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Homily 18, Second Sunday in Lent


1 Second Sunday in Lent according to Matthew. In that time

2 Latin rubric (Matthew 15:21–28): And Jesus went from thence, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. [And behold a woman of Canaan who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David: my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil. Who answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us. And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. But she came and adored him, saying: Lord, help me. Who answering, said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs. But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that hour.]

3 For you may not please God, it seems to me

4 What is the point of suffering here distress and pain


Abbreviations: AT: Alphabet of Tales, ed. Banks; CA: Catena Aurea, ed. Newman; NHC: Northern Homily Cycle; NIMEV: The New Index of Middle English Verse, ed. Boffey and Edwards; OF: Old French; OI: Old Irish; PL: Patrologia Latina, ed. Migne; Tubach: Index Exemplorum, ed. Tubach. For manuscript abbreviations (ED, A, D, G, L, V), see the Introduction.

A forty-day fast that was independent of the Easter fast appeared in Egypt around the end of the third century. Its purpose seems to have been less to prepare for Easter than to celebrate the Lord’s fast in the desert during the weeks after his baptism. Soon, however, it took the form of a penitential preparation for celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ, making its appearance in Rome in the second half of the fourth century. The first Sunday of Lent, which began these six weeks of fasting, fell on exactly the fortieth day before the Sacred Tridium. At the beginning of the sixth century, out of a desire to have forty days of actual fasting (Sundays being non-fast days) the fast was begun on the preceding Wednesday; henceforth this Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) marked the start of Lent (Martimort, Church at Prayer, pp. 66–68). The homily presents a lengthy discussion of the six good qualities embodied by the Canaanite woman whose prayer to Jesus to heal her daughter was answered despite her being a Gentile.

NIMEV 3013, 3784. Manuscripts: A: fols. 79v–85r; G: fol. 80v (first 18 lines only); D: fols. 102v–107r; L: fols. 27v–29r.

13 Helpe this wommane and late hir gange. The disciples’ words are slightly more generous in the NHC rendering than the Gospel text, where the disciples simply request that Jesus send the woman away.

24–25 Gode Jewes, that haldes wele thaire laie / Er Goddes sonnes. Most patristic commentaries use Matthew 15:24 to justify their perception of the expansion of Christianity (“And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel”). See, for example, Jerome: “He says that He is not sent to the Gentiles, but that He is sent first to Israel, so that when they would not receive the Gospel, the passing over to the Gentiles might have just cause” (CA1.563). The NHC-poet’s positive comment on “good Jews” follows, more or less, the distinction endorsed by Aquinas between scriptural and post-scriptural Jews. Thus Jews living before the time of Christ, though not without flaw, were seen by medieval theologians as God’s chosen people (Hood, Aquinas and the Jews, p. xii).

51 Gode clerkes that grete clergie can. Although the NHC-poet does not name a particular clerk, Bede’s homily on this text offers some points of comparison as seen in its opening words: “In the reading from the holy Gospel which has just been read, dearly-beloved brothers, we have heard about the great faith, patience, constancy and humility of a woman” (Homilies, 1.22, p. 215). The qualities which the woman is said to exemplify have been taken by Bede from Jerome, and they are also found in a number of earlier commentaries.

73 legge. MED: shortened form of alleggen, from OF alegier, “to become lighter.”

89–104 “I hungrid sore,” schal he say. . . . For ye ne helpid me ne myne.” These verses para­phrase Matthew 25:41–45:
Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.
134 a whelpe that es nyne nightes blynde. There is of course no mention in the biblical text of the fact that puppies are born with their eyes closed and open them only some time after the ninth or tenth day. The NHC-poet’s allusion to this fact allows him to develop the metaphor of blindness, but also indicates his familiarity with a domestic animal which, in the later Middle Ages, was valued for purposes both of companionship and hunting (Merlen, De Canibus, p. 143).

