From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

N-Town Cycle Play 10 - The Marriage of Mary and Joseph

Tunc venit Abysakar Episcopus

1 [EPISCOPUS] Listenyth, lordyngys bothe hye and lowe,
2 And tendyrly takyth heyd onto my sawe.
3 Beth buxom and benyngne 3oure busshopp to knowe,
4 For I am þat lord þat made þis lawe.
5 With hertys so hende herkyn nowe:
6 3oure damyselys to weddyng, 3a, loke þat 3e drawe,
7 þat passyn xiiij 3ere, for what þat 3e owe.
8 þe lawe of God byddyth þis sawe:
9 þat at xiiij 3ere of age
10 Euery damesel, whatso sche be,
11 To þe encrese of more plenté,
12 Xulde be browght in good degré
13 Onto here spowsage.

14 JOACHYM Herke now, Anne, my jentyl spowse,
15 How þat þe buschop his lawe hath tolde,
16 þat what man hath a dowtyr in his house
17 þat passyth xiiij 3erys olde,
18 He muste here brynge, I herde hym rowse,
19 Into þe tempyl a spowse to wedde.
20 Wherfor oure dowtyr ryth good and dowse,
21 Into þe tempyl sche must be ledde,
22 And þat anoon-ryght sone.

23 ANNE Sere, I grawnt þat it be so.
24 A3en þe lawe may we not do.
25 With here togedyr lete us now go,
26 I hold it ryght weyl done.

27 JOACHYM Sere busshopp, here aftyr þin owyn hest
28 We haue here brought oure dowtyr dere,
29 Mary, my swete childe; she is ful prest,
30 Of age she is ful xiiij 3ere.

31 EPISCOPUS Welcome, Joachym, onto myn areste,
32 Bothe Anne þi wyff and Mary clere.
33 Now, Mary chylde, to þe lawe þu leste
34 And chese þe a spowse to be þi fere--
35 þat lawe þu must fullfylle.
36 MARIA A3ens þe lawe wyl I nevyr be,
37 But mannys felachep xal nevyr folwe me.
38 I wyl levyn evyr in chastyté
39 Be þe grace of Goddys wylle.

40 EPISCOPUS A, fayre mayde, why seyst þu so?
41 What menyth the for to levyn chast?
42 Why wylt þu not to weddyng go?
43 þe cawse þu telle me, and þat in hast!

44 MARIA My fadyr and my modyr, sertys, also,
45 Er I was born, 3e may me trast,
46 Thei were bothe bareyn, here frute was do;
47 They come to þe tempyl at þe last
48 To do here sacryfice.
49 Bycause they hadde nothyr frute nere chylde,
50 Reprevyd þei wore of wykkyd and wyllde.
51 With grett shame þei were revylyd,
52 Al men dede them dyspyce.

53 My fadyr and my modyr, thei wepte full sore.
54 Ful hevy here hertys wern of þis dede.
55 With wepynge eyn þei preyd, þerfore,
56 þat God wolde socowre hem and sende hem sede.
57 Iff God wold graunt hem a childe be bore,
58 They behest þe chylde here lyff xulde lede
59 In Goddys temple to serve evyrmore,
60 And wurchep God in loue and drede.
61 Than God, ful of grace,
62 He herd here longe prayour,
63 And þan sent hem both seed and flowre.
64 Whan I was born in here bowre,
65 To þe temple offryd I was.

66 Whan þat I was to þe temple brought
67 And offerde up to God above,
68 Ther hestyd I, as myn hert thought,
69 To serve my God with hertyly love.
70 Clennesse and chastyté myn hert owth
71 Erthely creature nevyr may shoue.
72 Such clene lyff xuld 3e nouht
73 In no maner wyse reprove.
74 To þis clennesse I me take.
75 This is þe cawse, as I 3ow tell,
76 þat I with man wyll nevyr mell!
77 In þe servyse of God wyl I evyr dwell--
78 I wyl nevyr haue other make.

79 EPISCOPUS A, mercy, God, þese wordys wyse
80 Of þis fayr mayde clene,
81 Thei trobyl myn hert in many wyse--
82 Her wytt is grett, and þat is sene!
83 In clennes to levyn in Godys servise
84 No man here blame, non here tene.
85 And 3it in lawe þus it lyce,
86 þat such weddyd xulde bene.
87 Who xal expownd þis oute?
88 þe lawe doth after lyff of clennes;
89 þe lawe doth bydde such maydenes expres
90 þat to spowsyng they xulde hem dres.
91 God help us in þis dowhte!

