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Homily 14, Septuagesima Sunday


1 Septuagesima Sunday. The Gospel according to Matthew

2 Latin rubric (Matthew 20:1–16): The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder [who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle. And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When therefore they were come, that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, Saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.]

3 And to those who had come first, he gave them their wages last

4 Lines 283–84: Where he says that the workmen taking their wages, / Complained to this aforementioned overseer

5 Lines 307–08: That they did not dwell in prison / As the king’s felons after they were dead


Abbreviations: McIntosh: McIntosh, “Some Words in the Northern Homily Collection”; NHC: Northern Homily Cycle; NIMEV: The New Index of Middle English Verse, ed. Boffey and Edwards; OE: Old English; PL: Patrologia Latina, ed. Migne; Tubach: Index Exemplorum, ed. Tubach; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences and Proverbial Phrases from English Writings Mainly Before 1500. For manuscript abbreviations (ED, A, D, G, L, V), see the Introduction.

The date designated by this term is the third Sunday before the beginning of Lent and hence the ninth before Easter. “Septuagesima” (or “Seventieth”) is not a precise desig­na­tion, as the Sunday indicated is in fact only sixty-four, not seventy, days before Easter. The unusually long homily, drawing on Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, shows signs of direct dependence on Gregory (Forty, Homily 11, pp. 77–86), as well as familiarity with Robert’s Miroir (Duncan, Middle English Mirror, pp. 120–27). The notes that follow here have tried to suggest something of the similarities and differences among the three authors with regard to structure, style, and content.

NIMEV: 1912, 314. Manuscripts: A: fols. 48v–54r; G: fols. 50v–55r; D: fols. 79r–83r; L: fols. 19r–21r.

67–73 Cristen men that laste come / Sall be first. On the last hired workers in the vineyard being first, see Matthew 20:16; see also Mark 10:31 and Luke 13:30 on the last being first in the world to come and at the last judgement. See also lines 322ff.

89–122 God sent into this Hali Kirk . . . done. In this section, Robert’s Miroir follows Gregory more closely than does the NHC-poet, who both changes Gregory’s order and gives more detail. Where the first two mention patriarchs, apostles, and preachers in very general terms as those who cultivate the vineyard, the NHC-poet lists Augustine, Bernard, and Gregory himself by name and goes on to praise them for their work in cleansing the Bible of extraneous material.

92 the Alde Lawe. The Old Law, that is, the Law of Moses.

107 scorffe. From OE scurf, a scaly or scabby disease of the skin, here used figuratively with considerable imaginative force.

123–78 Be morne tyde may ye wele se . . . mercye. A variety of schemes for ordering the history of the world according to a number of eras were elaborated by Aristotle, Tertullian, Origen, Augustine, and Gregory, among others. Such schemes were very often tied to biblical themes by Christian writers: Gregory used the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, with its division into five times of day, and his text was widely diffused in the Middle Ages. In England it was used by writers such as Bede and Aelfric (Sears, Ages of Man, pp. 54, 80).

129–30 And fra Moyses to Kynge Davye / Als tellis us Saynte Gregorye. Robert’s Miroir follows Gregory’s division exactly but the NHC-poet has altered the last two eras, which in Gregory describe the fourth period as running from Moses to Jesus, and the fifth from Jesus to the end of the world. It is Augustine whose six-age division mentions David (Sears, Ages of Man, p. 56).

148–49 Forthi me think the pape duse misse, / That will noght send prechours thaim to. Gregory explicitly makes an equivalence between those who came to the vineyard last and the Gentiles, a passage for which there is no equivalent in Robert and no exact equivalent in NHC. The NHC-poet’s comments on the Saracens may, however, have been inspired by Gregory’s mention of the Gentiles, who were ignorant of God’s word, and whom Gregory holds up as a standard of comparison for Chris­tians who have “received divine preaching” throughout their lives and for whom, therefore, there can be no excuse for wicked behavior (Forty, Homily 11, p. 79). James Carver believes that the NHC passage offers important information with regard to its date and authorship (“Northern Homily Cycle and Missionaries,” pp. 258–61). In 1306, the second year of his pontificate, in a message addressed to the Friars Minor, Pope Clement V removed an earlier papal prohibition of Pope Boniface VIII (1294–1303) against missionary expeditions to the Saracens and other infidels. Putting this information together with the NHC lines which here criticize the pope for his failure to allow missionary activity, Carver con­cludes that “it seems reasonably certain, then, that the Northern Homily Cycle was written between January of 1295 and July of 1306, and it seems more than likely that it was written before October 1303, when Boniface died” (“Northern Homily Cycle and Missionaries,” p. 260). Carver’s arguments in support of friar author­ship, elaborated in his 1938 monograph on NHC, are not as convincing as those he offers here about its date, which the evidence of the earliest manuscript also places around the beginning of the fourteenth century (see Introduction, p. 5). G and D retain similar versions of this passage, though only G mentions the pope. The considerably later expanded NHC, which is otherwise quite similar for this item, omits the passage entirely.