161–62 Bot if thaire biddinges be in ylle, / We awe noght for to wirk thaire wille. The suggestion that “prelates” are not always to be obeyed if they give bad advice has a clear thematic connection to the exemplum that follows, where an old hermit is so ap­palled by a young hermit’s lustful thoughts that he advises him to abandon his religious vocation (lines 279–80). The need for a wise and good clergy who serve the interests of parishioners, and their failure at times to do so, is a theme to which the poet recurs on several occasions, notably in the homilies on the Third Sunday in Lent (20.139–240) and on the Second Sunday after Easter (A: fols. 120r and 120v) where he makes use of Jesus’ portrait of the “good shep­herd” (John 10:11–16) to describe the duties of prelates: not all live up to these duties, for some are so won over by bribes (giftis) that their hands are “smeared,” and, instead of telling the sheep how to live godly lives, the bishop “covers over” their sins and runs away when he sees the “spiritual wolf” who slays men’s souls, rather than helping these men to amend their sorry condition. See also Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne, whose advice, with regard to priests at least, is more conservative:
Lewed man, þou shalt cursyng doute,
And þy prest þou shalt nat stoute.
Be he wykked or be he gode,
Þou shalt to hym be þolemode. (lines 10929–32)
183 For truthe is ded withoute good dede. A variant on James 2:17: “So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.”

205–08 Lyve we than so in dede and worde . . . telles. These words have probably been drawn from a scriptural passage such as that found in John 3:18: “My little children, let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth.” This idea is expressed more than once in the epistles of John, who was considered to be identical with John the Evangelist.

247–48 This wommane that thus made hir mane, / Betaknes ilk a synfull mane. Unlike the NHC-poet, Bede suggests that the woman signifies the Church. While both texts then figure the daughter as a soul sickened by sin, Bede’s list of sins is large and varied, with only a passing reference to “uncleanness of the body” (Homilies, 1.219). The NHC-poet, however, focuses exclusively on lust and lechery, with their obvious link to the forthcoming exemplum. Beginning in the thirteenth century, the increased emphasis on the importance of confession that followed Fourth Later­an’s requirement that it take place annually gave rise to a great number of manuals intended to assist priests with the task of confession. That a preoccupation with sex “is endemic” to these manuals is persuasively illustrated by Payer (“Sex and Confession,” pp. 126–42). In pondering the question as to why this was so he notes that Robert Grosseteste had justified the use of canons on sexual sin “because miserable mortals are more frequently wounded by these sins,” and goes on to offer the following tentative suggestion: “Christianity had been unsuccessful in realising its sexual ethic. When a renewed commitment to confession arose, atten­tion was focused on the area of human behaviour which had always been resistant to the strictures of the orthodox morality” (Payer, “Sex and Confession,” p. 137).

261 To wildirnes yode a yonge man. Tubach 346: Arrow shot at monk. The source for this tale is the Vitae Patrum (PL 73.874–75). It is also found in the Sermones Vulgares of Jacques de Vitry, the Alphabetum Narrationum attributed to Etienne de Besançon and its English translation AT (2), as well as the French and English versions of Handlyng Synne (where it is incorrectly attributed to Gregory). The latter work includes the tale in its discussion of the seven deadly sins (specifically lechery). See also the Introduction, p. 6, and the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany (12.121–22n) for further discussion of hermits.

263–64 And he was fandid swa fellie / With lust and likinge of his bodie. The narrative empha­sizes both the unavoidability of sin (especially the sin of lust), and the under­standing that no sin is so bad that it cannot be atoned for through confession and penance, a message which would certainly have resonance for a lay audience, especially as developed in this account. Though the tonality is stern with regard to the wickedness of lust, there is also a good deal more tender exhortation and encouragement not to despair than in other versions.

269 unlevene. The MED lists this word under the heading for unlef (2.2b), with NHC as its only citation having this form and meaning. McIntosh thinks that the form of unlevene is more difficult to explain than unleve (line 332) which, he says, would be an acceptable form of unlefe (p. 207).

289 With yllir wane. MED: Compare OI illr, “wicked, harmful”; wane, “misfortune, adversity.” McIntosh suggests “with the poorer expectation” as the literal sense, with a provisional meaning of “despite the (bad) consequences” (p. 200). He says further, “The phrase has a Norse ring but seems to be unrecorded in Icelandic” (p. 200). L retains the phrase, but D substitutes “With good wil,” which makes little sense.

302 seclere. Compare D, L, and V: world. Cited only as an adjective, “of or belonging to the world,” in MED, but the comparison with D, V, and L makes clear that “the secular world” is here implied. Compare also the following phrase from the Vitae Patrum: “ad saeculum redibat” (PL 73.875).

