (Mary) Salomé came to the tomb. According to Meredith, Mary Jacobi is also called Mary Cleophas, daughter of Anne and Cleophas and half-sister to the Vir­gin Mary. She is traditionally the mother of Simon, Jude, James the Lesser, and Joseph the Just. Mary Salomé is the daughter of Anne and Salomé, and another half-sister to the Virgin Mary. She is the mother of John the Evangelist and James the Greater (PP, p. 339).

2 Meredith renders this line as: "Listen carefully to what I have to say" (PP, p. 224n1673).

16 burryenge boorde. Either a funeral feast or a funeral table (MED).

18 as sunne in glas. Compare with 21.97–100.

29 feyn. Meredith glosses this word as "joined (to the cross)," "mortally wounded," or "enfeebled" (PP, p. 225n1700). Davies suggests "bruised" or "pierced" (Da, p. 339).

40 bowndyn in brere. This refers to the crown of thorns. But it is worth noting that fifteenth-century heretics were sometimes "bound in briar" as they were carted to their deaths and were surrounded by briars as they were being burned at the stake.

41 mere. "Boundary-marker" does not do justice to the complexity of this term. The most com­mon sense is "lake" or "pool of water," but it also is used to suggest a margin (MED mere, n.[3]1), an outer limit (n.[3]2a), or "the end of one’s life" (n.[3]2b). In this respect the term is akin to the poet’s frequent use of the term "lake," which also means a body of water but here with the more specialized sense of a pit, shaft, hole, grave, sepulcher (MED lake n.3a and 3b) to designate the place through which Anima Christi goes to harrow hell, but through which he returns for his body and from which he arises to revisit humankind. See also 31.32, 35.213, 37.8, 37.20. The poet uses the term "lake" again in the As­sump­tion Play, line 457, to mark that transitional place through which Mary passes prior to the Assumption as Jesus returns her soul to the body and then resurrects it. The watery connotations bear resemblances to folktale themes of ties by pas­sage into a mysterious otherworld, here the realm of death and Purgatory through which Jesus passes to reclaim the patriarchs for God’s worship.

93 they. Referring to the Jews.

107–10 See alternate lines in textual note to lines 107–10. The woundys five in the alternate lines were to Christ’s hands, feet, and side.

157–58 Note that the stone seems to be atop the grave rather than in front of it. This may indicate how this scene was staged. Compare note to 34.209, s.d.


Abbreviations: 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.

Before 1, s.d. MS: in the margin, left of this stage direction appears finem 1e die Nota ("Note: end of the first day.") in Scribe B’s hand. Evidently, line 304 marked the end of a first day’s performance, likely an Easter or a Resurrection play.

1–5 MS: large play number 36 in right margin between lines and s.n.

14 In. MS: written in left margin.

15 In. MS: omitted and added in the margin.

22 nevyrthelasse. MS: a written over an e.

26 MS: systerys dowterys bothe above the line.

41 ryght. MS: rygh.

64 of. MS: g of.

79, s.n. MAGDALENE. MS: Magdalen, remainder cropped; g written over d.

95, s.n. MS: omitted.

98–101 MS: Scribe B has added alternative lines in the left margin. Clearly the goal was to have Mary Magdalene refer again to Jesus’ appearance to the Three Marys. Here is PP’s (p. 254) reconstruction of the alternate lines:
That oure Lord is resyn and aperyd to us serteyne
Lyk as he dyede, nakyd as he was borne.
And commend us to go to Peter and John and his dyscipulis all,
And tell to yow he wolde apere in Lyknes as he was beforn.
105 trewe. MS: a letter has been canceled before.

106 By. MS: a reviser has added for before By.

107–10 MS: as in the previous stanza, Scribe B wrote alternate lines, this time in the bottom margin. Below is PP’s reconstruction (p. 254):
Allso he aperyd to us with body bolde
And he schewyd us his woundys fyve.
He that was closyd in cley ful colde,
And therfor beleve us that he is man alyve.
117 MS: Scribe B has an alternate line in the left margin: And so he badd us tell yow this daye. (PP, p. 254)

119 Ya, these. MS: Be ye ya these.

154, s.d. Omnibus congregatis. So S. MS, Bl: omnes congregati, abbreviated form for omnibus congregatis (?).PP: omnes congregate Thomas, treating the s.d. and s.n. as one.