185–212 For ilka daye hase tymes sere. Gregory, Robert of Gretham, and the NHC-poet all include the familiar topos of the “ages of man,” which was developed by Origen as an extension of the larger history of man cycle (Sears, Ages of Man, p. 82). Robert’s section, however, is basically a list, without even the amount of detail found in Gregory, whereas NHC has more detail and is more colorful than either of the others. There is also a subtle difference in the NHC-poet’s handling of the last three hours. For Gregory, the “sixth hour is that of young adulthood, because when we reach our full strength it is as if the sun is in the center of the heavens” (Forty, Homily 11, p. 79), yet the NHC-poet gives no detailed description of this time, saying only that it is the time of myddel elde (line 196). The ninth hour is old age for both writers, but where Gregory mentions the declining sun and the equivalent lack of warmth that accompanies old age, the NHC-poet’s more positive description finds it a time of stability, when men are drawn to linger comfortably over their dinner. In NHC the sun begins its decline at the last hour, ourenone (line 212), not, as for Gregory, at the previous hour. It is difficult not to wonder if the poet’s more positive picture of what we would call “middle age” corresponds to his own age at the time of writing.

191 For than waxes the sonne full hate. Burrow quotes the following Middle English verses which make similar use of this image, indicating how widely Gregory’s homily seems to have been known (Ages of Man: A Study, p. 64):
This noon hete of þe someris day,
Whanne þe sunne moost hiʒest is,
It may be likened in good fay,
For Gergorie witnessiþ weel þis;
For in ʒonge age man wide doon walke
To dyvers synnis in fele degre.
223–24 For a penye es rounde and hase nane ende / Swa es the blisse where we sall lende. Com­pare these lines with lines 3890–93 of Robert’s Miroir: “Li deners ki est tut runt / A bon entente nus sumunt. / Rundesce n’ad definement; / Nul auerat ki a Deu se prent.” [The penny which is all round / Summons us by good understanding. / Roundness has no end; / Neither will he have who commits himself to God] (Duncan, Middle English Mirror, p. 126). There is nothing at all like this in Gregory, which suggests most strongly that the NHC-poet was indeed familiar with Robert’s text, despite the evident differences. Robert goes on to elaborate the coin metaphor by pointing out that the “deners” has an image of the king on it, reminding us that God has formed us in his likeness.

227–56 And in oure Gospell may we se. The idea that it is never too late for God’s mercy to work in and for us is suggested by the following words in Gregory: “Since then one person is brought to a good life in childhood, another in youth, another in young adulthood, another in old age, another at the age of infirmity, it is as if workmen are being called to the vineyard at different hours” (Forty, Homily 11, p. 79). But the tenderness and the vivid sense of God’s love, here generated through the NHC-poet’s use of repetition and the characterization of God’s willingness to take us at any and every moment of our lives, create a very different effect from Gregory and provide some of NHC’s most beautiful and poetic verses. The lines which follow these (257–74), are appropriately stern in explaining the fate of those who have not hearkened to God’s many calls to them.

277–78 To do penaunce than es to late / When the wayne es atte yate. Proverbial. See Whiting C51, where many versions of this popular proverb are found from 1300–1500. The wayne is the vehicle that comes to take the dead body away.

283 Thare he sais werkmen hyre takand. A difficult line. G and D are similar to one another, but quite different from A. G, for example, reads: Þar he sayes werkmen er takend. The expanded NHC, however, is identical, lending further support to the A reading, which makes better sense than G or D.

287–320 The gude clerk Saynte Gregorye . . . daie. The NHC-poet follows Gregory (Forty, Homily 11, p. 81) here in explaining that those who lived under the Old Law (i.e., righteous Jews) had no basis for grucchinge (line 312) over their long wait in the lower world, since they could not obtain the Kingdom of Heaven before the advent of Jesus.