315–16 Bettir es me here some joye to make, / Than to pyne here and never joye take. In no other version does the young hermit speak in this way. That his words would probably have conveyed an aura of irrefutable logic for the homme moyen sensuel (why be miserable both here and in the hereafter?) shows considerable psychological insight in leading the audience first to agree with this point of view and then to understand its limitations.

332 unleve. See line 269n.

351 Lorde that heryed hell. See First Sunday in Advent (1.122n) for a discussion of the Harrowing of Hell.

358 Aperteli he sawe the fende. Most other versions further distinguish the devil as being an Ethiopian (PL 73.874), a “little blak felow like a man of / Ynde” (AT 2.21–22), or simply as black (Mannyng, Handlyng Synne, line 8516). Athanasius’ widely disseminated Life of Antony may be partly responsible for this curious but wide­spread medieval tradition of the devil as a small black imp, stat­ing that “it was in the visage of a black boy that [the devil] afterwards manifested himself” (pp. 34–35).

384 seclere. See line 302n.

385 To take me wife. The word wif could mean either “woman” or “wife” in Middle English, but in this context is more likely to be the former.


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

3 Tyri. This follows the Gospel text, but D substitutes jewerye here.

37 Thir smale. MS: These catch words are written in the bottom right hand corner, to indicate the first words at the top of the following page. This practice is followed very occasionally throughout the manuscript.

75 menne. MS: mentie.

89 “I hungrid sore,” schal he say. So D. MS: Me hongrid sal sare jhesu saie.

99 Wele ye witte. MS: weʒ, canceled, followed by wele ʒe witte.

171 aght. MS: aʒt, preceded by hiʒt, canceled.

183 For truthe is ded withoute good dede. So D. MS: For trowthe mai nathinge us auaile. The scribe seems to have realized that he has mistakenly repeated line 181 here, because he has left the following line blank, perhaps with the intention of making the necessary correction.

338 servis. MS: sevis, with the s and e superimposed.

348 Unto. MS: C, canceled, followed by Vnto.

386 floght. Both citations from the MED are from the NHC: MED flouht corresponds to Old Scottish flocht, OI flotti (akin to OE flyht): “a state of agitation.”

403 I praie thee, praie God. MS: praie has been inserted above the line, between þe and god.
Dominica ii in Quadragesima secundum Matheum. In illo tempore:1

Egressus Jhesus secessit in partes Tyri et Sidonis etc.2


























































































   Saynte Mathewe sais in oure Gospell
That Jhesu Crist yode, als awntir fell
Oute of Tyri into a lande
Thare haythen folk ware in wonande.
Thare mette he with a haythen wommane
That made to him a rewefull mane:
Scho prayede him on hir to rewe,
And hele hir doghtir of cares newe
That scho was in, for scho wode wasse,
For in hir woned Sathanase.
And Criste hir herd bot he stude stille,
And his dissiplis saide him till:
“Helpe this wommane and late hir gange
For scho cries on us full lange.”
And Jhesu saide, “I am noght sende
Bot to Jewes thaire lyves to mende.”
Than this womman come him unto,
And loutid him als hir aght to do,
And what scho wald, hir askid he.
“Lorde,” scho saide, “helpe now me.”
And he saide that nane suld think gode
To take brede fra childir fode
And give it houndes als wha saie:
Gode Jewes, that haldes wele thaire laie
Er Goddes sonnes, and haythen mann
Es callid hounde for lawe he ne cann.
“Forthi me think it is na right
To schewe ymange houndes mi might;
Bot Jewe that Goddes sonne es callde
Suld knawe mi might if he walde,
And fede his sawle with my worde,
Als bodie es fedde with brede atte borde.”
To his worde toke scho gode tente,
And wist graytheli what he mente.
Scho answerd him full wiseli thare,
And saide to him with mylde fare,
“Thir smale whelpes etes crommes in halles
That of thaire lordes borde falles;
Als to saie, I wote wele we are
Likknid to houndes for oure missefare.
Forthi I likken me to a whelpe
To gete with mekenes att thee helpe.”
And Criste answerd and saide than,
“Thi trouthe es mikil to loue, wommane,
In this case be thi will done.”
And with that worde scho had hir bone,
For hir doghtir had hir hele,
That tyme that he gon with hir mele.
This es the strenghe of this Gospell,
Als man with Ynglisse tonge mai tell.

