From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

The Chester Cycle Play IV (4) - Abraham and Isaac

THE BARBERS PLAYE
Incipit Quarta Pagina qualiter reversus est a cede quatuor regum.
Occurrit rex Salim etc. equitando et Lothe; et dicat Abraham. Preco dicat:

001 All peace, lordinges that bine presente,
002 and herken mee with good intente,
003 howe Noe awaye from us hee went
004 and all his companye;
005 and Abraham through Godes grace,
006 he is commen into this place,
007 and yee will geeve us rowme and space
008 to tell you thys storye.

009 This playe, forsothe, begynne shall hee
010 in worshippe of the Trynitie
011 that yee may all here and see
012 that shalbe donne todaye.
013 My name is Goobett-on-the-Greene.
014 With you I may no longer beene.
015 Farewell, my lordinges, all bydene
016 for lettynge of [your] playe.

Abraham, having restored his brother Loth into his owne place,
doth firste of all begine the play and sayth:

017 ABRAHAM. Ah, thou high God, graunter of grace,
018 that endinge ne begininge hase,
019 I thanke thee, lorde, that thou hase
020 todaye give mee the victorye.
021 Lothe, my brother, that taken was,
022 I have restored him in this case
023 and brought him home in this place
024 through thy might and masterye.

025 To worshippe thee I will not worne,
026 that iiii kynges of uncouth landes
027 todaye bath sent into my hand,
028 and ryches with greate araye.

029 Therfore of all that I have wone
030 to give the teath I will begynne,
031 the cyttee sonne when I come in,
032 and parte with thee my praye.

033 Melchysedech, that here kinge is
034 and Goddes preyste allsoe iwisse,
035 the teathe I will give him of this,
036 as skyll is that I doe.
037 Godd that base sende mee the vyctorye
038 of iiii kynges gracyously,
039 with him I praye parte will I,
040 the cyttie when I come to.

Here Lothe, torninge him to his brother Abraham, doth saye:

041 LOTH. Abraham, brother, I thanke thee
042 that this daye haste delyvered mee
043 of enimyes handes and ther postee,
044 and saved mee from woo.
045 Therfore I will give teathinge
046 of my good whille I am livinge;
047 and nowe alsoe of his sendinge
048 the teath I will give alsoe.

Tunc venit Armiger Melchysedech ad ipsum et gratulando dicit
Armiger (Here the Messenger doth come to Melchysedech,
kinge of Salem, and rejoysinge greatly doth saye):

049 My lorde the kinge, tydinges on right
050 your hart to glade and to light--
051 Abraham hath slayne in fight
052 iiii kinges since hee went.
053 Here hee will bee this ylke night,
054 and ryches enough with him dight.
055 I harde him thanke God almight
056 of grace hec had him sente.

Here Melchysedech, lookinge up to heaven,
doth thanke God for Abrahams victorye,
and doth prepare himselfe to goe presentAbraham.

057 MELCHYSEDECH, REX SALEM. Ah, blessed bee God that is but one.
058 Agaynste Abraham will I gonne
059 worshipfullye and that anonne,
060 myne office to fulfill,
061 and presente him with bread and wyne,
062 for grace of God is him within.
063 Spede for love myne,
064 for this is Godes will.

065 ARMIGER (cum pocula).

Here the Messenger, offeringe to Melchysedeck
a standinge-cuppe and bread alsoe, dothe saye:

066 Sir, here is wyne, withowten were,
067 and therto bred white and cleare
068 to present him with good chere,
069 that soe us holpenn hasse.

Here Melchysedeck answeringe sayth:

070 To God I wott hee is full deare,
071 for of all thinges in his prayer
072 hee hath withowten dangere,
073 and speciallye his grace.

Melchysedeck, comminge unto Abraham, doth offer to him a cuppe
full of wynne and bred, and sayth unto him:

074 Abraham, welcome moste thou bee--
075 Godes grace is fuiiye in thee.
076 Blessed ever muste thou bee
077 that enimyes soe can meeke.
078 Here is bred and wyne for thy degree;
079 I have brought as thou maye see.
080 Receyve this present nowe at mee, and that I thee beeseche.

Here Abraham, receyvinge the offeringe of Meichysedeck, dothe saye:

081 Syr kynge, welcome in good faye;
082 thy presente is welcome to my paye.
083 God that hath holpen mee todaye,
084 unworthye though I were,
085 ye shall have parte of my praye
086 that I wan sinse I wente awaye.
087 Therfore to thee that take it maye,
088 the teathe I offer here.