92 This ansuere grettly trobelyth me.
93 To mak a vow, to creaturys it is lefful--
94 Vovete et reddite in Scripture haue we--
95 And to observe oure lawe also it is nedful.
96 In þis to dyscerne, to me it is dredful.
97 þerfore, to cow[n]cell me in þis cas I calle
98 þe holde and þe wyse, and swiche as ben spedful.
99 In þis sey 3oure avyse, I besech 3ow alle.

100 MINISTER To breke oure lawe and custom it wore hard indede;
101 And on þat other syde, to do a3en Scrypture.
102 To 3eve sentens in þis degré 3e must take goo[d] hede,
103 For dowteles þis matere is dyffuse and obscure.
104 Myn avyse here in þis, I 3ow ensure:
105 þat we prey all God to haue relacyon;
106 For be prayour grett knowlech men recure,
107 And to þis I counsell 3ow to 3eve assygnacyon.

108 EPISCOPUS Trewly 3oure counsel! is ryght good and eylsum,
109 And as 3e han seyd, so xal it be.
110 I charge 3ow, bretheryn and systerys, hedyr 3e com,
111 And togedyr to God now pray we
112 That it may plese his fynyte deyte
113 Knowleche in þis to sendyn vs.
114 Mekely eche man falle down on kne
115 And we xal begynne "Veni Creator Spiritus."

Et hic cantent "Veni Creator"

And whan "Veni Creator" is don þe buschop xal [seyn]:

116 [EPISCOPUS] Now, Lord God, of lordys wysest of alle,
117 I pray þe, Lorde, knelynge on kne;
118 With carcfull herte I crye and calle,
119 þis dowteful dowte enforme þu me.
120 ANGELUS Thy prayour is herd to hy3 hevyn halle.
121 God hath me sent here down to the
122 To telle þe what þat þu do xalle,
123 And how þu xalt be rewlyd in iche degré.
124 Take tent and vndyrstond:
125 This is Goddys owyn byddyng,
126 þat all kynsmen of Dauyd be kyng
127 To þe temple xul brynge here du offryng
128 With whyte 3ardys in þer honde.

129 Loke wele what tyme þei offere there
130 All here 3ardys in þin hand þu take;
131 Take heed whose 3erde doth blome and here,
132 And he xal be þe maydenys make.
133 EPISCOPUS I thank þe, Lord, with mylde chere.
134 Thi wurde xal I werkyn withowtyn wrake.
135 I xal send for hem bothyn fer and nere;
136 To werke þi wyl I vndyrtake.
137 Anon it xal be do.
138 Herk, masangere, þu wend þi way;
139 Dauyd kynsmen, as I þe say,
140 Byd hem come offyr þis same day,
141 And brynge white 3ardys also.

142 NUNCIUS Oy! Al maner men, takyth to me tent
143 That be owgth of kynrede to Dauid þe kyng!
144 My lord þe busshop hath for 3ow sent,
145 To þe temple þat 3e come with 3oure offryng.

146 He chargight þat 3e hast 3ow, for he is redy bent
147 3ow to receyve at 3oure comyng.
148 He byddyth 3ow ferthermore in handys þat 3e hent
149 A fayre white 3erde everych of 3ow 3e bryng
150 In hyght.
151 Tary not, I pray 3ow,
152 My lord, as I say 3ow,
153 Now to receyve 3ow
154 Is full redy dyght.

155 JOSEPH In gret labore my lyff I lede,
156 Myn ocupasyoun lyth in many place.
157 For febylnesse of age my jorney I may nat spede.
158 I thank the, gret God, of thi grace.
159 PRIMUS GENERACIONIS DAUID What chere, Joseph? What ys the case
160 That ye lye here on this ground?
161 JOSEPH Age and febylnesse doth me enbrase,
162 That I may nother well goo ne stond.