   Gode clerkes that grete clergie can
Spekis mikil of this ilk womman,
And sais when scho spak with Jhesus,
Full gude costis schewid scho us.
Thir gude costis er callid rewthe
Of hert, and tholemodenes, and trewthe,
Lastinge in gode, and rightwisnesse,
And the sexte coste es callid mekenes.
For rewthe of hert scho kende us thare
Thare scho rewid hir doghtir sare.
Scho prayed for hir that scho bare
Als it hir awne evyle ware.
Scho kende us rewthefull for to be,
When we oure even Cristen se
Thole any sorowe or any wa:
To helpe thaim of it wher so thai ga,
And be als wa of thaire sekenes
Als seke man for his awne sorow es;
And fande if we may helpe him oght,
And for him have rewthe in thoght;
And helpe the pore at oure powere
With mete or drink or clothe to were.
We awe to legge thaim of thair poverte
Or elles have we no rewthe in herte.
Bot here er riche menne to wite,
That hase in thair herte na syte,
When thai se the pouere hase nede,
And maye thaim helpe with almusdede,
And will thaim nowther clethe ne fede,
Bot latis thaim dye for honger and nede.
Allas, allase, what mai thai saie,
When Criste sall apon Domisdaie
Thaim chalange for thaire allir dede
That wald the pouer give na brede?
He sall than saye thaim wordes grymme,
And tell thaim than how thai lete hymme
Thole honger and calde and wandrethe
And wald him nouther fede ne clethe.
“I hungrid sore,” schal he say.
“And full seke in prisoune I laie;
Bot none of yow walde bete mi bale
For of me gave ye never tale.”
Than answere sall tha sinfull men
And ask Jhesu Criste, “Whare and when
Saw we thee pore or in nede,
And we walde thee nouther clethe ne fede?
Or when sawe we thee sekenes have
Or in prisoune us almus crave?”
And Criste sall saie thaim, “Wele ye witte
That when ye fra pore folk held it,
That had nede and praied yow,
Ye warned it me, ye maie me trowe.
Tharefore ye schall wende to hell pyne,
For ye ne helpid me ne myne.”
Than sall tha sinfull ga to hell,
Als Criste himself sais in the Gospell.
Forthi yow riche men, I rede
Ye think ofsithes on the dede,
And fede the pore with youre brede
That ye ne well noght in hell lede.
I rede you of the pore ye rewe
That ye noght tyne that blissfull glewe
That riche men sall have to mede
That gladli here duse almusdede.
Now se ye wele that rewthe of hert
Geres men helpe other in thaire povert,
And sore forthinkes of all tho
That er seke or pore or wo.
For this womman als ye have herd
Rewde fore that hir doghtir misseferd;
Forthi scho prayed inwardelie
Criste on hir to have mercye.
Hir rewthe of hert gasteli us ertes
To have rewfullnes in oure hertes,
And helpe thaim that hase nede
With prayere and with almousdede.
The tother coste that scho us kende
Was tholemodenes us to defende
Fro hastie wordes and fro brethe,
Fra hatereden and fro neghbore lothe.
This tholemodenes kend scho us
When scho mekeli tholid Jesus
Betaken hir and all hir kynde
To a whelpe that es nyne nightes blynde.
For in wannetrouthe full blind ware thai
To Criste thaim kende the right waie
Of trouthe, that ledes man full evene
With rightwise life to the blisse of hevene;
And that he grauntid this wommane rathe,
For scho ne was for his wordes wrathe,
Bot louid him als hir aght to do.
And rightwisnes us thare kende scho:
Rightwisnes in dede we schawe
When we yelde all lellye that we awe.
To God we awe klannes of hert
And wirschipe and willfull poverte;
For pore he was for oure sake,
When he on him oure kynde walde take.
We awe to fullfill his biddinges
And doute his domes in all thinges.
We awe to mensk him for his might,
And halde that we have him hight.
We awe to have hope of his come
To deme us all on the Daie of Dome,
