Friday, October 15, 2004

More mysteries...

More goodness from William Hone's book about mystery plays.
Mary and Joseph have by this time reached the home of Elizabeth and Zachery.
Joseph A! A! wyff, in feyth I am wery;
therefore I wole sytt downe & rest me ryght her'.
Lo wyff! her is the hous of Zakary
Wole ye I'clepe [call] Elyzabeth to yow to aper?

Mary Nay, husbond, and it please you I shall go ner.
Now the blyssed trynite [!!!] be in this hous!
A! cosyn Elizabeth! swete modyr! what cher?
Ye grow grett; A, my God! how ye be gracyous!

Elizabeth A non, as I herd of yow this holy gretynge
Mekest mayden & the modyr of god, Mary,
Be yo' bret, the holy gost vs was inspyrynge,
That the childe in my body enjoyd gretly,
And turnyd down, on his knee to our god reverently,
Whom ye ber' in your body.
The cousins then exchange blessings and news and sing the Magnificat together. Mary then suggests that they adopt the practice of praying it 'Euery day amonge us, at our eve song.' (I'd never heard that explaination for the structure of vespers before...)
There then follows a somewhat comic interlude in which Joseph questions the dumb Zachary: 'Why shake ye so yo' hed? hane ye the palsye? Why speke ye not ser'? I trowe ye ar' not wroth.' The play finishes with the birth of St John the Baptist three months later.
It was then followed by another play called the 'Trial of Mary and Joseph'. In this two 'detractors' speak ill of Mary and Joseph - Mary because she broke her vow of virginity, Joseph because he either violated Mary or was a cuckold. The local Episcopus (!!!) overhears and tries Mary and Joseph along with two 'Doctors of the Law'. Thankfully, the virtue of Mary and Joseph is vindicated by the use of a truth serum (the water of vengence). One of the detractors also drinks the water and 'becomes frantic from the draught' until forgiven and healed by Mary.
Te mystery plays continue and draw heavily on Protoevangelium of James. Curiously, despite its non-canonical status, readings from the Protoevangelium were included in the Roman Breviary before the reform of the office.

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