12. The Spicers' Play: The Annunciation and Visitation

Lord God, great marvel it is to mean
How man was made without a miss,
And set where he should ever have been:
Without care, abiding in bliss-
And how he lost that comfort clean,
And was put out from Paradise-
And since, what sorrows sore were seen
Sent unto him, and to all his-
And how they lay a long space
In hell, locked out of light
Until God granted them grace
And help, by his great might.

Then, it is needful now to tell
How prophets all God's counsels explain,
As the prophet Amos did foretell	
While he in this life did remain.
Deus pater deposuit salutem fieri in medio terre.
He said, "God, the father of Heaven and Hell,
Ordained on Earth mankind to mend,"
And to atone with Godhead as well.
He said His son that He would send,
To take kind of man's kin
In a maiden full mild.
So were many saved of sin
And the foul fiend beguiled.

And so that the fiend should be misled
And vexed, and to truth give no intent,
God made that maiden to be wed
Before His son to her he sent.
So was the Godhead enclosed and clad	
In wedding-clothes where he went;
And that our bliss should so be bred,
Full many matters may be meant.
Quoniam in semine tuo benedicentur omnes gentes.
God Himself said this thing
To Abraham, as his bequest:
"Of your seed up shall he spring
In whom all folk be blessed."

To prove these prophets ordained are,
As I say unto old and young,
He moved our mischiefs for to mar,
For thus prayed Isaac for this thing:
"Rorate celi desuper."
"Lord, come down," at your liking,
Make dew to fall from Heaven so far,	
For then the Earth shall spread, and spring
A seed that us shall save,
That now in bliss are bent;
Of clerks whoso will crave,
Thus in these things is meant:
The dew to God the Holy Ghost
May be compared, in man's mind-
The Earth unto the maiden chaste,
Because she comes of earthly kind.
These wise words were not wrought in waste	
To waft and wend away like wind,
For this same prophet soon, in haste,
Said furthermore, as folks may find:
Propter hoc dabit Dominus ipse vobis signum.
Lo, he said thus:  "God shall give	
Hereof a sign to see"
To all that loyally live,
And this their sign shall be:
Ecce virgo concipiet, et pariet filium.

Lo, he says that "a maiden", one
Here on this earth, among us all,
"will clear conceive and bear a son,"
And call him by name Emanuell.
His kingdom that ever is begun
Shall never cease, but endure and dwell.	
On David's seat he shall remain
His dooms to deem, and truth to tell.
Zelus Domini faciet hoc.
He says, "the love of our Lord
All this shall ordain then."
That means peace and accord
To make with earthly man.

More of this maiden he tells me:
This prophet says for our succour
Egredietur virga de Jesse -
"A wand shall be bred of Jesse's bower."
And of this same also says he:
"Upon that wand shall spring a flower,"
Whereon the Holy Ghost shall be
To govern with great power.	
That wand means unto us
This maiden, even and morn.
And the flower is Jesus
That of that blessed was born.

The prophet Joel, a gentle Jew,
Sometimes has said the same thing.
He likens Christ even as he knew
Like to the dew in his coming:
Ero quasi ros; et virgo Israell germinabit sicut lilium.
"The maiden of Israel," all new,
He says, "shall bear one, and forth bring
As the lily flower, full fair of hue."
This means so to old and young:
That the High Holy Ghost
Came, our mischief to mend,	
Into Mary, maiden chaste,
When God his son would send.

This lady is to the lily like;
That is because of her clean life.
For in this world was never such like:
In one to be maiden, mother and wife.
And her son, king on Heaven's peak,
As oft is read, by reason rife,
And her husband, both master and meek
In charity, to stint all strife-
This passed all worldly wit,
How God ordained them then.
In her, in one are knit
Godhead, maidenhead, and man.

But of this work, great witness was	
With our forefathers, as all folk can tell.
When Jacob blessed his son Judas
Among the two, this tale did tell:
Non auferetur septrum de Juda, donec veniat qui mittendus est.
He says, "the scepter shall not pass
From Judah, land of Israel,
Before he comes, who ordained was"
To send the devil's force to hell.
Et ipse erit expectacio gencium.
"Him shall all folk abide,"
And stand unto his story.
By these sayings signified
Is Christ, God's son in glory.

