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Homily 46, Eleventh Sunday after Trinity


1 Eleventh Sunday [after Trinity] according to Luke. In that time

2 Latin rubric (Luke 18:9–14): And to some who [trusted in themselves as just, and despised others,] Jesus spoke also this parable. Two men went up [into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, ex­tortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, say­ing: O God, be merciful to me a sinner. I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather than the other: because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.]

3 Baked together with the beard from the grain and with burdock


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; OF: Old French; ON: Old Norse; 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 parable of the proud Pharisee that comprises this Sunday’s Gospel text provides an apt parallel for the charming though apocryphal story of the hermit who decided to test his holiness against that of Oswald, the seventh-century king of Northumbria who achieved sainthood as a result of his piety and early death in battle.

NIMEV 1136, 1482. Manuscripts: A: fols. 154r–158v; G: fols. 107v–111r; D: fols. 159v–162v; L: fols. 46r–47r.

4 pigase. As McIntosh explains, “The word is undoubtedly OF pigace. . . . The basic sense seems to be ‘point’ . . . [but] OF does not appear to preserve anything corresponding to the phrase under discussion. It may mean ‘He considers that nobody reaches even . . . as high as the point of his shoes,’” a suggestion supported by the reading in Huntington Library MS HM 129: “That no man rechyth to his pygas” (p. 203). McIntosh also notes that nearly all the other manuscripts avoid what is clearly an obscure word.

49 Sainte Bede. The NHC-poet has made use of Bede’s Commentary on the Gospel of Luke for this homily. See line 211n for a particularly close parallel.

63 In Yngelande be alde dawes. Tubach 2560, 2894: Hermit and King, King and Her­mit. Gerould has compiled an extensive listing of the many and ancient ana­logues of this tale (“Hermit and the Saint,” pp. 529–45). The oldest variant yet discovered comes from the Sanscrit epic Mahábhárata (fifth century BCE). Five later versions, attached to a variety of desert hermits, are found in the Vitae Patrum, but the closest analogue to NHC’s version is a French fabliau, “Du Prevost d’Aquilée ou d’un hermite que la dame fist baignier en aigue froide” (Nouveau Recueil, pp. 187–201).

67 That hight Oswald that saynte es now. Oswald, who came to power in Northumbria in 633 during a period of conflict and unrest, was famous for both his military valor and his piety. In 635 he won an important victory against Cadwalla in what came to be called the “battle of Heavenfield,” his saintly nature demonstrated, among other things, by his having supposedly set up a cross before joining battle. He was defeated and slain in 642 by Penda, the heathen king of Mercia, but not before he had sent for Aidan, a monk of Iona, to come as a missionary to the Northumbrians (Godfrey, Church in Anglo-Saxon, pp. 103–06). The story told of him in NHC is not found in any of the lives of Oswald, but according to Gerould it did have popular currency, as seen by the fifteenth–century summary in the Promputuarium Exemplorum of the Dominican John Herolt (“Hermit and the Saint,” p. 542). The number of unusual and/or Northern forms occurring in this exemplum may suggest a local connection to Oswald’s Northumbria.

70 Woned ane hermite that hight Godeman. See the Introduction and Fifth Sunday after Epiphany (12.121–22) for information about hermits.

99 Bawmborghe. Bamburgh was the royal residence of the kings of Northumbria.

157 And made buskinge to lepe oloft. In this version Godemon, like the hermit in the French fabliau, apparently tries to resist the queen’s overtures on the first occasion. Not so in D or L, however, and D, in particular, uses an unusual phrase to suggest the hermit’s susceptibility: And made busking to pley on grene. McIntosh has found a similar usage of grene in Havelok, tracing it to ON girna (“desire, lust”), and concluding that in both texts the phrase means “to indulge in wanton amorous play” (“Neuere Yete,” pp. 189–93). The fact that L reads He made buskyng to ly hyre by raises the further possibility that the reading in A is a mistake.

159 hoscid. An unusual form of askid (MED). McIntosh reads this word as hostid (“coughed”), which is certainly possible, but makes less sense (p. 200). Also, D and L substitute cride/asked, respectively, both of which are closer in meaning to hoscid.

171 All ye wote wele what I mene. Perhaps an expression of discomfort over the euphemism for sexual intercourse in the preceding lines.

