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Play 8, Joachim and Anne


1 Neither to learned men nor to unlearned men nor to anyone of reason

2 By fasting, by praying, by giving alms, and to keep watch at the proper time

3 Then that great slander about us should arise in the tribes

4 She shall be her footmaid to serve her best

5 "Blessed be the glorious Trinity"

6 Lines 114–15: May the divine majesty and one God — Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost — bless you

7 Making the sign of the cross solemnly with his hand, and the tribes will withdraw from the temple

8 But seeing that God allows this, we must needs suffer [it]

9 I would know, truly, how you and my beasts fare

10 Ah, welcome here, blessed master! We pasture them quite well

11 I, the most loathsome thing that lives — [and] you, Lord, most high in your seven seats

12 Keep in mind our vow for your great magnificence

13 We are the most sinful! It shows that you send us all this sorrow

14 With regard to my barrenness, you [Lord] may amend this yourself if you wished to at any time

15 Lines 170–71: I shall keep my vow while I live and endure. / I fear for myself, [since] I have offended you; my heart is full of sorrow

16 Let the heaven rejoice with praises, the earth resound with joys; they sing in festival to the glory of the archangels

17 God is the avenger of sin and does not hate human nature

18 As a sign, when you come to the Golden Gate in Jerusalem

19 I shall say to her the same thing in order to lessen her sorrows

20 And to have my husband again — who might have more joys?


Abbreviations: MP: Mary Play, ed. Mere­dith (1987); S: N-Town Play, ed. Spector (1991); s.d.: stage direction; s.n.: stage name; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases.

Woolf notes that "the history of salvation must begin, not with the Annunciation as had previously been done, but with the story of Joachim and Anna" (English Mystery Plays, p. 161). N-Town is the only one of the English cycles to devote a play to the moment; it sets off the miraculous birth of Mary's Son but also sets up the pairing of Christ's Ascension with Mary's Assumption (see Play 40), which the Ascension makes possible. The Joachim and Anne Play, with its divine interventions, prepares the audience, as Kinservik argues, "for the important function her flesh will serve in the salvific mission. From conception, Mary's sin­less body serves a calling that will transcend all earthly rules" ("Mary's Body," p. 194), and even the laws of the Mosaic code. See note to 10.76. Fitzhenry, picking up on Gibson's no­tion of an "incarnational aesthetic" (Theater of Devotion, p. 7) in the play, discusses "self-re­flexive characters and situations in N-Town through which the personal becomes a vehicle for a much more intellectualized version of drama," especially with "characters like Contem­placio, Demon, the Virgin Mary, and Herod the Great [who] are concretely realized charac­ters that simultaneously raise important philosophical questions about theater, religion, and politics" ("Politics of Metatheater," pp. 23–24).

1-25 Contemplacio's opening speech, as in other parts of the Mary Play, is in octaves, except for his final nine-line stanza here.

3–8 the pronunciacyon . . . oblocucyon . . . conceyte. On Contemplacio's meditations as a dramatic narrator and his apology for the amateur quality and capabilities of the cast, as well as the script, see Fitzhenry, "Politics of Metatheater," p. 28.

9–16 Contemplacio outlines plays in the earlier Mary Play: 1) The Conception of Mary; 2) The Presentation of Mary in the Temple; 3) The Betrothal of Mary and Joseph; 4) The Annunciation; and 5) The Visitation with Elizabeth. It is inter­esting to note that Contemplacio's prologue ignores Joseph's Doubt, a play that was likely part of the older cycle material, not the original Mary playbook, which apparently did not include the Assumption Play either, though neither is that play mentioned in the Banns. Gibson calls Contemplacio "the most extraordi­nary expositor figure in medieval drama" (Theater of Devotion, p. 130).

26–29 Rastall observes that this is "a free translation of the Offertory for Corpus Christi: Sacerdotes Domini incensum et panes offerunt Deo: / et ideo sancti erunt Deo suo, et non polluent nomen ejus, alleluia. It is therefore possible, especially in view of the offer­ings made later in the play, that the entrance of Ysakar and his priests is a pro­cessional one with the singing of Sacerdotes Domini" (Minstrels Playing, p. 95).

26–105 Written in octaves.

