The York 2021 Production plays

Contents 2021 Aug 24  19:58:26
The Spicers' Play: The Annunciation and Visitation
The Pewterers' and Founders' Play: Joseph's Trouble about Mary
The Tile Thatchers' Play: The Nativity
The Masons' and Goldsmiths' Play: no Herod, just the Magi

The Spicers' Play: The Annunciation and VisitationContents

Lord God, great marvel is to mean1
how man was made withouten miss,
and set where he should ever have been
withouten bale, biding in bliss;
and how he lost that comfort clean
and was put out from Paradise,
and sithen what sorrows sore were seen,7
sent unto him and to all his,
and how they lay long space
in hell, locken from light,
till God granted them grace
of help, as he had hight.
Then is it needful for to name13
how prophets all God’s counsels kenned,
as prophet Amos in his steven
taught while he lived in land:

Reading from the book

Deus pater disposuit salutem fieri in medio terre
God, the father in heaven18
ordained in earth, mankind to mend;
and to graith it with Godhead even,
His son he said that he should send
to take kind of man-kin,
in a maiden full mild;
so was many saved of sin24
and the foul fiend beguiled.
Isaiah the prophet, as I see,26
says these words for our succour:

Reading from the book

Egredietur virga de Jesse
A wand shall breed of Jesse’s bower,29
and of this same a sign to see:
upon that wand shall spring a flower
whereon the Holy Ghost shall be,
and govern it with great honour.
That wand means unto us
this maiden, even and morn,35
and the flower is Jesus,
of that blest maiden born.
And how he was sent, say we more,38
and how God would his place purvey:
He said, “Son, I shall send before
mine angel to show thee the way” –
of John Baptist he meant there,
for in earth he was ordained aye
to warn the folk that wilful were44
of Christ’s coming, and thus says he:

Reading from the book

Ego quidem baptizo in aqua vos,
autem baptizamini spiritu sancto

After me shall come now48
a man of mights most,
and shall baptise you
in the Holy Ghost.
Thus of Christ’s coming we may see52
how Saint Luke speaks in his gospel:
“From God in heaven is sent,” says he,
“an angel is named Gabriel,
to Nazareth in Galilee,
where the maiden mild did dwell,
that with Joseph should wedded be.58
Her name is Mary” – thus he did tell.
How God his grace displayed
to man in this manner,
and how the angel said,
take heed, all that will hear.

Angelic singing

Hail Mary, full of grace and bliss!64
Our Lord God is with thee,
and has chosen thee for his;
of all women blessed thou be.
What manner of hailing is this,68
thus privily comes to me?
For in mine heart a thought it is,
the tokening that I here see.

Angelic singing: “Ne timeas Maria”

Dread thee not, mild Mary,72
for nothing that may befall,
for thou has found sovereignly
from God a grace over other all.
In chastity of thy body
conceive and bear a child thou shall.
This bidding bring I thee:78
His name Jesu shall thou call.
Mickle of might then shall he be;80
he shall be God, and called God’s son.
David’s seat, his father free,
shall God him give to sit upon.
As king for ever reign shall he,
in Jacob’s house aye for to dwell.
Of his kingdom and dignity86
Shall no man earthy know nor tell.
Thou God’s angel meek and mild,88
how should it be, I thee pray,
that I should conceive a child
of any man by night or day?
I know no man that has defiled
my maidenhood, the sooth to say;
withouten will of works wild94
in chastity I have been aye.
The Holy Ghost shall in thee light;96
high virtue shall to thee hold.
The holy birth of thee so bright
God’s son he shall be called.
Lo, Elizabeth, thy cousin, might
not in her age conceive a child;
but this is the sixth month, full right,102
for her that barren has been told.

Exit Angel

Thou angel, blessed messenger,104
Of God’s will I hold me paid;
I love my Lord with heart clear,
the grace that he has for me laid.
God’s handmaiden, lo me here,
to his will all ready arrayed.
Be it done to me in all manner110
through thy word as thou hast said.

