From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama
N-Town Cycle, Play 15 - The Nativity
1 JOSEPH Lord, what travayl to man is wrought!
2 Rest in þis werd behovyth hym non.
3 Octauyan, oure emperour, sadly hath besought;
4 Oure trybute hym to bere folk must forth ichon;
5 It is cryed in every bourgh and cety be name.
6 I þat am a pore tymbre-wryth
7 Born of þe blood of Dauyd,
8 þe emperorys comawndement I must holde with,
9 And ellys I were to blame.
10 Now, my wyff, Mary, what sey 3e to this?
11 For sekyr, nedys I must forth wende
12 Onto þe cyté of Bedleern fer hens, iwys.
13 þus to labore I muste my body bende.
14 Myn husbond and my spowse, with 3ow wyl I wende;
15 A syght of þat cyté fayn wolde I se.
16 If I myght of myn alye ony fer fynde,
17 It wold be grett joyd onto me.
18 JOSEPH My spowse, 3e be with childe, I fere 3ow to kary,
19 For mesemyth it were werkys wylde.
20 But 3ow to plese ryght fayn wold I.
21 3itt women ben ethe to greve whan þei be with childe.
22 Now latt us forth wende as fast as we may,
23 And almyghty God spede us in oure jurnay.
24 MARIA A, my swete husbond, wolde 3e telle to me
25 What tre is 3on standynge vpon 3on hylle?
26 JOSEPH Forsothe, Mary, it is clepyd a chery tre;
27 In tyme of 3ere 3e myght fede 3ow þeron 3oure fylle.
28 Turne ageyn, husbond, and beholde 3on tre,
29 How þat it blomyght now so swetly.
30 JOSEPH Cum on, Mary, þat we worn at 3on cyté,
31 Or ellys we may be blamyd, I telle 3ow lythly.
32 MARIA Now, my spowse, I pray 3ow to behold
33 How þe cheryes growyn vpon 3on tre.
34 For to haue þerof ryght fayn I wold,
35 And it plesyd 3ow to labore so mech for me.
36 JOSEPH 3oure desyre to fulfylle I xal assay, sekyrly.
37 Ow! To plucke 3ow of these cheries, it is a werk wylde!
38 For þe tre is so hy3 it wol not be lyghtly--
39 þerfore lete hym pluk 3ow cheryes begatt 3ow with childe!
40 Now, good Lord, I pray the, graunt me þis boun,
41 To haue of þese cheries and it be 3oure wylle.
42 Now I thank it God, þis tre bowyth to me down!
43 I may now gaderyn anowe and etyn my fylle.
44 JOSEPH Ow! I know weyl I haue offendyd my God in Trinyté
45 Spekyng to my spowse these vnkynde wurdys.
46 For now I beleve wel it may non other be
47 But þat my spowse beryght þe Kyngys Son of Blys;
48 He help us now at oure nede.
49 Of þe kynrede of Jesse worthely were 3e bore,
50 Kyngys and patryarkys 3ow beffore.
51 All þese wurthy of 3oure kynred wore,
52 As clerkys in story rede.
53 MARIA Now gramercy, husbond, for 3oure report.
54 In oure weys wysely late us forth wende.
55 þe Fadyr allmyghty, he be oure comfort,
56 þe Holy Gost gloryous, he be oure frende.
57 JOSEPH Heyl, wurchepful sere, and good day!
58 A ceteceyn of þis cyte 3e seme to be.
59 Of herborwe for [my] spowse and me I 3ow pray;
60 For trewly þis woman is ful weré,
61 And fayn at reste, sere, wold she be.
62 We wolde fulfylle þe byddynge of oure emperour
63 For to pay trybute as ryght is oure.
64 And to kepe ourseselfe from dolowre,
65 We are come to þis cyté
66 CIUES Sere, ostage in þis town know I non
67 þin wyff and þu in for to slepe;
68 This ceté is besett with pepyl every won,
69 And 3ett þei ly withowte, ful every strete.
70 Withinne no wall, man, comyst þu nowth
71 Be þu onys withinne þe cyté gate.
72 Onethys in þe strete a place may be sowth
73 þeron to rest withowte debate.
