The Annunciation

God
Since I have made all thing of nought
And Adam with my hands I wrought.
Like to mine image at my devising,
To give them joy in Paradise
To dwell therein as I had planned -
Until they did what I forbade.
Then I put them out of that place.
But yet, I mind, I promised them grace;
Now they have felt their sin full sore
These five thousand years and more
First on earth, and then in hell:
But long therein shall they not dwell.
Out of pain they shall be brought,
I will not lose what I have wrought.
I will make redemption!
Righteousness will we make:
I will that my Son manhood take.
My prophets words are true and loyal
As they have said, it shall befall.
My Son shall in a maiden light,
Agains’ the fiend of hell to fight.
Withouten spot as sun through glass
And she a maiden as she was.
Both God and man shall He be
And she, mother and maiden free.
Rise up, Gabriel, and wend

[Gabriel approaches]


Unto a maiden that is kind
To Nazareth in Galilee
There she dwells in that city.
To that virgin and to that spouse
To a man of David’s house.
Joseph, the man is named by.
And the maiden named Mary.
On my behalf thou shall her greet
I have her chosen, that maiden sweet,
She shall conceive my darling
Through thy word and her hearing.
She shall of her body clean
Bear God and man withouten pain.
She shall be blessed withouten end
Prepare thee, Gabriel, and wend!

[Here Gabriel goes to Mary]


Gabriel
Hail Mary gracious
Hail, maiden and Godes spouse
Unto thee I bow.
Of all virgins thou art queen
That ever was - or shall be - seen,
Withouten doubt.
Hail, Mary, and well thou be;
My Lord of Heaven is with thee
Withouten end.
Hail, full of grace of God indeed.
Goodly lady, have thou no dread
That I commend.
This is the grace that thee betides:
Thou shall conceive within thy sides
A child of power.
When he is comen, this thy son
He shall take circumcision.
Call him Jesus.
Mightful man shall he be indeed
God’s true son he shall be called,
A throne to sit.
He shall be king of David’s line;
His kingdom never shall decline
Lady, well thou wit.
Mary
What is thy name?
Gabriel
Gabriel, Godes strength and his angel
That comes to thee.
Mary
Wondrous greeting thou me greets
Of a child to bear thou me speaks -
How should this be?
I came never by man’s side
But have avowed my maidenhood
From fleshly fate.
Therefore I know not how
This may be broken; it is a vow
That I have made.
Nevertheless, well I see
To work this word as thou has said
God full able is.
But I know not how, of what manner;
Therefore I pray thee, messenger,
That thou me guide and tell.
Gabriel
Lady, this is the mystery:
The Holy Ghost shall light in thee
God’s word to fulfil -
His virtue shall thee overshade
That thy maidenhood shall never fade
But be ever new.
The child that thou shall bear, madam,
Shall God’s Son be called by name,
And see, Mary,
Elizabeth - thy cousin, who is barren called
She has conceived a son in elde
Of Zachary. [Elizabeth appears in a vision]
And this is - now have knowing -
The sixth month of her conceiving
That barren was called.
No word, lady, that I thee bring
Is impossible to heaven’s King
But all shall hold.
Mary
I love my God almighty
I am his servant here at hand
And at his call.
I believe the promise thou me bring
Be done to me in all thing
As thou has told!
Gabriel
Mary, maiden kind
My way to God I wend
My leave of thee I take.
Mary
Go to my friend
Who did thee send
For mankind’s sake.

[Gabriel and then Mary withdraw to singing]


[Joseph enters]