174 flom Jordane. Although Whiting has one citation for this phrase (J56), it is not especially suggestive, as here, of extreme cold: “A better stede non there es / From hethen to flem Jurdanne” (Ipomadon A.93.3214–5).

191 Bot haylewaite of thi gestinnge. McIntosh offers the following translation of these words: "but thank you for your hospitality." He notes further that the phrase is altered in B, D, and M; and L, “very unusually, leaves a space between bot and of”(p. 199). The MED entry for heil (s.v. heil adj.) “cites the form only in the name Simon Hailewait . . . But the com­pound is per­haps rather to be connected with heil sb. (ON heill) and with either wait ‘wait upon, attend’, or ON veita ‘sustain’: ‘may good fortune wait upon/sustain (you)’” (McIntosh, p. 199). It seems possible to me that the hermit’s words have a slightly sarcastic ring, given his experience of this “hospitality,” an idea which is supported by D’s reading, for litil I þanke the of þis gestning.

211 For thrinnefalde pride, als saise Sainte Bede. Bede’s influence on these lines can be seen in the following excerpt from his commentary on Luke: “There are four forms by which every swelling of proud people is shown, when either they judge that they have the Good by themselves alone or, if they believe that it has been given to them from above, they think that they have received this on account of their own merits, or surely when they boast that they have that which they do not have, or when all others have been disdained, they seek to appear uniquely to have that which they do have” (Bedae Venerabilis, p. 324. My own translation).

243 ogert. An unusual Northern form of angard. According to McIntosh, “Forms with o- and without n seem to be recorded only from Scots” (p. 202). Compare G: grete.

302 For this life es noght worthe a leke. See Whiting L185 for many examples of this common proverb.

333 hir sange. The poet alludes here to the Magnificat, the title commonly given to the Latin text of the Canticle (or Song) of Mary, which begins, according to the Vulgate, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum” (My soul doth magnify the Lord). Luke’s text continues:
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever (Luke 1:46–55).


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

10 That es rute of all gudenes. MS: That es of all gudenes heuede, with heuede canceled, followed by rute, and with a caret to indicate point of insertion.

48 Als man . . . tell. Expanded following earlier occurrences.

192 A letter, most likely an n, has been cancelled preceding lange.

257 is. So D. MS: hase.

292 ogert. Compare G/D: wratthe.

294 este and nythe. See Third Sunday in Advent (3.27n). This obscure form is replaced in several manuscripts as follows: L and G: yre or nythe; D: enuye.
Dominica undecima secundum Lucam. In illo tempore:1

Dixit Jhesu Criste ad quosdam qui. Duo homines ascendebant.2





































































   He es begabbid laithelie,
That lates of other men hetheli,
And wenes that he have swilk grace,
That none to him may be pigase;
For to chasti wele swilk men,
Criste with ensawmpil will us ken,
In oure Gospell of todaie;
I rede ye bere it wele awaie,
And drawe oure hertes to mekenes,
That es rute of all gudenes.
Pride and no meknes tho men schawes,
That lates hetheli of thaire felawes,
Als in oure Gospell of todaie,
I rede ye here what I sall saie.
Two men into the tempil yede,
To praie God for thaire missedede:
The to man was a Pharisene,
The tother war a a publiene.
The Pharisene made his prayere
To God of hevene on this manere:
“I thank thee, Lorde of Hevenerike,
That I am noght other like,
That lives in synne and robbrye
In covetise and liccherye.
Of swilk men,” he saide, “I mene
Als es this synfull publyene.
I fast two daies in a sevene night,
I give mi tendes leelly and right.”
This publicane stude fer on dreye,
And prayede mekeli withouten crye,
And saide, “Of me, God, have mercye,
For I am synfull and sarie.”
He durst noght lift his eye to hevene,
Ne Goddes name with tonge wele nevene,
Bot stude and praied God mekeli,
And knockid his breste and askid mercie.
Forthi, saide Criste in that stede,
God herd his prayere and his bede
Wele bettir than this Pharisene,
And rusid him with wordis kene.
For he that makis himself to hye,
With thoght or worde or sight or eye,
And latis hetheli of his felawe,
Forsothe he sall be made so lawe,
That all may him to hethinge drive:
For pride will thole no man to thrive.
This er the wordes of oure Gospell.
Als man in Ynglihsse tonge may tell.