Meeting Elizabeth

Elizabeth, mine own cousin,
methought I covet alway most
to speak with thee, of all my kin,
therefore I come thus in this haste.
Ah, welcome, mild Mary,116
mine own cousin so dear.
Joyful woman am I
That I now see thee here.
Blessed be thou only
of all women without peer,
and the fruit of thy body122
be blessed far and near.
This is a joyful tiding,124
that I may now here see
the mother of my lord king
in this wise come to me.
As soon as the voice of thy hailing
might in mine ears be,
the child in my womb so young130
makes great mirth unto thee.
Now, Lord, blessed be thou aye132
For the grace thou has me lent;
Lord, I love thee, God verray,
for the tidings thou hast sent.
I thank thee night and day,
And pray with good intent
thou make me to thy way;138
to thee my will is bent.
Blessed be thou, best arrayed140
to God through chastity;
thou trowed and held thee paid
at his will for to be.
All that to thee is said
from my lord so free,
such grace as is for thee laid146
shall be fulfilled in thee.
To his grace I will me take,148
in chastity to deal
that dwelleth for his sake
among his maidens all.
My soul shall loving make
unto that lord so loyal,
and my joy shall never slake154
in God that is my heal.

Singing: “Magnificat”

The Pewterers' and Founders' Play: Joseph's Trouble about MaryContents

Of great mourning now may I moan,1
and walk full wearily by this way,
for now weened I best have been
at ease and rest by reason aye,
for I am of great eld,
weak and all unwield,
as each man see it may:7
I may neither bind nor build.
But whether in fell or field,
for shame what shall I say,
that thus now in mine old days11
has wedded a young wench to my wife
and may not well step over two straws?
Now lord, how long shall I lead this life?
The bargain that I made there,
that rues me now full sore,
I am so straitly stead.17
Now casts it me in care,
for might I evermore
a single life have led.
Her works me work my cheeks to wet;21
I am beguiled – how, wot I nought.
My young wife is with child full great,
that makes me now sorrow unsought.
The child certes is not mine;
that reproof does me pain,
and makes me flee from home.27
My troth be herein:
she is a clean virgin
for me, withouten blame.
But well I wot through prophecy31
a maiden clean shall bear a child,
But it is not so, certainly,
therefore I am beguiled.
And why would not some young man take her?
For certes I will go from her
into some woods wild,37
thus think I to steal from her.
God shield no wild beasts slay her!
She is so meek and mild.
Of my wending will I none warn.41
Nevertheless it is mine intent
to ask her who got her that bairn.
That would I wit fain ere I went.
All hail, God be herein!45
Welcome, by God’s dear might!46
Where is that young virgin,47
Mary, my bird so bright?
Certes Joseph, ye shall understand49
that she is here full close
she sits praying near at hand
for you and us and all those
that aught have need.
But for to tell her will I go
of your coming, withouten dread.55
Have done and rise up dame,
and to me take good heed –
Joseph, he is come home.
Welcome, as God me speed.59
Dreadless to me he is full dear.
Joseph my spouse, welcome are ye.
Gramercy Mary, say, what cheer?62
Tell me the sooth, how is’t with thee?
Who has been here?
Thy womb is waxen great, thinks me;
thou art with bairn, alas for care!
Ah, maidens, woe to you
that let her learn such lore.68
Joseph, ye shall not trow69
in her no feeble fare.
Trow it no harm? Good wench, do way!71
Her sides show she is with child.
Whose is’t Mary?
Sir, God’s and yours.74
Nay nay!75
Now wot I well I am beguiled.
And reason why?
With me fleshly was thou ne’er defiled,
and I will stand thereby.
Say, maidens, how is this?
Tell me the sooth, bid I.81
And, but ye do, i-wis,
The bargain shall ye buy.
If ye threat as fast as ye can’84
there is nought to say theretill,
for truly here came never so man
to shame her body with no ill
of this sweet wight.
But we have dwelt aye with her still,
and was never from her day nor night.90
Her keepers have we been,
and she aye in our sight.
Came here no man between
to touch that bird so bright.
Nay, here came no man in this house,95
and that ever witness will we,
save an angel that day once
with bodily food her fed has he;
other came none.
Wherefore we wot not how it should be
But through the Holy Ghost alone.101
For truly we trow this,
his grace with her is gone,
for she wrought never no miss,
we witness ever each one.
Then see I well your meaning is106
The angel has made her with child.
Nay, some man in angel’s likeness
with some game has her beguiled,
and that trow I.
So it needs not such words wild
to carp at me deceivingly.112
Weh! Why gab ye at me so
and feign such fantasy?
Alas, me is full woe!
For dole so might I die!
To my witness great God I call117
that I in mind wrought never no miss.
Whose is the child thou art withal?119
Yours sir, and the king of bliss.120
With great mourning make I my moan!121
Therof be not so bold,
that no such tales be told,
but hold thee still as stone.
Thou art young and I am old,
such works if I would,
these games from me are gone.127
Who had thy maidenhead, Mary?
Hast thou in mind?
Forsooth, I am a maiden clean.130
Nay, thou speaks now against kind;131
such thing has never been
a maiden to be with child.
Those words from thee are wild.
She was not born, I ween.
Joseph, ye are beguiled.136
With no sin was I never defiled;
God’s sign is on me seen.
God’s sign? Yea Mary, God help!139
But certes that child was never ours two.
Certes, it is God’s command;141
from that shall I never go.
Yea, Mary, withdraw thy hand;143
I trow it not be so.
The truth from me though thou refrain,
the child-bearing thou may not hide.
But sit still here till I come again;
I have an errand here beside.
Now great God be your guide,149
and mend you of your miss
of me, what so betide.
As he is king of bliss,
send you some seeing of this,
the truth that ye might bide.
Now lord God that all thing may155
at thy will both do and dress,
show me some ready way
to walk here in this wilderness.
But ere I pass this hill,
do with me what God will.
Either more or less161
here must I bide full still
till I have slept my fill,
my heart so heavy is.


