The Nativity

Joseph
Lord, what travayl to man is wrought!
Rest in þis werd behovyth hym non.
Octauyan, oure emperour, sadly hath besought;
Oure trybute hym to bere folk must forth ichon;
It is cryed in every bourgh and cety be name.
I þat am a pore tymbre-wryth
Born of þe blood of Dauyd,
þe emperorys comawndement I must holde with,
And ellys I were to blame.
Now, my wyff, Mary, what sey 3e to this?
For sekyr, nedys I must forth wende
Onto þe cyté of Bedleern fer hens, iwys.
þus to labore I muste my body bende.
Myn husbond and my spowse, with 3ow wyl I wende;
A syght of þat cyté fayn wolde I se.
If I myght of myn alye ony fer fynde,
It wold be grett joyd onto me.
Joseph
My spowse, 3e be with childe, I fere 3ow to kary,
For mesemyth it were werkys wylde.
But 3ow to plese ryght fayn wold I.
3itt women ben ethe to greve whan þei be with childe.
Now latt us forth wende as fast as we may,
And almyghty God spede us in oure jurnay.
Maria
A, my swete husbond, wolde 3e telle to me
What tre is 3on standynge vpon 3on hylle?
Joseph
Forsothe, Mary, it is clepyd a chery tre;
In tyme of 3ere 3e myght fede 3ow þeron 3oure fylle.
Turne ageyn, husbond, and beholde 3on tre,
How þat it blomyght now so swetly.
Joseph
Cum on, Mary, þat we worn at 3on cyté,
Or ellys we may be blamyd, I telle 3ow lythly.
Maria
Now, my spowse, I pray 3ow to behold
How þe cheryes growyn vpon 3on tre.
For to haue þerof ryght fayn I wold,
And it plesyd 3ow to labore so mech for me.
Joseph
3oure desyre to fulfylle I xal assay, sekyrly.
Ow! To plucke 3ow of these cheries, it is a werk wylde!
For þe tre is so hy3 it wol not be lyghtly —
þerfore lete hym pluk 3ow cheryes begatt 3ow with childe!
Now, good Lord, I pray the, graunt me þis boun,
To haue of þese cheries and it be 3oure wylle.
Now I thank it God, þis tre bowyth to me down!
I may now gaderyn anowe and etyn my fylle.
Joseph
Ow! I know weyl I haue offendyd my God in Trinyté
Spekyng to my spowse these vnkynde wurdys.
For now I beleve wel it may non other be
But þat my spowse beryght þe Kyngys Son of Blys;
He help us now at oure nede.
Of þe kynrede of Jesse worthely were 3e bore,
Kyngys and patryarkys 3ow beffore.
All þese wurthy of 3oure kynred wore,
As clerkys in story rede.
Maria
Now gramercy, husbond, for 3oure report.
In oure weys wysely late us forth wende.
þe Fadyr allmyghty, he be oure comfort,
þe Holy Gost gloryous, he be oure frende.
Joseph
Heyl, wurchepful sere, and good day!
A ceteceyn of þis cyte 3e seme to be.
Of herborwe for [my] spowse and me I 3ow pray;
For trewly þis woman is ful weré,
And fayn at reste, sere, wold she be.
We wolde fulfylle þe byddynge of oure emperour
For to pay trybute as ryght is oure.
And to kepe ourseselfe from dolowre,
We are come to þis cyté
Ciues
Sere, ostage in þis town know I non
þin wyff and þu in for to slepe;
This ceté is besett with pepyl every won,
And 3ett þei ly withowte, ful every strete.
Withinne no wall, man, comyst þu nowth
Be þu onys withinne þe cyté gate.
Onethys in þe strete a place may be sowth
þeron to rest withowte debate.
Joseph
Nay, sere, debate, þat wyl I nowth —
All such thyngys passyn my powere.
But 3itt my care and all my thought
Is for Mary, my derlynge dere.
A, swete wyff, what xal we do?
Wher xal we logge þis nyght?
Onto þe Fadyr of Heffne pray we so,
Vs to kepe from every wykkyd whyt.
Ciues
Good man, o word I wyl þe sey,
If þu wylt do by þe counsel of me:
3ondyr is an hous of haras þat stant be þe wey;
Amonge þe bestys herboryd may 3e be.
Maria
Now þe Fadyr of Hefne, he mut 3ow 3elde.
His sone in my wombe, forsothe, he is.
He kepe þe and þi good be fryth and felde.
Go we hens, husbond, for now tyme it is.
But herk now, good husbond, a newe rebacyon,
Which in myself I know ryght well:
Cryst, in me hath take incarnacyon,
Sone wele be borne, þe trowth I fele.
In þis pore logge my chawmere I take,
Here for to abyde þe blyssyd byrth
Of hym þat all þis werd dude make.
Betwyn myn sydys I fele he styrth.
Joseph
God be þin help, spowse, it swemyth me sore,
þus febyly loggyd and in so pore degré.
Goddys sone amonge bestys for to be bore —
His woundyr werkys fulfyllyd must be —
In an hous þat is desolat, withowty[n] any wall;
Fyer nor wood non here is.
Maria
Joseph, myn husbond, abydyn here I xal,
For here wyl be born þe Kyngys Sone of Blys.
Joseph
Now, jentyll wyff, be of good myrth,
And if 3e wyl owght haue, telle me what 3e thynk.
I xal not spare for schep nor derth.
Now telle me 3oure lust of mete and drynk.
Maria
For mete and drynk lust I ryght nowth —
Allmyghty God my fode xal be.
Now þat I am in chawmere brought,
I hope ryght well my chylde to se.
Therfore, husbond, of 3oure honesté,
Avoyd 3ow hens out of þis place,
And I alone with humylité
Here xal abyde Goddys hy3 grace.
Joseph
All redy, wyff, 3ow for to plese
I wyl go hens out of 3oure way,
And seke sum mydwyuys 3ow for to ese
Whan þat 3e trauayle of childe þis day.
Farewell, trewe wyff and also clene may,
God be 3oure comforte in Trinyté.
Maria
To God in hevyn for 3ow I pray,
He 3ow preserve wherso 3e be.