   This Pharisene, als saise Sainte Bede,
Betaknes man that duse gude dede,
And castes oute all that he dus;
With his pride and with his ruse,
He mase him bettir than he es,
For in his hert es na mekenes,
Forthi in prayere may he noght spede,
For proude wordes getes no mede;
Forthi thir halimen I rede,
That thai in mekenes thaire life lede,
And wene noght that thaimself er slike,
That nane other may be thaim like,
Als did ane ermete in alde sithe,
That I will tell and ye will lithe.

   In Yngelande be alde dawes,
Was sevene kinges als gestis us schawes;
Att Bawmborghe in Northe Humberland,
Was one of tho kinges wonande
That hight Oswald that saynte es now,
Als all Hali Kirk and we trowe.
In his land bi a watir than,
Woned ane hermite that hight Godeman.
When he had dwellt thare thritti yere,
Him thoght that naman was his pere
In halye life, and forthi,
Was he somwhat in herte jolye
And thankid Criste that he was slike,
That nane in lande might be him like.
Bot als he him thus hali held,
On this maner his pride God felld:
He satte a daie be the watir brymme,
And sawe tharein twa fihssis swim.
The more fondid the lesse to gete,
And folowid gapand it to ete;
And thare schewid God ferli rathe,
For thir fihsses spak bathe.
The lesse saide unto the mare:
“I praye thee that thou will me spare,
For this hali ermite lufe,
That sittes on the bank here above.”
The more answerd and saide full yare:
“For his lufe will I noght thee spare,
Bot to mi mete will I thee take.”
And than eftsones the lesse spake,
And saide to the tother, “I praye thee
For Oswalde kinge lufe, spare thou me.”
And at that worde he left him qwite —
And ferli thoght the hali ermite,
How kinge in welthe might bettir be,
Or of halier life than he.
And to Bawmborghe he than him plette,
And with kinge Oswald sone he mette;
And when the kinge saw this ermite,
Doune of his palfraie light he tyte,
And haylsid him sone and yare,
And askid him his benisoune thare;
And att him spired he what he walde,
And privelie the ermete talde,
What he of this fihssis herd,
And spirid how it of his life ferd.
The kinge nitid his halines,
And saide, “In me es no godenes;
I lede my life in jolyté,
With thir knightis als thou mai se
I live in werldes welthe and wynne
And in me es nathinge bot synne.”
This ermite saide, “That maie noght be
Bot for his lufe that died on tre
Lat me of thi hali life witte
That I mai take ensaumpil of it.”
Oswald gave him a gold ringe
And saide, “To the quene bere this in takeninge
And bid hir do right so with thee
Als scho es wont to do with me.”
The ermite come to the qwene and talde
His erande, and faire scho him callde,
And in kinges wede sone was he cledde,
And into hall the qwene him ledde.
Knightis and squiers aboute him droghe,
Ladies and maydens fayre ynoghe.
He wehsse and was sette on hye dees,
Whare he wende wele bene made atees.
Plenté was broght of brede and wyne,
And riche meesis of the kicchine.
He walde of mete and drink have taste,
Bot it to the almis was borne in haste.
This ermite satte and was full wa,
That his mete was borne him fra.
The qwene sperid at him tithandes,
Bot mete come thare none in his handes;
And thus with talkinge scho held him aie,
Till all was broght and borne awaie.
Bot attelast to the borde was broght
A lofe that paied the ermite noght:
Of roghe barli and yitt full small,
With awnes and clettis baken withall.3
Bot it was corven cortaiselie,
And well watir sette tharebye.
And the qwene bad him ete gladlie,
And he satte still, evil paied forthi,
That he ne had eten or he come thare,
Sithen he thare might gete na mare.
At evene he was to chaumbir ledde,
And broght with the qwene in bedde.
The qwene began him to hals and kisse,
And held him wakand mawgré hisse.
This wafull ermite that was hongrie,
Felid the hete of hir bodie,
And made buskinge to lepe oloft,
For he felid hir wombe soft.
Eftir helpe hoscid the qwene
And thare come redi, als I wene.
Of bed than was he fouly drawene,
And in a fatte of watir thrawene.
Lange was he halden in that watire,
Till all his tethe began to chatire.
Than was he taken and laide agayne
With the qwene, and scho was bayne
Him for to kisse, and make redie
His flehsse to lust of liccherie.
And sone in haste his flehsse rase,
And walde fayne have plaied in the plase —
All ye wote wele what I mene.
And eftsones hoscid the qwene,
And of bed was this ermite tane
And dippid eft in flom Jordane,
And halden thare to he was calde,
That all he trembild, be ye balde.
Yit bi the qwene eft was he laide:
“Allas, allas,” this ermite saide,
For him had lever at hame have bene,
Than ligge in bed thare with the qwene.
For on that o nyght was he thrise
Servid with the kinge servise.
Lust and likinge sare him lathid,
For thrise that o night was he bathid.
The thrid tyme was he lappid in haire,
And spredde ovre with coverletis faire.
Apon the morne the qwene him callde,
And askid him if he eft walde
Be gestind als he was that night;
And he saide, “Naie, be Goddes might,
Bot haylewaite of thi gestinnge!
For lange ynoghe have I bene kinge!”
Than the qwene saide, “Now hase thou sene
The kinges life all bedene.
I trowe that thou lives more at aise,
Than mi lorde duse in his palaise.
Thus lange hase he mi lorde bene,
And yitt er we bothe maydens clene.
If thou have nede of ani thinge,
Come to me and to the kinge;
For bletheli we will thee give,
Bothe mete and clothis whiles we may live.”
He thankid hir and yode his gate,
And was full fayne he gatte the gate.
Be this ensaumpil may we se,
That no man aght to wene that he
Ware bettir and more halie,
Than an other fer or nye.
For he that so duse, duse amisse,
With privé pride begabbid he is.