30 Ysakar, prynce of prestys, am I. N-Town, particularly in the Mary Play, offers the most positive presentation of the Jewish "priesthood" in medieval drama. The prestys know the law well, yet are open to interpretation and revelation. Occa­sionally they are prophetic and, when confronted with contradiction, they try to understand the discrepancies humanely. Even when they are perverse and de­ceitfully destructive, as Phariseus, Accusator, and Scriba are in Play 24 (the Woman Taken in Adultery), when exposed they have a capacity for remorse and deep-seated self-examination. On Ysakar as emblem of the Old Law, see Ben­nett, "Communication and Excommunication," pp. 121–28, where "Ysakar's hermeneutic is the (perceived) literalism of the Old Law — misfortune signifies curse; bad signifies bad — whereas Joachim's is the Augustinian hermeneutic of caritas: ostensible misfortune actually signifies (as it must) divine love" (p. 128). But, Bennett insists, Ysakar is not to be viewed simply as a negative character, despite his harsh sentence. See Meredith on Ysakar's interface with the New Law: "no other surviving English play goes to such lengths to re-create a solemn church ritual, nor uses the Christian liturgy so imaginatively" (MP, p. 16). N.b., for example, his singing with his ministers the Benedicta sit beata Trinitas (line 97, s.d.): "The singing of the sequence in honour of the Trinity, the solemn censing of the altar, the presence not only of the bishop but also of his ministers, the echoes of the preparation of the mass all serve to establish the grandeur of ‘God­dys hous'" (MP, p. 16). See note to 9.172–85. But Bennett moves beyond Meredith to demonstrate how with Joachim's retirement to the company of his shep­herds and Anne's withdrawal into private meditation God acts beyond the regu­lation of church hierarchy in ways strongly sympathetic to Lollard views of God's jurisdiction. The "countryside-Temple antinomy seems to deliberately echo an East Anglian Lollard idiom" (p. 127).

34–37 Festum Encenniorum . . . to do sacryfyse. The three major pilgrim-feasts, so-called because all Jewish males were commanded to make pilgrimage to "appear before the Lord thy God" in Jerusalem and there make sacrifice, are defined in Exodus 23:14–17 as the Feasts of Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles. The Feast of Incense (or, as some of the poet's sources call it, the "feast of Dedication" — e.g., Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend, trans. Ryan, 2:151), however, is the Feast of Lights, Hanukkah, a relatively minor feast which did not require travel to Jerusalem to celebrate and which commemorates the Maccabean re-dedication of the Temple (see 1 Machabees 4:41–64). The proximity of Hanukkah to the New Year is probably responsible for Ysakar's calling it a newe fest (line 35). It would seem that tradition either has assumed Hanukkah to have a greater importance as a result of its proximity to Christmas or has confused Hanukkah with the Feast of the Tabernacles which occurs at the end of the fall harvest and during which the First Temple had originally been dedicated (3 Kings [1 Kings] 8). Interestingly, it was during the earlier feast that the women's court of the temple was illuminated and the fifteen Gradual Psalms were historically sung by the approaching pilgrims, a detail that is picked up in the Marian tradition (see below, 9.101 ff.). Also of note in these matters is the fact that it is during Hanukkah that Jesus proclaims his divinity at the temple in John 10:22–30.

40 We be regal sacerdocium. Ysakar identifies himself as part of the royal priesthood, the order of Melchizedek. See 1 Peter 2:9, Vulgate Psalm 109:4.

41 Meredith and Spector note that these four methods of expiation — "prayingis, fastingis, almes dede, and wakyngis" — are listed in Speculum sacerdotale (see MP, p. 88n41; S 2:438).

81 Proverbial saying about sorrow. Whiting S515.

82, s.n. SENIOR TRIBUS. "Head of the tribe (or clan)."

97, s.d. There they shal synge this sequens. Here we have a specific designation of music in the Mary plays, but, Rastall argues, the stage direction may be "not as old as the text: That is, the service may originally have been said, with the music being added at some stage." So too line 172, s.d. (Minstrels Playing, p. 81). Rastall notes that "Benedicta sit beata trinitas is found in the Sarum Use as the sequence for Trinity Sunday, but it also appears in the octave of the Feast of Pentecost and for a Nuptial Mass. This play is not concerned with a marriage but with the Imma­culate Conception, so a reference to the Holy Spirit was perhaps intended" (p. 95). See also MP, p. 89n97sd. Dutka provides the entire sequence (Index of Songs, pp. 22–23).