329–30 Bot the laste worde of oure Gospell / Burd make all men full ferde of hell. These lines introduce the poet’s reflections on the theme of “Many are called but few are chosen.” Like Gregory, the NHC-poet sternly reminds his audience that no one can be certain that he will be found worthy. Yet the emphasis throughout the homily as a whole has been very much on God’s mercy and continuing desire for our salvation, which makes the bleakness of these words somewhat jarring. It seems that the poet himself does not wish to dwell on this gloomy prospect, for he returns as quickly as he can to the kind of exhortation to repentance and faithful service which characterizes all his preaching. He is at pains to point out that those who end in hell have deserved it through their wicked behavior (e.g., Solomon). As with Gregory, who says that “All voices shout ‘Christ’, but not everyone’s life shouts it,” the NHC-poet stresses the importance of continued good behavior and good deeds, rather than the mysterious unknowability as to who will be numbered among God’s elect (Forty, Homily 11, p. 82).

333 Many er callid bot fewe er chosen. Matthew 22:14. See also lines 347–48.

361 And be aie radde als foule on twiste. Proverbial: “to be as scared as a bird on a branch” (McIntosh, p. 207). His evidence is from Barbour’s The Bruce (7.188), “Tharfor he slepit as foul on twist.” Whiting F577, which includes a number of very varied proverbial sayings, gives the Barbour quotation but has nothing else remotely similar to NHC.

371 Als we find writen of ane hermite. Tubach 2565: Hermit enticed home. Gerould was unable to trace this exemplum, but it occurs as the conclusion of a longer narrative in the Vitae Patrum (PL 73.899) which in some form presumably provided the material for NHC. The basic outline of the tale is the same, though the Vitae Patrum version is more detailed, with the son showing reluctance to leave his hermit life until the devil persuades him that his father’s money will be distributed to men of evil life rather than given to the poor as his father wished. See also the Introduction and the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany (12.121–22n) for further information about hermits.

386 That thow his sectoure suld be. That the stratagem for luring the hermit away from his cell is successful suggests not only the devil’s cunning but probably also reflects what seems to have been a widespread contemporary anxiety with regard to executors. Robert Mannyng, whose discussion of “covetise” includes a lengthy diatribe against wicked executors, states that “Of alle false þat beren name, / False executours are most to blame” (Handlyng Synne, lines 6259–60).

415–16 For he was callid bot never chosene, / For his dedes gert him be losene. As in the homily, the suggestion here is that the hermit fully deserved hell because of his wicked deeds, not simply because we cannot know whether we will be chosen.


Abbreviations: MED: Middle English Dictionary; Nevanlinna: Nevanlinna, The Northern Homily Cycle; NHC: Northern Homily Cycle; OE: Old English; Small: English Metrical Homiles, ed. Small. for manuscript abbreviations (ED, A, D, G, L, V), see the Introduction.

110 and. So G. MS: ad.

169 oure dedes. MS: oure medes dedes, with medes canceled.

174 He maye be sikir to blisse to wende. MS: There is an imperfection in the vellum here which has caused the scribe to begin writing a little farther into the page.

203 ovrenone. McIntosh cites Bosworth-Toller: OE: ofer-non, “the latter part of the day” (“Some Words,” p. 202).

228 yof. So G. MS: of. MED lists yof as a northern form of thogh, “although.”

348 foue. The MED lists this as a variant spelling for fewe.

355 folk. So G, D. MS: flok.

365 Dubita. MS: One of the infrequent Latin annotations in this manuscript, written at the right margin in a different hand. Evidently an abbreviation either for dubitamus (we doubt) or dubitandum (there must be doubt). Probably a general response to this section of the text which reflects on our inability to know for certain whether we will be one of the “chosen” or not.

376 Agayne him. MS: hym written above the line following Agayne.

399–400 And his fadir full fayre him callde; / Than to his fadir all he talde. So G, D. A has mistakenly reversed the order of these lines.

407–10 He toke him wife als wight unwise, etc. These lines are written very close to the left mar­gin. At line 411 the scribe has moved to the right, back to his normal position.