   For thrinnefalde pride, als saise Sainte Bede,
Es schewid in trouthe in worde and dede.
The first pride es fals wenynge,
That geres men wene that all thinge
Comes of his awne doghtines
(That right noght in himselven es),
And noght of God that all thinge gives,
Wharewith bothe man and beste lives.
Thus Lucifer fro heven fell,
Thorghe swilk fals weninge into hell,
For he wende that all his fairnes,
Had commen of his awne doghtines,
And noght of God that him makid,
And forthi his pride God slakid,
And made him Devil in hell full lawe,
For walde he noght himselvene knawe.
Forsothe whosoever wenes so,
To hell begin thai for to go:
For of oureself have we no winne,
Bot filthe and wafulté of synne,
Of his grace comes all oure gode,
That boght us apon the rode.
The tother pride es wickid langinge,
That geres a man have likinge,
To bere sembleand for doghti thewe,
All thof he be ane ebbir schrewe;
And mase him wyser than other men
That can him wisdome lere and ken.
He wald be halden bettir man,
Than another that more gude can,
To ger men wene that he es wise,
With countenaunse of mikil prise.
The thrid pride es ogert ruse,
That man makes of that he duse,
Als did the proude Pharisene,
Wham in oure Gospell I gon mene.
In oure Gospell God us settis
Ensaumpil of pride that thrift lettise;
Bot bi the seli publiene,
Meke men oure Gospell will mene,
That hase no pride of thaire dede,
Als saise the gude clerk, Saynte Bede.
Full litile of thaimselve thai give,
And mikil of God of wham thai live.
Saynte Austine spekes of mekenes,
And tellis graytheli what it es:
He saise it is a willfull heldinge
Of mannes thoght, and behaldinge
Of his sekenes and his unmight,
That geres man oft leve syn and plight.
For when a man umthinkis him right,
That he es bot a wricchid wight,
That of himself hase he no wynne,
Bot full of filthe and wafull synne,
Than gretis he for his synnes sakes,
And of himselvene litil makes;
And mikil on God that hase him wroght,
And on the rodetre dere him boght.
For he seis wele he may noght live,
Bot if oure Lorde grace him give.
He thinkis how he was geten in synne,
And borne to bale that will noght blynne,
In this life full of wandrethe,
Of payne, of barette, and of lethe.
Yitt he thinkes that he sall dye,
And strenge pyne and sorow drye;
For thare es na wa ne no wounde,
Als es the pyne of dede stounde.
Forthi saise Salamon the wise,
That dede geres thaim growe and grise,
That hase thise welthis that thaim buse leve,
When dede thaire saule sall fra thaim reve;
And tharwith all thaire catele,
That in this werld thai lufe so wele.
Than sall the saule be full wa,
And mikil willare than the ra,
For it wate never whider it sall wende,
Whether in hevene or hell to lende.
Thare mou it find full redilie,
How it haves livid here in folie;
Whether in pride or in mekenes,
Or in ogert or bowsomnes,
In liccheri and chastité,
In este and nythe or charité,
In wisdome or in fule folie,
All sall the saule find thare redie.
That it hase wroght with the bodie,
All mou the saule full dere abye,
Bot man be here thareof schrivene,
And it with penaunce be forgivene.
Swilk thinge aght to make us meke,
For this life es noght worthe a leke,
Agayne the life that lastis aie,
Thare evermore es gammen and plaie.
Thir forbisnis er here sette,
The pride of mannes hert to lette,
And ger him fle ogert ruse,
Of the gude dede that he duse,
That geres men schamesli tyne thaire mede,
Do thai never so almus dede.
Swilk rusinge als I of mene,
Schewid the proude Pharisene,
In oure Gospell thare he him rosid,
Wharethorghe he all his mede losid.
Bot God wote the publiene,
Be whaim Criste will meke men mene,
And methe of mete or gluttrie.
Me think he wroght full wiselie,
For mekeli askid he mercie,
Als man bowsome to mende folie.
He saide he was with sin begane,
And gudenes of himself had nane;
For he wist wele that all gudenes,
Come of him that all mighti es.
He made his praiere mekeli,
And God him herd full wele forthi;
For mekenes es the best thewe,
That ani man in dede mai schewe;
For this mekenes whareof I mene,
Gert Mari be bothe modir and qwene;
Forthi full blissefull es scho to nevene,
Goddes modire and quene of hevene,
Als scho hirself saise in hir sange,
Full wele es thaim hir lufe mai fange;
And in mekenes folow hir trase,
For God gives to meke men his grase,
And geres thaim come unto that blisse,
That to all mekemen graithid is.
Oure Lorde of hevene us thidir bringe
To joye, that es withouten endinge,
And give us grace oure life to lede,
That we that joye take to oure mede. Amen.
deluded dreadfully
scorns other men
believes; such
equal; (see note)