98–134 Joachim's expulsion from the Temple has been likened to the expulsion of peni­tents at Lent (Fletcher, "Design of the N-town Play of Mary's Conception"). Ben­nett views the expulsion as a form of excommunication, a volatile contemporary topic in an area known for its Lollardy ("Communication and Excommunication").

106–16 In quatrains, followed by a non-metrical Latin line.

110–16 Rastall notes: "The responsorial performance of Adjutorium nostrum and the episcopal blessing Benedicat vos divina are found in the Sarum Manual after the nuptial mass . . . although they do not seem to have been invariable. Line 109 marginal stage direction turns it into a sung performance. The signs of the Cross in this blessing are written in red in the play text, as they would be in a liturgical source" (Minstrels Playing, p. 96).

114, s.n. EPISCOPUS. Apparently Ysakar and Episcopus are one and the same person. The manuscript uses the more formal designation here for the instructional pronouncements. The stage direction after line 97 indicates that Ysakar approaches "with his ministerys" and apparently one of the ministers speaks line 112. Then the voice of instruction returns to Ysakar who would probably be identified by his mitre.

117–236 In octaves with two quatrains, lines 117–20 and 145–48.

133–34 These two verses have been marked apart from Joachim's speech by lines and pastores has been written in a different, more faint hand above and at the end of line 133 (see S 2:439). Perhaps the rough lines indicate that the actor has crossed from the Temple to a grazing area as he speaks and addresses the shepherds, which would suggest that the manuscript has been used as a performance script. Spector goes on to note letters written in the left margin: "a" before 135, "b" before 139 and 141, "c" before 143, and "d" before 145. "This lettering may have been corrected to the cancellation at line 139 of the speaker heading ‘ijus Pastor' and the writing ‘Joachym' above it." But Spector's suggestion does not take into account the rough line between lines 134 and 135, which extends all the way over to the first shepherd's speech marker.

135–212 There is some scribal confusion regarding the three shepherds' parts. Meredith and Spector suggest that Joachim's speech (lines 139–42) was once delivered by Pastor 2 (see textual note to line 139). Meredith also proposes that this scene may have been intended, at one point, to be a separate or independent play (MP, p. 90n133–212).

141 The meke, God lyftyth up. Foreshadows the Magnificat said by Mary and Elizabeth in the Visit to Elizabeth Play, at the very end of the Mary Play (13.81–126).

143 Proverbial. Whiting S507.

144 Sympyl as we kan, we shal for yow pray. In praying for Joachim and Anne's con­ception of Mary, the shepherds pray unwittingly for the advent of Christ. In the Nativity Play, this prayer of kindness will be answered manifold.

153–56 Thu hast sent me shame . . . for all my prosperité . . . to thee I am bounde . . . in tribulacyon. Joachim finds joy in his shame and tribulation. Meredith (MP) compares his paradoxical response to Apocalypse 3:19: "Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise," and Proverbs 3:12: "For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth." (See also Job 5:17 and Hebrews 12:5–6.)

155 tokyn. The tokyn is paradoxical, signifying Anne's barrenness and her blessedness simultaneously (Bennett, "Communication and Excommunication," p. 128).

156 Thou seyst . . . in tribulacyon be. Joachim could be thinking of any number of biblical passages that present God as a refuge in times of trouble. E.g., Isaias 41:10, 43:1–3; Vulgate Psalm 30:5, 45:1–3, or, perhaps most famously, 22:14: "The Lord ruleth me . . . For though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me."

162 prayorys prostrat byfore thi person. Bennett ("Communication and Excommuni­ca­tion," p. 130) argues that "the pervasive Lollard doctrine of a priesthood of all believers seems to be endorsed by the efficacy of the shepherds' ministry. . . . It is Joachim's [devout prayer] that matters . . . not the offering Ysakar refuses, and God's acceptance of that prayer coincides with his election of Joachim [and Anne] to originate, through Mary and Jesus, the new ‘kingly presthod'" cited in the Wycliffite Bible that gives primacy to prayer over ritual.