410 Maye. MS: Something has been canceled following Ma, possibly ll.
Dominica in Septuagesima. Evangelium secundum Matheum.1

Simile est regnum celorum homini patrifamilias. Et cetera.2























































































   Lythis all I sall yow tell
What Mathewe sais in this Gospell.
Criste spak, he sais of hevene rike
To his folowars, and made it lyke
Till a husband that areli yede
Till hyre werkmen to do his dede.
He hyrid men for a penye o the daye
And bad thaim grubbe fast for thaire laye
In his vyneyard, and thai did so.
And aboute undrone he hyrid mo,
And bad thaim wirk eftir thaire might,
And he suld give thaim that ware right.
About myddaie and aboute none
Sawe he werkmen stand and hone,
And all forouten graythe forward.
Sent he thaim till his vyneyard,
And eftir none he yode and fand
Tome werkmen in strete standand;
And to thir werkmen sone he come
And askid thaim whi thai stode tome.
Thai said, “We stand tome all daie
For naman will us to werk laie."
This husband till his werk thaim sende,
And when that daye was broght till ende,
His sergeaunte sone till him he callid,
That his godes had in walde;
And bad he suld his werkmen call
And penye hyre give to thaim all;
And bad he suld at thaim begynne
That last come thair hyre to wynne.
This sergeaunde did his lorde will
And callid thir werkmen him untill,
And gave thaim first penye to laye
That last come of all that daye.
And to the first last hyre he gave;3
And mare began thai for to crave,
And said, “All daie have we wroght fast,
And othir werkmen that come now last
Takis for thair werk als mikil laye,
Als we that wroght all this daye
In heete, and in paynes strange
All the daye that es so lange."
This husband herd thaire menynge,
And answerd att thaire allir askinge,
And to ane was thaim ymange
He saide, “Frende, I do thee na wrange.
Ne hyred I thee noght todaye
For a penye to thi laye?
Thou take thi hyre and ga in blisse,
For I do thee na wrange ne misse.
Have I noght leve to do my will
Of that thinge that fallis me till?
For als mikil will I give him
That come to wirk the last tyme
Als I will give to thee iwisse.
Therof me think I do no misse.
Thof I be gode, what scathis thee?
It thayres thee noght if I be fre."
When Criste had this ensawmpil said,
A gude resoune thareto he laide:
He saide thus sall som men be last
That first was in this werlde rotefast;
And som that last in this werld was born
Sall come to hevene thaim beforn
That first in this werld was borne to be.
And be this resoune maye we se
That Cristen men that laste come
Sall be first on the Daye of Dome,
Before the Jewis for to take
Thaire mede that nevermare sall slake.
For Cristen men come wele lattere
Than the Jewes, forthi sais Criste here:
Thai that ware first sall be laste,
When he sall deme bathe leste and maste.
Bot a worde es in oure Gospell
That burde wele oure pride fell,
Als I sall tell yow now sone
When oure Gospell es all done.