163 SECUNDUS GENERACIO[NIS DAUID] We be commandyd be the beschoppys sond
164 That euery man of Dauyd kynrede
165 In the tempyll offyr a wond;
166 Therfor in this jorney let vs procede.
167 JOSEPH Me to traveyll yt is no nede.
168 I prey you, frendys, go forth youre wey.
169 TERCIUS GENERACION[IS DAUID] Yis, com forth, Joseph, I you rede,
170 And knowyth what the buschop woll sey.

171 QUARTUS GENER[ACIONIS DAUID] Ther ys a mayd whos name ys clepyd Mary
172 Doughter to Joachym as it is told.
173 Here to mary thei woll asay
174 To som man dowty and bold.

175 JOSEPH Benedicité! I cannot vndyrstande
176 What oure prince of prestys doth men,
177 þat every man xuld come and brynge with hym a whande.
178 Abyl to be maryed, þat is not I, so mote I then!
179 I haue be maydon evyr and evyrmore wele ben,
180 I chaungyd not 3et of all my long lyff!
181 And now to be maryed? Sum man wold wen
182 It is a straunge thynge an old man to take a 3onge wyff!

183 But nevyrþelesse, no doute, of we must forth to towne.
184 Now, neyborys and kynnysmen, lete us forth go.
185 I xal take a wand in my hand and cast of my gowne.
186 Yf I falle þan I xalle gronyn for wo!
187 Hoso take away my staff I say he were my fo!
188 3e be men þat may wele ren, go 3e before.
189 I am old and also colde, walkyng doth me wo.
190 þerfore now wol[d]e I, so my staff holde I, þis jurny to wore.

191 EPISCOPUS Serys, 3e xal vndyrstande
192 þat þis is þe cawse of oure comynge,
193 And why þat ech of 3ow bryngyth a wande:
194 For of God we haue knowynge
195 Here is to be maryde a mayde 3ynge.
196 All 3oure roddys 3e xal brynge vp to me,
197 And on hese rodde þat þe Holy Gost is syttynge,
198 He xal þe husbond of þis may be.

Hic portent virgas

199 JOSEPH It xal not be [I], I ley a grote!
200 I xal abyde behynde preuyly.
201 Now wolde God I were at hom in my cote!
202 I am aschamyd to be seyn, veryly.

203 PRIMUS GENERACIONIS DAUIDTo wurchep my Lord God hedyr am I come
204 Here for to offyr my dewe offrynge.
205 A fayr white 3arde in hand haue I nome,
206 My lord, sere busshop, at 3oure byddynge.

207 SECUNDUS GENERACIONIS DAUID Off Dauythis kynred, sertys, am I com.
208 A fayr white 3arde in hand now I bryng.
209 My lord þe busshop, after 3oure owy[n] dom
210 þis 3arde do I offre at 3oure chargyng
211 Ryht here.
212 TERCIUS GENERACIONIS DAUID And I a 3arde haue both fayr and whyght;
213 Here in myn hond it is redy dyght,
214 And here I offre it forth within syght,
215 Ryght in good manere.

216 QUARTUS GENERACIONIS DAUIDI am þe fourte of Dauidis kyn,
217 And with myn offrynge my God I honoure.
218 þis fayr whyte 3arde is offryng myn;
219 I trost in God of sum socoure.
220 Com on, Joseph, with offrynge þin,
221 And brynge up þin as we han oure.
222 þu taryst ryth longe behynde, certeyn!
223 Why comyst not forth to Goddys toure?
224 Com on, man, for shame!
225 JOSEPH Com? 3a! 3a! God help! Full fayn I wolde,
226 But I am so agyd and so olde
227 þat both myn leggys gyn to folde--
228 I am ny almost lame!

229 EPISCOPUS A, mercy, Lord, I kan no sygne aspy.
230 It is best we go ageyn to prayr.
231 VOX He brought not up his rodde 3et, trewly,
232 To whom þe mayd howyth to be maryed her.

233 EPISCOPUS Whath! Joseph, why stande 3e there byhynde?
234 Iwys, sere, 3e be to blame!
235 JOSEPH Sere, I kannot my rodde fynde.
236 To come fer, in trowth, methynkyht shame.
237 EPISCOPUS Comyth thens!
238 JOSEPH Sere, he may euyl go þat is ner lame--
239 In soth, I com as fast as I may!
240 EPISCOPUS Offyr up 3oure rodde, sere, in Goddys name.
241 Why do 3e not as men 3ow pray?