172, s.d. Exultet celum laudibus. The hymn Exultet celum laudibus appears in the Sarum Antiphoner, though not precisely with this wording. Rastall suggests that the author of the stage direction perhaps quotes the whole first verse to specify a known variant version (Minstrels Playing, p. 96). Spector (S 2:439–40) notes that the hymn is used for Lauds at the Feast of the Apostles (see also MP, p. 91n172sd); the Conversion of St. Paul ends with this hymn, as well (see Late Medieval Religious Plays, ed. Baker, Murphy, and Hall).

173–99 Spector compares the angel's speech to its equivalent passage in Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend, which the compiler "faithfully renders" (S 2:440).

191 joys fyff. The five joys of Mary are the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Resurrec­tion, the Ascension, and the Assumption. See the several lyrics on this moment in Middle English Marian Lyrics, ed. Saupe, pp. 137–46.

198 Gyldyn Gate. Meredith notes that this is Jerusalem's eastern gate through which Christ passed on Palm Sunday (MP, p. 92n198); it is also called the Beautiful Gate (see Acts 3:2).

211–12 We shal make us so mery . . . ye shal here us synge. Rastall suggests: "Note the con­nection of merriment with song: the shepherds can sing loudly, apparently. The song must happen immediately, covering the scene-change after 8/212" (Minstrels Playing, p. 81).

225 werd. While I have glossed this as "world," it is difficult not to see a pun on OE word and wyrd, as well. See explanatory note to 2.169, above.

226 Proverbial. See Whiting T484, B52, B325, etc.

237–53 Thirteener stanza followed by a quatrain.

238 I shalle on myn knes and to hymward crepe. As Spector notes (S 2:441), there is no known precedent for Anne's crawling to meet Joachim.


Abbreviations: Bl: Ludus Coventriae, ed. Block (1922); MP: Mary Play, ed. Mere­dith (1987); S: N-Town Play, ed. Spector (1991); s.d.: stage direction; s.n.: stage name

The scribe has written a genealogical chart for St. Anne that includes characters such as Joachim, Isakar, Anne, and Mary. See the previous note at the end of the Root of Jesse Play. The chart is written in a larger liturgical script.

2–5 MS: large play number 8 in right margin.

16 now. MS: of oure now.

18 talkyn. So MS, Bl. S: talking.

26, s.n. MS: rubrication mark to the right of s.n.

41 tyme. MS: t altered from another letter.

53 thryd. MS: iiide, with de in red.

71 If. MS: inserted in margin.

78 MS: Anna scribbled in right margin.

80 mekely. MS: ly written above the line.

84 may. MS: written above the line.

87 were. So Bl. S: wore. MS: were or wore.

97, s.d. MS: rubricated m with loop [memorandum?] precedes s.d.

105, s.d. Et refudit sacrificium Joachim. MS: written in right margin.

109 holy. MS: written above the line.

110 Adjutorium nostrum. MS: phrase rewritten at right.

115 MS: rubricated cross precedes Pater, et filius, et spiritus; presumably as cues for Episcopus to make the sign of the cross.

116, s.d. solemniter. MS: solemnter.

117, s.n. MS: omitted.

123 hevynes. MS: dare hevynes.

129 sen. So S, MP. MS: son. Bl: sofron.

130 shepherdys. So S. MS, Bl, MP: sherherdys.

132 MS: pastores written in right margin in another hand.

135 An a is written in the left margin.

139, s.n. JOACHYM. MS: written above a canceled ij pastor. See explanatory note to lines 135–212.

A b is written in the left margin.

141 A b is written in the left margin.

142 Se. MS: So is also possible.

143 An a or a cc is written in the left margin.

145 A d is written in the left margin.

149 Notation in the left margin.

150 an venymyd. So MS, S, MP. Bl: Anvenymyd.

158 feryng. MS: r perhaps altered from another letter.

168 Ye. So S, Bl, MP. Manly, MS: he.

172, s.d. canunt. MS: canut.

173, s.n. MS: appears in right margin above 173, s.d.

182 son. MS: blotted and difficult to read.

194 of her. MS: written above the line.