   The gude prechore, Saynte Gregorie
Unduse this Gospell full doghtili:
And first betaknes he full evene
Be this husband, the Fadir of Hevene.
And be this vyneyard will he mene
The folk of Hali Kirk bedene.
For Hali Kirk es vyneyarde callid,
That fruyte forthe bringes manyfalde,
When it to God thaire saules sendes
That here in Goddes servys endes.
God sent into this Hali Kirk
His werkemen areli to wirk,
When he sent prophetes for to schawe
His worde to the folk of the Alde Lawe.
And about undrone sent he ma
When he bad his apostles ga
In the werld, Cristen lawe to kenne
Bothe to Jewes and to haythen menne.
And sithen aboute middaye and none
Gert this husband his dede be done;
For he sent many gode clerk
Into this yarde to do his werk,
When he sente Austyne and Bernarde
And Gregore into his vyneyarde.
Thai ripid the rote of Hali Writte,
And to Cristen folk undid it;
When thai kende us what boke wald saye,
In gude vyneyard grubbid thaie.
Of scorffe thai clensid Hali Buke
To thaime that on thaire werke wald luke.
Yitt eftir non er werkmen sende,
To preche and mennes lyves to mende.
For now er prechors sent to preche
And all men the rightwaie to hevene to teche.
Now se ye wele how he gon sende
His werkmen mannes life to mende
Areli aboute undrone dayes,
Als Criste in oure Gospell sayes.
Aboute none and myddaye also,
Se ye how God geres prechurs go
Mannes sawle wele to tylle
With worde, and bringe his folk him tyll;
And yitt geres he eftir none
With gode prechurs his dede be done.
Be morne tyde may ye wele se
The tyme fra Adam to Noe
And undrone tyde betaknes the tyme
Betwix Abraham and hyme.
And be myddaie betakned es
The tyme fra Abraham to Moyses,
And fra Moyses to Kynge Davye
Als tellis us Saynte Gregorye.
And be the nonetyde he schewis us
The tyme fra David to Jesus.
For than come tyme that Goddis worde
Sulde fede man at Goddis borde.
Bot a worde in oure Gospell is
That touchis many man iwisse;
That es thare oure forsaide husbande
The last werkmen all tome fande,
And askid whi thai stode tome all daie.
And thai saide, “Na man walde us laye."
Als who saye: noman come us to,
To saye us what that we suld do.
For nouther prechure ne prophete
Kende us oure synnes for to lete
Right so may now thir Sarzines saie,
For na man techis thaim the waie
How thai sall wende to heven blisse —
Forthi me think the pape duse misse,
That will noght send prechours thaim to
To fande if thaire worde might oght do.
On Domisdaye with mare resoune
Maye thai have mare excusacioune,
Than we that heris wele in sermoune
How we thareto sall make us boune.
Forthi sall synfull caytives
That in Cristen lawe here lyves,
And will noghte bete thaire synnes here,
In hell pyne be wele deppere
Than Sarzynes — for Cristen men knawes
All Goddes will thorghe prechoure sawes;
Bot Sarzynes heres na man tell
Nouthir of hevene ne of hell.
Forthi be we on Domisdaye
Wele mare blamid for synne than thai.
Forthi rede I that we do
Als this prechurs saise us unto;
And stand we noght here all daye tome,
Bot think we of the Daie of Dome
When God sall yelde us for oure dedes
Outher hevene or hell till oure medes.
If we in Goddis vyneyard wirk,
Be we noght sone of Goddes werk yrk;
For he that wirkes wele to the ende,
He maye be sikir to blisse to wende.
Thof man lede all his life in synne,
And he will in his elde blynne,
God es aye full redye
To have of him full gode mercye.
That may we se in oure Gospell
Thare ye herd of that husband tell
That all the tymes of the daye
Was redi werkmen for to laye;
This ilk daye whareof I mene
Betaknes all oure lyfe bedene.
For ilka daye hase tymes sere,
So hase oure life in the werld here.
For pryme betaknes oure barnehede,
When we begynne oure life to lede;
And undirstand full wele we maye
Oure yowthede be undrone of the daie;
For than waxes the sonne full hate,
And we begynne in youthe to bate.
For kyndeli it geres us schewe
Wantonhede and als unthewe.
And myddaie full graytheli schawes
Oure myddil elde that to ende us drawes.
And eftir mydday comes none
And eftir myddes elde wax we sone
Stabil men, for than we drawe
To fode and eese, and waxes slawe
Als men att none drawes to sete
Thare thai maye eeseli sitt at the mete.
Bot ovrenone betaknes right
Oure laste elde when us wantis might.
For than begynnes the sonne to helde,
And so do we in oure laste elde,
For than we bowe als hevye lede,
And drawes fast toward oure dede.
Now se ye wele all oure lyve
Es betakned be oures fyve
Be pryme, undrone, myddaie, and none,
And ovrenone that passis sone.
Sithen all this life es bot a daie,
Agayne the life that lastis aye,
Than rede I we oure lyfe amende
With penaunce or oure lyves ende.
For God es of so grete suffraunce
That he abydes oure penaunce
Fra daie to daie, fra tyde to tyme;
And biddis us come and wirk with hyme,
And hightis us a peny to oure laye:
That es the joye that lastis aye.
For a penye es rounde and hase nane ende
Swa es the blisse where we sall lende
If we be lymes of Hali Kirk
And Goddes will therin will wirk.
And in oure Gospell may we se
That yof we all oure life be
Ydile, and we will att oure ende
With penaunce fight agaynes the fende,
Redi es God at that last tyme
To hyre us for to wirk with hyme,
And gife to us that rounde penye,
If we do his werke lely.
Man aght to witte that ydilnes
Full mikil agayne the saule es.
Forthi if we sitte tome at pryme,
God will us hyre att undrone tyme;
That es to saie if we wende wede
And lye in synne in oure barnhede,
In youthe he callis us him to
To fande if we his dede will do.
And if we serve noght than oure laie
Yitt will he hyre us att middaye,
That es to saye att oure myddil elde,
If we will to his will than helde.
And thof we than forworthin be
Att none gladdli hyre us will he;
That es to saye in stabilnes
Will he call us in rightwisnes.
And thofe we stand ydil that tyme,
He callis us eftir none to hyme,
That es to saye in oure last elde,
If we forsake werldes belde,
And torne us than to his servyse
And wirk wele eftir his avyse.
Now se ye wele that Cristen man
Att the dede when tyme of werk is gan
Assoyne agayne God may last nane
If he in dedelye synne be tane.
For God has given him gude abade,
Bot all his tyme he ovir slade
In ydilnes, for wald he noght
Wirk for his saule that Criste boght.
Forthi maye he that Criste noght wyte
Thof he make him of heven qwite;
For he drave God lange to hethinge
Whyles God abade lange his tornynge,
And lokid aie when and when he walde
Come to him and with him halde;
Bot when he wald noght come him to
With right behovid God with him do
Als with man that his lorde forsakes,
And of his lorde his enemy makes.
Forthi es gude we do penaunce
And ovresitt noght Goddis suffraunce.
To do penaunce than es to late
When the wayne es atte gate.
This wayne the dede I may wele call
That beres awaie oure mightis all.
Yitt will I of that grucchynge tell
That Criste schewid in oure Gospell
Thare he sais werkmen hyre takand,
Grucchid to this forsayde husbande,4
That he gave thaim als mikil that come last
Als thaim that all daie grubbid fast.
The gude clerk Saynte Gregorye
Saise that tha men that come arely
Betaknes folk of the Alde Lawe,
That tholid many a hard thrawe
To gete that joye that lastis aye.
And before Cristen men come thaie,
And forthi thai dwellid lange,
When thai ware dede in prisone strange.
And now rightwise men that dyes,
To blisse withouten dwellinge flyes,
And takes als mikil blisse als thai
That come before thaim many a daie.
Forthi thai that before thaime come
May think apon the Daie o Dome,
That thai ware worthi to take mare mede
For thaire werk and thaire lange dede
Than thai that come late and dyed,
And na payne eftir thaire dede thare dryed.
For in the Alde Lawe was nane
So rightwise ne so hali begane,
That thai ne dwellid in prisoune,
When thai ware dede als kinges feloune;5
Aye to Criste gave thaire rawnsoune,
And boght thaim with his passyoune.
And forthi es that lange dwellinge
In oure Gospell callid grucchinge;
For gruche burd thaim full sare,
For of all blisse ware thai bare.
And forthi the Jewis in dede
Was first and sall be last in mede.
Forthi er thai on the Daie of Dome
Betaknid be thaim that first come
To thaire werke, and toke na mare laie
Than thai that laste come on the daie.
And thus es Cristis wordes sothefaste
Thare he sais: the first men sall be last
For Jewis come first to thaire dede,
Bot Cristen men bese first in mede.
And so sall first men be last,
Bot wickid men bese aye outecast
For parte of hevene gete thai nane
With God, ne yitte with Cristen mane.
Bot the laste worde of oure Gospell
Burd make all men full ferde of hell:
That Criste saide many men er callde
To hevene, bot chosin thynne falde.
Many er callid bot fewe er chosen,
For mikel Cristen folk bese losen.
For Criste callid us to do his werk
When we atte fontestane toke his merk.
His merk beres ilk a Cristen man
That Cristendome hase on him tane.
Bot als ye herd me langare tell
Mikil deppare bese he in hell
If he be Cristen man untrewe
Than a Sarzyne that Criste never knewe.
Forthi thof we to Criste be calld,
Be we noght therof to balde;
For we may noght witte here whether we
Be chosin in his blisse to be.
For he sayse many menne er callde
Bot foue for chosen men er talde.
And be this a worde maye we se
That here maye na man sikir be:
Bot doute God and on him crye
For we er all in his mercye.
We wote that we to Criste er callde,
Bot foue for chosen men er talde
Ymange the blissid folk that he
Hase chosen in his blsse to be.
Tharefore aye the unsikerere
That we erre of his chesinge here,
The bettir yeme than buse us take
That we noght fall in dedeli sake;
And be aie radde als foule on twiste
For God duse with us als him list.
For we may se many man beginne
Full wele, and sithen ende in synne;
And so did Salamon the wyse
That endid noght in Goddes servyse.
And the whethir beganne he wele
And endid in schame and unsele,
For wymmen gert him God forsake
And to mawmetes wirschipe make.