74 JOSEPH Nay, sere, debate, þat wyl I nowth--
75 All such thyngys passyn my powere.
76 But 3itt my care and all my thought
77 Is for Mary, my derlynge dere.
78 A, swete wyff, what xal we do?
79 Wher xal we logge þis nyght?
80 Onto þe Fadyr of Heffne pray we so,
81 Vs to kepe from every wykkyd whyt.
82 ClUES Good man, o word I wyl þe sey,
83 If þu wylt do by þe counsel of me:
84 3ondyr is an hous of haras þat stant be þe wey;
85 Amonge þe bestys herboryd may 3e be.
86 MARIA Now þe Fadyr of Hefne, he mut 3ow 3elde.
87 His sone in my wombe, forsothe, he is.
88 He kepe þe and þi good be fryth and felde.
89 Go we hens, husbond, for now tyme it is.
90 But herk now, good husbond, a newe rebacyon,
91 Which in myself I know ryght well:
92 Cryst, in me hath take incarnacyon,
93 Sone wele be borne, þe trowth I fele.
94 In þis pore logge my chawmere I take,
95 Here for to abyde þe blyssyd byrth
96 Of hym þat all þis werd dude make.
97 Betwyn myn sydys I fele he styrth.
98 JOSEPH God be þin help, spowse, it swemyth me sore,
99 þus febyly loggyd and in so pore degré.
100 Goddys sone amonge bestys for to be bore--
101 His woundyr werkys fulfyllyd must be--
102 In an hous þat is desolat, withowty[n] any wall;
103 Fyer nor wood non here is.
104 MARIA Joseph, myn husbond, abydyn here I xal,
105 For here wyl be born þe Kyngys Sone of Blys.
106 JOSEPH Now, jentyll wyff, be of good myrth,
107 And if 3e wyl owght haue, telle me what 3e thynk.
108 I xal not spare for schep nor derth.
109 Now telle me 3oure lust of mete and drynk.
110 MARIA For mete and drynk lust I ryght nowth--
111 Allmyghty God my fode xal be.
112 Now þat I am in chawmere brought,
113 I hope ryght well my chylde to se.
114 Therfore, husbond, of 3oure honesté,
115 Avoyd 3ow hens out of þis place,
116 And I alone with humylité
117 Here xal abyde Goddys hy3 grace.
118 JOSEPH All redy, wyff, 3ow for to plese
119 I wyl go hens out of 3oure way,
120 And seke sum mydwyuys 3ow for to ese
121 Whan þat 3e trauayle of childe þis day.
122 Farewell, trewe wyff and also clene may,
123 God be 3oure comforte in Trinyté.
124 MARIA To God in hevyn for 3ow I pray,
125 He 3ow preserve wherso 3e be.
Hic dum Joseph est absens parit Maria Filium Vnigenitum.
126 JOSEPH Now God, of whom comyth all releffe,
127 And as all grace in þe is grownde,
128 So saue my wyff from hurt and greffe
129 Tyl I sum mydwyuys for here haue fownde.
130 Travelynge women in care be bownde
131 With grete throwys whan þei do grone;
132 God helpe my wyff þat sche not swownde.
133 I am ful sory sche is alone!
134 It is not conucnyent a man to be
135 þer women gon in travalynge.
136 Wherfore sum mydwyff fayn wold I se,
137 My wyff to helpe þat is so 3enge.
138 ZELOMY Why makyst þu, man, suche mornyng?
139 Tell me sumdele of 3oure gret mone.
140 JOSEPH My wyf is now in gret longynge,
141 Trauelyng of chylde, and is alone.
142 For Godys loue, þat sytt in trone,
143 As 3e mydwyuys þat kan 3oure good,
144 Help my 3onge spowse in hast anone.
145 I drede me sore of þat fayr food!
146 SALOMé Be of good chere and of glad mood,
147 We ij mydwyuys with þe wyll go.
148 þer was nevyr woman in such plyght stood
149 But we were redy here help to do.
150 My name is Salomee, all men me knowe
151 For a mydwyff of wurthy fame.
152 Whan women travayl, grace doth growe;
153 þeras I come I had nevyr shame.
154 ZELOMYE And I am Zelomye, men knowe my name,
155 We tweyn with the wyl go togedyr
156 And help þi wyff fro hurt and grame.
157 Com forth, Joseph, go we streyth thedyr.
158 JOSEPH I thank 3ow, damys, 3e comforte my lyff.
159 Streyte to my spowse walke we þe way.
160 In þis pore logge lyght Mary my wyff.
161 Hyre for to comforte, gode frendys, asay.
162 SALOMé We dare not entre þis logge, in fay--
163 þer is þerin so gret bryghtnes!