Here Abraham offereth to Meichysedeck an horse that is laden.
Melchysedeck, receivinge the horse of Abraham verey gladly, doth saye:

089 And your present, syr, take I
090 and honoure hit devoutlye,
091 for much good it may signifye
092 in tyme that is commynge.
093 Therfore horse, harnesse, and petrye,
094 as falles for your dignitye,
095 the teathe of hit takes of mee
096 and receyve here my offeringe.

Here Loth doeth offer to Melchysedeck a goodly cuppe, and sayth:

097 LOTH. And I will offer with good intente
098 of such goodes as God bath mee lente
099 to Melchysedeck here presente,
100 as Gods will is to bee.
101 Abraham, my brother, offered hasse,
102 and soe will I through Godes grace.
103 This royal! cuppe before your face
104 receyve yt nowe at mee.

Here Melchysedeck receaveth the cuppe of Loth.

105 MELCHYSEDECK. Syr, your offeringe welcome ys;
106 and well I wott, forsoth iwys,
107 that fullye Godes will yt is
108 that is nowe doone today.
109 Goe wee together to my cyttie;
110 and God nowe hartely thanke wee
111 that helps us aye through his postee,
112 for soe wee full well maye.

Here they doe goe together, and Abraham dothe take the bred and wyne,
and Melchysedeck the laden horse.

113 EXPOSITOR (equitando). Lordinges, what may this signifye
114 I will expound yt appertly--
115 the unlearned standinge herebye
116 maye knowe what this may bee.
117 This present, I saye veramente,
118 signifieth the newe testamente
119 that nowe is used with good intente
120 throughout all Christianitye.

121 In the owld lawe, without leasinge,
122 when these too good men were livinge,
123 of beastes were there offeringe
124 and eke there sacramente.
125 But synce Christe dyed one roode-tree,
126 in bred and wyne his death remenber wee;
127 and at his laste supper our mandee
128 was his commandemente.

129 But for this thinge used should bee
130 afterwardes, as nowe done wee,
131 in signification--as leeve you mee--
132 Melchysedeck did soe.
133 And teathinges-makinge, as you seene here,
134 of Abraham begonnen were.
135 Therfore to God hee was full deare,
136 and soe were both too.

137 By Abraham understand I maye
138 the Father of heaven, in good faye;
139 Melchysedecke, a pryest to his paye
140 to minister that sacramente
141 that Christe ordayned the foresayde daye
142 in bred and wyne to honour him aye.
143 This signifyeth, the sooth to saye,
144 Melchysedeck his presente.

Here God appeareth to Abraham and saythe:

145 DEUS. Abraham, my servante, I saye to thee
146 thy helpe and thy succour will I bee.
147 For thy good deede myche pleaseth mee,
148 I tell thee witterly.

Here Abraham, torninge to God, saythe:

149 ABRAHAM. Lord, on thinge that wouldest see,
150 that I praye after with harte full free:
151 grante mee, lorde, through thy postee
152 some fruite of my bodye.

153 I have noe chylde, fowle ne fayre,
154 save my nurrye, to bee my hayre;
155 that makes mee greatly to appeare.
156 One mee, lord, have mercye.

157 DEUS. Naye Abraham, frend, leeve thou mee--
158 thy nurrye thine hayre hee shall not bee;
159 but one sonne I shall send thee,
160 begotten of thy bodye.

161 Abraham, doe as I thee saye--
162 looke and tell, yf thou maye,
163 stares standinge one the straye;
164 that unpossible were.
165 Noe more shalt thou, for noe neede,
166 number of thy bodye the seede
167 that thou shalt have withowten dreede;
168 thou arte to mee soe dere.

169 Therfore Abraham, servante free,
170 looke that thou bee trewe to mee;
171 and here a forwarde I make with thee
172 thy seede to multiplye.
173 Soe myche folke forther shalt thou bee,
174 kinges of this seede men shall see;
175 and one chylde of greate degree
176 all mankynde shall forbye.

177 I will hethen-forward alwaye
178 eyche man-chylde one the eyght daye
179 bee circumsysed, as I thee saye,
180 and thou thyselfe full soone.
181 Whoesoe cyrcumsysed
182 not ys forsaken shalbe
183 with mee iwys,
184 for unobedyent that man ys.
185 Looke that this bee done.

186 ABRAHAM. Lord, all readye in good faye.
187 Blessed bee thou ever and aye,
188 for therby knowe thou maye
189 thy folke from other men.
190 Cyrcumsyscd they shalbe all
191 anon for ought that maye befall.
192 I thanke thee, lorde, thyne one thrall,
193 kneelinge one my kneene.

