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Play 42, Judgment Day


Here begins the Day of Judgment, and Jesus descends with Michael and Gabriel, Archangels, and Michael will say, etc.

All the resurrected cry out underground: “Haaa! Haaa! Haaa!" Then, the resurrected say, “Haaa!" etc.


Abbreviations: MED: Middle English Dictionary; S: N-Town Play, ed. Spector (1991); s.n.: stage name.

This play, likely the last play in the manuscript (according to the Banns), is incomplete. It is written on paper that matches most of the other parts of the manuscript, but not the paper of the previous play, the Assumption of Mary. This N-Town version does not deviate much from the other English Doomsday plays, those from York Play 47, Chester Play 24, and Towneley Play 30. Each version, based on Matthew 25:31–46, begins with God’s (or the angels’) raising the dead. Then, Jesus proclaims his fitness to judge souls, by virtue of his suffering on the cross. He deems the souls good or evil according to their good works, based upon the corporal acts of mercy. God/Jesus then welcomes the good souls into heaven and leaves the bad souls to be taken away by demons. If this N-Town version parallels the others, then little of the plot is lost: only the condemnation of the bad souls and their capture by the demons is missing. The play ends abruptly, indicating that the last leaves or quire became detached.

This play appears in thirteener stanzas, such as those found in the Banns.

14–15 Compare Castle of Perseverence, lines 3611–12. See Macro Plays, ed. Eccles, p. 110.

68 rubbe. Spector glosses this as “run about" (S 2:536). MED indicates that it could also be “wiping one’s eyes" while crying.

76–78 on here forehed . . . with letteris blake . . . all here synne. See Apocalypse 14:9–11, the proclamation of the third angel, which places the mark of the beast on the foreheads of the damned.

79–86 Spector observes that the other English plays list only six corporal acts of mercy. The seventh, burying the dead, is mentioned only in N-Town (S 2:536).

118 salte sewe. Spector renders this “lecherous sowe" (S 2:536). MED also mentions that “salte" can mean “filthy," a likely reading.

131, s.n. DEUS. The play is incomplete. See introductory note, above.


Abbreviations: Bl: Ludus Coventriae, ed. Block (1922); Da: Corpus Christi Play, ed. Davies (1972); S: N-Town Play, ed. Spector (1991); s.d.: stage direction; s.n.: stage name.

1–130 MS: written on different paper by main scribe. Fol. 223r blank except for lo me redy with yow to wend (41.517) in another hand. Fol. 223v marked 220.

1, s.n. MICHAEL. MS: written in larger, squarish hand, textura quadrata.

2–7 MS: large play number 42 written in right margin.

14 prysste. MS: sst written over nc.

26, s.d. clamauerunt. So S. MS, Bl, Da: clamauit.

Haaa!Haaa!Haaa! So MS, S. Bl: Ha aa- Ha aa- Ha-aa.

dicant. So S. MS, Bl, Da: dicat.

27, s.n. RESURGENTES. MS: omitted.

31, s.n. DEMONES. MS: omitted.

43 were. MS: be written, but does not fit the rhyme scheme. Both Bl and S correct this.

50 lokkys. MS: kk written over other letter(s).

67 oure. MS: ore oure.

79 ff. MS: as the outside leaf for the entire manuscript for some period of time, it is worn and stained.

123 array. MS: ar above the line.

After 130 MS: play is incomplete. Last folios lost.
[Hic incipit Dies Iudicii, et Ihesu descendent cum Michaele et Gabriele, Archangelis, et Michael dicet, et cetera:1





MICHAEL Surgite! All men aryse!
Venite ad judicium,
For now is sett the hygh justyce
And hath assygnyd the Day of Dom!
Rape yow redyly to this grett assyse,
Bothe grett and small, all an sum!
And of youre answere yow now avyse
What ye shal sey whan that ye cum,
Yowre ansuere for to telle.
For whan that God shal yow appose,
Ther is non helpe of no glose:
The trewth ful trewlye, he wyl tose
And send yow to hevyn or helle.

GABRYELL Bothe pope, prynce, and prysste with crowne,
Kynge and caysere and knyhtys kene:
Rapely ye renne youre resonys to rowne,
For this shal be the day of tene —
Nowther pore ne ryche of grett renowne
Ne all the develys in helle that bene
From this day, yow hyde not mowne,
For all your dedys here shal be sene
Opynly in syght.
Who that is fowndyn in deedly gylte,
He were bettyr to ben hylte!
In hendeles helle he shal be spylte —
His dedys, his deth shal dyght.
Arise! (t-note)
Come to judgment

Hasten; readily; trial
high and low
you now consider

when; interrogate you
search out

priest; (see note); (t-note)
emperor; brave knights
Quickly; run; reasons; give
Neither; rich; renown
Nor; devils; that are
you may not hide
deeds; seen

found in mortal guilt
to be buried
endless; destroyed
deeds; bring about; (t-note)
[Omnes resurgentes subtus terram clamauerunt “Haaa! Haaa! Haaa!” Deinde surgentes dicant “Haaa!” et cetera.2






















RESURGENTES Haaa! Cleve asundyr ye clowdys of clay!
Asundyr ye, breke, and lete us pas!
Now may oure songe be “weleaway”
That evyr we synnyd in dedly trespas!

         [Omnes demones clamant:

DEMONES Harrow and owt! What shal we say?
Harrow, we crye owt, and alas!
Alas! Harrow is this that day
To endles peyne that us must pas?
Alas! Harrow, and owt we crye!

         [Omnes anime resurgentes dicant, et cetera:

ANIME RESURGENTES A, mercy Lorde, for oure mysdede,
And lett thi mercy sprynge and sprede!
But alas, we byden in drede!
It is to late to aske mercye!

