From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

N-Town Cycle, Play 11 - The Parliament in Heaven Between God the Father and the Virtues, and the Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary

1 CONTEMPLACIO. Fowre thowsand sex vndryd foure, I telle,
2 Man for his ofens and fowle foly
3 Hath loyn 3erys in þe peynes of helle,
4 And were wurthy to ly þerin endlesly;
5 But thanne xulde perysche 3oure grete mercye.
6 Good Lord, haue on man pyté!
7 Haue mende of þe prayour seyd by Ysaie,
8 Lete mercy meke þin hyest magesté.

9 Wolde God þu woldyst breke þin hefne myghtye
10 And com down here into erth,
11 And levyn 3erys thre and threttye,
12 Thyn famyt folke with þi fode to fede.
13 To staunche þi thrysté lete þi syde blede,
14 For erste wole not be mad redempcyon.
15 Cum vesyte vs in þis tyme of nede.
16 Of þi careful creaturys, Lord, haue compassyon!

17 A, woo to vs wrecchis of wrecchis be,
18 For God hath haddyd ssorwe to sorwe!
19 I prey þe, Lord, þi sowlys com se,
20 How þei ly and sobbe for syknes and sorwe.
21 With þi blyssyd blood from balys hem borwe,
22 Thy careful creaturys cryenge in captyvyté.
23 A, tary not, gracyous Lord, tyl it be tomorwe!
24 The devyl hath dysceyved hem be his iniquité.

25 "A," quod Jeremye, "who xal gyff wellys to myn eynes
26 þat I may wepe bothe day and nyght
27 To se oure bretheryn in so longe peynes?"
28 Here myschevys amende may þi mech myght.
29 As grett as þe se, Lord, was Adamys contryssyon ryght.
30 From oure bed is falle þe crowne.
31 Man is comeryd in synne, I crye to þi syght:
32 Gracyous Lord, gracyous Lord, gracyous Lord, come downe!

33 VIRTUTES Lord, plesyth it þin hy3 domynacyon
34 On man þat þu mad to haue pyté.
35 Patryarchys and prophetys han mad supplycacyon,
36 Oure offyse is to presente here prayerys to the.
37 Aungelys, archaungelys, we thre
38 þat ben in þe fyrst ierarchie,
39 For man to þin hy magesté
40 Mercy, mercy, mercy we crye!

41 The aungel, Lord, þu made so gloryous,
42 Whos synne hath mad hym a devyl in helle,
43 He mevyd man to be so contraryous.
44 Man repentyd, and he in his obstynacye doth dwelle.
45 Hese grett males, good Lord, repelle,
46 And take man onto þi grace;
47 Lete þi mercy make hym with aungelys dwelle,
48 Of Locyfere to restore þe place.

PATER Propter miseriam inopum
Et gemitum pauperum nunc exurgam

49 For þe wretchydnes of þe nedy
50 And þe porys lamentacyon
51 Now xal I ryse þat am almyghty;
52 Tyme is come of reconsyliacyon!
53 My prophetys with prayers haue made supplicacyon,
54 My contryte creaturys crye all for comforte.
55 All myn aungellys in hefne withowte cessacyon,
56 They crye þat grace to man myght exorte.

57 VERITAS Lord, I am þi dowtere Trewth.
58 þu wylt se I be not lore.
59 Thyn vnkynde creaturys to save were rewthe:
60 The offens of man hath grevyd þe sore.
61 Whan Adam had synnyd þu seydest þore
62 þat he xulde deye and go to helle.
63 And now to blysse hym to resstore--
64 Twey contraryes mow not togedyr dwelle!

65 Thy trewthe, Lord, xal leste withowtyn ende,
66 I may in no wyse fro þe go.
67 þat wretche þat was to þe so vnkende,
68 He may not haue to meche wo!
69 He dyspysyd þe and plesyd þi fo.
70 þu art his creatour and he is þi creature.
71 þu hast lovyd trewthe, it is seyd, evyrmo;
72 þerfore in peynes lete hym evyrmore endure.

73 MISERICORDIA O Fadyr of Mercy and God of Comforte
74 þat counsell us in eche trybulacyon,
75 Lete 3oure dowtere Mercy to 3ow resorte,
76 And on man þat is myschevyd haue compassyon.
77 Hym grevyth ful gretly his transgressyon.
78 All hefne and erthe crye for mercy;
79 Mesemyth þer xuld be non excepcyon,
80 Ther prayers ben offeryd so specyally.

81 Threwth sseyth she hath evyr be than;
82 I graunt it wel: she hath be so.
83 And þu seyst endlessly þat mercy þu hast kept for man;
84 Than, mercyabyl Lorde, kepe us bothe to.
85 Thu seyst, "Veritas mea et Misericordia mea cum ipso;"
86 Suffyr not þi sowlys than in sorwe to slepe.
87 þat helle hownde þat hatyth þe, byddyth hym ho;
88 þi love, man, no lengere lete hym kepe.