242 JOSEPH Now in þe wurchep of God of hevyn
243 I offyr þis 3erde as bely-whyte,
244 Prayng þat Lord of gracyous stewyn
245 With hert, with wytt, with mayn, with myght.
246 And as he made þe sterrys seven,
247 þis sympyl offrynge þat is so lyght
248 To his wurchep he weldygh evyn,
249 For to his wurchep þis 3erd is dyght.
250 Lord God, I þe pray,
251 To my herte þu take good hede,
252 And nothynge to my synful dede;
253 Aftyr my wyl þu qwyte my mede
254 As plesyth to þi pay.

255 I may not lyfte myn handys heye!
256 Lo. Lo. Lo! What se 3e now?
257 EPISCOPUS A, Mercy! Mercy! Mercy, Lord, we crye!
258 þe blyssyd of God we se art thou.

Et clamant omnes "Mercy! Mercy!"

259 [EPISCOPUS] A, gracyous God in hevyn trone,
260 Ryht wundyrful þi werkys be!
261 Here may we se a merveyl one:
262 A ded stok beryth flourys fre!
263 Joseph, in hert withoutyn mone,
264 þu mayst be blyth with game and gle.
265 A mayd to wedde þu must gone
266 Be þis meracle I do wel se.
267 Mary is here name.
268 JOSEPH What! Xuld I wedde? God forbede!
269 I am an old man, so God me spede!
270 And with a wyff now to levyn in drede,
271 It wore neyther sport nere game!

272 EPISCOPUS A3ens God, Joseph, þu mayst not stryve.
273 God wyl þat þu a wyff haue;
274 þis fayr mayde xal be þi wyve,
275 She is buxum and whyte as laue.
276 JOSEPH A! Shuld I haue here? 3e lese my lyff!
277 Alas, dere God, xuld I now rave?
278 An old man may nevyr thryff
279 With a 3onge wyff, so God me saue.
280 Nay, nay, sere, lett bene!
281 Xuld I now in age begynne to dote?
282 If I here chyde she wolde clowte my cote,
283 Blere myn ey, and pyke out a mote!
284 And þus oftyntymes it is sene.

285 EPISCOPUS Joseph, now as I þe saye,
286 God hath assygnyd here to þe.
287 þat God wol haue do, sey þu not nay--
288 Oure Lord God wyl þat it [so be].
289 JOSEPH A3ens my God not do I may.
290 Here wardeyn and kepere wyl I evyr be.
291 But, fayr maydon, I þe pray,
292 Kepe þe clene as I xal me--
293 I am a man of age!
294 Therfore, sere busshop, I wyl þat 3e wete
295 þat in bedde we xul nevyr mete,
296 For, iwys, mayden suete,
297 An old man may not rage.

298 EPISCOPUS This holyest virgyn xalt þu maryn now.
299 3oure rodde floreschyth fayrest þat man may se.
300 þe Holy Gost, we se, syttyht on a bow.
301 Now 3elde we all preysyng to þe Trenyté.

Et hic cantent "Benedicta sit beata Trinitas"

302 Joseph, wole 3e haue þis maydon to 3oure wyff
303 And here honour and kepe as 3e howe to do?
304 JOSEPH Nay, sere, so mote I thryff!
305 I haue ryght no nede þerto!
306 EPISCOPUS Joseph, it is Goddys wyl it xuld be so.
307 Sey aftyr me as it is skyl.
308 JOSEPH Sere, and to performe his wyl I bow þerto,
309 For allthynge owyght to ben at his wyl.
310 [EPISCOPUS] Sey þan after me:

Episcopus et idem Joseph:

"Here I take þe, Mary, to wyff,
311 To hauyn, to holdyn, as God his wyll with us wyl make.
312 And as longe as bethwen us lestyght oure lyff
313 To loue 3ow as myself my trewth I 3ow take."

Nunc ad Mariam sic dicens Episcopus:

314 [EPISCOPUS] Mary, wole 3e haue þis man,
315 And hym to kepyn as 3oure lyff?

