25. The Skinners' Play: The Entry into Jerusalem

Attend to me and now take heed,
My dear disciples that be here,
And I will explain what will be indeed:
My time to pass hence now draws near
And by this cost
To save man's soul from sorrows severe
Which ill was lost.

From heaven when I did descend,
To ransom him I did promise;
That prophesy now finds its end,
For now my Father's will it is
That sent me hither.
Peter, Phillip, both I bless:
Now go together,

Toward that castle before you there;
Go with good hearts and tarry not.
But obediently do my commandments with care;
Just as I charge, be sure it is wrought:
There you will find
An ass for the feast, as if you had sought.
You will unbind

The ass and her foal, and bring them to me
That I may ride upon her for a space
So that the clear meaning of prophesy
May be fulfilled right here in this place:
"Daughter Zion,
Behold your meek Lord's face;
An ass he rides upon."

If any man should you gainsay,
Tell him your Lord has need of them
And shall restore them this same day
To whoever may them claim.
Do thus this thing.
Go forth and be obedient
In my blessing.

Jesus, master, whatever you will,
And as you wish, we like to do.
That beast which you desire still,
Just as you will, shall come to you
Just as you please.
Certainly Lord, now go we two;
Be at your ease.

Lord, we wish to please aright
Both night and day to do your will.
We go now brothers, with all our might,
My Lord's desire to fulfill.
For prophesy
Now bids us do for him by skill
As he does say.

Why brother Philip, I see it clear:
Just as he said, we should soon find.
I think those beasts that stand right here
Are just the ones we should unbind.
Therefore, freely
Let us go their master find, 
Asking meekly.

These beasts are common; this I know.
Therefore, there's no need to ask leave,
And our master breaks no law.
We may take them at will; I believe
Nothing prevents.
Well I know our time is brief;
Let us go thence.

Say, who are you, to take mastery here,
To take these beasts before my eyes?
You seem too bold; you do not appear
To have business here.  I now advise
Such folly to cease,
Or else your demise
May be lacking in ease.

Sir, with your leave, we heartily pray
That we this beast might have.

To what intent first you shall say,
And then I may grant what you crave
In good season.

Our master, sir, whom all shall save,
Asks with reason.

And who do you two "master" call,
And dare such privilege for him claim?

Jesus, King of Jews and all
From Nazareth, prophet by name.
This is he:
Both God and man without blame.
This we believe.

Sirs, of that prophet I have heard,
But, tell me first plainly, where is he?

He comes at hand, I give my word.
We left that Lord at Bethany.
He waits us there.

Sir, take this beast with heart full free,
And forth you fare.

And if you wish me to do so,
I shall announce his coming there
To the chief of the Jews, that they may go
Assemble themselves to meet this heir.
What is your need?

Your meaning is both well and fair;
Do now this deed,

And soon these beasts we shall return,
Restoring both, as reason will.

Now shall all men these tidings learn;
I shall not hide, but go to tell
To this city.
I am sure that they will all
Come meet that free.

Because I'd have them forewarned be
Both old and young in every state,
His coming I want them to see,
To show them now, without debate,
Just where they stand:
The citizens and chief of state
Of all this land.

He that is ruler of all that is right,
Who freely shaped both sand and sea,
Save you, my well-dressed lords so bright,
And keep you in your dignity
And all honour.

Welcome porter, what novelty?
Tell us this hour.

Sirs, of news I can you tell.
And trust it fully, for it's true:
Here comes the son of Israel,
At hand the prophet called Jesu,
Lo,  this same day,
Riding an ass.  These tidings new
I tell today.

And is that prophet Jesu near?
I've heard great wonders of him told.
He does great works in lands around here;
He heals the sick, both young and old,
And to the blind restores their sight.
The deaf and dumb, I'm also told,
He cures them right.

And once he fed five thousand men with five
Small loaves of bread, and each one had enough;
Water turned to sweet wine belive,
And corn - he quickly grew the stuff
Where none had grown!
And dead men too, he does revive:
Lazar was one.