89 JUSTICIA Mercy, me merveylyth what 3ow movyth!
90 3e know wel I am 3oure systere Ryghtwysnes.
91 God is ryghtful and ryghtifulnes lovyth.
92 Man offendyd hym þat is endles,
93 Therfore his endles punchement may nevyr se[se].
94 Also he forsoke his makere þat made hym of clay,
95 And þe devyl to his maystyr he ches.
96 Xulde he be savyd? Nay, nay, nay!

97 As wyse as is God he wolde a be,
98 This was þe abhomynabyl presumpcyon.
99 It is seyd 3e know wel þis of me,
100 þat þe ryghtwysnes of God hath no diffynicyon.
101 Therffore late þis be oure conclusyon:
102 He þat sore synnyd ly stylle in sorwe.
103 He may nevyr make aseyth be resoun:
104 Whoo myght thanne thens hym borwe?

105 MISERICORDIA Systyr Ryghtwysnes, 3e are to vengeabyl.
106 Endles synne God endles may restore.
107 Above all hese werkys God is mercyabyl.
108 þow he forsook God be synne, be feyth he forsook hym nevyr þe more.
109 And þow he presumyd nevyr so sore,
110 3e must consyder þe frelnes of mankende.
111 Lerne, and 3e lyst; þis is Goddys lore:
112 þe mercy of God is withowtyn ende.

113 To spare 3oure speches, systerys, it syt:
114 It is not onest in Vertuys to ben dyscencyon.
115 The pes of God ovyrcomyth all wytt.
116 þow Trewth and Ryght sey grett resoun,
117 3ett Mercy seyth best to my pleson.
118 For yf mannys sowle xulde abyde in helle,
119 Betwen God and man evyr xulde be dyvysyon,
120 And than myght not I, Pes, dwelle.

121 Therefore mesemyth best 3e thus acorde;
122 Than hefne and erthe 3e xul qweme;
123 Putt bothe 3oure sentens in oure Lorde,
124 his hy3 wysdam lete hym deme.
125 This is most syttynge me xulde seme,
126 And lete se how we fowre may all abyde.
127 þat mannys sowle it xulde perysche, it wore sweme,
128 Or þat ony of vs fro othere xulde dyvyde.

129 VERITAS In trowthe hereto I consente,
130 I wole prey oure Lorde it may so be.
131 JUSTICIA I, Ryghtwysnes, am wele contente,
132 For in hym is very equyté.
133 MISERICORDIA And I, Mercy, fro þis counsel wole not fle
134 Tyl Wysdam hath seyd I xal ses.
135 Here is God now, here is Vnyté;
136 Hefne and erth is plesyd with pes.

137 FILIUS I thynke þe thoughtys of pes and nowth of wykkydnes.
138 This I deme, to ses 3oure contraversy.
139 If Adam had not deyd, peryschyd had Ryghtwysnes,
140 And also Trewth had be lost þerby.
141 Trewth and Ryght wolde chastyse foly.
142 3iff another deth come not, Mercy xulde perysch;
143 þan Pes were exyled fynyaly.
144 So tweyn dethis must be, 3ow fowre to cherysch.

145 But he þat xal deye, 3e must knawe
146 þat in hym may ben non iniquyté,
147 þat helle may holde hym be no lawe,
148 But þat he may pas at hese lyberté.
149 Qwere swyche on his prevyde and se,
150 And hese deth for mannys deth xal be redempcyon.
151 All hefne and erth seke flow 3e.
152 Plesyth it 3ow þis conclusyon.

153 VERITAS I, Trowthe, haue sowte þe erthe withowt and withinne,
154 And in sothe þer kan non be fownde
155 þat is of o day byrth withowte synne,
156 Nor to þat deth wole be bownde.
157 MISERICORDIA. I, Mercy, haue ronne þe hevynly regyon rownde,
158 And þer is non of þat charyté
159 þat for man wole suffre a deddly wounde.
160 I cannott wete how þis xal be.

161 JUSTICIA Sure I can fynde non sufficyent,
162 For servauntys vnprofytable we be echon.
163 He[se] love nedyth to be ful ardent
164 That for man to helle wolde gon.
165 PAX That god may do is non but on.
166 þerfore þis is Pesys avyse:
167 He þat 3aff þis counsell, lete hym 3eve þe comforte alon,
168 For þe conclusyon in hym of all þese lyse.