316 MARIA In þe tenderest wyse, fadyr, as I kan,
317 And with all my wyttys fyff.

318 EPISCOPUS Joseph, with þis ryng now wedde þi wyff,
319 And be here hand now þu here take.
320 JOSEPH Sere, with þis rynge I wedde here ryff,
321 And take here now here for my make.
322 EPISCOPUS Mary, mayd, withoutyn more stryff
323 Onto þi spowse þu hast hym take.
324 MARIA In chastyté to ledyn my lyff
325 I xal hym nevyr forsake,
326 But evyr with hym abyde.
327 And, jentyll spowse, as 3e an seyd,
328 Lete me levyn as a clene mayd;
329 I xal be trewe, be not dysmayd,
330 Both terme, tyme, and tyde.

331 EPISCOPUS Here is þe holyest matremony þat evyr was in þis werd!
332 þe hy3 names of oure Lord we wole now syng hy.
333 We all wole þis solempn dede record
334 Devowtly: Alma chorus Domini nunc pangat nomina Summi.

335 Now goth hom all, in Godys name,
336 Whereas 3oure wonyng was before.
337 Maydenys, to lete here go alone it wore shame,
338 It wold hevy 3oure hertys sore.
339 3e xal bbysse þe tyme þat sche was bore.
340 Now loke 3e at hom here brynge.
341 MARIA To haue 3oure blyssyng, fadyr, I falle 3ow before.
342 EPISCOPUS He blysse 3ow þat hath non hendyng
343 In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.

344 Joseph, þiselph art old of age
345 And þi wyff of age is 3onge;
346 And as we redyn in old sage,
347 Many man is sclepyr of tonge.
348 þerfore, euyl langage for to swage,
349 þat 3oure good fame may leste longe,
350 Iij damysellys xul dwelle with 3ow in stage,
351 With þi wyff to be evyrmore amonge.
352 I xal these iij here take:
353 Susanne þe fyrst xal be,
354 Rebecca, þe secunde, xal go with the,
355 Sephore, þe thrydde; loke þat 3e thre
356 þis maydon nevyr 3e forsake.

357 SUSANNE Sere, I am redy art 3oure wyll
358 With þis maydon for to wende.
359 REBECCA 3oure byddyng, sere, [I] xall fulffyl
360 And folwe þis maydon fayr and hende.
361 SEPHOR To folwe hyre it is good skyl,
362 And to 3oure byddynge wole I bende.
363 JOSEPH Now, sere buschop, hens go I wyl,
364 For now comyth onto my mende
365 A matere þat nedful is.
366 EPISCOPUS Farewel, Joseph and Mary clere,
367 I pray God kepe 3ow all in fere
368 And sende 3ow grace in good manere
369 To serve þe Kynge of Blysse.

370 MARIA Fadyr and modyr, 3e knowe þis cas
371 How þat it doth now stonde with me:
372 With myn spowse I must forth passe,
373 And wott nevyr whan I xal 3ow se.
374 Therfore I pray 3ow here in þis plas
375 Of 3oure blyssynge, for charyté,
376 And I xal spede þe betyr and haue more gras
377 In what place þat evyr I be.
378 On knes to 3ow I falle.
379 I pray 3ow, fadyr and modyr dere,
380 To blysse 3oure owyn dere dowtere
381 And pray for me in all manere,
382 And I for 3ow all.

383 JOACHYM Almyghty God, he mote þe blysse,
384 And my blyssynge þu haue also.
385 In all godnesse God þe wysse
386 On londe or on watyr, wherevyr þu go.
387 ANNA Now God þe kepe from every mysse
388 And saue þe sownd in welth from wo.
389 I pray þe, dowtyr, þu onys me kys
390 Or þat þi modyr parte þe fro.
391 I pray to God þe saue.
392 I pray fe, Mary, my swete chylde,
393 Be lowe and buxhum, meke and mylde,
394 Sad and sobyr, and nothyng wylde,
395 And Goddys blyssynge þu haue.

396 JOACHYM F[a]rwel, Joseph, and God 3ow spede
397 Wherso 3e be, in halle or boure.
398 JOSEPH Almyghiy God 3oure weys lede
399 And saue 3ow sownd from all doloure.
400 ANNA Goddys grace on 3ow sprede.
401 Farewel, Mary, my swete flowre.
402 Fareweyl, Joseph, and God 3ow rede.
403 Fareweyl, my chylde and my tresowre,
404 Farewel, my dowtere 3yng.
405 MARIA Farewel, fadyr and modyr dere,
406 At 3ow I take my leve ryght here.
407 God þat sytt in hevyn so clere
408 Haue 3ow in his kepyng.