In our temple he would preach
Against the people that lived wrong.
And also new laws he would teach
Against the old we've used so long.
And there said he
That old should waste away, and new be strong.
Now we shall see.

Certainly, with Moses he could deal,
And all the prophets in a row.
He taught them so that all could feel
Just what they say, and clearly know
When they are dim.
What the prophets prophesied, we know
Pertains to him.

Emmanuel also, by rights
They call him; now explain I will:
He is the one Isaiah cites,
Clear prophesy of God's own will.
For he says there:
"Lo, a maiden that never knew ill
A child should bear."
David spoke of him, I've seen
And left witness, you know, each one -
He said the fruit of his body clean
Should royally reign upon his throne
And therefore he
Of David's line and he alone
Our king shall be.

Sirs, I think you say right well,
And good examples forth you bring.
Since thus we feel what he does tell,
Let us meet him as our king
And "King" him call.
What is your counsel in this thing?
Now say you all.

In reason's face I'll argue not,
For well I know he is our king.
Whoever to offend has sought
Is most unwise to do such thing.
Porter, come near,
What do you know of this coming?
Tell us all here.

And then we will go to meet him, free,
And honour him, with due accord,
In ways that are worthy of our city,
And recognize him as sovereign lord
In whom we trust.

Sirs, I shall tell all as it occurred:
Listen you must.

Of his disciples, two this day
Came where I stood and there we met,
And on their master's behalf did pray
Our common ass that they might get,
Just for a while.
Upon whose back their master would sit
Space of a mile.
And all this matter they me told,
Exactly as I say to you.
And, as they wished, the ass they hold;
They shall, I trust, return it soon,
As they promised.
Consider now, what you will do?
This I think best.

Truly, as for me, I say,
We should prepare to go on down
To meet that goodly man this day,
And greet him in such great renown
As his worth is.
And therefore sirs, in field and town
Fulfill you this.

Yes, and children you should take,
Although they may in age be young.
You'll fare the better for their sake
Through blessing of so good a king,
There is no doubt.

I thank you for the news you bring;
His praise we'll shout.

And I am willing now to meet
This man as seemly as I can,
And eagerly I'll see this sweet
To honour him as his sworn man.
Since truth I see,
King of Jews we'll call him then:
Our king is he.

Our king is he - no lies, no less!
Our law agrees to this full well.
The prophets all bore full witness
Mysteriously of him they tell,
And thus they write:
"Great joy shall be among yourselves
Through God's great might."

He is the same, there is no other,
Was promised us full long before!
For Moses said, as our own brother,
That God a prophet would restore.
Therefore, now see
What you will do and speak no more;
Our king is he.

Of Judah comes this king they wrote
Of Jesse, David, Solomon;
Also, of his mother's kin take note:
Just so his genealogy goes on.
It's plain to me.
I shall do honour as well as I can
Full willingly.

By your sharp wits and this intent
I am made glad in heart and thought.
And now to meet him I am bent;
I am prepared, and I jest not.
But with these same
I go to him who joy has brought,
With mirth and game.

Your arguments now seem so clear
I cannot disagree with you,
For now that I this counsel hear
I covet him with fervent mood.
Just once to see-
I trust that, once this thing I do,
Better I'll be.	
Go we then with procession,
To meet that comely as we owe;
With branches, flowers and orison,
Singing praises in a row.
Our children shall
Go sing before, that men may know.

This grant we all.

Jesu, Lord and master free,
As you commanded we have done.
We bring the ass, as you can see;
What is your will?  Show us the way,
And tarry not,
And then we shall without delay
Fulfill your thought.

I thank you brothers, mild of mood.
Your clothes upon this ass please lay,
And lift me up with kind hearts good
That I might sit on her today
In my blessing.

Lord, we do your will always;
We grant this thing.

Now my brothers, have good cheer.
Pay close attent, for I will ride
Into that city you see so near.
You shall follow together inside
As I have said.