196 MS: at bottom of fol. 40v are catchwords that xal be savyour.

197–724 MS: written on different paper, same as paper for quires F–M.

201 imcomparabyl. So MS, Bl, S. MP: incomparabyl.

211 now this. MS: now is this.

212 MS: a line marks the end of the shepherds' scene.

229 ay. MS: y obscured.

240 metyng. MS: wepy metyng.

243 nevyr. MS: written above the line.

245 Veryly. MS: written right of line 244, preceded by rubrication.

250 MS: no capitulum.

After 253 MS: no break between plays.




















CONTEMPLACIO Cryst conserve this congregacyon
Fro perellys past, present, and future,
And the personys here pleand, that the pronunciacyon
Of here sentens to be seyd mote be sad and sure,
And that non oblocucyon make this matere obscure,
But it may profite and plese eche persone present
From the gynnynge to the endynge so to endure
That Cryst and every creature with the conceyte be content.

This matere here mad is of the Modyr of Mercy:
How be Joachym and Anne was here concepcyon,
Sythe offred into the temple compiled breffly —
Than maryed to Joseph, and so, folwyng the Salutacyon,
Meting with Elyzabeth and ther with a conclusyon,
In fewe wordys talkyd that it shulde nat be tedyous
To lernyd nyn to lewd nyn to no man of reson.1
This is the processe — now preserve yow Jhesus!

Therfore of pes I yow pray all that ben here present,
And tak hed to oure talkyn, what we shal say.
I beteche yow that Lorde that is evyr omnypotent,
To governe yow in goodnes as he best may,
In hevyn we may hym se.
Now God that is Hevyn Kynge,
Sende us all hese dere blyssynge,
And to his towre he mote us brynge.
Amen for charyté.

YSAKAR The prestys of God offre sote ensens
Unto here God, and therfore they be holy.
We that mynistere here in Goddys presens,
In us shuld be fownd no maner of foly.
Ysakar, prynce of prestys, am I
That this holyest day here have mynystracyon,
Certyfyenge all tribus in my cure specyaly,
That this is the hyest fest of oure solemnyzacyon.

This we clepe Festum Encenniorum,
The newe fest, of which thre in the yere we exercyse.
Now all the kynredys to Jerusalem must cum
Into the temple of God here to do sacryfyse:
Tho that be cursyd, my dygnyté is to dysspyse,
And tho that be blyssyd here holy sacrefyse to take.
We be regal sacerdocium: it perteyneth us to be wysse
Be fasting, be prayng, be almes, and at du tyme to wake.2

JOACHYM Now all this countré of Galylé
With this cetye of Nazareth specyal,
This fest to Jerusalem must go we
To make sacrefyce to God eternal.
My name is Joachym, a man in godys substancyall.
“Joachym” is to say, “He that to God is redy.”
So have I be and evyrmore shal,
For the dredful domys of God sore dred I.

I am clepyd ryghtful, why wole ye se,
For my godys into thre partys I devyde:
On to the temple and to hem that ther servyng be;
Anodyr to the pylgrimys and pore men; the thryd for hem with me abyde.
So shulde every curat in this werde wyde
Geve a part to his chauncel, iwys;
A part to his parochonerys that to povert slide;
The thryd part to kepe for hym and his.

But blyssyd wyff Anne, sore I drede
In the temple this tyme to make sacryfice
Becawse that no frute of us doth procede.
I fere me grettly the prest wole me dysspice,
Than grett slawndyr in the tribus of us shulde aryse.3
But this I avow to God with all the mekenes I can:
Gyff of his mercy he wole a childe us devyse,
We shal offre it up into the temple to be Goddys man.

ANNE Youre swemful wurdys make terys trekyl down be my face.
Iwys, swete husbond, the fawte is in me.
My name is Anne, that is to sey, “grace.”
We wete not how gracyous God wyl to us be.
A woman shulde bere Cryst, these profecyes have we.
If God send frute, and it be a mayd childe,
With all reverens I vow to his magesté,
Sche shal be her footmayd to mynyster her most mylde.4

JOACHYM Now lete be it as God wole: ther is no more.
Tweyn turtelys for my sacryfice with me I take,
And I beseche, wyff, and evyr we mete more
That hese grett mercy us meryer mut make.
ANNE For dred and for swem of youre wourdys I qwake!
Thryes I kysse yow with syghys ful sad,
And to the mercy of God mekely I yow betake.
And tho that departe in sorwe, God make ther metyng glad.