164 Mone be nyght nor sunne be day
165 Shone nevyr so clere in þer lyghtnesse!
166 ZELOMYE Into þis hous dare I not gon;
167 þe woundyrifull lyght doth me affray.
168 JOSEPH Than wyl myself gon in alon
169 And chere my wyff if þat I may.
170 All heyl, maydon and wyff, I say!
171 How dost þu fare? Telle me þi chere.
172 The for to comforte in gesyn þis day,
173 Tweyn gode mydwyuis I haue brought here.
174 The for to helpe, þat art in harde bonde,
175 Zelomye and Salomee be com with me.
176 For dowte of drede withowte þei do stond,
177 And dare not come in for lyght þat they se.
Hic Maria subridendo dicat:
178 MARIA The myght off e Godhede in his magesté
179 Wyl not be hyd now at þis whyle.
180 The chylde þat is born wyl preue his modyr fre,
181 A very clene mayde, and þerfore I smyle.
182 JOSEPH Why do 3e lawghe, wyff? 3e be to blame!
183 I pray 3ow, spowse, do no more so!
184 In happ þe mydwyuys wyl take it to grame,
185 And at 3oure nede helpe wele non do.
186 Iff 3e haue nede of mydwyuys, lo,
187 Perauenture thei wyl gon hens.
188 þerfor be sad, and 3e may so,
189 And wynnyth all þe mydwyuis good diligens.
190 MARIA Husbond, I pray 3ow dysplese 3ow nowth,
191 þow þat I lawghe and gret joye haue.
192 Here is þe chylde þis werde hath wrought,
193 Born now of me, þat allthynge xal saue.
194 JOSEPH I aske 3ow grace, for I dyde raue!
195 O gracyous childe, I aske mercy.
196 As þu art Lord and I but knaue,
197 For3eue me now my gret foly.
198 Alas, mydwyuis, what haue I seyd?
199 I pray 3ow com to us more nere,
200 For here I fynde my wyff a mayd
201 And in here arme a chylde hath here--
202 Bothe mayd and modyr sch[e] is in fere!
203 þat God wole haue may nevyrmore fayle.
204 Modyr on erth was nevyr non clere
205 Withowth sche had in byrth travayle.
206 ZELOMY In byrth trauayle muste sche nedys haue,
207 Or e!lys no chylde of here is born.
208 JOSEPH I pray 3ow dame, and 3e vowchsaue,
209 Com se þe chylde my wyff beforn.
210 SALOMé Grete God be in þis place.
211 Swete systyr, how fare 3e?
212 MARIA I thank þe Fadyr of his hy3 grace;
213 His owyn son and my chylde here 3e may se.
214 ZELOMYE All heyl, Mary, and ryght good morn.
215 Who was mydwyfe of þis fayr chylde?
216 MARIA He þat nothynge wyl haue forlorn
217 Sent me þis babe, and I mayd mylde.
218 ZELOMYE With honde lete me now towch and fele
219 Yf 3e haue nede of medycyn.
220 I xal 3ow comforte and helpe ryght wele
221 As other women yf 3e haue pyn.
222 MARIA Of þis fayr byrth þat here is myn
223 Peyne nere grevynge fele I ryght non.
224 I am clene mayde and pure virgyn;
225 Tast with 3oure hand 3oureself alon.
Hic palpat Zelomye Beatam Virginem dicens:
226 ZELOMY O myghtfull God, haue mercy on me!
227 A merveyle þat nevyr was herd beforn
228 Here opynly I fele and se:
229 A fayr chylde of a maydon is born,
230 And nedyth no waschynge as other don:
231 Ful clene and pure forsoth is he,
232 Withoutyn spott or ony polucyon,
233 His modyr nott hurte of virgynité!
234 Coom nere, gode systyr Salomé.
235 Behobde þe brestys of þis clene rnayd,
236 Ful of fayr mylke how þat þei be,
237 And hyre chylde clene, as I fyrst sayd.
238 As other ben nowth fowle arayd,
239 But clene and pure bothe modyr and chylde.
240 Of þis matyr I am dysmayd,
241 To se them both thus vndefyled!
242 SALOMé It is not trewe, it may nevyr be!
243 þat bothe be clene I cannot beleve!
