From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

The Chester Cycle Play VIII (8) - The Magi and Herod

Incipit Pagina Octava Trium Regum Orientalium.

001 PRIMUS REX. Mightye God in majestye,
002 that rules the people of Judee,
003 when thow one man wilt have pittye,
004 and his sinnes forbye,
005 send some tokeninge, lord, to mee,
006 that ylke starre that I may see
007 that Balaham sayd should ryse and bee
008 in his prophecye.

009 For well I wotte, forsooth iwys,
010 that his prophecye sooth is.
011 A starre should ryse tokninge of blys
012 when Godes Sonne is borne.
013 Therfore these lordes and I in fere
014 in this mounte make our prayer
015 devoutlye once in the yeare,
016 for therto we binne sworne.

017 SECUNDUS REX. Yea, we that binne of Balahams bloode,
018 that prophecyed of that sweete foode--
019 when Balaack, that kinge soe woode,
020 to curse would hee have made
021 Godes people of Israell.
022 But power fayled everye deale;
023 to prophecye mankyndes heale
024 that tyme happe lice hadd--
025 therfore wee kinges of his kynde,
026 I read wee take his wordes in mynde,
027 grace in him if wee maye fynde
028 that Godes Sonne shalbe.
029 And goe wee praye, both one and all,
030 into the Mounte Victoryall.
031 Paraventure such grace may fall
032 that starre that wee maye see.

033 TERTIUS REX. Syr, securlye I read on right;
034 unto that hill I will me dight
035 and there beseech God almight
036 one us for to have mynde,
037 and of that starre to have a sight.
038 Worshippe wee all that sweete wight
039 that Balaham to us beheight,
040 that shall forbye mankynde.

041 Saye, fellowe, take this coursere
042 and abyde mee right here.

043 Goe wee, syres, to our prayer,
044 I read now in good faye.
045 I have donne this manye a yere,
046 and my auncetours that before mee were.
047 Highe God, prince of power,
048 thou comforte us todaye.

Hic descendunt de equis et ibunt in montem.

049 PRIMUS REX. Lord, what tyme ys yt thy will
050 Balahams prophecye to fullfill,
051 thou give us grace, both lowd and styll,
052 and by some signe us shewe.

053 SECUNDUS REX. Yea, lord, though wee bee unworthye,
054 one thy men thou have mercye;
055 and of thy birthe thou certefye
056 her to thy knightes three.

057 TERTIUS REX. Lord God, leader of Israell,
058 that dye would for mankyndes heale,
059 thow come to us and not conceale,
060 but bee our counselour.

061 PRIMUS REX. Of all this world thou art the well
062 that shalbe called Emanuell.
063 Deeme the, lord, with us to dwell,
064 and graunte us our prayer.

Tunc apparebit stella.

065 PRIMUS REX. A, syr roy, si vous ploitt,
066 gardes sus sur vostre teste.

067 SECUNDUS REX. Une esteile issi est
068 que syr vous reploiste.

069 TERTIUS REX. Aloies, soit luy une semblant
070 de une virgin portant, come le semble,
071 de une enfant em brace apportement.

072 [PRIMUS REX]. A, lord, blessed most thou bee,
073 that one thy people hase pittye.
074 Witterly now witten wee
075 that wrought is our askinge.

076 SECUNDUS REX. That our prayer hard hasse hee
077 I leve full well, well by my lewtee;
078 for in the starre a chyid I see
079 and verye tokeninge.

080 TERTIUS REX. Lordes, I read wee hethen hye,
081 for I dare saye, and nothinge lye,
082 fullfilled is Balahams prophecye;
083 by this wee maye well knowe.

Tunc reges iterum genua flectent, et Angelus portans stellam.

084 PRIMUS REX. Yea, lest this bee some fantasye
085 yett praye we all speciallye;
086 for if hee bee borne verelye
087 more sygnes he will us shewe.