194 EXPOSITOR. Lordinges all, takys intent
195 what betokens this commandement:
196 this was sometyme an sacrament
197 in the ould lawe truely tane.
198 As followeth nowe verament,
199 soe was this in the owld testamente.
200 But when Christe dyed away hit went,
201 and then beganne baptysme.

202 Alsoe God a promise behett us here
203 to Abraham, his servant dere:
204 soe mych seede that in noe manere
205 nombred yt may bee,
206 and one seede mankinde for to bye.
207 That was Christe Jesus wytterlye,
208 for of his kynde was our ladye,
209 and soe alsoe was bee.

210 DEUS. Abraham, my servante Abraham!

211 ABRAHAM. Loe, lord, alreadye here I am.

212 DEUS. Take Isaack, thy sonne by name
213 that thou lovest the best of all,
214 and in sacryfyce offer him to mee
215 upon that hyll there besydes thee.
216 Abraham, I will that yt soe bee
217 for ought that maye befall.

218 ABRAHAM. My lord, to thee is myne intent
219 ever to bee obedyent.
220 That sonne that thou to mee haste sent
221 offer I will to thee,
222 and fulfill thy cornmandement
223 with hartye will, as I am kent.
224 High God, lorde omnipotent,
225 thy biddinge, lorde, done shalbee.

226 My meanye and my chyidren eycheone
227 lenges at home, both all and one,
228 save Isaack, my sonne, with mee shall gonne
229 to an hyll here besyde.

Here Abraham, torninge him to his sonne Isaack, sayth:

230 Make thee readye, my dere darlinge,
231 for we must doe a little thinge.
232 This wood doe thou on thy backe bringe;
233 wee may noe lenger byde.

234 A sworde and fyer that I will take,
235 for sacrifyce mee behoves to make.
236 Godes biddinge will I not forsake,
237 but ever obedyent bee.

Abraham taketh a sworde and fyer. Here Isaack speakes to his father,
taketh the bundell of stickes, and beareth after his father.

238 ISAACK. Father, I all readye
239 to doe your byddinge moste meekely,
240 and to beare this wood full beane am I,
241 as ye commande mee.

242 ABRAHAM. O Isaack, my darlinge deare,
243 my blessinge nowe I give thee here.
244 Take up this fagott with good chere,
245 and on thy backe yt bringe.
246 And fyer with us I will take.

247 ISAACK. Your bydding I wyll not forsake;
248 father, I will never slake
249 to fullfill your byddinge.

250 ABRAHAM. Nowe Isaack, sonne, goe wee our waye
251 to yonder monte, yf that wee maye.

Here they goe both to the place to doe sacrafice.

252 ISAACK. My dere father, I will assaye

253 to follow you full fayne.

Abraham, beinge minded to slea his sonne,
lifte us his handes to heaven and sayth:

254 ABRAHAM. O my harte will breake in three!
255 To here thy wordes I have pittye.
256 As thou wilte, lorde, soe muste yt bee;
257 to thee I will bee beane.

258 Laye downe thy fagott, my owne sonne.

259 ISAACK. All readye, father; loe yt here.
260 But why make yee soe heavye chere?
261 Are ye any thinge adread?
262 Father, yf yt bee your will,
263 where is the beaste that wee shall kyll?

264 ABRAHAM. Therof, sonne, is none upon the hill
265 that I see here upon this stedde.

Isaack, fearinge leste his father will slea him, sayth:

266 ISAACK. Father, I am full sore afrayde
267 to see you beare that drawen sworde.
268 I hope for all myddylarde
269 you will not slaye your chylde.

Abraham, comfortinge his sonne, sayth:

270 ABRAHAM. Dreade thee not, my chylde. I reade
271 our lorde will sende of his goodheade
272 some manner of beast into this fyelde,
273 eyther tame or wylde.

274 ISAACK. Father, tell mee or I goe
275 whether I shall harme or floe.

276 ABRAHAM. Ah, deare God, that mee ys woe!
277 Thou breakeste my harte in sunder.

278 ISAAC. Father, tell mee of this case:
279 why you your sworde drawen base,
280 and beares yt naked in this place.
281 Therof I have greate wonder.

282 ABRAHAM. Isaack, sonne, peace, I praye thee.
283 Thou breakest my harte anon in three.

284 ISAACK. I praye you, father, leane nothinge from mee;
285 but tell mee what you thinke.

286 ABRAHAM. Ah, Isaack, Isaack, I muste thee kyll.

287 ISAACK. Alas, father, ys that your wyll,
288 your owne chylde for to spyll
289 upon thys hilles bryncke?

290 If I have trespassed in any degree,
291 with a yarde you may beate mee.
292 Put up your sworde yf your wyll bee,
293 for I am but a chylde.

