From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

N-Town Cycle, Play 3 - Cain's Murder of Abel

1 ABEEL I wolde fayn knowe how I xuld do
2 To serve my Lord God to his plesyng.
3 þerfore, Caym, brother, lete us now go
4 Vnto oure fadyr withowte lettyng,

5 Suenge hym in vertu and in norture
6 To com to be hy3e joy celestyall;
7 Remembryng to be clene and pure,
8 For in mysrewle we myth lythly fall
9 A3ens Hevyn Kynge.
10 Lete us now don oure dyligens
11 To come to oure faderys presens.
12 Good brother, passe we hens
13 To knowe for oure levynge.

14 CAYM As to my fadyr lete us now tee
15 To knowe what xal be his talkyng.
16 And yet I holde it but vanyté
17 To go to hym for any spekyng
18 To lere of his lawe.
19 For if I haue good anow plenté,
20 I kan be mery, so moty the.
21 Thow my fadyr I nevyr se,
22 I 3yf not þerof an hawe!

23 ABEL Ryth sovereyn fadyr, semely, sad and sure,
24 Euyr we thank 3ow in hert, body, and thowth,
25 And alwey shull whyll oure lyf may indure
26 As inwardly in hert it kan be sought,
27 Bothe my brother and I.
28 Fadyr, I falle onto 3oure kne
29 To knowe how we xul rewlyd be
30 For godys þat fallyth bothe hym and me;
31 I wolde fayn wete trewly.

32 ADAM Sonys, 3e arn, to spekyn naturaly,
33 The fyrst frute of kendely engendrure,
34 Befforn whom, saff 3oure modyr and I,
35 Were nevyr non of mannys nature.
36 And 3it were we al of another portature,
37 As 3e haue me oftyn herd seyd sothly.
38 Wherfore, sonys, yf 3e wyl lyff sad and sure,
39 Fyrst I 3ow counseyll most syngulerly
40 God for to loue and drede.
41 And suche good as God hath 3ow sent,
42 The fyrst frute offyr to hym in sacryfice brent,
43 Hym evyr besechyng with meke entent
44 In all 3oure werkys to save and spede.

45 ABEELL Gramercy, fadyr, for 3oure good doctrine;
46 For as 3e vs techyn, so xal we do.
47 And as for me, borwe Goddys grace dyvyne,
48 I wyl forthwith applye me þerto.
49 CAYME And þow me be loth, I wyl now also
50 Onto 3oure counsell, fadyr, me inclyne.
51 And 3itt I say now to 3ow both too,
52 I had levyr gon hom, well for to dyne!

53 ADAM Now God graunt good sacryfice to 3ow both too.
54 He vowchesaff to acceptyn 3ow and all myne,
55 And 3eve 3ow now grace to plesyn hym soo
56 þat 3e may come to þat blysse þat hymself is inne
57 With gostly grace;
58 þat all 3oure here-levyng
59 May be to his plesyng,
60 And at 3oure hens-partyng
61 To com to good place.

Abell dicit:

62 Almyhtty God and God ful of myth
63 Be whom allþing is made of nowth,
64 To þe myn hert is redy dyht,
65 For upon þe is all my thought.

66 O souereyn Lord reygnyng in eternnyté,
67 With all þe mekenesse þat I kan or may,
68 This lombe xal I offre it up to the;
69 Accept it, blyssyd Lord, I þe pray.
70 My 3yft is but sympyl, þis is no nay,
71 But my wyl is good, and evyr xal be;
72 þe to servyn and worchepyn both nyht and day.
73 And þerto þi grace, Lord, grawnt þu me
74 Throwh þi gret mercy;
75 Which, in a lombys lyknes,
76 þu xalt for mannys wyckydnes
77 Onys ben offeryd in peynfulnes
78 And deyn ful dolfoly.

79 For trewly, Lord, þu art most worthy
80 þe best to haue in eche degre.
81 Both beste and werst, ful certeynly,
82 All is had þorwe grace of þe.
83 The best schep, full hertyly,
84 Amongys my flok þat I kan se,
85 I tythe it to God of gret mercy,
86 And bettyr wolde if bettyr myht be.
87 Evyn here is myn offryng.
88 I tythe to be with ryht good wylle
89 Of be best þu sentyst me tylle.
90 Now, gracyous God on hevyn hille,
91 Accept now my tythyng.

92 CAYM Amongys all folys þat gon on grownd
93 I holde þat þu be on of þe most,
94 To tythe þe best þat is most sownd,
95 And kepe þe werst, þat is nere lost.
96 But I more wysly xal werke þis stownde
97 To tythe þe werst--and make no bost--
98 Off all my cornys þat may be fownde
99 In all my feldys, both crofte and cost;
100 I xal lokyn on every syde.
101 Here I tythe þis vnthende sheff;
102 Lete God take it or ellys lef.
103 þow it be to me gret repreff,
104 I 3eve no fors þis tyde.