088 ANGELUS. Ryse up, yee kinges three,
089 and commys anone after mee
090 into the land of Judee
091 as fast as yee may hye.
092 The chyld yee seeke there shall yee see,
093 borne all of a mayden free,
094 that kinge of heaven and yearth shalbee
095 and all mankynde forbye.

Here the kinges ryse up.

096 PRIMUS REX. Lordes, hye wee heathen anone.
097 Nowe wee binne bydden theder gonne,
098 I will never hyde--by my bonne--
099 tyll I at him bee.

100 SECUNDUS REX. Yea, syrs, I read us everyechone
101 dromodaryes to ryde upon,
102 for swyfter beasts be there none.
103 One I have, ye shall see.

104 TERTIUS REX. A dromodarye, in good faye,
105 will goe lightly on his waye
106 an hundreth myles upon a daye;
107 such beasts nowe take wee.
108 PRIMUS REX. Lordes, and I leeve well maye
109 that child would shorten well our waye
110 that bringinge presentes to his paye,
111 and most is of degree.

Then goe downe to the beastes and ryde abowt.

112 PRIMUS REX. Alas, where is this starre iwent?
113 Our light from us awaye is glent.
114 Nowe wott I not where we bene lent,
115 nor whitherward lyes our waye.

116 SECUNDUS REX. Praye we to God with good intent,
117 to whome we bringe our present.
118 Hee will never suffer us to be shent;
119 that dare I bouldly saye.

120 TERTIUS REX. It is good that we enquire
121 if any the waye can us lere.
122 Saye, {belamye] that rydes there,
123 tell us some tydinge.

124 THE MESSINGER. Syr, tell me what your will were.

125 PRIMUS REX. Can thou ought saye what place or where
126 a child is borne that crowne shall beare
127 and of the Jewes bee kynge?

128 SECUNDUS REX. We see the starre shine verey
129 in the east in noble araye.
130 Therfore wee come nowe this waye
131 to worshippe him with wynne.

132 MESSINGER. Hould your peace, syrs, I you praye!
133 For if kinge Herode here you soe saye,
134 he would goe wood, by my faye,
135 and flye out of his skynne.

136 TERTIUS REX. And sythe a kinge is soe nere,
137 goe wee to him in all manere.

138 MESSINGER. Yee may well see hee wonnys here,
139 a pallace in to dwell.
140 But maye hee wott withowten were
141 that anye is borne of more powere,
142 you bringe yourselves in greate dangere
143 such tidinges for to tell.

Here the Messinger must goe to the kinge. Minstrells here must playe.

144 O noble kinge and worthye conqueroure,
145 crowned in gould, sittinge on hye,
146 Mahound thee save longe in honoure!
147 License I require to speake to thee.
148 Tidings now, my lord, I shall you tell
149 that these three kinge doe shewe unto mee.
150 From whense the binne I knowe not well;
151 yonder the stond, as yee may see.
152 PRIMUS REX. Syr roy, ryall and reverent,
153 Deu vous gard, omnipotent.

154 SECUNDUS REX. Nos summes veneus comoplent,
155 novelis de enquire.


156 HERODES. Bien soies venues, royes gent.
157 Me detes tout vetere entent.

158 TERTIUS REX. Infant querenues de grand parent,
159 et roy de celi et terre.

160 HERODES. Syrs, avise you what you sayne!
161 Such tydinges makes my harte unfayne.
162 I read you take those wordes agayne
163 for feare of velanye.
164 There is none soe great that me dare gayne,
165 to take my realme and to attayne
166 my power, but hee shall have payne
167 and punished appertlye.

168 I kinge of kinges, non soe keene;
169 I soveraigne syre, as well is seene;
170 I tyrant that maye both take and teene
171 castell, towre, and towne!

172 I weld this world withouten weene;
173 I beate all those unbuxone binne;
174 I drive the devils all bydeene
175 deepe in hell adowne.

176 For I am kinge of all mankynde;
177 I byd, I beate, I loose, I bynde;
178 I maister the moone. Take this in mynd--
179 that I am most of might.