And be graithe taken may we knawe
All the dette that we God awe,
Bi the lowtinge of this wommane
When scho to Criste made hir mane.
To prelates awe we bowsomnes
If thaire biddinges be in godenes.
Bot if thaire biddinges be in ylle,
We awe noght for to wirk thaire wille.
Till oure evene Cristen awe we
Right lufe of hert and charité;
And schewe thaim charité in dede
Of oure helpe if thai have nede.
And if we yelde thus that we awe
Rightwisness in dede we schawe.
This rightwisnes es betakned thare
Whare this wommane lowtid Criste are.
Scho yalde him mensk that scho aght —
Thus rightwisnes scho us taght.
The ferde coste that scho kende us
Was trouthe that scho had in Jesus;
For scho trowid with thoght lele
That Criste might give hir doghtir hele;
And sithen scho that was a haythen wight
Had so gode hope in Cristis myght,
Full wele suld Cristen menne with right
Trowe in him and hald thaim fro plight.
For trowthe mai nothinge us avayle
If we of rightwise dedes faile.
For truthe is ded withoute good dede
Als we in haly bokes rede.
And forthi everilk a man
That Cristendome has on him tane,
Trouthe hase he nane bot yif he do
Gode dedes that fallis thare unto.
For Cristen man bothe ylle and gude
Trowes that Criste thaim boght on rude,
And many cayteve noghtforthi
Wretthis so Criste thorghe his folie
That his trouthe es noght worthe a stra.
For synnes catchis Criste him fra:
With trowthe es he Cristis frende
And with dede againe Criste unhende.
If Cristen man trowe witirlie
In Criste, and lyve wickidli,
His trouthe helpis him right noght,
Bot lawere geres it him be broght
Eftir his dede in hell pyne
Than outhir Jewe or yit Sarzyne.
Bit yif he make amendes here
With schrift, penaunce, and with prayere.
Lyve we than so in dede and worde
That oure lyfe to oure trouthe acorde.
For trouthe us noght avayles elles
Als Saynte Jone the apostil telles.
The fifte gude coste that this wommane
Kenned us when scho made hir mane
Es langelastinge till oure lyves ende
In gude, and this coste scho us kende,
When scho wald noght leeve hir prayere
Thof Criste hir gave noght sone answere;
Botte more and more scho praied faste,
And gatte hir will atte laste.
Thus openli scho kende us here
To be lastand in gude prayere
And noght stynt of oure bone,
Thof Criste us graunte it noght sone.
For oft he taries oure askinge
To kindil in us gude langinge;
Mare langinge he geres us have him till,
Than if he grauntid us sone oure will.
Forthi I rede ensawmpil we take
Of this wommane, praiere to make
And noght alsone of prayere stint,
For we ne wate what God hase mynt.
Now se ye wele thir costis fyve
Schroudes Cristen mannes lyve:
Thai er callde trouthe and tholemodenes,
Rewthe, langelastinge, and rightwisnes.
This forsaide womman thaim us taght
When Sathanas with hir doghtir faght.
The sext gude coste that scho us kende
Es mekenes, that may us defende
Fra Sathanas and his felawes,
For aie fra mekenes he him drawes;
For mekenes ymange all vertues
The fendes pousté moste destrues.
This mekenes kende this womman us
When scho spak mekeli to Jesus.
Scho likkende hir to lesse than hounde
To gerre Criste make hir doghtir sounde,
And Criste for hir answere meke,
Helid hir doghtir that was seke.
This wommane that thus made hir mane,
Betaknes ilk a synfull mane,
That hase a doghtir seke in bedde:
That es his flehsse when it is ledde
With will or lust or lyccherie,
That es callid wodenes gastelie.
For it geres a man do fonde dedes
And forgete his saule nedes.
That maie ye se be ane ermite
That for lust lefft his abite;
And be this tale maie we wele kenne
How fule luste mase unwise menne.
Tharebi a tale now will I telle
If ye will here a while dwelle.