For how he was sent, see we more,	
And how God would his place purvey.
He said, "Son, I shall send before
My angel, to prepare your way-"
Ecce mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui preparabit viam tuam ante te.
Of John the Baptist he spoke this, for
On Earth he was ordained always
To warn the folk who then were there
Of Jesus' coming, and thus to say:
Ego quidem baptizo in aqua vos, autem baptizabimini spiritu sancto.
"After me, shall come to you
A man of might the most.
And he shall baptize you
In high Holy Ghost."

Thus of Christ's coming may we see
How Saint Luke speaks in his gospel:
"From God in heaven is sent," says he,
"An angel named Gabriel
To Nazareth in Galalee,	
Where this maiden mild did dwell,
That with Joseph should wedded be;
Her name is Mary." Thus does he tell.
How God his grace conveyed
To man in this manner	
And what the angel said,
Take heed, all that will hear.

[Then he [the angel] sings "Ave Maria"]

Hail Mary, full of grace and bliss!
Our Lord God is with thee,
And has chosen thee for his.
Of all women blessed must thou be.

What manner of greeting is this,
That secretly comes to me?
For in my heart a care it is,
The sign that I here see.	

[Then the angel sings "Ne timeas, Maria"]

No, dread you not, mild Mary,
Anything that may befall.
For you have found, most sovereignly
With God, a grace surpassing all.
In the chastity of your body	
Conceive and bear a child you shall;
This message I bring you.  Now see:
His name Jesus shall you call.

Much of might then shall he be:
He shall be God, and called God's son.
The seat of David, his father free,
Shall God give him to sit upon.
As King, forever reign shall he,
In Jacob's house for all time to stay;
Of his kingdom and dignity	
Shall no man earthly know or say.

Now, God's angel meek and mild,
How should it be, I you pray,
That I should now conceive a child
Of any man, by night or day?	
I know no man who has defiled
My maidenhood, the truth to say;
Without the will for workings wild
In chastity I have been always.

The Holy Ghost shall in you alight,
And highest virtue you shall hold.
From holy birth of you, so bright,
The son of God he shall be called.
Look, Elizabeth, your cousin, might
Conceive no child, because too old:	
This is the sixth month now, full right,
For her, that barren had been told.

Now, angel, blessed messenger,
Of God's will I hold myself well paid;
I love my Lord with heart full clear,
For all the grace he has for me laid.
As God's own handmaid, behold me here,
To do his will all ready made;
Be it done to me, in joyous cheer-
Through all your words, as you have said.	

Now God, that all our hope is in
Through the might of the Holy Ghost,
Save you, madam, from guilt of sin-
Direct you past all works of waste.
Elizabeth, my own cousin,
It seemed to me I wanted most
To speak with you of all my kin,
And therefore come I thus in haste.

Ah, welcome, mild Mary,
Mine own cousin so dear;
A joyful woman too am I,
Now that I see you here.
Blessed are you alone, I see,
Of every woman most revered,
And the fruit of your body
Blessed is, both far and near.

This is a joyful tiding,
That I may now here see
The mother of my lord the king
In this way come to me.	
As soon as the voice of your greeting
Came to my ears, and unto me,
The child inside my womb so young
Made great mirth unto thee.

Now Lord, blessed are you for aye,
For all the grace you have me lent;
Lord, I love you, God indeed;
The messenger to me you have sent.
I thank you now, by night and day,
And pray with good intent	
You take me to your pay;
For you my will is meant.

Blessed are you, most worthy maid,
To God, through chastity.
You trusted, and yourself held paid
At his will for to be.
All that for you is said
From my lord so free.
Such grace for you is laid,
As is fulfilled indeed.

To his grace myself I will take
With perfect chastity,
Who made me thus to go
Among his maidens free.
My soul shall loving make	
Unto that lord I see.
My sprit makes joy also
In God, who sets me free.

[Then she sings "Magnificat"]

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