Waken, Joseph, and take better keep165
to Mary, that is thy fellow fast.
I am full weary, sir, let me sleep,167
for wandering and walking in this forest.
Rise up and sleep no more,169
thou makest her heart so sore
that loves thee as the best.
Weh! This is a fine affair,172
for to be chased both here and there,
and nowhere may have rest.
Say, what art thou? Tell me this thing.
I, Gabriel, God’s angel am,176
that has taken Mary to my keeping,
and sent is thee to say full even:
in loyal wedlock thou lead thee.
Leave her not, I forbid thee,
no sin in her thou name,
but to her fast thou speed thee,182
and of her nought dread thee;
it is God’s sign from heaven.
The child that shall be born of her,185
it is conceived of the Holy Ghost;
all joy and bliss shall be after,
and now to all mankind the most.
Jesus his name thou call,
for such hap shall him fall
as thou shall see in haste:191
his people save he shall
of evils and angers all
that they are now embraced.
And is this sooth, Angel, thou says?195
Yea, and this to take aright:196
wend forth to Mary thy wife always,
bring her to Bethlehem this same night.
There shall a child born be,
God’s son of heaven is he,
And man aye most of might.
Now Lord God, full well is me202
that ever that I this sight should see,
I was never ere so light.
For I would have her thus refused,205
and sinless blamed that aye was clear,
I must pray her hold me excused,
as some men do with full good cheer.
Say, Mary wife, how fares thou?
The better sir for you.210
Why stand ye there? Come near.
My back fain would I bow212
and ask forgiveness now,
wist I thou would me hear.
Forgiveness sir? Let be for shame.215
Such words should all good women lack.
Yea, Mary, I am to blame217
for words long-ere I to thee spake.
But gather up now all our gear,
such poor weeds as we wear,
and put them in a pack.
To Bethlehem I must it bear
for little things cause women care.223
Help up now on my back!

The Tile Thatchers' Play: The NativityContents

All-wielding God in trinity,1
I pray thee Lord, for thy great might,
Unto thy simple servant see,
here is this place where we are pight,
Ourselves alone.
Lord, grant us good harbour this night
within this town.7
For we have sought both up and down8
Through diverse streets in this city.
So mickle people is come to town
that we can nowhere harboured be,
there is such press;
forsooth, can I no succour see
but bide us with these beasts.14
For in great need now are we stead,15
as thou thyself the sooth may see,
for here is neither cloth nor bed,
and we are weak and all weary,
that does me rue.
Say, Mary daughter, what is thy rede?
How shall we do?21
God will us guide, full well wit ye,22
therefore Joseph be of good cheer,
for in this place born will he be
that shall us save from sorrows sore
both even and morn.
Sir, wit ye well, the time is near
he will be born.28
Then behoves us bide here still,29
Here in this same place this night.
Yea sir, forsooth, it is God’s will.31
Then would I fain we had some light,32
whatso befall.
It waxes right murk unto my sight,
and cold withal.
I will go get us light beside,
and fuel find with me to bring.