   Als we find writen of ane hermite
That lived lange withouten wyte.
He servid God in rightwisnes,
And als he woned in wyldirnes,
Sathanas full oftsythe
Agayne him gon his maystrie kythe.
He come to him in knave liknes,
And haylsid him with myldenes.
And sayde, “Thi modir and thi frendes
Hidir to thee now me sendes,
And wele thee gretes and prayes thee
That thow will come to thaim with me,
To luke to thi fadir thinge
That he thee left att his endinge.
For whyles he lived yern prayed he
That thow his sectoure suld be."
“That daye," he sayde, “thi fadir dyed."
Bot that foule fende falsli lyed.
Thir wordes saide the Devyl of hell
To bringe this ermyte oute of his cell.
This ermite wende that all sothe ware
That this messanger talde him thare,
And hamwarde with him gon he wende,
Bot he wist noght it was the fende.
When he come hame his fadir he fande
In stallworthe state and wele lyvande;
And sone when he his fadir sawe,
Oute of his sight was his felawe.
And his fadir full fayre him callde;
Than to his fadir all he talde,
How the fende gert him come hame,
And therof thoght him than grete schame.
Bot werldes welthe full sone him gert
Putte sorowe and schame oute of his hert.
For swa lange in his fadir howse
Was he that he thoght wife to spouse.
He toke him wife als wight unwise,
And dyed in the devyles servyse.
Be this tale that I have talde
Maye we se, thof we be callde
To religyoune, noghtforthie
Maye we noght witte witirlye,
Whethir we er chosin in blisse to be.
Als we maie be this hermite se,
For he was callid bot never chosene,
For his dedes gert him be losene.
Forthi unsiker er we aye
Whether we be chosen or than naye,
Therfore the Mekere behoves us be,
And praye oure Lorde Criste that he
Have of us his grete pité
And late us of his chosen be.
For he says many men er calde
Bot thai er chosin thin falde.
Thow swete Jhesu that us boght
We praye thee that thou tyne us noght
Bot bringe us, Lorde, unto that blisse
That to thi chosen graythid is
That we maye thare in joye endeles
Looue thee als Lorde that us chees
Amen, amen, all we saye,
For thare es endeles gamen and playe. Amen.

