From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

The Chester Cycle Play XXIII (23) - The Play of the Prophets

THE CLOTHEWORKERS PLAYE
'Facta est super me manus dommi et eduxit me spiritus domini,
demisit me in medio campi qui erat plenus ossibus,
et [circumduxit] me per ea in giro ' Hec in libro Ezechielis 37

001 Herken, all that loven heale!
002 I am the prophett Ezechiell.
003 What I sawe I will not conceale
004 but as mee thought I will tell.
005 God his ghooste can with me deale
006 that lead me longe with wordes leale
007 into a feild where bones fell
008 all bare without flesh.

009 Then spake that ghoost unto mee
010 and sayd, 'Mans sonne, how likest thee?
011 Thinkest thou not well that this may bee,
012 these bones might turne and lyve?'
013 Then bade bee mee tell and prophecye
014 that bee would revyve them soone in bye
015 with flesh and synewes and skynne therebye
016 which soone bee can them give.

017 After that ghooste hee them geete,
018 ryse of there graves hee them leete,
019 and made them stande upon there feete,
020 speake, goe, and see.
021 This sawe I right in my sight
022 to knowe that he was God almight.
023 that heaven and yearth should deale and dight
024 and never shall ended bee.

025 EXPOSITOR. Nowe that you shall expresselye knowe
026 these prophettes wordes upon a rowe,
027 what the doe signifie I will shewe
028 that mych may doe you good.
029 By them understand may I
030 the daye of doome skyllfullye,
031 when men through Godes postee
032 shall ryse in flesh and blood.

033 Therefore this prophett sayd full yare
034 hee sawe a feud of bones bare,
035 and soone that ghoost with them can fare,
036 gave them fleshe and life.
037 Beleeve this fuhlye withouten weene,
038 that all which dead and rotten beene
039 in fleshe shall ryse, as shalbe scene,
040 man, mayd, and wyfe.

041 They that shall be saved shall be as bright
042 as seaven tymes the sonne ys light;
043 the dampned thester shall be in sight,
044 theire doome to underfoe.
045 Both saved and dampned, after that daye
046 dye they may not by noe waye.
047 God give you grace to doe soe aye
048 that blisse you may come to.

049 ZACHARIAS. I, Zacharye-men, leeves yee mee-
050 lift up my eyes a sight to see,
051 and as mee thought, by my lewtee,
052 foure charettes came anon
053 out of two hiles-leeve yee mee,
054 sylver hilles they were, as wytten wee!
055 Great wonder I had in my degree
056 whither that they would gonne.

057 Redde horses in one were, reddelye;
058 another blacke that went them bye;
059 the third was white, I wott not whye;
060 the forth of dyvers hewe.
061 They were styffe, drawinge biglye.
062 Then anone answered I
063 to that angell in my bodye
064 which tould me wordes true.

065 I asked him then what yt might bee
066 and he answered anon unto mee.
067 'These charettes,' he sayde, 'which thou doest see,
068 foure wyndes the bee, iwys,
069 which shall blowe and readye be
070 before Christe, that prynce which ys of postye.
071 There ys none soc fell there feete to flee
072 nor wynne there wyll from this.'

073 EXPOSITOR. Nowe for to moralyze aright
074 which this prophett sawe in sight,
075 I shall found through my might
076 to you in meeke mannere,
077 and declare that soone in height
078 more playnlye, as I have teight.
079 Lystens nowe with hartes light
080 this lesson for to learne.

081 Fowre charettes this prophett see, howe they
082 out of two hilles tooke there waye-
083 the hilles of sylver, the soothe to saye,
084 the horses of dyvers hewe.
085 Which hilles signifie maye
086 Enock and Helye, in good faye,
087 that as good sylver shalbe aye
088 stydfast men and trewe.

089 Fowre charrettes hee sawe, as thinkes mee,
090 skylfullye may lickned bee
091 to sayntes of foure maners of degree
092 that then shall suffer anoye.
093 Fowre horses ys allso, certayntee,
094 of dyvers hewes that he coon see,
095 fowre manner of sayntes in dignitee-
096 licken them well maye I:

097 martyrs, confessours, there bee two;
098 men misbeleevinge converted also
099 that turned shaibe from synne and woe
100 through Enock and Helye;
101 virgens also, both on and moe.
102 Here be dyvers hewes too
103 that through Godes grace shall goe
104 for him to suffer anoye.

105 These redde horses call I maye
106 all maner of marters, in good faye,
107 for redd maye well betoken aye
108 mans blood sheedinge;
109 they white bee sayth token there waye
110 above the yearth to goe astraye,
111 as such that neyther night nor daye
112 dreeden death nothinge;

113 the blacke horses which went them bye,
114 by them maye well signifie
115 preachers of Godes word, truely,
116 that confessors shalbe;

117 the skewed horses, by myne intent,
118 the which into the south forth went,
119 I maye well licken verament
120 to Jewes and paynims eke,
121 yett through fayth with hart fervent
122 shall turne to good amendment
123 when Enock and Helye have them kent
124 salvatyon for to seeke.