169 FILIUS It peyneth me þat man I mad;
170 þat is to seyn, peyne I must sufre fore.
171 A counsel of þe Trinité must be had.
172 Whiche of vs xal man restore?
173 PATER In 3oure wysdam, son, man was mad thore,
174 And in wysdam was his temptacyon.
175 þerfor, sone, sapyens 3e must ordeyn herefore,
176 And se how of man may be salvacyon.

177 FILIUS Fadyr, he þat xal do þis must be both God and man--
178 Lete me se how I may were þat wede.
179 And syth in my wysdam he began,
180 I am redy to do þis dede.

181 SPIRITUS SANCTUS I, the Holy Gost, of 3ow tweyn do procede.
182 This charge I wole take on me:
183 I, Love, to 3oure lover xal 3ow lede.
184 þis is þe assent of oure Vnyté.

185 MISERICORDIA Now is þe loveday mad of us fowre fynialy,
186 Now may we leve in pes as we were wonte.
187 Misericordia et Veritas obviauerunt sibi,
188 Justicia et Pax osculate sunt.

Et hic osculabunt pariter omnes.

189 PATER From vs, god aungel Gabryel, þu xalt be sende
190 Into þe countré of Galylé--
191 The name of þe cyté Nazareth is kende--
192 To a mayd, weddyd to a man is she,
193 Of whom þe name is Joseph, se,
194 Of þe hous of Davyd bore.
195 The name of þe mayd fre
196 Is Mary, þat xal al restore.

197 FILIUS Say þat she is withowte wo and ful of grace,
198 And þat I, þe Son of þe Godhed, of here xal be bore.
199 Hy3e þe, þu were there apace,
200 Ellys we xal be there the beffore,
201 I haue so grett hast to be man thore
202 In þat mekest and purest virgyne.
203 Sey here she xal restore
204 Of 3ow aungellys þe grett ruyne.

205 SPIRITUS SANCTUS And if she aske þe how it myth be,
206 Telle here I, þe Holy Gost, xal werke al this.
207 Sche xal be savyd thorwe oure Vnyté.
208 In tokyn, here bareyn cosyn Elyzabeth is
209 Qwyk with childe in here grett age, iwys.
210 Sey here to vs is nothynge impossyble.
211 Here body xal be so fulfylt with blys
212 þat she xal sone thynke þis sownde credyble.

213 GABRIEL In thyn hey inbassett, Lord, I xal go;
214 It xal be do with a thought.
215 Beholde now, Lord, I go here to;
216 I take my flyth and byde nowth.

Ave, gracia plena, Dominus tecum.

217 Heyl, ful of grace, God is with the.
218 Amonge all women blyssyd art thu.
219 Here þis name Eva is turnyd Aue;
220 þat is to say, withowte sorwe ar 3e now.

221 Thow sorwe in 3ow hath no place,
222 3ett of joy, lady, 3e nede more.
223 Therfore I adde and sey "ful of grace,"
224 For so ful of grace was nevyr non bore.
225 3ett who hath grace, he nedyth kepyng sore;
226 Therfore I sey God is with the,
227 Whiche xal kepe 3ow endlesly thore.
228 So amonge all women bly[ss]yd are 3e.

229 MARIA A, mercy, God, þis is a mervelyous herynge,
230 In þe aungelys wordys I am trobelyd her.
231 I thynk, how may be þis gretynge?
232 Aungelys dayly to me doth aper,
233 But not in þe lyknes of man þat is my fer.
234 And also thus hy3ly to comendyd be,
235 And am most vnwurthy, I cannot answere.
236 Grett shamfastnes and grett dred is in me.

237 GABRYEL Mary, in þis take 3e no drede,
238 For at God grace fownde haue 3e.
239 3e xal conceyve in 3oure wombe indede
240 A childe, þe sone of þe Trynyté.
241 His name of 3ow Jesu clepyd xal be.
242 He xal be grett, þe Son of þe Hyest clepyd, of kende.
243 And of his fadyr, Davyd, þe Lord xal 3eve hym þe se,
244 Reynyng in þe hous of Jacob, of which regne xal be non ende.

245 MARIA Aungel, I sey to 3ow,
246 In what manere of wyse xal þis be?
247 For knowyng of man I haue non now:
248 I haue evyrmore kept and xal my virginyté.
249 I dowte not þe wordys 3e þan seyd. to me,
250 But I aske how it xal be do.
251 GABRYEL The Holy Gost xal come fro above to the,
252 And be vertu of hym hyest xal schadu þe so.

253 Therfore þat holy of þe xal be bore,
254 He xal be clepyd þe Son of God sage.
255 And se Elyzabeth, 3oure cosyn thore,
256 She hath conseyvid a son in hyre age.
257 This is þe sexte monyth of here passage,
258 Of here þat clepyd was bareyn.
259 Nothynge is impossyble to Goddys vsage.
260 They thynkyth longe to here what 3e wyl seyn.