409 JOSEPH Wyff, it is ful necessary þis 3e knowe,
410 þat I and my kynrede go hom before.
411 For in soth we haue non hous of oure owe;
412 þerfore I xal gon ordeyn and thanne come 3ow fore.

413 We ar not ryche of werdly thynge,
414 And 3et of oure sustenauns we xal not mys.
415 Therfore abydyth here stylle to 3oure plesynge;
416 To worchep 3oure God is all 3oure blysse.

417 He þat is and evyr xal be
418 Of hefne and helle ryche kynge
419 In erth hath chosyn poverté,
420 And all ryches and welthis refusynge.
421 MARIA Goth, husbond, in oure Lordys blyssynge;
422 He mote 3ow spede in all 3oure nede.
423 And I xal here abyde 3oure a3encomynge
424 And on my Sawtere-book I xal rede.

425 Now blyssyd be oure Lord for this.
426 Of hefne and erthe and all þat beryth lyff
427 I am most bound to 3ow, Lord, iwys,
428 For now I am bothe mayde and wyff.

429 Now, Lord God, dysspose me to prayour
430 þat I may sey þe holy psalmes of Dauyth,
431 Wheche book is clepyd þe Sawtere,
432 þat I may preyse the, my God, þerwith.
433 Off þe vertuys þerof þis is þe pygth;
434 It makyht sowles fayr þat doth it say;
435 Angelys be steryd to help us þerwith;
436 It bytenyth therkeness and puttyth develys away.

437 þe song of psalmus is Goddys deté,
438 Synne is put awey þerby.
439 It lernyth a man vertuysful to be,
440 It feryth mannys herte gostly.
441 Who þat it vsyth custommably,
442 It claryfieth þe herte and charyté makyth cowthe.
443 He may not faylen of Goddys mercy
444 þat hath þe preysenge of God evyr in his mowthe.

445 O holy psalmys, O holy book,
446 Swetter to say than any ony,
447 þu lernyst hem love Lord þat on þe look,
448 And makyst hem desyre thyngys celestly.
449 With these halwyd psalmys, Lord, I pray the specyaly
450 For all þe creatures qwyke and dede,
451 þat þu wylt shewe to hem þi mercy,
452 And to me specyaly þat do it rede.

453 I haue seyd sum of my Sawtere and here I am
454 At þis holy psalme indede.
455 Benedixisti, Domine, terram tuam.
456 In þis holy labore, Lord, me spede.

457 JOSEPH Mary, wyff and mayd most gracyous,
458 Displese 3ow not, I pray 3ow, so long I haue be.
459 I haue hyryd for us a lytyl praty hous,
460 And þerin ryght hesely levyn wole we.

461 Come forth, Mary, and folwe me,
462 To Nazareth now wele we go.
463 And all þe maydonys bothe fayr and fre,
464 With my wyff comyth forth also.
465 Now lystenyth well, wyff, what I tell þe:
466 I must gon owth hens fer þe fro.
467 I wyll go laboryn in fer countré,
468 With trewth to maynteyn oure housholde so--
469 þis ix monthis þu seyst me nowth.
470 Kepe þe clene, my jentyl spowse,
471 And all þin maydenys in þin howse,
472 þat evyl langage I here not rowse,
473 For hese love þat all hath wrought.

474 MARIA I pray to God he spede 3oure way,
475 And in sowle-helth he mote 3ow kepe,
476 And sende 3ow helth bothe nyth and day;
477 He shylde and saue 3ow from al shenschepe.
478 Now, Lord of Grace, to þe I pray,
479 With morny mood on kne I krepe.
480 Me saue from synne, from tene and tray,
481 With hert I murne, with eye I wepe,
482 Lord God of peté.
483 Whan I sytt in my conclaue
484 All myn hert on þe I haue.
485 Gracyous God my maydenhed saue
486 Euyr clene in chastyté.

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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. N-Town Cycle Play 10 - The Marriage of Mary and Joseph. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. Date Visited.