SENIOR TRIBUS Worchepful Sere Joachym, be ye redy now?
All your kynrede is come yow to exorte,
That thei may do sacrifice at the temple with yow,
For ye be of grett wurchep as men yow report.
JOACHYM All synfull, seke, and sory God mote comforte
I wolde I were as men me name.
Thedyr in Goddys name now late us all resorte.
A, Anne, Anne, Anne, God sheeld us fro shame!

ANNE Now am I left alone; sore may I wepe.
A, husbond, ageyn God wel mote yow brynge
And fro shame and sorwe he mote yow kepe.
Tyl I se yow ageyn, I kannot sees of wepynge.
SENIOR [TRIBUS] Prynce of oure prestys, if it be youre plesynge
We be com mekely to make oure sacrefice.
YSAKAR God do yow mede bothe elde and yynge!
Than devowtly we wyl begynne servyse.
(see note); (t-note)
perils; (t-note)
playing; (see note)
their words; may be weighty
errors; matter
But that

made; (see note)

story; (t-note)

heed; (t-note)
entrust you to



sweet incense; (see note); (t-note)
their God; (see note)
(see note)
tribes [of Israel]; care
feast; rites

Feast of Incense; (see note)
three; celebrate

those; their
priests; wise; (see note)
(see note); (t-note)




called righteous; will
One; them
Another; them; (t-note)
priest; wide world
chancel, indeed
parishioners; into poverty

fruit (i.e., children)



Surely; fault



Two turtledoves

His; merrier may
sorrow; (t-note)
Thrice; sighs
entrust; (t-note)
Those; (see note)

Sir; (see note)

sick; may
There; let

may bring you safely
sorrow; may

Then; (t-note)

  [There they shal synge this sequens — “Benedicta sit beata Trinitas.”5 And in that tyme, Ysakar with his ministerys ensensyth the autere, and than thei make her offryng, and Ysaker seyth: (see note)





Comyth up, serys, and offeryth all now,
Ye that to do sacryfice worthy are.
Abyde a qwyle, sere! Whedyr wytte thu?
Thu and thi wyff arn barrany and bare!
Neyther of yow fruteful nevyr yet ware.
Whow durste thu amonge fruteful presume and abuse?
It is a tokyn thu are cursyd thare!
Wherffore with grett indygnacyon thin offeryng I refuse!

[Et refudit sacrificium Joachim.

Amonge all this pepyl, barreyn be no mo.
Therefore comyth up and offeryth here alle.
Thu, Joachym, I charge thee: fast out the temple thu go!

[Et redit flendo.

Than with Goddys holy wourde blysse yow I shalle.

[Ministro cantando:

Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini,
CHORUS Qui fecit celum et terram.
MINISTER Sit nomen Domini benedictum:
CHORUS Ex hoc nunc et usque in seculum.
EPISCOPUS Benedicat vos divina maiestas et una Deitas
Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.6
sirs; (see note)

What are you doing
How dare

your; (t-note)

And he refuses Joachim’s sacrifice

childless; not allowed; (see note)

And he returns weeping

Then; (t-note)

With the minister singing

Our help is in the name of the Lord; (see note); (t-note)
Who made heaven and earth
Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time on, and forevermore
(see note)

  [Signando manu cum cruce solemniter et recedant tribus extra templum.7 (t-note)












EPISCOPUS Now of God and man blyssyd be ye alle.
Homward agen now returne ye,
And in this temple abyde we shalle
To servyn God in Trinyté.

JOACHYM A, mercyfful Lord, what is this lyff?
What have I do, Lorde, to have this blame?
For hevynes I dare not go hom to my wyff,
And amonge my neyborys, I dare not abyde for shame!
A, Anne, Anne, Anne, al oure joye is turnyd to grame!
From youre blyssyd felacheppe I am now exilyd —
And ye here onys of this fowle fame,
Sorwe wyl sle yow to se me thus revylyd.