294 ABRAHAM. O my deare sonne, I am sorye
295 to doe to thee this great anoye.
296 Godes commandement doe must I;
297 his workes are aye full mylde.

298 ISAACK. Would God my mother were here with mee!
299 Shee would kneele downe upon her knee,
300 prayeinge you, father, if yt might bee,
301 for to save my liefe.

302 ABRAHAM. O comely creature, but I thee kyll
303 I greeve my God, and that full yll.
304 I may not worke agaynste his wyll
305 but ever obedyent bee.
306 O Isaack, sonne, to thee I saye
307 God hase commanded mee todaye
308 sacryfyce--this is noe naye-- to make of thy bodye.

309 ISAACK. Is yt Godes will I shalbe slayne?

310 ABRAHAM. Yea, sonne, yt is not for to leane;
311 to his byddinge I will bee beane,
312 ever to him pleasinge.
313 But that I doe this deolfull deede,
314 my lorde will not quite mee my meede.

315 ISAACK. Marye, father, God forbydde
316 but you doe your offeringe.

317 Father, at home your sonnes you shall fynde
318 that you muste love by course of kynde.
319 Be I once out of your mynde,
320 your sorrowe may sonne cease.
321 But yet you must doe Godes byddinge.
322 Father, tell my mother for nothinge.

Here Abraham, wringinge his handes, sayth:

323 ABRAHAM. For sorrowe I maye my handes wringe;
324 thy mother I cannot please.
325 O Isaak, Isaack, blessed most thow bee!
326 Almoste my wytt I loose for thee.
327 The blood of thy body soe free
328 I am full loth to sheede.

329 ISAACK. Father, synce you muste needes doe soe,
330 lett yt passe lightly and over goe.
331 Kneelinge upon my knees too,
332 your blessinge one mee spreade.

333 ABRAHAM. My blessinge, deare sonne, give I thee,
334 and thy mothers with harte soe free.
335 The blessinge of the Trinitye,
336 my deare sonne, one thee light.

337 ISAACK. Father, I praye you hyde my eyne
338 that I see not the sworde soe keene.
339 Your strooke, father, would I not seene
340 leste I agaynst yt gryll.

341 ABRAHAM. My deare sonne Isaack, speake noe moare;
342 thy wordes make my harte full sore.

343 ISAACK. O deare father, wherfore, wherfore?
344 Sythenn I muste needes bee dead,
345 of one thinge I would you praye.
346 Sythen I must dye the death todaye,
347 as fewe strokes as yee well maye
348 when yee smyte of my head.

349 ABRAHAM. Thy meekenes, chylde, makes mee affraye.
350 My songe maye bee 'Wele-Awaye'.

351 ISAACK. O deare father, doe away,
352 doe away your makinge of myche mone.
353 Now truely, father, this talkinge
354 doth but make longe taryinge.
355 I praye you come of and make endinge,
356 and lett mee hence bee gone.

357 ABRAHAM. Come hyther, my chylde; thow art soe sweete.
358 Thow must be bounden hand and feete.

Here Isaack ryseth and cometh to his father,
and hee taketh him and byndeth him and layeth him
one the alter for to sacrifyce him.

359 ISAACK. Father, we muste noe more meete
360 by ought that I cane see.
361 But doe with mee then as thou will;
362 I muste obey, and that is skyll,
363 Godes commandement to fulfill,
364 for needes soe must it bee.

365 Upon the purpose that you have sett you,
366 forsooth, father, I wyll not lett you;
367 but evermore to doe your vowe
368 while that ever yee maye.
369 Father, greete well my brethen yonge,
370 and praye my mother of hir blessinge;
371 I come no more under her winge.
372 Farewell, for ever and aye.

373 But, father, I crye you mercye
374 for all that ever I have trespased to thee;
375 forgiven, father, that hit may bee
376 untill domesdaye.

377 ABRAHAM. My deare sonne, lett bee thy mones;
378 my chylde, thow greeves mee every ones.
379 Blessed bee thow, body and bones,
380 and I forgive thee here.
381 Nowe, my deare sonne, here shall thow lye.
382 Unto my worke nowe must I hye.
383 I had as leeve myselfe to dye
384 as thow, my darlinge deare.

385 ISAACK. Father, if yee bee to mee kynde,
386 about my head a carchaffe bynde
387 and lett mee lightly out of your mynde,
388 and soone that I were speede.

389 ABRAHAM. Farewell, my sweete sonne of grace.

Here kisse him and binde the carchaffe about his head,
and lett him kneele downe and speake.

390 ISAACK. I praye you, father, turne downe my face
391 a little while, while you have space,
392 for I am full sore adreade.