180 I am the greatest above degree
181 that is, or was, or ever shalbe;
182 the sonne yt dare not shine on me
183 and I byd him goe downe.
184 Noe raigne to fall, shall non be free;
185 nor noe lord have that libertie
186 that dare abyde and I byd flee,
187 but I shall cracke his crowne.

188 Non farre nor neare that doth me nye--
189 whoe wrathes me I shall him nye;
190 for everye freake I dare defye
191 that nyll me paye ne plaese.
192 But ye be beane, I shall you beate;
193 there is noe man for you shall treate.
194 All for wrothe, see how I sweate!
195 My hart is not at ease.


196 For all men may wott and see--
197 both hee and you all three--
198 that I am kinge of Gallilee,
199 whatsoever he sayes or does.


200 What the deveil should this bee?
201 A boye, a growme of lowe degree,
202 should raygne above my ryalltee
203 and make me but a goose,

Cast up.

204 that ringes and raignes so riallye?
205 All grace and goodnes I have to give.
206 There is noe prince but hee shall plye
207 to doe my hartes ease.
208 But now you may both here and see
209 that I reconed up my rialtye.
210 I red you all be ruled by mee
211 and found mee for to please.


'Vidimus stellam eius in oriente et venimus cum muneribus adorare eum.'

213 Syr, wee see the starre appeare
214 in the east withouten were
215 in a merveilouse manere,
216 together as we cann praye.

217 SECUNDUS REX. Wee see never non soe cleare;
218 by it the waye we could lere.
219 But when we came to your land here
220 then vanished it awaye.

221 TERTIUS REX. By prophecye well wotten wee
222 that a child born should bee
223 to rule the people of Judee,
224 as was sayd many a yeare.

225 HERODES. That is false, by my lewtee,
226 for in mauger of you all three
227 this realme moves all of mee;
228 other kinges non shall be here.

229 But sythen you speake of prophecye,
230 I will witt anon in hie
231 whether yee saye sooth or lye--
232 my clarke soone shall see.
233 Syr Doctor, that cheife art of clergie,
234 looke up thy bookes of prophecye
235 of Daniell, David, and Isaye,
236 and what thou seest say thou mee.

237 These kinges be come a farre way
238 to seeke a child, I hard saye,
239 that should be borne in this cuntraye
240 my kingdome to destroye.
241 Seeke eych leafe, I thee praye,
242 and what thou findes in good faye
243 tell now here, for I dare laye
244 that all these lordes lye.

245 DOCTOR. Nay, my lord, bee ye bould;
246 I trowe noe prophetes before would
247 write anythinge your hart to could
248 or your right to denye.
249 But syth your grace at this tyme would
250 that I the prophets declare should,
251 of Christes comminge as they have tould,
252 the trueth to certyfle,
253 I beseech your ryall majestee
254 with patience of your benignitie
255 the trueth to here, and pardone mee
256 there sayenges to declare.

257 HERODES. Nay, my true clarke, that will not I
258 debate with thee; therfore in hye
259 looke well on everye prophecye.
260 For nothing that thou spare,

261 but search the trueth of Esaye,
262 Ezechiell, Nauum, and Jheremye,
263 Micheas, Abdias, and Zacharye,
264 of Christ what they doe saye.
265 Looke alsoe upon Malachye,
266 Aggeus, Oseas, and Sophonye,
267 Joell, Amos, and Abacuck in hye;
268 looke non be left awaye.

269 [DOCTOR].

'Non auferetur sceptrum de Juda et dux de foemore eius,
donec veniet qui mittendus est et erit ipse expectatio gentium.'
Genesis, quadragessimo nono.

The Holy Scripture maketh declaration
270 by patryarckes and prophettes of Christes nativitie,
271 when Jacob prophecied by playne demonstration,
272 sayde the realme of Juda and eke the regaltye
273 from that generation never taken should bee

274 untill hee were come that most mightye is,
275 sent from the Father, kinge of heavenly blys.