After 166 MS: no break between plays.
  [Hic venient ad sepulcrum Maria Magdalene, Maria Jacobi, et Maria Salome,
et dicit Maria Magdalene
(see note); (t-note)


























MARIA MAGDALENE Swete systeryn, I yow besech
Heryght now my specyal speche.
Go we with salvys for to leche
Cryst that tholyd wounde.
He hath us wonnyn owt of wreche,
The ryght wey God wyl us teche,
For to seke my Lorde, my leche,
His blood hath me unbownde.

Sefne develys in me were pyght.
My love, my Lord, my God Almyght,
Awey he weryd tho fyndys wight
With his wyse wurde!
He droff fro me the fendes lees:
In my swete sowle, his chawmere I ches.
In me, belevyth the Lord of Pes;
I go to his burryenge boorde.

MARIA JACOBI My systerys sone I woot he was;
He lyth in here as sunne in glas.
The childe was born by oxe and asse,
Up in a bestys stall.
Thow his body be gravyd undyr gres,
The grete Godhede is nevyrthelasse.
The Lord shal rysyn and gon his pas
And comfortyn his frendys all.

MARIA SALOMÉ My name is Mary Salomé,
His modyr and I, systerys we be.
Annys dowterys we be all thre —
Jhesu, we be thin awntys.
The naylis gun his lemys feyn,
And the spere gan punche and peyn.
On tho woundys, we wold have eyn:
That grace now God graunt us.

MARIA MAGDALENE Now go we stylle
With good wyll.
Ther he is leyd.
He deyd on crowch;
We wolde hym towch
As we han seyd.

[Tunc respicit Maria Magdalene in sepulcro dicens:2

Where is my Lord that was here,
That for me bledde, bowndyn in brere?
His body was beryed ryght by this mere,
That for me gan deye.
The Jewys, fekyll and fals, fownde!
Where have thei do the body with wounde?
He lyth not upon his grownde!
The body is don aweye!

MARIA JACOBI To my Lord, my love, my frende —
Fayn wolde I salve a spende
And I myght aught amende
His woundys depe and wyde.
To my Lord, I owe lowlyté,
Both homage and fewté.
I wolde with my dewté
A softyd hand and syde.

MARIA SALOMÉ To myghtfful God, omnypotent,
I bere a boyst of oynement.
I wold han softyd his sore dent,
His sydys al abowte.
Lombe of love, withowt loth,
I fynde thee not! Myn hert is wroth!
In the sepulcre, ther lyth a cloth,
And jentyl Jhesu is owte!

ANGELUS Wendyth forth, ye women thre,
Into the strete of Galylé!
Youre Savyour ther shul ye se,
Walkynge in the waye.
Your fleschly Lorde now hath lyff
That deyd on tre with strook and stryff.
Wende forth, thu wepynge wyff
And seke hym, I thee saye.

Now goth forth fast, all thre
To his dyscyplys fayr and fre,
And to Petyr, the trewth telle ye.
Therof have ye no dreed.
Spare ye not the soth to say:
He that was deed and closyd in clay,
He is resyn this same day
And levyth with woundys reed.

MARIA MAGDALENE A! Myrthe and joy in herte we have,
For now is resyn out of his grave!
He levyth now, oure lyf to save,
That dede lay in the clay.
MARIA JACOBI In hert, I was ryght sore dysmayd,
The aungel to us whan that he sayd
That Cryst is resyn. I was affrayd
The aungel whan I say.

MARIA SALOMÉ Now lete us all thre fulfylle
The aungelys wurde and Goddys wylle.
Lett us sey with voys wul shrylle:
Cryst — that Jewys dede sle,
Oure Lord, that naylyd was on the rode
And betyn out was his bodyes blode —
He is aresyn, though they ben wode!
A, Lorde, yitt wele thu be!

[Maria Magdalene dicit Petro et ceteris apostoli:3

MARIA MAGDALENE Bretheryn, all in herte be glad,
Bothe blythe and joyful in herte ful fayn,
For ryght good tydandys have we had
That oure Lord is resyn agayn!
An aungel us bad, ryght thus sertayn,
To thee, Petyr, that we shulde telle
How Cryst is resyn, the which was slayn,
A levynge man evyrmore to dwelle.

MARIA JACOBI To lyve is resyn ageyn, that Lorde,
The qwych Judas to Jewys solde.
Of this I bere ryght trewe recorde
By wurdys that the aungel tolde.
Now myrth and joye to man on molde!
Every man now myrth may have:
He that was closyd in cley ful colde
This day is resyn owt of his grave.