DEUS Venite, benedicti, my bretheryn all!
Patris mei, ye childeryn dere!
Come hedyr to me to myn hygh hall.
All tho myn suterys and servauntys were —
All tho fowle wyrmys from yow falle!
With my ryght hand I blysse yow here:
My blessynge burnyschith yow as bryght as berall.
As crystall clene, it clensyth yow clere,
All fylth from yow fade.
Petyr, to hevyn gatys thu wende and goo,
The lokkys thu losyn and hem undo.
My blyssyd childeryn, thu brynge me to,
Here hertys for to glade.

PETRUS The gatys of hevyn I opyn this tyde.
Now welcome, dere bretheryn, to hevyn, iwys!
Com on and sytt on Goddys ryght side
Where myrthe and melody nevyr may mys.
OMNES SALVATI On kne we crepe, we gon, we glyde
To wurchepp oure Lorde that mercyful is,
For thorwe his woundys that be so wyde,
He hath brought us to his blys.
Holy Lorde, we wurcheppe thee!
DEUS Welcome ye be in hevyn to sitt
Welcum, fro me shul ye nevyr flitt
So sekyr of blys ye shul be yitt.
To myrth and joye, welcum ye be!

ANIME DAMPNANDUM Ha! Ha! Mercy, mercy we crye and crave!
A, mercy, Lorde, for oure mysdede!
A, mercy, mercy! We rubbe! We rave!
A, help us, good Lord, in this nede!
DEUS How wolde ye wrecchis any mercy have?
Why aske ye mercy now in this nede?
What have ye wrought, youre sowle to save?
To whom have ye don any mercyful dede,
Mercy for to wynne?
DIABOLUS 1 Mercy? Nay! Nay, they shul have wrake
And that on here forehed — wyttness I take,
For ther is wretyn with letteris blake
Opynly all here synne.

DEUS To hungry and thrusty that askyd in my name,
Mete and drynke wolde ye geve non;
Of nakyd men had ye no shame;
Ye wold nott vesyte men in no preson;
Ye had no peté on seke nor lame:
Dede of mercy wold ye nevyr don!
Unherborwed men ye servyd the same;
To bery the deed pore man wold ye not gon:
These dedys doth yow spylle!
For youre love was I rent on rode,
And for youre sake I shed my blode.
Whan I was so mercyfull and so gode,
Why have ye wrought agens my wylle?

DIABOLUS 2 I fynde here wretyn in thin forheed:
Thu wore so stowte and sett in pryde,
Thu woldyst not geve a pore man breed,
But from thi dore thu woldyst hym chyde.
DIABOLUS 3 And in thi face here do I rede
That if a thrysty man com any tyde —
For thrust thow he shulde be deed —
Drynk from hym thu woldyst evyr hyde:
On covetyse was all thy thought.
DIABOLUS 1 In wratth, thi neybore to bakbyte,
Them for to hangere was thi delyte.
Thu were evyr redy, them to endyte.
On the seke man, rewyst thu nought.

DIABOLUS 2 Evyrmor on envye was all thi mende:
Thu woldyst nevyr vesyte no presoner;
To all thi neyborys, thu were unkende;
Thu woldyst nevyr helpe man in daunger.
DIABOLUS 3 The synne of slauth thi sowle shal shende:
Mass nore mateynes woldyst thu non here;
To bery the deed man, thu woldyst not wende.
Therfore, thu shalt to endles fere!
To slowth thu were ful prest.
DIABOLUS 1 Thu haddyst rejoyse in glotonye,
In dronkesheppe and in rebawdye;
Unherborwyd, with velonye
Thu puttyst from here rest.

DIABOLUS 2 Sybile Sclutte, thu salte sewe:
All youre lyff was leccherous lay;
To all youre neyborys, ye wore a shrewe;
All youre pleasauns was leccherous play;
Goddys men ye lovyd but fewe.
Nakyd men and febyl of array
Ye wolde nott socowre with a lytel drewe
Nott with a thred, the soth to say,
Whan they askyd in Godys name.
OMNES DAMPNANDI A! Mercy, Lord, mekyl of myght!
We aske thi mercy and not thi ryght,
Not after oure dede, so us quyth!
We have synnyd! We be to blame!

[End of manuscript.]
Split open; clods; (t-note)
Sunder yourself; let; pass
mortal transgressions

All the demons cry out

(cries of distress); (t-note)

pain; we; pass

Let all the resurrected souls say, etc.


remain in dread
too late

Come, blessed ones
To my home
those [who] my followers; (t-note)
foul worms
bless you
burnishes; beryl

gates; make your way
locks; loosen; undo them; (t-note)

Their hearts; gladden

go; crawl

through; wounds
bliss (paradise)

from; shall; fly away
sure of bliss; shall; yet

sins; (t-note)
weep; (see note)
time of need
time of need

shall; punishment
their; I take as evidence; (see note)
written; black letters

thirsty; (see note); (t-note)
Food; give none
visit; prison
pity; sick
Deeds; do
Homeless; treated
bury; dead; do
deeds; ruin you
torn; the cross
When; good
gone against my will

written on your
were; stout
give; bread

thirsty; anytime
Even though [from] thirst

neighbor; backbite
to anger; delight
had no pity

neighbors; unkind

sloth; destroy
matins; not hear
bury; dead; go
By sloth; possessed
rejoiced in
drunkenness; ribaldry
[Those who were] unprotected; villainy
deprive them of their

filthy sow; (see note)
life; given to lechery
neighbors; were
poorly clothed; (t-note)
help; morsel of food
thread; the truth
When; God’s

(see note)

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