276 And now fulfilled is Jacobs prophecye;
277 for kinge Herode that is nowe rayninge
278 is noe Jewe borne nor of that progenye,
279 but a stranger by the Romans made there kinge;
280 and the Jewes knowe non of ther blood descendinge
281 by succession to claime the scepter and regaltye;
282 wherfore Christe is nowe borne our kinge and messye.


A bill.

That is false, by Mahound full of might!
284 That ould villard Jacob, doted for age,
285 shall withold by no prophecye the tytle and right
286 of Romans hye conquest which to mee in heritage
287 is fallen for ever, as prince of hye parentage.
288 If anye other kinge or messye intend it to wynne,
289 his head from his bodye with this sword shall I twynne.

Et dicat, 'Read one.'


'Cum venerit sancta sanctorum cessabit unctio vestra.'

Daniell, fulfilled with heavenly grace,
291 prophecied alsoe by divine inspiration
292 that when he was come that of all holye was
293 most holiest in yearth, to take his habitation
294 in the wombe of a virgin, and by his blessed incarnation
295 out of Sathans band to deliver mankynd
296 whom synne originall most pitiously did bynd--
297 then both unctions, sacrifices, and rittes ceremonyall
298 of the ould testament with legall observation
299 shall utterly cease and take there end fynall
300 through Christes commynge, which for mans salvation
301 a newe testament should ordayne by devine operation,
302 offeringe himselfe in sacrafice for mankyndes offence,
303 which from heaven was exiled through his greate negligence.

304 HERODES. Fye on that dreame-reader! Such dotardes never shall,
305 ney noe sleepie sluggard, make my right title cease.
306 But I shall knightlye keepe yt, whatsoever shall befall,
307 agaynst that yonge godlinge. And if hee ones doe presse
308 this kingdome to clayme, or put mee to distresse,
309 his head of shall I hewe. Yett looke yf thou finde there
310 wher this boye is borne for whom these kinges enquire.

311 [DOCTOR].

'Et tu Bethlem quidem terra Juda nequaquam minima es in principibus Judae.
Ex te enim exiet dux qui reget populum meum Israell.'
Michei quinto et Mathei secundo.

Micheas, inflamed with ghostly inspiration,
312 prophecied that Bethlem should a child forth bringe.
313 Ruler of Godes people and of the Jewes nation
314 should hee be borne, of Israell to be kinge.

315 Alsoe Esaye and Jheremye, full vertuous of beinge,
316 with divers others mo fulfilled with grace,
317 of Christes comminge prophecied while they were livinge.


'Ambulabunt gentes in lumine tuo et reges in splendore ortus tui.'
Esaui sexagessimo.

Esawe, to whom the spirit of prophecye
319 was singulerly given through the Holy Ghost,
320 in his tyme prophicied that kinges witterlye
321 and folkes of strange natyons and from sundrye coasts--
322 that princes death to magnifie, which of might is moste--
323 should walke in great light; and brightnes should apere,
324 as did unto these kinges in a bright starre shininge clere.


'Effundam super parvulum istum furorem meum et super consilium juvenum,
disperdam parvulos de fores, et juvenes in plateis morientur gladio meo.'

Alas, what presumption should move that pevish page
326 or any elvish godlinge to take from me my crowne?

Cast downe the sword.

327 But, by Mahound, that boye for all his greate outrage
328 shall die under my hand, that elfe and vile [congion].
329 And all his pertakers I shall slea and beate downe,
330 and both of him and his finall distruction make.
331 Such vengeance and eke crueltye on them all will I take

332 that non such a slaughter was seene or hard before,
333 syth Athalia here raigned, that fell and furiouse queene,
334 that made slea all men children that of kinges blood were
335 when her soone was dead. So for to wreake my teene
336 I shall hewe that harlott with my bright brond so keene
337 into peeces smale. Yett looke and search agayne
338 if these kinges shall him finde and his presence attayne.