PETRUS Sey me, systeryn, with wurdys blythe:
May I troste to that ye say?
Is Cryst resyn ageyn to lyve,
That was ded and colde in clay?
MARIA SALOMÉ Ya, trostyth us truly! It is no nay!
He is aresyn! It is no les,
And so an aungel us tolde this day
With opyn voys and speche expres.

JOHANNES Ya, these be tydyngys of ryght gret blys,
That oure mayster resyn shulde be!
I wyl go renne in hast, iwys,
And loke my Lord, yf I may se.
PETRUS For joye also I renne with thee,
My brothyr Johan, as I thee say.
In hast, anon, evyn forth go we
To his grave, we renne oure way.
sisters; beseech; (t-note)
Hear; (see note)
suffered wounds
won; misery


Seven devils; fixed

drove those fierce fiends
drove from; fiend’s lies
chamber I choose; (t-note)
lives; Peace; (t-note)
funeral feast; (see note)

sister’s; know
(see note)

Though; buried underground
go his way

mother; sisters; (t-note)
Anne’s daughters
your aunts
nails went through; limbs fine; (see note)
began to pierce; hurt [him]
those wounds; set eyes on

died on the cross
have said

bound in thorns; (see note)
buried; boundary marker; (see note); (t-note)
fickle; false, found [it]
put; wounds

been taken

have spent [money for]
If; help

Have soothed

softened; blows

Lamb; fault

Go; three
streets of Galilee; (t-note)
shall; see

blows; strife
Go; weeping wife

three of you

dead; buried
lives; red



when I saw

angel’s; God’s
full clear
did slay
nailed; cross
beaten; body’s
risen; be insane; (see note)
yet well

blithe; full glad
ordered us; indeed

who was

true testimony; (t-note)
on earth; (see note); (t-note)


Tell; sisters

trust; there’s no denying it
no lie/nothing less
open voice; clear


run; indeed


  [Hic currunt Johannes et Petrus simul ad sepulcrum, et Johannes prius venis ad monu­mentum, sed non intrat:4









JOHANNES The same shete, here I se
That Crystys body was in wounde,
But he is gon, wheresoever he be!
He lyth not here up on this grownde.

[Petrus intrat monumentum, et dicit Petrus:

PETRUS In this cornere, the shete is fownde,
And here we fynde the sudary
In the whiche his hed was wounde
Whan he was take from Calvary.

[Hic intrat Johannes monumentum, dicens:

JOHANNES The same sudary and the same shete
Here with my syth I se both tweyn.
Now may I wele knowe and wete
That he is rysyn to lyve ageyn.
Onto oure bretheryn, lete us go seyn
The trewth, ryght hevyn as it is:
Oure mayster lyvyth, the whech was slayn,
Allmyghty Lorde and Kynge of Blys!

PETRUS No lengere here wyll we dwelle.
To oure bretheryn, the wey we take.
The trewth to them, whan that we telle,
Grett joye in hert than wul thei make.

[Hic Petrus loquitur omnibus apostolis simul collectis:5

Beth mery, bretheryn, for Crystys sake!
That man that is oure mayster so good —
From deth to lyve, he is awake,
That sore was rent upon the rood.

JOHANNES As women seyd, so have we fownde:
Remevyd away we saw the ston.
He lyth no lengere undyr the grownde;
Out of his grave, oure mayster is gon!

[Omnibus congregatis.

THOMAS We have grett woundyr, everychon,
Of these wurdys that ye do speke!
A ston ful hevy lay hym upon!
From undyr that ston, how shulde he breke?

PETRUS The trewth to tellyn, it passyth oure witt.
Wethyr he be resyn thorwe his owyn myght,
Or ellys stolyn out of his pitt
Be sum man prevely be nyght —
That he is gon, we saw with syght,
For in his grave, he is nowth.
We cannot tellyn in what plyght
Out of his grave that he is browth.
sheet; see
Christ’s; wrapped in

Peter enters the monument, and Peter says

head cloth

Here John enters the monument, saying

head cloth
sight; see the two

truth; even as

longer; stay

truth; when
then will

death to life
greatly; torn; cross


All gathered; (t-note)

wonder; each of us

(see note)

truth; understanding
else; grave
By; secretly by

brought; (t-note)


Go To Play 37, Appearance to Mary Magdalene