advise; keep it in mind


The one man

the Heavenly Kingdom


tithes loyally
far off


prayer; supplication

Because; too high



(see note)
makes himself


these; counsel


olden times

(see note)

(see note)
was named Godeman; (see note)

no one; equal


bigger one; tried; smaller

a miracle quickly

love of this holy hermit


at once


Bamburgh; hurried; (see note)

he alighted quickly
embraced; eagerly
inquired; wanted




garments; clothed


washed; dais
at ease

as alms was taken away

asked him for news

kept him occupied

rough barley


poorly pleased
For not having eaten before he came there

despite himself

made haste to leap up; (see note)

called; (see note)

Out of; thrust
tub; thrown



(see note)
called out
river Jordan; (see note)

you may be sure

would rather have been at home

three times
Treated in the same manner as the king
lechery; he despised

wrapped in haircloth


thank you for your hospitality; (see note)



went his way
found the gate

does wrong


threefold; (see note)


nothing in themselves





The second type of pride
makes a man wish
To have the appearance of good habits
utter fool
makes himself out to be
Who can teach and show him wisdom

virtue knows
great worth
arrogant boasting; (see note)

pointed out

prudence hinders
The Gospel means to signify meek men

They give very little credit to themselves
through whom

bending; (t-note)
abandon; evil doing


cross dearly

misery; cease
strife; misfortune


Like the pain of the moment of death

make them tremble; quake
that they must leave

much wilder than the roe-deer

arrogance; obedience; (t-note)
hatred and envy; (t-note)


leek; (see note)
In comparison to

arrogant boasting

lose; reward
so [many] charitable deeds

restraint; gluttony




(see note)
for those who may receive her love

made ready


[Homilies 47–48 not included in this edition. See Explanatory Notes.]

Go To Homily 49, Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity