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Play 9, Presentation of Mary in the Temple


1 And for waiting upon our vow of God, we might be destroyed

2 In the name of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost

3 And embracing them, she will kiss her mother and father

4 Mary. And thus from the beginning to the end of the fifteen psalms

5 In my trouble I cried to the Lord, and he heard me. (See Vulgate Psalm 119:1)

6 I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help may come to me. (See Vulgate Psalm 120:1)

7 I rejoiced in these things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. (See Vulgate Psalm 121:1)

8 To you have I lifted up my eyes: You who live in heaven. (See Vulgate Psalm 122:1)

9 If it had not been that the Lord was with us, let Israel now say: If it had not been that the Lord was with us. (See Vulgate Psalm 123:1–2)

10 They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion: / he shall not be moved for ever who lives in Jerusalem. (See Vulgate Psalm 124:1)

11 When the Lord brought back the captivity of Sion, we became like men comforted. (See Vulgate Psalm 125:1)

12 Unless the Lord will build the house, they labour in vain that build it. (See Vulgate Psalm 126:1)

13 Blessed are all they who fear the Lord, [and] who walk in his ways. (See Vulgate Psalm 127:1)

14 Often have they fought against me from my youth, let Israel now say. (See Vulgate Psalm 128:1)

15 Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. (See Vulgate Psalm 129:1)

16 Lord, my heart is not exalted: nor are my eyes lofty. (See Vulgate Psalm 130:1)

17 O Lord, remember David: and all his meekness. (See Vulgate Psalm 131:1)

18 Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. (See Vulgate Psalm 132:1)

19 Behold now bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord. (See Vulgate Psalm 133:1)

20 You must love God above all and your fellow Christians

21 Then love without end your fellow Christian as you would be loved yourself

22 Lines 485–86: And you, sirs, kneel and I will give you God's blessing / In the name of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost

23 And he will return with his ministers; all the maidens will say "Amen."

24 We shall teach you the body of our Lord's luminous law

25 Just to thank our sovereign Lord is insufficient to my way of thinking

26 R: Queen of Creation, reigning without end (forever)

27 Recommending me to that Godhead that is triune on the throne

28 Here she kisses the ground

29 "Jesus, crown of virgins"

30 And bid you should feed yourself without shame

31 Recommend me to my father, sir, and God reward him

32 God's abundance is always nearer to his servants than we think


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

1 Sovereynes, ye han sen shewyd yow before. Contemplacio serves as a narrator linking the several Mary plays that have been shewyd yow before as if they were episodes of a single drama. The specific reference here is of course to Play 8: Joachim and Anne. Sovereynes is a polite form of address that suggests something more ele­vated than a general audience of varying classes, perhaps a more genteel middle- or upper-class audience. Contemplacio puts such emphasis on "alle pepyl that ben here present" (line 10) "in this place" (line 17) that it is conceivable the play was performed serially, in a more enclosed space than most pageants, perhaps even indoors. The summary of the scope of this particular play replaces the function of an induction and enhances the intimate atmosphere of a more restricted audience.

1–65 In octaves, with a nine-line stanza (lines 9-17).

23 to thre personys and on God. The reference to the Trinity, while somewhat ana­chronistic at this point, clearly makes Mary the child of theologically correct parents. That is, even though Jesus has yet to appear, Joachim and Anne are aware of the role that he (and the Holy Spirit) play in the godhead. See further lines 58–71, and the note to lines 172–85.

66–77 Written as three quatrains.

74 thank yow. Mary has asked her father (line 69) and her mother (line 71) for their blessings, which they have done through their invocation of the Trinity. Now Mary asks God's blessing on them in return. See MED thanken v.3b and c: "to praise, extol the merits of"; "to be solicitous toward, attend to."

78–161 Three octaves followed by quatrains with extra-stanzaic Latin lines.