Hic dum Joseph est absens parit Maria Filium Vnigenitum.


Joseph
Now God, of whom comyth all releffe,
And as all grace in þe is grownde,
So saue my wyff from hurt and greffe
Tyl I sum mydwyuys for here haue fownde.
Travelynge women in care be bownde
With grete throwys whan þei do grone;
God helpe my wyff þat sche not swownde.
I am ful sory sche is alone!
It is not conucnyent a man to be
þer women gon in travalynge.
Wherfore sum mydwyff fayn wold I se,
My wyff to helpe þat is so 3enge.
Zelomy
Why makyst þu, man, suche mornyng?
Tell me sumdele of 3oure gret mone.
Joseph
My wyf is now in gret longynge,
Trauelyng of chylde, and is alone.
For Godys loue, þat sytt in trone,
As 3e mydwyuys þat kan 3oure good,
Help my 3onge spowse in hast anone.
I drede me sore of þat fayr food!
Salomé
Be of good chere and of glad mood,
We ij mydwyuys with þe wyll go.
þer was nevyr woman in such plyght stood
But we were redy here help to do.
My name is Salomee, all men me knowe
For a mydwyff of wurthy fame.
Whan women travayl, grace doth growe;
þeras I come I had nevyr shame.
Zelomye
And I am Zelomye, men knowe my name,
We tweyn with the wyl go togedyr
And help þi wyff fro hurt and grame.
Com forth, Joseph, go we streyth thedyr.
Joseph
I thank 3ow, damys, 3e comforte my lyff.
Streyte to my spowse walke we þe way.
In þis pore logge lyght Mary my wyff.
Hyre for to comforte, gode frendys, asay.
Salomé
We dare not entre þis logge, in fay —
þer is þerin so gret bryghtnes!
Mone be nyght nor sunne be day
Shone nevyr so clere in þer lyghtnesse!
Zelomye
Into þis hous dare I not gon;
þe woundyrifull lyght doth me affray.
Joseph
Than wyl myself gon in alon
And chere my wyff if þat I may.
All heyl, maydon and wyff, I say!
How dost þu fare? Telle me þi chere.
The for to comforte in gesyn þis day,
Tweyn gode mydwyuis I haue brought here.
The for to helpe, þat art in harde bonde,
Zelomye and Salomee be com with me.
For dowte of drede withowte þei do stond,
And dare not come in for lyght þat they se.

Hic Maria subridendo dicat:


Maria
The myght off e Godhede in his magesté
Wyl not be hyd now at þis whyle.
The chylde þat is born wyl preue his modyr fre,
A very clene mayde, and þerfore I smyle.
Joseph
Why do 3e lawghe, wyff? 3e be to blame!
I pray 3ow, spowse, do no more so!
In happ þe mydwyuys wyl take it to grame,
And at 3oure nede helpe wele non do.
Iff 3e haue nede of mydwyuys, lo,
Perauenture thei wyl gon hens.
þerfor be sad, and 3e may so,
And wynnyth all þe mydwyuis good diligens.
Maria
Husbond, I pray 3ow dysplese 3ow nowth,
þow þat I lawghe and gret joye haue.
Here is þe chylde þis werde hath wrought,
Born now of me, þat allthynge xal saue.
Joseph
I aske 3ow grace, for I dyde raue!
O gracyous childe, I aske mercy.
As þu art Lord and I but knaue,
For3eue me now my gret foly.
Alas, mydwyuis, what haue I seyd?
I pray 3ow com to us more nere,
For here I fynde my wyff a mayd
And in here arme a chylde hath here —
Bothe mayd and modyr sch[e] is in fere!
þat God wole haue may nevyrmore fayle.
Modyr on erth was nevyr non clere
Withowth sche had in byrth travayle.
Zelomy
In byrth trauayle muste sche nedys haue,
Or e!lys no chylde of here is born.
Joseph
I pray 3ow dame, and 3e vowchsaue,
Com se þe chylde my wyff beforn.
Salomé
Grete God be in þis place.
Swete systyr, how fare 3e?
Maria
I thank þe Fadyr of his hy3 grace;
His owyn son and my chylde here 3e may se.
Zelomye
All heyl, Mary, and ryght good morn.
Who was mydwyfe of þis fayr chylde?
Maria
He þat nothynge wyl haue forlorn
Sent me þis babe, and I mayd mylde.
Zelomye
With honde lete me now towch and fele
Yf 3e haue nede of medycyn.
I xal 3ow comforte and helpe ryght wele
As other women yf 3e haue pyn.
Maria
Of þis fayr byrth þat here is myn
Peyne nere grevynge fele I ryght non.
I am clene mayde and pure virgyn;
Tast with 3oure hand 3oureself alon.