Joseph
Almighty God, what may this be!
Of Mary my wife I marvel me;
Alas, what has she wrought?
Ah, her belly is great and she with child!
By me was she never defiled,
Therefore mine is it nought.
Full of sorrow is my life,
That ever I wed so young a wife:
That bargain was a bane.
To me this deed was full of care,
I might well wot a young girl fair
Would have liking of man.
I am old, soothly to say,
Past I am all pleasant play,
The games from me are gone.
We are ill coupled, young and old:
For I could not with her make bold
Some other has she ta’en.
She is with child, I know never how;
Now, who would any woman trow
For wicked ways so wild?
I wot not in the world, what I should do;
But now then will I wend her to,
And learn whose is that child.
Hail, Mary, and well ye be!
But why, woman, what cheer with thee?
Mary
The better, sir, for you.
Joseph
So would, I, woman, that ye were;
But certain, Mary, I rue full sore
How stand things with thee now.
And of a thing chide thee I shall:
Whose is this child, thou go’st withal?
Mary
Sir, yours, and God’s in Heaven.
Joseph
Mine, Mary? do way thy din;
That I should have a part therein
Thou needs it not to feign.
Why falsehoods spin’st thou me thereto?
I had never with thee to do:
How should it then be mine?
Whose is that child, so God thee speed?
Mary
Sir, God’s and yours, withouten dread.
Joseph
Be still those words of thine,
For it is nought with me to do.
And I repent me thou has done so
These ill deeds I ween.
And if thou thought thyself to kill,
It were full sore against my will,
But better might have been.
Mary
At God’s will, Joseph, must it be,
For certainly, but God and ye
I know no other man;
My flesh has never been defiled.
Joseph
How should thou thus then be with child?
Excuse thee well thou can.
I blame thee not, so God me save,
Woman’s weakness if that thou have;
But certes I say thee this:
Well wot thou, and so do I,
Thy body shames thee openly,
That thou hast done amiss.
Mary
I tell you, God knows all my doing.
Joseph
Wey! Now, this is a wonder thing:
I can nought say thereto.
But my heart does ache full sore,
And aye the longer more and more,
For dole what shall I do?
God’s and mine she says it is -
I will not father it, she speaks amiss.
It were shame if I should her let,
To hide her villainy by me.
With her I can no longer be;
I rue that ever we met.
I left her in good peace thought I;
Into the country I went on high,
To work with might and main.
To get our living I must need;
Of Mary I prayed our friends take heed,
Till that I came again.
Nine months was I from Mary mild;
When I came home she was with child,
Alas, I said, for shame!
I asked her women who that had done,
And they me said an angel came,
Since that I went from home.
An angel spake with that wight,
And no man else, by day nor night,
“Sir, thereof be ye bold.”
They excused her thus soothly,
To make her clean of her folly,
Mocked like a baby, me that was old.
Should an angel this deed have wrought?
Such excuses help nought,
Nor no cunning that they can.
A heavenly thing, forsooth, is he,
And she is earthly; this may not be,
It is some other man.
Yet soothly, if it so befall,
God’s son that she be withal,
If such grace might betide,
I wot well that I am not he,
Which that is worthy to be
That blessed body beside,
Nor yet be in her company.
To wilderness I will forth hie
Alone my fate deplore,
And never longer with her deal,
But softly shall I from her steal,
That meet shall we no more.

[An Angel appears]


Angel
Go way Joseph, and mend thy thought,
I warn thee well, so wend thou not,
To wilderness so wild.
Turn home to thy spouse again,
Look thou see in her no shame,
She never was defiled.
Wot thou no wicked work here was,
She has conceived by Holy Ghost,
And she shall bear God’s son.
Therefore with her, in thy degree,
Meek and obedient look thou be,
And with her make your home.
Joseph
Ah, Lord, I love thee all alone,
That vouchsafest I be the one
To tend that child so young.
I, that thus have ingrately done,
And foul falsehood cast upon
Mary, that dear darling.
I rue full sore what I have said,
And of her birthing her upbraid,
When she not guilty is.
Forthwith to her now will I wend,
And pray her for to be my friend,
And ask of her forgiveness.
Ah, Mary, wife, what cheer?
Mary
The better, sir, that ye are here;
Thus long where have ye went?
Joseph
Certes, walked about, all wobegone,
And wrongfully did thee bemoan;
I wist never what I meant;
But I wot well, my love so free,
I have trespassed to God and thee;
Forgive me, I thee pray.
Mary
Now all that ever ye said me to,
God forgive you, and I do,
With all the might I may.
Joseph
Gramercy, Mary, thy goodwill
Forgives so kindly all I said ill,
When I did thee upbraid.
But happy who has such a child,
Ah, gentle wife, he needs not gold,
But may hold him well paid.
Ah, I am light as leaf on wind!
He that may both loose and bind,
And every ill amend,
Give me grace, power, and might,
My wife and her sweet young wight
To keep, to my life’s end.


2016 Sep 23  23:13:35