But sen God soferyth thys, us must sofron nede.8
Now wyl I go to my shepherdys and with hem abyde
And ther evyrmore levyn in sorwe and in drede.
Shame makyth many man his hed for to hyde.
Ha, how do ye felas? In yow is lytel pryde.
How fare ye and my bestys this wete wolde I, veryly.9
PASTOR 1 A, welcom hedyr blyssyd mayster! We pasture hem ful wyde.10
They be lusty and fayr and grettly multyply.

How do ye mayster? Ye loke al hevyly.
How doth oure dame? At hom sytt she and sowyht?
JOACHYM To here thee speke of her, it sleyth myn hert, veryly.
How I and sche doth, God hymself knowyth.
The meke, God lyftyth up; the proude, overthrowyht.
Go do what ye lyst! Se youre bestys not stray.
PASTOR 2 Aftere grett sorwe, mayster, evyr gret grace growyht.
Sympyl as we kan, we shal for yow pray.

PASTOR 3 Ya, to pray for careful, it is grett nede.
We all wul prey for yow knelende.
God of his goodnes send yow good spede,
And of youre sorwe yow sone amende!

JOACHYM I am nott wurthy, Lord, to loke up to hefne.
My synful steppys an venymyd the grounde.
I, lothfolest that levyth — thu Lord hyest in thi setys sefne.11
What art thu, Lord? What, am I wrecche werse than an hownde?
Thu hast sent me shame which myn hert doth wounde!
I thank thee more herefore than for all my prosperité.
This is a tokyn thu lovyst me; now to thee I am bounde.
Thou seyst thu art with hem that in tribulacyon be.

And hoso have thee, he nedyth not care thanne;
My sorwe is feryng I have do sum offens.
Punchyth me, Lorde, and spare my blyssyd wyff Anne,
That syttyth and sorwyth ful sore of myn absens.
Ther is not may profyte but prayour to youre presens.
With prayorys prostrat byfore thi person I wepe.
Have mende on oure avow for your mech magnyficens.12
And my lovyngest wyff, Anne, Lord, for thi mercy kepe.

ANNE A, mercy, Lord! Mercy, mercy, mercy!
We are synfolest! It shewyth that ye send us all this sorwe.13
Why do ye thus to myn husbond, Lord? Why, why, why?
For my barynes, ye may amend this thiself and thu lyst tomorwe,14
And it plese so thi mercy. Thee, my Lord, I take to borwe.
I shal kepe myn avow qwhyl I leve and leste.
I fere me, I have offendyd thee; myn herte is ful of sorwe.15
Most mekely I pray thi pety, that this bale thu wyl breste.
(see note); (t-note)

dejection; (t-note)


If you hear once

them; (t-note)
(see note)

(see note); (t-note)
full of life

hear; (t-note)
God knows
[he] overthrows; (see note); (t-note)
please! Make sure; [do] not; (t-note)
sorrow; grows; (see note); (t-note)
(see note)

for the sorrowful; (t-note)

sorrow; soon

heaven; (t-note)
steps have poisoned; (t-note)

heart; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)

whoso; then
sorrow; fearing; done; (t-note)

Nothing will
(see note)

If; to witness

pain; heal

  [Here the aungel descendith, the hefne syngyng:“Exultet celum laudibus, resultet terra gaudiis, angelorum gloria sacra canunt solemnia.” 16 (see note); (t-note)

















JOACHYM Qwhat art thu in Goddys name that makyst me adrad?
It is as lyth abowt me as al the werd were fere!
ANGELUS I am an aungel of God com to make thee glad!
God is plesyd with thin helmes and hath herd thi prayere.
He seyth thi shame, thi repreff, and thi terys cler.
God is avengere of synne and not nature doth lothe.17
Whos wombe that he sparyth and maketh barreyn here,
He doth to shewe his myth and his mercy bothe.

Thu seest that Sara was nynty yere bareyn:
Sche had a son Ysaac to whom God gaff his blyssynge.
Rachel also had the same peyn:
She had a son Joseph that of Egypt was kynge,
A strongere than Sampson nevyr was be wrytynge.
Nor an holyere than Samuel, it is seyd thus,
Yet here moderys were bareyn both in the gynnynge —
The concepcyon of all swych, it is ful mervelyous.