   To wildirnes yode a yonge man
To live als hermite be him ane;
And he was fandid swa fellie
With lust and likinge of his bodie,
That rest ne pese might he none have,
And till ane ermete he him schrave.
That ermite was a hali mane,
Bot flehssli likinge had he nevir nane;
Forthi unlevene to him was he,
And unskilfull als think me.
For when this man was schriven him to,
He saide him noght what he suld do;
Bot saide, “I can na skill of thee,
Swa foule thoghtes thou schewes to me,
For God, me think, may thou noght paie,3
That lates so thi thoghtes straye.
Thow thinkes so on ydil dedes
It will thee drawe to hell gledes.
Me think that thou unworthi es
To serve God in wildirnes;
Forthi ga schryve thee whare thu will,
For of thee can I na skill.”
This yonge ermete was full sarie,
And saide, “Allas, that born was I!
I wald be saved bot I ne maie,
Als wele may I ga live in plaie
Ymange thir werldes men and tyne
Mi joye and sithen go to pyne;
With yllir wane, me bettir is
To take mi parte of werldes blisse,
Than thole here bathe pyne and wa
And in other stede alswa.”
When he had saide this and mare,
To the toune he wente greteand full sare,
And als he yode with chekes wete,
Ane alde ermete he mette be the strete.
This alde ermete Apollo hight,
And knewe this yonge man wele be sight.
He askid him whider he walde
And he his fandinge all him talde,
And saide, “Leve fadir, me es full wo
For to the seclere will I go;
God wald I serve, bot I ne maie,
So am I fandid night and daie.
Bothe with mi flehsse and with the fende,
That geres me now to the towne wende;
For atte yone ermete I me schrave,
Botte nanekin penaunce he me gave.
He sais that I am noght worthi
To serve God, and forthi
Will I live in werldes plaie,
And take me joye whiles that I maie.
What bote es to thole here tene and traye,4
Sithen I ne maie serve God to paye?
Bettir es me here some joye to make,
Than to pyne here and never joye take.”
This alde ermite him answerd than
And saide, “I ame ane alde man,
And live the whether I ne maye
Withouten flehsse fandinge a daie;
Forthi thar thee think na ferlie,
Thof thou be fandid inwardlie.
For aye the more that God lufis thee
The more fondinge thee sendis he;
And, leve sonne, that ilk ermite
That thee schrave es greteli to wite:
For thare he suld with wordes hende
Have comforte thee agaynes the fende
Thare did he als ane ebbir fole
That gert thee leeve Cristis scole.
Of flehsslie lust never fondid was he,
Forthi unleve was he to thee.
Thou maie be thi fondinge se
That God lufis him wele lesse than thee;
Forthi, sonne, here now my counsaile,
For mikil mai it thee avayle:
Thou torne agayne into thi cell
And still in Goddes servis thou dwell;
And I sall praie God that he
Take all thi flehssli lust fro thee,
And late it fall on the ermite
That gert thee with missecomforte syte;
That he maie of thi fondinge prove
And lere to have in schrift some hove.”
This yonge man of this rede was faine
And tornid to his celle agayne;
And this Apollo yode privelye
Unto that ilk ermetrye,
Thare this alde ermete was wonande,
And sette him on his knees God prayande;
And saide, “Lorde that heryed hell
I praie thee, thou yone fondinge fell
Of yone yonge man, and gerre it light
Of yone olde man to fonde his might,
That he maye lere tendir to be
To thaim that er fondid for thee.”
And be his prayere was broght to ende
Aperteli he sawe the fende
Stand with arowe and with bowe
And schote in atte a windowe;
And his fell arowe even smate
To the olde man thare he sate;
And so fell fondinge he felid sone,
That uppe he rose als he ware undone.
For flehssli lust he yede nere wode
And fast fro wawe to wawe he yode,
And of him his abite he kest,
Als mad man that had na rest.
He yode to towneward atte last,
And him Apollo folowid fast,
And be his name he him callde,
And askid him whidir he walde;
And him thoght so mikil schame,
That his abite was left at hame
That he stode als he fonde ware.
Than this other spak to him thare,
And askid him whare his abite wasse,
And he answerd and saide, “Allasse,
For I am casten in a sarye case,
Thorow the fandinge of Sathanase
For schamefulli on myne alde tase
To toune I rynne with evil rase;
I fall in fight agaynes the fende
For to the seclere will I wende
To take me wife for I mai noght
Wone here, so es mi flehsse in floght.
Mi foule flehsse prikkes me so,
That allmoste wode it geres me go.”
Apollo bad him think on than:
“That thou saide to yone yonge man
That schrave him in fandinge thee to,
And was redie penaunce to do.
Bot thareof litil skill couthe thou,
And forthi ertow fondid now;
For with thi worde thou gert him ga
His awne saule for to sla.
Forthi prayed I God that he
Suld ger his fondinge fall on thee.”
When he had saide all this and more,
This ermite fell on knees thore,
And saide, “Fadir, I ask mercye —
I knawe wele that I did folye.
I praie thee, praie God for mi plight,
For gode amendes I thee hight.”
Apollo saide than to him rathe:
“Sitte we on knees, and praye we bathe
That God the fendes fondinge slake
And bothe fro thee and him it take.”
Thai praiede God inwardelie,
And God thaire praiere herd in hye;
For thaire fondinge witid awaie,
And eftirward gude pees had thaie.
Be this tale that I have talde
Se ye how flehssli lust es callde
Wodenes, and right callid es it,
For it geres wyse men tyne thaire witte.
For who es woder than that man,
That mikil skill and insight can,
And wote that man for dedeli synne,
Tynes that blisse that never sall blynne;
And gase wele and witandlie;
And lepes in the fendes balie,
And tynes the joye that lastis aie,
For lust that lastis bot a daie;
To be in pyne that never endes,
Ymange the feleschipe of foule fendes.
Forsothe me think woder es he
Than any wylde beste may be;
For thare a beste perile sees
Thorow right resoune fast he flees;
And witti man willfulli gase,
And makes him omageoure to his fase,
When he with lust his saule slase,
For than he serves Sathanase.
Forthi if we this lust will slake,
Of this wommane ensawmpil we take,
That gert Criste thorghe hir mekenes
Hele hir doghtir of wodenes;
With mekenes gatt scho Cristis helpe
When scho hir likkned to a whelpe.
Tharefore I rede ilk a daie,
To Criste fast that we praie,
That he lene us oure flehsse to teme
That it putt us to no greme;
And sithen give us grace that we
Maye serve him in chastité,
And bringe us all to that blisse
That to chaste men grauntid is.
That it mai so to us fall,
Amen, amen, praye we all.