Lord, as you like, we are satisfied
And grant this glad.

[Then they sing.]

Ah, Lord, that all this world has made,
Both sun and moon, night and day,
Why is this joyful music played?
From where it comes I cannot say,
Or what it means.
If any man should walk this way,
Now tell me, please.

Good man, what causes you to cry?
Where do you go?  Now tell me here.

Ah, sir, for blind am I
And ever was, from tender year
Since I was born.
I heard a voice with noble cheer
Right here before.

Man, tell me now what I can do.

Thanks, sir; I'd gladly know
The meaning of this mirth from you.
What may it mean? What does it show?
How does it stand?

Jesus, the prophet full of grace
Comes here at hand,

And willingly the citizens
Are meeting him with melody.
The fairest procession, now they stand,
That ever was seen here in Jewry.
He is right near.

Sir, help me quickly to the street
That I may hear

That noise, and that I might through grace
Crave my sight of him; for I would.

Lo, he's here at this same place.
Cry fast on him, look you be bold;
Call out loudly.

Jesus, Son of David called,
Mercy on me!

Alas, I cry; he hears me not!
He does not pity my despair.
He turns his ear; where is his thought?

Cry somewhat louder; do not spare.
He may you spy.

Jesus, healer of all cares,
Give me good eyes!

Cease man, please, do not cry so.
The noise of the crowd is drowning thee.
Be still and listen as they go:
Here passes the prophet of mercy.
You do amiss.

Ah, David's son, to you I cry,
My king of bliss!

Lord, have mercy, let him go,
He cannot cease of his crying.
He follows us both to and fro;
Grant the boon he is asking
And let him wend.
We'll get no rest until this thing
Comes to an end.

What do you wish to you I did?
Before these folk, tell openly.

Lord, my sight is from me hid;
I cry mercy, grant it to me!
This I would have.

Look up with blithe cheer now and see,
Your faith you saves.

Worship and honour ever to thee!
With all the service that can ever be done
The king of bliss, praised may he be!
So soon my sight for me he's won!
And by great skill.
I was before as blind as stone;
I see at will.
Ah, lucky those who ever had life,
Whether old or young it were,
Who freely wield their limbs without strife,
Following all this mirth I see here.
Go, continue!
For I am set in sorrows severe,
And ever new. 

Oh Lord, that shaped both night and day,
For mercy, have a mind on me
And help me Lord, as well you may,
And heal this mutilated knee.
I cannot rise.
For I am lame as men may see - 
Have been always.

For well I know through rumours rife,
Both deaf and dumb, you grant them grace,
And to the dead you've given life;
Therefore, Lord, grant me in this place
My limbs to wield.

Rise man; cast your crutches off a space
Here in this field.

And look in truth steadfast you be;
Have good intent in following.

Lord, see my crutches, where they flee
As far as I can let them fling
With my right hand!
May we have no other meeting;
Now I can stand.

For I was crippled in limb, and lame,
And I have suffered such sorrows 'till now;
Eternal Lord, praised be your name!
I am as light as bird on bough!
Ever be blessed!
For you such grace have shown me now,
As pleased you best.

Since first this world was made from nought,
And all things set in equity,
Such wondrous things were never wrought
As right now men with eyes can see.
What can it mean?
I cannot say what it may be:
Comfort or teen.

And chiefly of a prophet new - 
That much is good - and now of late
Both day and night they now pursue,
And follow him through street and gate.
He brings new law.
Our old laws, now they hate,
And keep his saw.

Men from death to life he raises;
To dumb and blind gives speech and sight.
Therefore our people greatly praises,
Following him both day and night
From town to town.
They call him prophet now by right
Of his renown.

And yet I marvel at this thing
Since, prince of tax-collectors, I
Could not of him have knowing,
Although I've frequently been nigh,
Early and late.
For I am low, and of men high
Full is the gate.