Hic palpat Zelomye Beatam Virginem dicens:


Zelomy
O myghtfull God, haue mercy on me!
A merveyle þat nevyr was herd beforn
Here opynly I fele and se:
A fayr chylde of a maydon is born,
And nedyth no waschynge as other don:
Ful clene and pure forsoth is he,
Withoutyn spott or ony polucyon,
His modyr nott hurte of virgynité!
Coom nere, gode systyr Salomé.
Behobde þe brestys of þis clene rnayd,
Ful of fayr mylke how þat þei be,
And hyre chylde clene, as I fyrst sayd.
As other ben nowth fowle arayd,
But clene and pure bothe modyr and chylde.
Of þis matyr I am dysmayd,
To se them both thus vndefyled!
Salomé
It is not trewe, it may nevyr be!
þat bothe be clene I cannot beleve!
A mayd mylke haue nevyr man dyde se,
Ne woman bere chylde withowte grett greve.
I xal nevyr trowe it but I it preve!
With hand towchynge but I assay,
In my conscience it may nevyr cleue
þat sche hath chylde and is a may.
Maria
3ow for to putt clene out of dowth,
Towch with 3oure hand and wele asay.
Wysely ransake and trye þe trewthe owth
Whethyr I be fowlyd or a clene may.

Hic tangit Salomee Mari[am] et, cum arescerit manus eius, vlulando et quasi flendo dicjt:


Salomee
Alas, alas, and weleawaye!
For my grett dowth and fals beleve
Myne hand is ded and drye as claye —
My fals vntrost hath wrought myscheve!
Alas þe tyme þat I was born,
Thus to offende a3ens Goddys myght!
Myn handys power is now all born,
Styff as a stykke, and may nowth plyght.
For I dede tempte þis mayde so bryght
And helde a3ens here pure clennes,
In grett myscheff now am I pyght.
Alas, alas for my lewdnes!
O Lord of Myght, þu knowyst be trowth,
þat I haue evyr had dred of þe.
On every power whyght evyr I haue rowthe,
And 3ove hem almes for loue of þe.
Bothe wyff and wedowe þat askyght, for the,
And frendles chylderyn þat haddyn grett nede,
I dude them cure, and all for the,
And toke no rewarde of them, nor mede.
Now as a wrecch for fals beleve
þat I shewyd in temptynge þis mayde,
My hand is ded and doth me greve.
Alas, þat evyr I here assayde!
Angelus
Woman, þi sorwe to haue delayde,
Wurchep þat childe þat þer is born;
Towch þe clothis þer he is leyde,
For he xal saue all þat is lorn.
Salomee
O gloryous chylde and Kynge of Blysse,
I aske 3ow mercy for my trespace.
I knowlege my synne, I demyd amys.
O blyssyd babe, grawnt me sum grace!
Of 3ow, mayde, also here in þis place
I aske mercy knelynge on kne.
Moste holy mayde, grawnt me solace,
Sum wurde of comforte sey now to me.
Maria
As Goddys aungel to 3ow dede telle,
My chylde is medycyn for every sor.
Towch his clothis be my cowncelle,
3owre hand ful sone he wyl restor.

Hic Salomee tangit fimbriam Christi dicens:


Salomee
A, now blyssyd be þis chylde euyrmore!
þe Sone of God, forsothe he is,
Hath helyd myn hand þat was forlore
Thorwe fals beleve and demynge amys!
In every place I xal telle þis:
Of a clene mayde þat God is born,
And in oure lyknes God now clad is,
Mankend to saue þat was forlorn;
His modyr a mayde as sche was beforn,
Natt fowle polutyd as other women be,
But fayr and fresch as rose on thorn,
Lely-wyte, clene with pure virginyté.
Of þis blyssyd babe my leve now do I take,
And also of 3ow, hy3 Modyr of Blysse.
Of þis grett meracle more knowlege to make,
I xal go telle it in iche place, iwys.
Maria
Farewel, good dame, and God 3oure wey wysse.
In all 3oure jurnay God be 3oure spede!
And of his hy3 mercy þat Lord so 3ow blysse
þat 3e nevyr offende more in word, thought, nore dede.
Zelomy
And I also do take my leve here
Of all þis blyssyd good company,
Praynge 3oure grace bothe fere and nere
On us to spede 3oure endles mercy.
Joseph
The blyssyng of þat Lord þat is most myghty
Mote sprede on 3ow in every place;
Of all 3oure enmyes to haue þe victory,
God þat best may, grawnt 3ow his grace.


2018 Nov 26  10:12:49