101 ff. The fifteen psalms are the Gradual Psalms (119–33 in the Vulgate), which are the fifteen steps between the Beautiful Gate and the Gate of Nicanor in Herod's Temple. The steps separate the courts of women and men. Mary speaks a qua­train on each step, which is followed by the first verse of the Latin psalm. One might expect that the Latin would come first, but here it comes after the child gives her recitation. Rastall suggests that after Mary declaims her lines "all pre­sent [would] say (or sing, to a normal psalm-chant) the first verse of each in Latin, as given" (Minstrels Playing, p. 97). Episcopus would, of course, lead the recitation or chant (for more, see note to lines 105 ff., below). For a lovely pic­torial representation of this event, see The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, Hours of the Virgin — Terce, pl. 6: The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple. Mere­dith and Spector note the miracle of Mary's ascending the Temple's fifteen steps (MP, p. 94n350–51; S 2:442). On the connections of the signs to Jewish rites, see note to 8.34–37, above.

105 ff. The Latin lines are unnumbered and unattributed by Spector (whose example I have followed for ease of cross-referencing). In his note, Spector seems to in­dicate that the Latin lines are to be spoken by Mary (S 2:442–43). But more likely the Latin serves as a divine voice spoken by Episcopus in a liturgical call and res­ponse between priest and celebrant. This liturgical reading would dramatize Mary's role as mediatrix as she stands between the priest and the watching audi­ence, leading them step by step toward the inner sanctum of the Temple of God.

115 planetys sefne. Ptolemy stated that the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn all orbited the earth, in that order.

144 Fro depnes, Lord, I have cryed to thee. In addition to being one of the Gradual Psalms (see note to lines 101 ff.), De profundis (Vulgate Psalm 29:1) is, according to the New Catholic Encyclopedia:
also one of the seven Penitential Psalms which, in the East and the West, were already used as such by the early Christians. In the Divine office the De profundis is sung every Wednesday at Vespers, also at the second Vespers of Christmas; the words Apud Dominum misericordia et copiosa apud eum redemptio, remind us of the mercy of the Father Who sent His son for the redemption of mankind. It is also used in the ferial prayers of Lauds and in the Office of the Dead at Vespers. The Church recites this psalm principally in her prayers for the dead; it is the psalm of the holy souls in purgatory, the words of the Psalmist applying well to the longing and sighing of the souls exiled from heaven. It is recited at funerals by the priest, before the corpse is taken out of the house to the church.
162 Manuscript marks the speaker as Episcopus, but he is likewise clearly Ysakar. The scribe's change in designation could emphasize Ysakar's institutional (as opposed to familial) role, but it is also possible that this change in the speaker's name indi­cates a different exemplar for the scribe.
162–293 Written in octaves, with a quatrain (lines 226–29).

172–85 The anachronism of pre-Christ individuals declaring themselves to be Christians is plain, as is their use of New Testament scriptures (see note to lines 183–85, below, where again Episcopus speaks in the voice of Christ). Perhaps much of the power of an anachronism lies precisely in this apparent paradox. One impli­cation is that Episcopus is a priest like Ysakar, but also a figure beyond time, God's sacred spokesperson whose insights range from the divinely estab­lished priesthood of Malchizadek until the Last Judgment (see note to 8.30). It is as if the inner spirit of the Old Law speaks directly to those who have ears to hear and under­stand.

180 he gevyth wysdam. Ashley associates Christ with Wisdom, a central theme of the N-Town Plays; see "‘Wyt' and ‘Wysdam' in the N-Town Cycle."

183–85 Compare Luke 10:25–28, especially verse 27: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself." See also Mark 12:30–31, Matthew 22:37–39, and Deuteronomy 6:5.

194–245 maydenys fyve. Pseudo-Matthew mentions five maidens who will attend Mary. The maidens' names — Meditacyon, Contryssyon, Compassyon, Clennes, and Fruyssyon — suggest their own and Mary's qualities (MP, pp. 96–97n481–82).

211–16 Spector remarks: "The seven alliterative qualities personified by the priests are devotional and intellectual" (S 2:444).

230–45 Meredith notes that the seven petitions appear in the Meditationes Vitae Christi (MP, p. 513n513–23).

231 kepe thi love and thi lawe. See Carlson ("Mary's Obedience," pp. 353 ff.) on Mary's perpetual affirmation of the Law as well as her love of God. Compare "Agens the lawe wyl I nevyr be" (10.36), or her agreement "to observe oure lawe, also it is nedful" (10.95) — though never to break her vow of celibacy.

241 wyttys fyve. Normally, the five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch), but Meredith renders the five as: "eyes, tongue, hands, feet, knees" (MP, p. 98n524).