105 ABELL Now, Caym, brother, þu dost ful ill,
106 For God be sent both best and werst.
107 þerfore þu shewe to hym good wyll
108 And tythe to God evyr of the best.
109 CAYM In feyth, þu shewyst now a febyll skyll,
110 It wolde me hyndyr and do me greff.
111 What were God be bettyr, þu sey me tyll,
112 To 3evyn hym awey my best sheff
113 And kepe myself þe wers?
114 He wyll neyther ete nor drynke,
115 For he doth neyther swete nor swynke.
116 þu shewyst a febyl reson, methynke.
117 What! þu fonnyst as a best, I gesse.

118 ABELL 3it methynkyth my wyt is good
119 To God euyrmore sum loue to shewe,
120 Off whom we haue oure dayly food;
121 And ellys we had but lytyl drewe.
122 CAYM 3itt methynkeht þi wytt is wood,
123 For of þi lore I fynde but fewe.
124 I wyll neuyr þe more chawnge my mood
125 For no wordys þat þu dost shewe.
126 I sey I wyll tythe þe werst.
127 ABELL Now God þat syt in hefne aboue,
128 On whom is sett all myn hool loue,
129 þis wyckyd wyll from þe he showe,
130 As it plesyth hym best.

Hic ardent decimum Abel, et Caym quo facto dicit:

131 CAYM Herke, Abel, brother, what aray is þis?
132 Thy tythyng brennyth as fyre ful bryght!
133 It is to me gret wondyr, iwys!
134 I trow þis is now a straunge syght.
135 ABELL Goddys wyll, forsothe, it is
136 þat my tythyng with fyre is lyth;
137 For of þe best were my tythis,
138 And of be werst þu dedyst hym dyght--
139 Bad thyng þu hym bede.
140 Of þe best was my tythyng,
141 And of þe werst was þin offryng.
142 þerfor God Almyghty, Hevyn Kyng,
143 Alowyht ryht nowth þi dede.

144 CAYM What! þu stynkyng losel, and is it so?
145 Doth God þe love and hatyht me?
146 þu xalt be ded, I xal be slo!
147 þi Lord, þi God, þu xalt nevyr se!
148 Tythyng more xalt þu nevyr do.
149 With þis chavyl bon I xal sle þe!
150 þi deth is dyht, þi days be go.
151 Out of myn handys xalt þu not fle--
152 With þis strok I þe kylle!
153 Now þis boy is slayn and dede,
154 Of hym I xal nevyrmore han drede;
155 He xal hereafter nevyr ete brede.
156 With þis gresse I xal hym hylle.

157 DEUS. Caym, come forth and answere me!
158 Asoyle my qwestyon anon-ryght!
159 Thy brother Abel, wher is now he?
160 Ha don and answere me as tyght!
161 CAYM My brothers kepere ho made me?
162 Syn whan was I his kepyng-knyght?
163 I kannot telle wher þat he be;
164 To kepe hym was I nevyr dyght.
165 I knowe not wher he is.
166 DEUS. A, cursyd Caym, þu art vntrewe,
167 And for þi dede þu xalt sore rewe.
168 þi brothers blood, þat þu slewe,
169 Askyht vengeauns of þi mys.

170 Thu xalt be cursyd on þe grounde,
171 Vnprophitable whereso þu wende,
172 Both veyn, and nowthty, and nothyng sounde;
173 With what ring þu medele, þu xalt it shende!
174 CAYM Alas, in whoo now am I wounde,
175 Acursyd of God as man vnkende!
176 Of any man yf I be founde,
177 He xal me slo; I haue no frende!
178 Alas and weleaway!

179 DEUS. Of what man þat þu be sclayn,
180 He xal haue vij-folde more payn;
181 Hym were bettyr [nevyr] to be sayn
182 On lyve be nyth ne day.

183 CAYM Alas! Alas! Whedyr may I go?
184 I dare nevyr se man in þe vesage.
185 I am woundyn as a wrecch in wo
186 And cursyd of God for my falsage.
187 Vnprofytabyl and vayn also,
188 In felde and town, in strete and stage,
189 I may nevyr make merthis mo.
190 I wot nevyr whedyr to take passage;
191 I dare not here abyde.
192 Now wyl I go wende my way
193 With sore syeng and welaway,
194 To loke where þat I best may
195 From mannys ssyht me hyde.

Introitus Noe

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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. N-Town Cycle, Play 3 - Cain's Murder of Abel. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama. Date Visited.