Exit Joseph

All-wielding God you govern and guide,38
as he is sovereign of all thing
for his great might,
and lend me grace to his lauding
in this night.
Now in my soul great joy have I,43
I am all clad in comfort clear.
Now will be born of my body
both God and man together here.
Blest may he be,
Jesu my son that is so dear,
now born is he.49
Hail my Lord God, hail prince of peace;50
Hail my father, and hail my son;
Hail sovereign saviour all sins to cease;
Hail God and man in earthly home.
Hail, through whose might
all this world was first begun,
darkness and light.56
Son, as I am simple subject of thine,57
vouchsafe, sweet son I pray thee,
that I might thee take in these arms of mine
and in these poor weeds to array thee.
Grant me thy bliss,
as I am thy mother chosen to be
in soothfastness.63

Enter Joseph

Ah, Lord God, what the weather is cold,64
the foulest freeze that ever I felt.
I pray God help them that is old,
and namely them that is unwield,
so may I say.
Now, good God, thou be my shield
as thou best may.70
Ah, Lord God, what light is this71
that comes shining so suddenly?
I cannot say, as have I bliss.
When I come home to Mary,
I shall ask her.
Ah, praise be God, for now come I!
Ye are welcome sir.77
Say Mary daughter, what cheer with thee?78
Right good, Joseph, as has been aye.79
O Mary, what sweet thing is that on thy knee?80
It is my son, the sooth to say,81
that is so good
Well is me that I bode this day83
to see this food.
Me marvels mickle of this light
that thus-wise shines in this place,
forsooth, it is a wondrous sight.
This he has ordained of his grace,88
my son so young,
a star to be shining a space at his bearing.
Now welcome, flower, fairest of hue,91
I worship thee with main and might.
Hail my maker, hail Christ Jesu;
Hail royal king, root of all right;
Hail saviour.
Hail my lord, lantern of light;
Hail blessed flower.97
Now lord that all this world shall win,98
to thee my son this word I say:
Here is no bed to lay thee in,
therefore my dear son I thee pray,
since it is so,
here in this crib I might thee lay,
between these beasts two.104
Thou merciful maker, most mighty,105
My God, my lord, my son so free,
thy handmaiden forsooth am I,
and to thy service I bind me,
with all mine heart entire.
Thy blessing beseech I thee,
thou grant to all are here.111

The Masons' and Goldsmiths' Play: no Herod, just the MagiContents

1st KING
Ah, lord that lives, everlasting light,1
I love thee ever with heart and hand
that me has made to see this sight
while my kindred was longing.
They said a star with beams bright
out of the east should stably stand,
and that it should mean mickle might7
of one that should be lord in land,
that men from sin should save.
And certes I shall say,
God grant me hap to have,
and knowing of ready way.
2nd KING
All-wielding God that all has wrought,13
I worship thee as is worthy,
that with thy brightness has me brought
out of my realm, rich Araby.
I shall nought say till I have sought
what marvel it shall signify.
God grant me grace to get good company,19
and my comfort increase
with thy star shining sheen,
for certes I shall not cease
till I wit what it mean.
3rd KING
Lord God that all good has begun24
and all may end, both good and evil,
that made for man both moon and sun,
and stayed yon star to stand stone still,
till I the cause may understand,
God guide me with his worthy will.
I hope I have here fellows found30
my yearning faithfully to fulfil.
Sirs, God you save and see,
and keep you ever from woe.
1st KING
Amen, so might it be,34
and save you sir also.
3rd KING
Sirs, with your will, I would you pray36
to tell me some of your intent,
whither ye wend forth in this way,
and from what country ye are went?
2nd KING
Full gladly, sir, I shall you say.40
A sudden sight was to us sent,
a royal star that rose ere day
before us in the firmament,
that made me fare from home
some point thereof to prove.
3rd KING
Certes, sirs, I saw the same46
that makes me thus to move.
For sirs, I have heard say certain
it should be seen by others here,
and further thereof I would learn
That makes me move in this manner.
1st KING
Sir, Isaiah says a maiden young52
shall bear a child among Hebrews,
that of all countries shall be king
and govern all that on earth grows.
2nd KING
Sirs, the proved prophet Hosee56
full truly told in town and tower
that a maiden of Israel, says he,
shall bear one like to the lily flower.
3rd KING
Balaam told full long before60
how a star should rise full high,
and of a maiden should be born
a son that shall our saving be.
1st KING
Sirs, of fellowship are we fain,64
Now wend we forth all together.
God grant us ere we come again
some good hearting thereof to hear.
Sirs, here is Jerusalem
to guide us as we go,
and beyond is Bethlehem;70
there shall we seek also.