245, s.d. The hefne. "The ‘heaven' in this case must have been a separate platform or ‘scaf­fold', in which the singing angels were housed" (John Stevens, "Music in Mediaeval Drama," p. 84).

248–53 aungelys mete. As in the previous stage direction, angel food refers to manna. In this theatrical case, as Meredith suggests, possibly communion wafers were used (MP, p. 98n528sd). Spector notes that in several medieval versions of Mary's life, "she eats angel's food and distributes her earthly food among the poor" (S 2:445). See also 28.52, s.d.–64, s.d.

262–69 your name Maria . . . this holy name. Just as medieval theologians commonly cele­brate the many names of God, here the poet celebrates five of the dozens of tra­di­tional epithets for Mary, reading her name as if it were an acronym. The clever deconstructing of Mary's name that results (lines 263–68) is packed with allitera­tion, calling attention to this moment as an independent poetic unit of ritual sanctification.

265 Regina of Regyon. Queen, that is, of all Creation, including both heaven and hell. Compare line 268.

266 Iesses. While it is the practice of the Middle English Texts Series to regularize i/j, and thus typically to present the name here as "Jesse," in this instance I have chosen to ignore this principle in order to highlight the strong alliteration present in the text at this moment. Note also that the alliteration is probably not just orthographic, as the pronunciation of Jesse's name, here at least, likely follows the Vulgate "Isai."

268–69 Compare Philippians 2:10: "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth," which now is ex­tended to the name Maria as well.

277, s.d. Forrest notes that the hymn is sung at Lauds for the feats of the Virgin ("Apocry­phal Sources of the St. Anne's Day Plays," p. 46n71). Dutka, Index of Songs, p. 32, provides the complete lyrics. On in hefne, see note to line 245, s.d., above.

285 Proverbial. Whiting G228, G231.

294–310 Two quatrains, followed by a nine-line stanza. I have left this speech at the end of Play 9, to keep the numbering of the plays congruent with Spector. But probably the speech should be looked upon as Prologue to Play 10, the way Contemplacio's speech at 9.1–17 serves as an induc­tion to the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, and his speech at 11.1–32 intro­duces the Parliament of Heaven, etc.

303 Meredith notes that sources differ regarding Mary's age (MP, p. 99n586). Some sources say she is 12; here, she is 14.


Abbreviations: Bl: Ludus Coventriae, ed. Block (1922); H: Ludus Coventriae, ed. Halliwell (1841); MP: Mary Play, ed. Mere­dith (1987); S: N-Town Play, ed. Spector (1991); s.d.: stage direction; s.n.: stage name

1 MS: play number indicates beginning of Mary in the Temple.

6–10 MS: large play number 9 in right margin.

11 now. MS: here she xal now.

17, s.d. thus. MS: s or f canceled before word.
After 17, s.d. MS: here Johym and Anne with written in another hand at bottom of 42r.

18, s.n. JOACHIM. MS: written in textura quadrata with a capitulum.

40 mercy. MS: youre mercy.

48 am. So S. MS, MP: omitted.

73 Amen. MS: written in right margin after 72.

77, s.d. amplexendo. So S. MS, H, Bl, MP: explexendo.

82, s.n. MARIA. MS: omitted and supplied by a reviser.

85 beth. So Bl, S, MP. MS: beth.

90 sore. MS: unclear, could also be sere.

92 thore. MS: unclear, could also be there.

101, s.d. finem. So MP, S. Bl, MS: fine.

102–69 MS: no capitula.

105 ff. The internal numbering for the play follows Spector, who does not include the Latin lines in his numbering scheme. See explanatory note to these lines.

127 Lordeis grace. So S. MP: Lorde-is grace. MS, Bl: lorde is as gracy.

129 joyful. MS: two letters erased after.

133 it. MS: two letters erased after.

133, s.d. laborauerunt. So Bl, MP, S. MS: laborauerut.

141 Thu. So S, MP. Bl: Thou. H: Than.

148 heyved. So Bl, MP. S: heyned or heyued.

162, s.n. See explanatory note to this line.
162 MS: no capitulum.

166 by. So MS. S: be.

174 sovereynly. So MP, S. MS, Bl: severeynly. MS: written above the line.