244 A mayd mylke haue nevyr man dyde se,
245 Ne woman bere chylde withowte grett greve.
246 I xal nevyr trowe it but I it preve!
247 With hand towchynge but I assay,
248 In my conscience it may nevyr cleue
249 þat sche hath chylde and is a may.
250 MARIA 3ow for to putt clene out of dowth,
251 Towch with 3oure hand and wele asay.
252 Wysely ransake and trye þe trewthe owth
253 Whethyr I be fowlyd or a clene may.
Hic tangit Salomee Mari[am] et, cum arescerit manus eius, vlulando et quasi flendo dicjt:
254 SALOMEE Alas, alas, and weleawaye!
255 For my grett dowth and fals beleve
256 Myne hand is ded and drye as claye--
257 My fals vntrost hath wrought myscheve!
258 Alas þe tyme þat I was born,
259 Thus to offende a3ens Goddys myght!
260 Myn handys power is now all born,
261 Styff as a stykke, and may nowth plyght.
262 For I dede tempte þis mayde so bryght
263 And helde a3ens here pure clennes,
264 In grett myscheff now am I pyght.
265 Alas, alas for my lewdnes!
266 O Lord of Myght, þu knowyst be trowth,
267 þat I haue evyr had dred of þe.
268 On every power whyght evyr I haue rowthe,
269 And 3ove hem almes for loue of þe.
270 Bothe wyff and wedowe þat askyght, for the,
271 And frendles chylderyn þat haddyn grett nede,
272 I dude them cure, and all for the,
273 And toke no rewarde of them, nor mede.
274 Now as a wrecch for fals beleve
275 þat I shewyd in temptynge þis mayde,
276 My hand is ded and doth me greve.
277 Alas, þat evyr I here assayde!
278 ANGELUS Woman, þi sorwe to haue delayde,
279 Wurchep þat childe þat þer is born;
280 Towch þe clothis þer he is leyde,
281 For he xal saue all þat is lorn.
282 SALOMEE O gloryous chylde and Kynge of Blysse,
283 I aske 3ow mercy for my trespace.
284 I knowlege my synne, I demyd amys.
285 O blyssyd babe, grawnt me sum grace!
286 Of 3ow, mayde, also here in þis place
287 I aske mercy knelynge on kne.
288 Moste holy mayde, grawnt me solace,
289 Sum wurde of comforte sey now to me.
290 MARIA As Goddys aungel to 3ow dede telle,
291 My chylde is medycyn for every sor.
292 Towch his clothis be my cowncelle,
293 3owre hand ful sone he wyl restor.
Hic Salomee tangit fimbriam Christi dicens:
294 SALOMEE A, now blyssyd be þis chylde euyrmore!
295 þe Sone of God, forsothe he is,
296 Hath helyd myn hand þat was forlore
297 Thorwe fals beleve and demynge amys!
298 In every place I xal telle þis:
299 Of a clene mayde þat God is born,
300 And in oure lyknes God now clad is,
301 Mankend to saue þat was forlorn;
302 His modyr a mayde as sche was beforn,
303 Natt fowle polutyd as other women be,
304 But fayr and fresch as rose on thorn,
305 Lely-wyte, clene with pure virginyté.
306 Of þis blyssyd babe my leve now do I take,
307 And also of 3ow, hy3 Modyr of Blysse.
308 Of þis grett meracle more knowlege to make,
309 I xal go telle it in iche place, iwys.
310 MARIA Farewel, good dame, and God 3oure wey wysse.
311 In all 3oure jurnay God be 3oure spede!
312 And of his hy3 mercy þat Lord so 3ow blysse
313 þat 3e nevyr offende more in word, thought, nore dede.
314 ZELOMY And I also do take my leve here
315 Of all þis blyssyd good company,
316 Praynge 3oure grace bothe fere and nere
317 On us to spede 3oure endles mercy.
318 JOSEPH The blyssyng of þat Lord þat is most myghty
319 Mote sprede on 3ow in every place;
320 Of all 3oure enmyes to haue þe victory,
321 God þat best may, grawnt 3ow his grace.
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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. N-Town Cycle, Play 15 - The Nativity. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama. Date Visited.