And in the lykewyse, Anne, thi blyssd wyf,
Sche shal bere a childe shal hygth Mary
Which shal be blyssyd in her body and have joys fyff.
And ful of the Holy Goost inspyred syngulyrly,
Sche shal be offryd into the temple solemply
That of her non evyl fame shuld sprynge thus.
And as sche shal be bore of a barrany body,
So, of her shal be bore without nature Jhesus,

That shal be Savyour unto al mankende.
In tokyn, whan thu come to Jherusalem to the Gyldyn Gate,18
Thu shalt mete Anne thi wyff; have this in thi mende:
I shal sey her the same her sorwys to rebate.19
JOACHYM Of this imcomparabyl comfort I shal nevyr forgete the date!
My sorwe was nevyr so grett, but now my joy is more!
I shal hom in hast, be it nevyr so late.
A, Anne, blyssyd be that body of thee shal be bore!

Now fare wel, myn shepherdys! Governe yow now wysly.
PASTOR 1 Have ye good tydyngys, mayster? Than be we glad.
JOACHYM Prayse God for me, for I am not wourthy.
PASTOR 2 In feyth, sere, so we shal with all oure sowlys sad.
PASTOR 3 I holde it helpfful that on of us with yow be had.
JOACHYM Nay, abyde with youre bestys sone in Goddys blyssynge.
PASTOR 1 We shal make us so mery, now this is bestad
That a myle on your wey ye shal here us synge!

ANNE Alas, for myn husbond, me is ful wo!
I shal go seke hym whatsoevyr befalle.
I wote not in erth which wey is he go.
Fadyr of Hefne, for mercy, to youre fete I falle.
ANGELUS Anne, thin husbond ryght now I was withall,
The aungel of God that bar hym good tydynge.
And as I seyd to hym, so to thee sey I shal:
God hath herd thi preyour and thi wepynge.

At the Goldyn Gate thu shalte mete hym ful mylde,
And in grett gladnes returne to youre hous.
So be proces, thu shalt conseyve and bere a childe
Whiche shal hyght Mary, and Mary shal bere Jhesus,
Which shal be Savyour of all the werd and us.
Aftere grett sorwe evyr grett gladnes is had.
Now myn inbassett I have seyd to yow thus.
Gooth in oure Lordys name, and in God beth glad.

ANNE Now blyssyd be oure Lorde and all his werkys ay!
All heffne and erthe mut blysse yow for this!
I am so joyful, I not what I may say!
Ther can no tounge telle what joye in me is:
I to bere a childe that shal bere all mannys blys,
And have myn hosbonde ageyn — ho myth have joys more?20
No creature in erth is grauntyd more mercy, iwys.
I shal hyye me to the gate to be ther before.

[Here goth the aungel agen to hefne.

A, blyssyd be oure Lord! Myn husbond I se!
I shalle on myn knes and to hymward crepe.
JOACHYM A, gracyous wyff, Anne, now fruteful shal ye be!
For joy of this metyng in my sowle I wepe!
Have this kusse of clennesse, and with yow it kepe.
In Goddys name now go we wyff, hom to oure hous.
ANNE Ther was nevyr joy sank in me so depe!
Now may we sey husbond: God is to us gracyous,
JOACHYM Ya, and if we have levyd wel here before
I pray thee, Lord, thin ore,
So mote we levyn evyrmore,
And be thi grace more holyly.

ANNE Now homward, husbond, I rede we gon,
Ryth hom al to oure place,
To thank God that sytt in tron,
That thus hath sent us his grace.
What; afraid; (see note); (t-note)
light; as [if]; world; on fire

your alms
sees; reproof; tears

barren here [on earth]

ninety years
gave; (t-note)

never was written of
holier one
their mothers
such ones

the same way
be called
Five; (see note)

no infamy; (t-note)
intercourse; (t-note)

Who; (t-note)
(see note)

time; (t-note)


sir; souls
beasts soon
is settled; (see note); (t-note)
for a mile; hear; (t-note)


do not know; gone

your; with


in due course
be called
world; (see note)
(see note)

forever; (t-note)

man’s bliss


see; (see note)
approach him; (see note)

pure kiss

may live in

urge; (t-note)
Straight home
on [His] throne

Go To Play 9, Presentation of Mary in the Temple