183 thi mende. MS: thi mende might.

190 For with. Could be read either as forwith, suggesting primacy or as forthwith, suggesting immediacy. See MP, p. 96n473.

with prayer, with grace and mercy. So MS, Bl. MP, S: with prayer come grace and mercy.

191 Se thee. So Bl, S. MS, MP: Sethe.

205 beseche . MS: besake seche.

217, s.d. recedet. So MP, S. MS, Bl: recedent.

218, s.n. MARIA. MS: omitted.

225, s.d. MS: squeezed into right margin.

234 plesauns knawe. So MS, Bl, MP. S: plesauns to knawe.

246, s.n. ANGELUS. MS: omitted.

254 sovereyn. So S. MS, Bl, MP: soveryen.

259 Aungelys. So MP, S. MS, Bl: aunge.

264 Averter. So S. MS, Bl, MP: auerte.

272 have. MS: a have.

298, 302 MS: no capitula.

301 MS: play number 10 opposite lines 301–04.

301–04 MS: large play number 10 in right margin, possibly scribal confusion about the beginning (?) of the next play.

After 310 MS: remainder of fol. 48r blank.





CONTEMPLACIO Sovereynes, ye han sen shewyd yow before
Of Joachym and Anne, here botherys holy metynge,
How oure Lady was conseyvid, and how she was bore.
We passe ovyr that, breffness of tyme consyderynge,
And how oure Lady in her tendyr age and yyng
Into the temple was offryd, and so forth proced.
This sentens sayd shal be hire begynnyng.
Now the Mother of Mercy in this be our sped.

And, as a childe of thre yere age, here she shal appere
To alle pepyl that ben here present.
And of her grett grace now shal ye here:
How she levyd evyr to Goddys entent
With grace.
That holy matere we wole declare,
Tyl fortene yere, how sche dyd fare.
Now of youre speche, I pray yow spare,
All that ben in this place.
Friends; have seen; (see note); (t-note)
their holy meeting together; (see note)

part; her

hear; (t-note)
lived; God’s will

matter; will
Until age 14

  [Here Joachym and Anne with oure Lady betwen hem being al in whyte as a childe of thre yere age presente here into the temple, thus seying Joachym: (t-note)


























JOACHYM Blyssed be oure Lord! Fayr frute have we now!
Anne, wyff, remembyr wole ye
That we made to God an holy avow
That oure fyrst childe, the servaunt of God shulde be.
The age of Mary, oure dowtere, is yerys thre.
Therfore to thre personys and on God lete us her present.
The yonger she be drawyn, the bettyr semyth me,
And for teryeng of oure avow of God, we myth be shent.1

ANNE It is as ye sey, husbond, indede.
Late us take Mary, oure dowtere, us between
And to the temple with her procede.
Dowtere, the aungel tolde us ye shulde be a qwen!
Wole ye go se that lord youre husbond shal ben,
And lerne for to love hym and lede with hym youre lyff?
Telle youre fadyr and me her youre answere, let sen!
Wole ye be pure maydyn and also Goddys wyff?

MARIA Fadyr and modyr, if it plesyng to yow be,
Ye han mad youre avow, so sothly wole I
To be Goddys chast servaunt whil lyff is in me.
But to be Goddys wyff, I was nevyr wurthy!
I am the sympelest that evyr was born of body.
I have herd yow seyd: “God shulde have a modyr swete.”
That I may leve. To se hire, God graunt me for his mercy
And abyl me to ley my handys undyr hire fayr fete!

[Et genuflectet ad Deum.

JOACHYM Iwys, dowtere, it is wel seyd!
Ye answere, and ye were twenty yere olde.
ANNE Whith youre speche, Mary, I am wel payd!
Can ye gon alone? Lett se! Beth bolde!
MARIA To go to Goddys hous, wole ye now beholde.
I am joyful thedyrward, as I may be!
JOACHYM Wyff, I am right joyful oure dowtere to beholde!
ANNE So am I, wys husbond. Now in Goddys name go we.

JOACHYM Sere prince of prestes, and it plese yow,
We that were barreyn, God hath sent a childe
To offre her to Goddys service, we mad oure avow;
Here is the same mayde, Mary most mylde.
YSAKAR Joachym, I have good mende, how I yow revyled.
I am right joyful that God hath gove yow this grace
To be amonge fruteful. Now, be ye reconsylid!
Com, swete Mary, com! Ye have a gracyous face!