The Kings travel; the star disappears

1st KING
Ah, sirs, for sight what shall I say?72
Where is our sign? I see it not.
2nd King
No more do I. Now dare I lay74
in our wending some wrong is wrought.
3rd KING
Unto that prince I rede we pray,76
that to us sent his sign unsought,
that he guide us in ready way
so friendly that we find him might.

They pray; the star re-appears

Ah sirs, I see it stand80
above where he is born.
Lo, here is the house at hand;
we have not missed this morn.
Whom seek ye sirs, by ways wild,84
with talking, travelling to and fro?
Here dwells a woman with her child
and her husband; here are no more.
2nd KING
We seek a bairn that all shall shield,88
his certain sign hath said us so,
and his mother, a maiden mild;
here hope we to find them two.
Come near good sirs and see;92
your way to end is brought.
3rd KING
Behold here, sirs, and see94
the same that ye have sought.
1st KING
Loved be that lord that lasteth aye,96
that has us kenned thus courteously
to wend by many a wildsome way,
and come to this clean company.
2nd KING
Let us make now no more delay,100
but straight take forth our treasury
and ordain gifts of good array
to worship him as is worthy.
3rd King
He is worthy to wield104
all wealth and worship to win;
and for honour and eld
brother, ye shall begin.
1st KING
Hail, fairest of field, folk for to find,108
from the fiend and his fellows faithfully us fend.
Hail, the best that shall be born to unbind
all the bairns that are born and in sin bound.
Hail, thou mark us thy men and keep us in mind,
since thy might is on earth mis-ease to amend.
Hail, clean that is comen of a king’s kind,114
and shall be king of all this kith, all clergy have kenned.
And since it shall be in this wise,
thyself have I sought, son, I say thee,
with gold that is greatest of price;
be pleased with this present, I pray thee.
2nd KING
Hail, food that thy folk fully may feed,120
Hail, flower fairest that never shall fade,
Hail, son, that is sent from this same seed
that shall save us from sin that our sires had.
Hail, mild, that art come to purvey for our need,
of a maid matchless thy mother thou made.
In that good through grace of thy godhead126
as the gleam in the glass gladly thou glowed.
And since thou shall sit for to deem
to hell or to heaven to have us,
let incense thy service beseem.
Son, see to thy subjects and save us.
3rd KING
Hail, bairn that is best our bales to beat,132
for our heal shall thou be bounden and stretched.
Hail, friend faithful, we fall at thy feet,
thy father’s folk from the fiend to be fetched.
Hail man that is made mankind to meet,
since thou and thy mother with mirth are met,
Hail duke that drives death under foot,138
but when thy deeds are done, to die is thy debt.
And since thy body buried shall be,
this myrrh will I give to thy graving,
the gift is not great of degree;
receive it, and see to our saving.
Sir kings, ye travel not in vain.144
As ye have meant, here may ye find,
for I conceived my son, certain,
withouten miss of man in mind,
and bore him here withouten pain,
where women are wont to be pained
God’s angel, in his greeting plain150
said he should comfort all mankind,
therefore doubt you none ill
here for to have your boon.
I shall witness full well
all that is said and done.
1st KING
All is performed that we for prayed.156
But good bairn, give us thy blessing.
Fair hap is before us laid.
For solace, sirs, now may we sing.

2021 Aug 24  19:58:26