393 ABRAHAM. To doe this deede I am sorye.

394 ISAACK. Yea, lorde, to thee I call and crye!
395 Of my soule thow have mercye,
396 hartely I thee praye.

397 ABRAHAM. Lord, I would fayne worke thy will.
398 This yonge innocent that lieth soe still,
399 full loth were mee him to kyll
400 by any manner of waye.

401 ISAACK. My deare father, I thee praye,
402 let mee take my clothes awaye,
403 for sheeding blood on them todaye
404 at my laste endinge.

405 ABRAHAM. Harte, yf thow would breake in three,
406 thou shall never mayster mee.
407 I will floe longer lett for thee;
408 my God I may not greeve.

409 ISAACK. A, mercye, father, why tarrye yee soe?
410 Smite of my head and lett mee goe.
411 I praye you rydd mee of my woo,
412 for nowe I take my leave.

413 ABRAHAM. My sonne, my harte will breake in three
414 to here thee speake such wordes to mee.
415 Jesu, one mee thow have pyttye,
416 that I have moste of mynde.

417 ISAACK. Nowe, father, I see that I shall dye.
418 Almighty God in majestie,
419 my soule I offer unto thee.
420 Lorde, to yt bee kynde.

Here lett Abraham take and bynde his sonne Isaack upon the aulter,
and leett him make a signe as though bee would cutt of his head with the sword.
Then lett the Angell come and take the sworde by the end and staye yt, sayinge:

421 ANGELUS. Abraham, my servante deare!

422 ABRAHAM. Loe, lord, I am all readye here.

423 ANGELUS. Laye not thy sworde in noe manere
424 one Isaack, thy deare darlinge;
425 and doe to him none anoye.
426 For thou dreades God, well wott I,
427 that of thy sonne hasse noe mercye
428 to fulfill his byddinge.

429 ANGELUS SECUNDUS. And for his byddinge thow doest aye,
430 and sparest neyther for feare nor faye
431 to doe thy sonne to death todaye,
432 Isaack to thee full deare,
433 therfore God bath sent by mee in faye
434 a lambe that is both good and gaye.
435 Loe, have him right here.

436 ABRAHAM. Ah, lorde of heaven and kinge of blysse,
437 thy byddinge shall be donne iwys.
438 Sacrifyce here mee sent ys,
439 and all, lorde, through thy grace.
440 An horned wether here I see;
441 amonge these bryers tyed is hee.
442 To thee offered now shall hee bee,
443 anonright in this place.

Then lett Abraham take the lambe and kyll him, and lett God saye:

444 DEUS. Abraham, by my selfe I sweare:
445 for thou hast bine obedient ayere,
446 and spared not thy sonne to teare
447 to fulfill my byddinge,
448 thou shall bee blessed that pleased mee.
449 Thy seede shall I soe multiplye
450 as starres and sande, soe many highe I
451 of thy bodye comminge.

452 Of enimyes thou shalte have power,
453 and thy blood alsoe in feare.
454 Thow haste beene meeke and bonere
455 to doe [as] I thee bade.
456 And of all natyons, leeve thow mee,
457 blessed evermore shalbee
458 through fruyte that shall come of thee,
459 and saved through thy seede.

Here the Docter saythe:

460 EXPOSITOR. Lordinges, this significatyon
461 of this deede of devotyon--
462 and yee will, yee wytt mon--
463 may tome you to myche good.
464 This deede yee scene done here in this place,
465 in example of Jesus done yt was,
466 that for to wynne mankinde grace
467 was sacrifyced one the roode.

468 By Abraham I may understand
469 the Father of heaven that cann fonde
470 with his Sonnes blood to breake that bonde
471 that the dyvell had brought us to.
472 By Isaack understande I maye
473 Jesus that was obedyent aye,
474 his Fathers will to worke alwaye
475 and death for to confounde.

Here lett the Docter kneele downe and saye:

476 Such obedyence grante us, O lord,
477 ever to thy moste holye word;
478 that in the same wee may accorde
479 as this Abraham was beyne.
480 And then altogether shall wee
481 that worthye kinge in heaven see,
482 and dwell with him in great glorye
483 for ever and ever. Amen.

Here the Messenger maketh an ende:

484 Make rowme, lordings, and give us waye
485 and lett Balack come in and playe,
486 and Balaham that well can saye,
487 to tell you of prophecye.
488 That lord that dyed one Good Frydaye,
489 the same you all, both night and daye.
490 Farewell, my lordings, I goe my waye;
491 I may noe lenger abyde.

492 Finis

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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. The Chester Cycle Play IV (4) - Abraham and Isaac. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama. Date Visited.