[Joachym flectendo ad Deum sic dicens:

JOACHYM Now Fadyr and Son and Holy Gost,
On God and Personys Thre:
We offre to thee, Lorde of myghtys most,
Oure dowtere thi servaunt evyrmore to be.
ANNA Therto most bounde evyrmore be we!
Mary, in this holy place, leve yow we shall,
In Goddys name. Now up go ye!
Oure fadyr, oure preste, lo, doth yow call.

MARIA Modyr, and it plese yow, fyrst wole I take my leve
Of my fadyr and yow, my modyr, iwys;
I have a fadyr in hefne, this I beleve.
Now, good fadyr, with that fadyr ye me blysse.

JOACHYM In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.2
MARIA Amen. Now ye, good modyr.
ANNE In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.

Now oure Lord thank yow for this:
Here is my fadyr and my modyr bothe.
Most mekely I beseche I may yow kys.
Now forgeve me yf evyr I made yow wrothe.

[Et amplexendo, osculabit patrem et matrem.3

JOACHYM Nay, dowtere, ye offendyd nevyr God nor man.
Lovyd be that Lord, yow so doth kepe.
ANNE Swete dowtyr, thynk on youre modyr An,
Youre swemynge smytyht to myn hert depe.
MARIA Fadyr and modyr, I shal pray for yow and wepe
To God with al myn hert specyaly.
Blysse me day and nyght evyr her ye slepe,
Good fadyr and modyr, and beth mery.

JOACHYM A, ho had evyr such a chylde,
Nevyr creature yit that evyr was bore?
Sche is so gracyous; she is so mylde:
So shulde childyr to fadyr and modyr evyrmore.
ANNE Than shulde thei be blyssyd and plese God sore!
Husbond, and it plese yow, not hens go we shal
Tyl Mary be in the temple above thore —
I wold not for al erthe se her fal.

EPISCOPUS Come, gode Mary. Come babe, I thee call:
Thi pas pratyly to this plas pretende.
Thu shalt be the dowtere of God eternal!
If the fyftene grees thu may ascende,
It is meracle if thu do, now God thee dyffende!
From Babylony to hevynly Jherusalem, this is the way:
Every man that thynk his lyf to amende,
The fiftene Psalmys in memorye of this mayde say.


one; (see note)


Will; what lord; shall be

here; let’s see

have made; vow; truly

believe; see her; (t-note)
allow; her

And she will kneel to God

as if you
Let’s see! Be

to that place

Sir; if it

made; vow

well remember
has given


Joachim, kneeling to God, says thus



if it; (see note)



bless (attend to) you; (see note)



(see note)
who keeps you

grieving cuts my


blessed; greatly; (t-note)
there; (t-note)
all the world see

steps carefully; direct

defend you

(see note)

  [Maria. Et sic deinceps usque ad finem xvim Psalmorum.4 (t-note)

MARIA The fyrst degré gostly applyed:
It is holy desyre with God to be.
In trobyl to God I have cryed
And in sped that Lord hath herde me.
spiritually; (t-note)

quickly; (see note); (t-note)

  Ad Dominum cum tribularer clamaui, et exaudiuit me.5


The second is stody, with meke inquysissyon veryly:
How I shal have knowynge of Godys wylle.
To the mownteynes of hefne I have lyfte myn ey,
From qwens shal comyn helpe me tylle.
study; inquiry

mountains; my eyes

  Leuaui oculos meos in montes; unde ueniat auxilium mihi.6

The thrydde is gladnes in mende in hope to be
That we shall be savyd all thus.
I am glad of these tydyngys ben seyd to me:
Now shal we go into Goddys hous.
third; mind


  Letatus sum in hiis que dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus.7


The fourte is meke obedyence as is dette
To hym that is above the planetys sefne:
To thee I have myn eyn sette
That dwellys above the skyes in hefne.
as is due
seven; (see note)

  Ad te leuaui oculos meos: qui habitas in Celis.8


The fyfte is propyr confessyon
That we be nought withowth God thus,
But God in us have habytacyon,
Peraventure oure enemyes shulde swelle us.

perchance; swallow

  Nisi quia Dominus erat in nobis, dicat nunc Israel: nisi quia Dominus erat in nobis.9

The sexte is confidens in Godys strenght alon,
For of all grace from hym comyth the strem:
They that trust in God as the Mownt Syon,
He shal not be steryd, endles that dwellyth in Jherusalem.


  Qui confidunt in Domino sicut Mons Syon,
Non commouebitur in eternum qui habitat in Hierusalem.10



The sefte is undowteful hope of immortalyté:
In oure Lordeis grace and mercy.
Whan oure Lord convertyth oure captivité,
Than are we mad as joyful mery.
seventh is steadfast
Lord’s; (t-note)
Then; made also; (t-note)

  In conuertendo Dominus capiuitatem Syon, facti sumus sicut consolati.11

The eyted is contempt of veynglory in us,
For hym that al mankende hath multyplyed.
But yf oure Lord make here oure hous,
They an laboryd in veyn that it han edyfied.

But unless
have labored; have built; (t-note)

  Nisi Dominus edificanuerit domum, in uanum laborauerunt qui edificant eam.12 (t-note)


The nynte is a childely fer, indede,
With a longyng love in oure Lord that ay is.
Blyssyd arn all they that God drede,
Which that gon in his holy weys.
ninth; childish fear
who fear God
Who go

  Beati omnes qui timent Dominum, qui ambulant in uiius eius.13


The tende is myghty soferauns of carnal temptacyon,
For the fleschly syghtys ben fers and fel:
Ofte yough is fowth with, with suech vexacyon;
Thu seynge God say so, clepyd Israel.
tenth; endurance
sights; fierce; deadly
youth; afflicted; such
seeing; called; (t-note)

  Sepe expungnauerunt me a juuentute mea, dicat nunc Israel.14

The elefnte is accusatyff confessyon of iniquité,
Of which ful noyous is the noyis:
Fro depnes, Lord, I have cryed to thee!
Lord, here in sped my sympyl voys!
eleventh; accusatory
great is the pain
From the depths; (see note)
hear quickly

  De profundis clamaui ad te, Domine: Domine, exaudi uocem meam.15


The twelfte is mekenes that is fayre and softe
In mannys sowle withinne and withowte:
Lord, myn herte is not heyved on lofte
Nyn myn eyn be not lokynge abowte.

raised on high; (t-note)
Nor are my eyes

  Domine, non est exaltatum cor meum; neque elati sunt oculi mei.16

The threttene is feyth therwith:
With holy dedys don expresse,
Have mende, Lorde, of Davyth,
And of all his swettnes.
deeds; openly
Remember; David

  Memento Domine, David, et omnis mansuetudinis eius.17


The fourtene is brothyrly concorde, iwys,
That norchyth love of creaturys echon:
Se how good and how glad it is,
Bretheryn for to dwelle in on.
accord, certainly
nourishes; each one

as one

  Ecce quam bonum et quam jocundum; habitare fratres in unum.18


The fyftene is gracyous, with on acorde,
Which is syne of Godly love, semyth me:
Se now, blysse oure Lord,
All that oure Lordys servauntys be.
one accord
a sign

  Ecce nunc benedicite Dominum, omnes serui Domini.19

























EPISCOPUS A, gracyous Lord, this is a mervelyous thynge,
That we se here all in syght!
A babe of thre yer age so yynge
To come up these grecys so upryght!
It is an hey meracle, and by Goddys myght,
No dowth of she shal be gracyous.
MARIA Holy fadyr, I beseche yow forthryght:
Sey how I shal be rewlyed in Godys hous.

EPISCOPUS Dowtere, God hath govyn us commaundementys ten,
Which, shortely to say, be comprehendyd in tweyn.
And tho must be kept of all Crysten men
Or ellys here jugement is perpetual peyn.
Ye must love God sovereynly and youre evyn Crystyn pleyn;20
God fyrst for his hygh and sovereyn dygnyté.
He lovyd yow fyrst; love hym ageyn.
For of love, to his owyn lyknes, he made thee.

Love Fadyr, Sone, and Holy Gost:
Love God the Fadyr, for he gevyth myght.
Love God the Sone, for he gevyth wysdam thu wost.
Love God the Holy Gost, for he gevyth love and lyght,
Thre personys and on God, thus love of ryght.
With all thin hert, with all thi sowle, with all thi mende
And with all the strenghthis in thee bedyght;
Than love thin evyn Crystyn as thiself withowtyn ende.21

Thu shalt hate nothynge but the devyl and synne:
God byddyth thee lovyn thi bodyly enmy.
And as for youreself here, thus shal ye begynne:
Ye must serve and wurchep God here dayly
For with prayyer, with grace and mercy,
Se thee have a resonable tyme to fede
Thanne to have a labour bodyly
That therin be gostly and bodely mede.

Youre abydynge shal be with youre maydenys fyve,
Swyche tyme as ye wole have consolacyon.
MARIA This lyff me lyketh as my lyve.
Of here namys, I beseche yow to have informacyon.
EPISCOPUS There is the fyrst, Meditacyon,
Contryssyon, Compassyon, and Clennes,
And that holy mayde Fruyssyon:
With these blyssyd maydenes shal be youre besynes.

MARIA Here is an holy felachepp I fele.
I am not wurthy amonge hem to be!
Swete systerys, to yow all I knele.
To receyve me, I beseche youre charyté!
EPISCOPUS They shal, dowtere, and on the tothere syde se
Ther ben sefne prestys, indede,
To schryve, to teche, and to mynystryn to thee,
To lerne thee Goddys lawys, and Scrypture to rede.

MARIA Fadyr, knew I here namys, wele were I.
EPISCOPUS Ther is Dyscressyon, Devocyon, Dylexcyon, and Deliberacyon:
They shal tende upon yow besyly
With Declaracyon, Determynacyon, Dyvynacyon.
Now go ye maydenys to youre occupacyon
And loke ye tende this childe tendyrly.
And ye, serys, knelyth, and I shal gyve yow Goddys benyson
In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.22

[Et recedet cum ministris suis; omnes virgines dicent “Amen.”23 (t-note)

MARIA To yow, fadyr and modyr, I me comende.
Blyssyd be the tyme ye me hedyr brought.
JOACHYM Dowtere, the Fadere of oure feyth thee mot defende,
As he of his myght made all thynge of nowth.
ANNE Mary, to thi sowle solas he sende
In whos wysdam all this werd was wrought.
Go we now hens, husbonde so hende,
For owth of care now are we brought.

[Hic Joachim et Anna recedent domum.

MARIA Be the Holy Gost at hom be ye brought!

[Ad virgines:

Systerys, ye may go do what ye shall:
To serve God fyrst here is al my thought.
Beforn this holy awtere on my knes I fall.

Lord, sefne petycyons I beseche yow of here:
Fyrst, that I may kepe thi love and thi lawe;
The secunde, to lovyn myn evyn Crystyn as myself dere;
The thrydde, from all that thu hatyst, me to withdrawe;
The fourte, all vertuys to thi plesauns knawe;
The fyfte, to obey the ordenaryes of the temple echon;
The sexte, and that all pepyl may serve thee with awe,
That in this holy temple fawte be non.

The sefnte, Lord, I haske with grett fere:
That I may se onys in my lyve
That lady that shal Godys Sone bere,
That I may serve her with my wyttys fyve.
If it plese yow, and ellys it is not therewith to stryve.
With prayers prostrat for these gracys I wepe.
O, my God, devocyon depe in me dryve
That myn hert may wake in thee thow my body slepe!
(see note); (t-note)

high; by God’s; (t-note)
doubt that she
ask you
Tell me; be governed (taught)

two parts
those; Christian; (see note)
else their

in return

know; (see note)

heart; soul; mind; (see note); (t-note)


First with; (t-note)
to eat; (t-note)
Then; work
spiritual; physical rewards

home; maidens; (see note)
At what time
their names


other side
seven priests
hear confession; minister
To teach

their names; happy
Love; (see note)

world; made

Here Joachim and Anna return home; (t-note)


To the maidens


seven; (see note)
(see note)
third; hate
pleasing to you; (t-note)
laws; each one

be no fault

seventh; ask; fear
see once; life
five wits; (see note)
if otherwise

heart; though

  [Here the aungel bryngyth manna in a cowpe of gold lyke to confeccyons. The hefne syngynge, the aungel seyth: (see note)










ANGELUS Merveyle not mekest maydon of my mynystracyon!
I am a good aungel sent of God Allmyght
With aungelys mete for youre sustentacyon,
Ye to receyve it for natural myght.
We aungellys shul serve yow day and nyght!
Now fede yow therwith, in Goddys name.
We shal lerne yow the lyberary of oure Lordys law lyght,24
For my sawys in yow shewyth sygnes of shame.

MARIA To thank oure sovereyn Lord, not sufficyth my mende.25
I shal fede me of this fode my Lord hath me sent.
All maner of savowrys in this mete I fynde!
I felt nevyr non so swete ner so redolent.
ANGELUS Eche day therwith ye shal be content,
Aungelys alle howrys shal to yow apere.
MARIA Mercy, my Makere, how may this be ment?
I am the sympelest creature that is levynge here.

ANGELUS In your name Maria, fyve letterys we han:
M: Mayde most mercyfull and mekest in mende;
A: Averter of the anguysch that Adam began;
R: Regina of Regyon, reyneng withowtyn ende;26
I: Innocent be influens of Iesses kende;
A: Advocat most autentyk, youre antecer Anna.
Hefne and helle here kneys down bende
Whan this holy name of yow is seyd, Maria!

MARIA I qwake grettly for dred, to here this commendacyon!
Good, swete aungel, why wole ye sey thus?
AUNGELUS For ye shal here aftere have a salutacyon
That shal this excede, it is seyd amonge us,
The Deyté that dede shal determyn and dyscus.
Ye shal nevyr, Lady, be lefte here alone.
MARIA I crye thee mercy, Lorde, and thin erthe cus,
Recomendynge me to that Godhyd that is tryne in trone.27
service; (t-note)

angel’s food; sustenance; (see note)


fragrance; food
tasted; fragrant

Angels at all times; (t-note)


have; (see note)
(see note)
by; Jesse’s kin; (see note)
Heaven; their knees; (see note)
When; yours

greeting; (t-note)
Deity; deed

earth kiss

  [Hic osculet terram.28 Here shal comyn alwey an aungel with dyvers presentys goynge and comyng. And in the tyme thei shal synge in hefne this hympne, “Jhesu corona vir­ginum.”29 And after, ther comyth a minister fro the busschop with a present and seyth: (see note)










MINISTER Prynce of oure prestes, Ysakare be name,
He hath sent yow hymself his servyce, indede,
And bad ye shulde fede yow spare for no shame30
In this tyme of mete no lenger ye rede.
MARIA Recomende me to my fadyr, sere, and God do hym mede.31
These vesselys agen sone I shal hym sende.
I shal bere it my systerys; I trowe they have more nede.
Goddys foyson is evyr to his servauntys hendyr than we wende.32

Systerys, oure holy fadyr Isakare
Hath sent us hese servyce here ryght now.
Fede yow therof hertyly! I pray yow nat spare,
And if owght be leve, specyaly I pray yow,
That the pore men the relevys therof have now.
Fayn, and I myth, I wolde do the dedys of mercy:
Pore folk faryn, God knowyth how —
On hem evyr I have grett pety.

CONTEMPLACIO Lo, sofreynes, here ye have seyn
In the temple of oure Ladyes presentacyon,
She was nevyr occapyed in thyngys veyn,
But evyr besy in holy ocupacyon.

And we beseche yow of youre pacyens
That we pace these materys so lythly away.
If thei shulde be do with good prevydens,
Eche on wolde suffyce for an hool day.

Now shal we procede to her dissponsacyon
Which aftere this was fourtene yere,
Tyme sufficyth not to make pawsacyon.
Hath pacyens with us, we besech yow her.
And in short spas,
The Parlement of Hefne sone shal ye se
And how Goddys Sone com man shal he
And how the Salutacyon aftere shal be,
Be Goddys holy gras.
by name


dishes; soon
[to] my; believe
(see note)

his food
do not hold back
if anything be left; ask
have the leftovers
Gladly, if I might
them ever; pity

friends; (see note)

pass; lightly
done; preparation
Each one; whole; (t-note)

betrothal; (t-note)
(see note)
a pause
space [of time]
Heaven soon

grace; (t-note)

Go To Play 10, Marriage of Mary and Joseph