But since no better may befall,
I think the best thing now to do
(For I am short, as know you all)
Is therefore yonder tree go to
And climb a limb.
Whether he comes or passes through,
I shall see him.

Ah, noble tree, you sycamore,
I bless the man who planted you;
Now I can see both here and more
And nothing is hidden from my eyes two.
Now in this tree
I will bide in heart and thought
Till I him see.

Until the prophet come to town
Here I will bide, whatso befall.

Zacchaeus, brother, come on down.

Lord, at your will I quickly shall,
And tarry not.
To you on knees Lord, here I fall
For sins I wrought.

Welcome prophet, trustworthy and true
And all the people to you who belong.

Zacchaeus, this service new
Shall make you clean of all the wrong
That you have done.

Hear Lord, despite this heavy throng
My confession:
I'm shamed with sin, but ought to mend,
So now, forsake my sins I will.
Half my money's yet unspent:
To all the poor I'll give their fill,
And gladly then.
Whom I beguiled, to him I will
Make good again.

This clear confession shall you cleanse;
You may be sure of lasting life.
And to your house without offense
Is granted peace, freedom from strife.
Farewell, Zacchee.

Now, now sings each man and wife:
Blessed might thou be.

My dear disciples, behold and see:
Into Jerusalem we ascend.
The son of man betrayed shall be,
And sold into his enemies' hand.
With scorn and spite,
Their spit upon his face they'll spend
And smartly smite.

Peter, take this ass and go,
And lead it where you ere it took.
I mourn, I sigh, I weep also,
Jerusalem, on you to look.
So may you rue
That ever you your king forsook,
And were untrue. 

For stone on stone shall none be left
But down to ground shall all be cast.
Your game, your glee - all from you reft,
And all for sins that now are past.
You are unkind.
Against your king you have trespassed;
Keep this in mind.

Porter, you may have this ass again.
At hand my Lord comes, on his feet.

Behold where all the burgesses bain
Come with worship, him to meet.
Therefore I do
Allow him passage on this street
And praise him too.

Hail, prophet proven without peer.
Hail, prince of peace shall ever endure.
Hail, king comely, courteous, clear.
Hail, sovereign seemly, salvation sure.
To bow we choose;
Hail, lord lovely, who cares can cure.
Hail, king of Jews.

Hail, flourishing flower that never shall fade.
Hail, violet vernant with sweet odour.
Hail, mark of mirth, our medicine made.
Hail, blossom bright, hail our succour.
Hail, king comely.
Hail, mighty man, you we honour
With heart freely.

Hail, son of David, doughty indeed.
Hail, rose ruddy; hail, beryl clear.
Hail, well of wealth, friend in our need.
Hail, healer of our sores and tears;
We worship thee.
Hail, worthy one with solace; here
Welcome be.

Hail, blissful babe in Bethlehem born.
Hail, boon to all our bitter bales.
Hail, being who brought both even and morn.
Hail, trustworthy teller of true tales.
Hail, comely knight.
Hail, of mood that most prevails;
Save those bound tight.

Hail, diamond set in jewellery light.
Hail, gentle jasper of Jewry.
Hail, lovely lily, learned with light.
Hail, soothing ointment, moist and dry
To all who need.
Hail, bairn most blessed of mild Mary.
Hail, all our meed.

Hail, conqueror; hail, most of might.
Hail, ransomer of sinful all.
Hail, pitiful one; hail lovely light.
Hail, welcome to us shall.
Hail, king of Jews.
Hail, comely creature that we call.
Our mirth renews.

Hail, sun shining with bright beams.
Hail, lamp of life shall never waste.
Hail, fair lantern that lovely gleams.
Hail, text of truth, the true to taste.
Hail, king and sire.
Hail, maiden's babe that honoured her most;
You we desire.

Hail, dread doomsman that all shall deem.
Hail, quick and dead, your praise we shout.
Hail, most fit for worship you seem.
Hail, whom all shall dread and doubt.
We welcome thee;
Hail, and welcome all about
To our city.

[Then they sing.]

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