'Reges Tharsis et Insule munera offerent;
reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent.' [Psalmo] septuagesimo primo.

David, of all prophettes called most prepotent,
340 prophecied that kinges of Tharsis and Arabye
341 with misticall giftes shall come and presente
342 that lord and prince, that kinge and hye messye,
343 of Abrahams seede descendinge lineallye--
344 which kinges with great treasure here in presence,
345 to seeke him as soverraigne and lawde his magnificence.

346 My lord, by prophecie is proved you beforne
347 that in Bethiem should bee borne
348 a child to save that was forlorne
349 and rule all Israell.


Breake a sword.

By cockes sowle, thou art forsworne!
351 Have donne! Those bookes were rent and torne.
352 For hee shalbe noe kinge in crowne,
353 but I fullye in my weale.

354 And maugard David, that sheppard with his slinge,
355 Esaye, Jheremye, with all there osspringe,
356 here gett noe other messye or kynge
357 from my right title to expell.

Cast up.

358 What a devill is this to saye:
359 that I should be disproved and put awaye--
360 syth my right is soe verey--
361 for a boyes boast?
362 This realme is myne and shalbe aye,
363 manfullye maynteane yt while I may,
364 though hee bringe with him todaye
365 the devill and all his hoaste.

Cast up.

366 But goes you forth, you kinges three,
367 and enquire if it soe bee.
368 But algates come agayne by mee,
369 for you I thinke to feede.
370 And if hee bee of such degree,
371 him will I honour as donne yee,
372 as falles for his dignitie
373 in word, thought, and deede.

374 PRIMUS REX. By your leave, syr, and have good daye,
375 tyll we come agayne this waye.
376 SECUNDUS REX. Syr, as sonne as ever wee maye;
377 and as we seene, soe shall wee saye.

378 TERTIUS REX. And of his riches and his araye
379 from you wee shall not layne.

380 HERODES. Farewell, lordes, in good faye;
381 but hye you fast agayne.

The boye and pigge when they kinges are gonne.

382 Owt, alas, what the divell is this?
383 For shame almost I fare amysse
384 for was I never soe woe, iwisse;
385 for wrath I am nere wood.
386 For everye man may well say thus--
387 that I maynteane my realme amysse,
388 to lett a boye inherite my blys
389 that never was of my blood.


390 But yett the lasse it greivouse mee
391 that I lett goe those kinges three;
392 for I shall knowe nowe which is hee
393 when the commen agayne.
394 Then will they tell mee in what contrey
395 that this boye then borne is hee;
396 then shalbe taken both they and hee,
397 and that will make mee fayne.


398 By cockes sowle, come they agayne
399 all three traytors shall bee slayne,
400 and that ylke swedlinge swayne--
401 I shall choppe of his head.
402 Godes grace shall them not gayne,
403 nor noe prophecye save them from payne.
404 That rocked rybauld, and I may rayne,
405 rufully shalbe his reade.

406 By Mahound full of mightes,
407 tomorrowe I will send after my knightes
408 to rule my realme and my rightes
409 agaynst this boyes boaste,
410 and rayse the contrye one everye syde,
411 all that ever may goe or ryde.
412 Soe shall this boye loose his pryde,
413 for all his greatest hoste.

414 This boye doth mee soe greatly anoye
415 that I wax dull and pure drye.
416 Have done and fill the wyne in hye;
417 I dye but I have drinke!
418 Fill fast and lett the cuppes flye,
419 and goe wee heathen hastelye;
420 for I must ordeyne curiouslye
421 agaynst these kynges comminge.

422 Finis

© Copyright, 2007. From Stage to Page and Gerard NeCastro. All Rights Reserved.

All materials on this page are free to all users. We only ask two things of you. First, please be sure to cite the source properly: the citation is listed below. Second, if you would, please take one minute to say hello and tell us that you are using the pages: a quick email to would be perfect.

Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. The Chester Cycle Play VIII (8) - The Magi and Herod. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. Date Visited.