the heavenly kingdom

overseer; early went
hire; work
told; dig; wages

according to their strength
without a ready contract

sought (went); found
at once

no one; put

goods; control

penny wages
begin with those

for wages

more; desire
worked hard

as much wages

And responded to the request of all of them
one [who]

belongs to me
as much


If; harms
hurts; generous


firmly established

before those
Who were born first

(see note)
Judgment Day

reward; diminish

ought well; destroy

Explicates; skillfully
designates; directly

all together


end [their lives]
(see note)
(see note)
midmorning; more

make known


brought to maturity the essence

dross; (see note)

In the evening; workmen are sent

Early; midmorning of the day


in the evening

time; (see note)
him [Noah]

(see note)




Showed us how; cease

pope; does wrong; (see note)

find out; anything
Judgment Day
claim to forgiveness


atone for
pain; deeper




grant; (t-note)
Either; rewards

certain; go; (t-note)
If; old age cease

as a whole
every; different; (see note)
sunrise; childhood

youth; by; midmorning
sun; hot; (see note)
by nature it causes
also bad habits
middle age
middle age become
Stable; are drawn
comfort; become slow
are inclined to sit down
Where; comfortably; dinner
evening; (t-note)
we lack strength

bend; lead


Compared to
waits for
age to age
tells us [to]
promises; wages

(see note)

(see note)
although; (t-note)

Idle; if



find out
do not work for our wages

though; enfeebled
in trustworthiness



No excuse may avail against God
long time
slid over

shut out from heaven
long held God up to scorn
awaited; turn
looked always [to the moment] when

Justly God had to do with him
who forsakes his lord

disobey; will
(see note)

(see note)

those who came last as much

(see note)
suffered many hard pains



a greater reward

death; suffered
under the Old Law
endowed with holiness

Forever until


For well might they grumble





(see note)
Ought to; fearful

small numbers
(see note)

baptismal font

has taken upon himself
deeper is


few; accounted; (t-note)



less certain
are; choosing
heed; behooves us to take
fearful as a bird on a branch; (see note)
it pleases him



(see note)

began; power; show; (t-note)
the likeness of a servant

see to; affairs

executor; (see note)

thought; true




unwise creature; (t-note)


know certainly

(see note)




praise; chose


Go To Homily 15, Sexagesima Sunday