125 DANYELL.

'Ego, Daniel, videbam in visione mea nocte;
et ecce, quatuor venti pugnabant in magno mare,
et quatuor bestiae gradentes ascendebant de mare.' Capitulo septimo.

I, Daniel, as I laye on a night,
126 methought I sawe a wondrous sight.
127 Fowre wyndes together the can fyght
128 above the sea upon bye.
129 Fowre beastes out of that sea the yeade.
130 To the fourth beast I tooke good heede;
131 for that to speake of nowe ys neede,
132 the other all I will leave.

133 That beaste was wondrous styffe and stronge,
134 of teeth and nayles sharpe and longe,
135 eatinge over all that hee could fonge.
136 The remnante he fortredde.
137 Unlike he was to anye of leede.
138 Ten homes he had upon his head.
139 In the myddest on little borne can spread
140 above all other in hye.

141 That borne had mouthe to speake and eyes to see,
142 and spake great wordes, leeve you mee;
143 but of the ten, the first three
144 soone were consumed awaye.
145 That one borne had so great postee;
146 the remnant meeke to him to bee
147 that highest was in that degree,
148 and endured so, manye a daye.

149 Then was yt tould me right there
150 that ten hornes ten kinges were,
151 but all that on should feare
152 that sprange upward so fast,
153 and that hee should worke agaynst that kinge
154 that of nought made all thinge;
155 but lyttle while, without leasinge,
156 that kinge his might should last.

157 EXPOSITOR. By this beast understand I maye
158 the world to come nexte doomesdaye;
159 and by that borne, in good faye,
160 in myddest the ten can springe,
161 Antechriste I maye understand,
162 that then great lord shalbe in land
163 and all the world have in hand
164 three yeares and halfe duringe.

'Tradentur in manu eius usque ad tempus et tempora et dimidium temporis,
et usque ad annum duos annos et dimidium anni.' Danielis capitulo septimo.

165 Ten homes ten kinges in hand shalbe
166 of which Antechriste shall slea three.
167 The other seaven this case shall see
168 and put them to his grace.
169 This shal befall, witterlye,
170 by the understandinge that have I
171 of Danyelles prophecye
172 that here rehersed was.

173 JOHANNES EVANGELISTA.

'Dabo duobus testibus meis et prophetabunt diebus mile,
ducentis et sexagmta amicti saccis 'Apocalipsis capitulo undecimo.

I, John, Christes owne darlinge,
174 as I laye in greate longinge
175 upon my maistems brest sleepinge,
176 wonders sawe I manye one.
177 My ghoost was ravished, without leasinge,
178 to heaven before that highest kinge.
179 There sawe I manye a wondrous thinge.
180 One will I tell you anon.

181 There hard I God greatly commend
182 two wittnesses which he thought to send,
183 false faythes for to defende
184 that raysed were by his foe.
185 He sayde the should prophecye
186 a thousand dayes, witterlye;
187 two hundreth and sixtye
188 in sackes clad they should god.

189 He called them chandelours of great light
190 burmnge before Godes sight
191 Fyre out of there mouthes the should feight,
192 there enemyes for to destroye.
193 Whosoever them harmed, as sayde hee,
194 dead behooved him for to bee.
195 To lett the raygne they had postee
196 in tyme of there prophecye.

197 Hee sayde the should have power good
198 to turne the water into blood,
199 and overcome there enemyes that were wood,
200 and maister them through [their might].
201 And when they had donne there devoure,
202 a beast should come, of great power,
203 from beneath, withowten were;
204 agaynst them he should feight.

205 And slea them also should hee
206 in middest of the holye cyttye
207 where Christ was nayled on a tree,
208 forsooth as I you tell.
209 But after three dayes and halfe one,
210 they shall ryse, speake and gonne,
211 and into heaven be taken anonne,
212 in joye evermore to dwell.

213 EXPOSITOR. Nowe, lordinges, what these thinges may bee,
214 I praye you herken all to med.
215 As expressely in certeyntye
216 as I have might and grace,
217 I shall expound this ylke thinge
218 which saynt John sawe thus sleepinge
219 through helpe of Jesu, heaven kinge,
220 anonneright in this place.

221 These two wyttnes, wytterlye,
222 hee sayde the should come and prophecye,
223 that one ys Enock, the other Helye-
224 shall have greate might and mayne
225 that when Antechrist comes in hye
226 Goddes people for to destroye,
227 that he deceaveth falselye
228 they shall convert agayne.