went, as it happened
Tyre; country; (t-note)

sorry moan

was out of her mind

let; go; (see note)


bowed down to; ought

none should think it good
children’s food
as if to say
maintain; law; (see note)
God’s sons
he knows not the law


paid good attention

puppies; (t-note)

Likened; error
compare myself
help from thee

faith; greatly to [be] praised

was healed
During the time; speak

learning possess; (see note)
much (often); same

moral qualities
patience; faith
constancy; righteousness

compassion; showed
gave birth to
fellow Christians
Suffer; woe
sorrowful for

see; in any way
to the best of our ability

ought to relieve; (see note)

blameworthy; (t-note)
no understanding


suffer; misery

(see note); (t-note)

help; suffering
you had no concern for me

ask us for alms
know; (t-note)

refused; believe


So that you will not live in hell
have pity
lose; joy
as reward

are grieved by



second quality; showed
hatred; hostility to neighbors

Compare; sort
(see note)


give; loyally; owe

ought; commands
fear his judgment
keep to; promised
by ready sign

clergy; obedience
commands are
evil; (see note)


honored; earlier

fourth quality
believed; loyal
since; heathen creature

Believe; keep themselves; sin

(see note); (t-note)


Good deeds that accord [with faith]

wretch; nevertheless
snatch Christ away from him

deeds against; discourteous
and [yet]

lower causes

(see note)
life accords with our faith
does no good otherwise

In goodness

cease; request
Even if; right away
delays [in answering]
incite; desire


know; intended



draws back

power; destroys

because of

(see note)
Signifies every

spiritual madness

discarded his habit

makes men unwise

(see note)
by himself
tempted; wickedly; (see note)
hermit; confessed

carnal desire
unsympathetic; (see note)

I cannot help you

[You] who so let


I wish to be
I may as well; pleasure
worldly; lose
heavenly joy; pain
Despite the bad consequences; (see note)

place as well

was called

was going

world; (see note)
I wish to serve God

no kind of penance

Since; satisfactorily
(see note)
suffer pain

And nevertheless I may not live
a single day
you need not think it surprising



Christ’s way

unsympathetic; (see note)

much; help
go back
service; (t-note)

be anxious
counsel; glad

hermitage; (t-note)

harrowed; (see note)
that temptation destroy
make it settle

as soon as
Openly; (see note)

evil; directly hit


went nearly mad
wall; went
[hermit’s] habit


have been cast into a sorry state

run; speed

world; (see note)
(see note)
Dwell; in a flutter; (t-note)

you had little skill

drove him

condition; (t-note)
at once



lose their wits
knowledge and insight has
And [who] knows
Loses; end


himself a vassal; foes


every day

grant; tame
So that; shame


Go To Homily 19, Annunciation