Here þe aungel makyth a lytyl restynge and Mary beholdyth hym, and þe aungel seyth:

261 Mary, come of and haste the,
262 And take hede in thyn entent
263 Whow þe Holy Gost, blyssyd he be,
264 Abydyth þin answere and þin assent.
265 Thorwe wyse werke of dyvinyté,
266 The secunde persone, verament,
267 Is mad man by fraternyté
268 Withinne þiself in place present.

269 Ferthermore, take hede þis space
270 Whow all þe blyssyd spyrytys of vertu
271 þat are in hefne byffore Goddys face,
272 And all be gode levers and trew
273 That are here in þis erthely place,
274 Thyn owyn kynrede, be sothe ho knew,
275 And þe chosyn sowlys þis tyme of grace
276 þat are in helle and byde rescu,

277 As Adam, Abraham, and Davyd in fere,
278 And many othere of good reputacyon,
279 þat þin answere desyre to here,
280 And þin assent to þe Incarnacyon,
281 In which þu standyst as persevere
282 Of all mankende savacyon.
283 Gyff me myn answere now, lady dere,
284 To all these creaturys comfortacyon.

285 MARIA With all mekenes I dyne to þis acorde,
286 Bowynge down my face with all benyngnyté.
287 Se here þe handmayden of oure Lorde,
288 Aftyr þi worde be it don to me.
289 GABRYEL Gramercy, my lady fre,
290 Gramercy of 3oure answere on hyght.
291 Gramercy of 3oure grett humylyté,
292 Gramercy, 3e lanterne off lyght!

Here þe Holy Gost discendit with iij bemys to oure Lady, the Sone of þe Godhed nest with iij bemys to þe Holy Gost, the Fadyr godly with iij bemys to þe Sone. And so entre all thre to here bosom, and Mary seyth:

293 MARIA A, now I fele in my body be
294 Parfyte God and parfyte man,
295 Havyng aL schapp of chyldly carnalyté;
296 Evyn aL at onys þus God began,

297 Nott takynge fyrst o membyr and sythe another,
298 But parfyte childhod 3e haue anon.
299 Of 3oure handmayden now 3e haue mad 3oure modyr
300 Withowte peyne in flesche and bon.
301 Thus conceyved nevyr woman non
302 þat evyr was beynge in þis lyff.
303 O myn hyest Fadyr in 3oure tron,
304 It is worthy 3oure son--now my son--haue a prerogatyff.

305 I cannot telle what joy, what blysse,
306 Now I fele in my body!
307 Aungel Gabryel, I thank 3ow for thys.
308 Most mekely recomende me to my Faderys mercy.
309 To haue be þe modyr of God ful lytyl wend I.
310 Now myn cosyn Elyzabeth fayn wold I se,
311 How sche hath conseyvid as 3e dede specyfy.
312 Now blyssyd be þe hy3 Trynyté.

313 GABRYEL Fareweyl, turtyl, Goddys dowtere dere.
314 Farewel, Goddys modyr. I þe honowre.
315 Farewel, Goddys sustyr and his pleynge fere;
316 Farewel, Goddys chawmere and his bowre.

317 MARIA Farewel, Gabryel, specyalé.
318 Farewel, Goddys masangere expresse.
319 I thank 3ow for 3oure traveyl hye;
320 Gramercy of 3oure grett goodnes,

321 And namely of 3oure comfortabyl massage,
322 For I vndyrstande by inspyracyon
323 þat 3e knowe by syngulere preuylage
324 Most of my sonys Incarnacyon.
325 I pray 3ow, take it into vsage
326 Be a custom ocupacyon
327 To vesyte me ofte be mene passage;
328 3oure presence is my comfortacyon.

329 GABRIEL At 3oure wyl, lady, so xal it be,
330 3e gentyllest of blood and hyest of kynrede
331 þat reynyth in erth in ony degré,
332 Be pryncypal incheson of þe Godhede.

333 I comende me onto 3ow, þu trone of þe Trinyté,
334 O mekest mayde, now be modyr of Jesu.
335 Qwen of Hefne, Lady of Erth, and Empres of Helle be 3e;
336 Socour to all synful þat wole to 3ow sew
337 Thorwe 3oure body beryth þe babe oure blysse xal renew.
338 To 3ow, Modyr of Mercy, most mekely I recomende.
339 And as I began I ende, with an Ave new
340 Enjouyd hefne and erth; with þat I ascende.

Angeli cantando istam sequenciam://"Aue Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, uirgo se[r]ena."

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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. N-Town Cycle, Play 11 - The Parliament in Heaven Between God the Father and the Virtues, and the Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. Date Visited.