229 Manye signes they shall shewe
230 which the people shall well knowe,
231 and in theire token truely trowe
232 and leeve yt steadfastlye.
233 And all that turne, leeve you mee,
234 Antechrist will slea through his postie;
235 but verey martyrs they shalbee
236 and come to heaven one bye.

237 They beast that John spake of here
238 ys Antechrist, withowten were,
239 which shall have the devilles power
240 and with these good men meete;
241 and at the last, witterlye,
242 he shall slea Enock and Helye
243 in Jerusalem, as read I,
244 even in myddest of the streete.

245 Nowe, that you shall knowe and seene
246 what men Enock and Helye beene,
247 I will you tell, withouten wene,
248 while that I have tyme.
249 They are two good men, leeve yee mee;
250 to paradyce through Goddes postee
251 were ravished both, and there shalbee
252 ever tyll the daye doe come.

253 They one was taken, for hee was good,
254 longe before Noe his flood,
255 and there he lyves in fleshe and blood,
256 as fullye leeven wee.
257 They other was taken, withouten were,
258 after that manyc a hundreth yeare;
259 and there together they binne in fere
260 untyll that tyme shalbe.

Signa 15: Signa quindecim magna quae,
secundum opiniones doctorum extremum precedunt judicium,
ab antiquis Hebroeorum codicibus selecta a doctore huius paginae reticenda.

261 Nowe xv signes, while I have space,
262 I shall declare by Goddes grace,
263 of which saynt Jerome mentyon mase
264 to fall before the daye of doome;
265 the which were wrytten on a rowe-
266 he found in booke of Hebrewe.
267 Nowe will I tell in wordes fewe,
268 a while yf you will dwell.

269 1 The first daye, as I wrytten fyand,
270 the sea shall ryse agaynst kinde,
271 and as a wall agaynst the wynd
272 above all hilles on hye
273 2 fortye cubytes, as read wee;
274 the seaconde daye so lowe shalbee
275 that scarslye a man the sea shall see,
276 stand he never so nye.

277 3 The third daye after, as read I,
278 great fishes above the sea shall lye,
279 yell and rore so hideouslye
280 that only God shall heare.

281 4 The fourth daye next after then,
282 sea and water all shall burne
283 agaynst kinde, that men may kenne,
284 tynder as though yt were.

285 5 The fifte daye, as reade wee,
286 all manner of herbes and also tree
287 of blooddye dewe all full shalbee,
288 and manye a beaste all dased.
289 Fowles shall gather them, as I fynd,
290 to feildes; eicheon in there kynd
291 of meate and drinke shall have no mynd,
292 but stand all madd and mased.

293 6 The syxt daye in the world overall,
294 buylded thinges to ground shall fall-
295 church, cittie, house, and wall-
296 and men in graves dare.
297 Layte and fyre alsoe, verament,
298 from the sonne to the firmament
299 up and downe shall stryke and glent,
300 and all night so fowle fare.

301 7 The seaventh daye both rocke and stonne
302 shall breake asunder and fight as fonne.
303 The sound thereof shall here no man,
304 but onlye God almight.
305 8 The eight daye yearthquake shalbe,
306 that men and beast, leeve you mee,
307 to stand or goe shall fayle postee,
308 but fall to ground all right.

309 9 The nynthe day, as our bookes sayen,
310 hilles shall fall and ware all playne,
311 stonne turne to sand through Goddes mayne,
312 so streat men shall be stadd.
313 10 The tenthe daye, men that hydd bee,
314 out of theme caves they shall flee-
315 to speake together have noe postee,
316 but goe as the were madd.

317 11 The elevon daye, from mornowe to even,
318 all buryalls in the world shall be open
319 that dead may ryse, withowten weene,
320 above the yearth standinge.
321 12 The twelife daye starres shall fall in hye
322 and fyre shoote from them hideouslye.
323 All manner of beastes shall rore and crye
324 and neyther eate nor drynke.

325 13 The thirteene daye shall dye all men
326 and ryse anone agayne right then.
327 14 The foureteene daye, all shall brenne,
328 both yearth and eke heaven.
329 15 The fyfteene daye made shalbee
330 neewe yearth, neewe heaven, through Goddes postee;
331 which heaven God grant us in to bee,
332 for his names seaven.

333 Nowe have I tould you, in good faye,
334 the tokens to come before doomesdaye.
335 God give you grace to do so aye
336 that you them worthye bee
337 to come to the blysse that lasteth aye.
338 As mych as here wee and our playe,
339 of Antechristes signes you shall assaye.
340 Hee comes! Soone you shall see!

341 Finis

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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. The Chester Cycle Play XXIV - The Coming of the Antichrist. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama. Date Visited.