17. The Hatmakers, Masons, and Labourers' Play: The Purification

PRIEST: 
Almighty God, in Heaven so high,
The maker of all Heaven and Earth,
He ordained here all things evenly
For man; he meant to mend his mirth.

In number, weight, and measure fine
God created here all things, I say.
His laws he bade men should not defy,
But keep his commandments, and obey.

Upon the mount of Sinai fair,
And on two tables, you to tell,
God gave his laws to Moses there,
To give to the children of Israel,

So Moses should them guide thereby,
And teach them loyally to know God's will-
And so that they should not deny,
But keep his laws stable, and still.

For a punishment he ordained therefore:
To stone all those that keep it not
Utterly to death, both less and more.
No mercy must for them be sought.

Therefore, keep well God's commandment,
And lead your life by His laws,
Or else you surely shall be rent,
Both less and more, each one in these rows.

This is his will, in Moses' law:
That you should bring your livestock good
And offer it here, your God to know,
And from your sins to turn your mood.

Such beasts as God has ordained here,
Unto Moses he spoke, as I you tell,
And bade him boldly, with good cheer,
To say to the children of Israel

That after diverse sickness severe
And after diverse sins also
Go bring your beasts to the priest, even here,
To offer them up in God's sight, lo!

The woman who has borne her child,
She shall come here on the fortieth day
To be purified, where she was defiled,
And bring with her a lamb, I say,

And two turtledoves for her offering, and
She shall take them up to the priest that day,
Who shall offer them up with his holy hand;
There should no man to this say "nay."

The lamb is offered for God's honour, sure
To be given only in sacrifice, while
The priest's own prayer shall purchase a pure
Renewal for the woman that was defiled.

And if it should happen that she is poor
And has no lamb that she can bring,
Two turtle-doves to God's honour
She shall bring with her for her offering.

Lo, here am I, priest present each day,
To receive all offerings hither brought,
And for the people to God to pray,
That health and life to them be wrought.


ANNA THE PROPHETESS:
Here in this holy place, I say
It is my purpose always to be,
To serve my God both night and day,
With prayer and fasting constantly.

For I've been a widow for sixty year
And four, the honest truth to tell,
And here I've waited with full good cheer
For the redemption of Israel.

And so, for my holy dedication,
Great grace to me has God now sent:
To tell by prophecy for man's redemption
What shall befall, by God's intent.

I tell you all here in this place,
By God's power in prophecy,
That one is born to our solace,
Here to be present, certainly,
Within this place.
Of his own mother, a maiden free,
Of all virgins the most chaste, truly,
The well of meekness, blessed may she be,
Most full of grace.

And Simeon, that old senior,
Who is so seemly in God's sight,
He shall see, and do honour,
And in his arms he shall alight,
That worthy lad.
From the Holy Spirit he shall truly
Take strength, and answer when he shall be
Brought forth to this temple and place holy
To do that deed.


SIMEON:
Ah, blessed God, now be my shield;
Defeat my misery, night and day.
In heaviness my heart is held,
Unto myself, lo, thus I say.
For I am weak, and all unwell;
My joy is gone and passed away,
Wherever I go, in forest or field,
So feeble I am that I stumble, I say.

I say that I stumble wherever I fare;
In hair, and in hue, and in hide, I say,
I wish that out of this life I were.
Thus I wax worse and worse each day,
And my misery grows in all that it may,
Unless you, O Lord, my mourning should cure;
Cure it, for it would well me repay.
So happy to see him:  if I were,

Now, surely then should my joy begin,
If I might see him.  Of him to tell,
That one is born without sin,
And for mankind here to dwell.
Born of a woman and maiden free,
As witnessed David and Daniel,
Without sin or villainy,
As said also Ezekiel.

And Malachi, that wise prophet as well,
Has told us of this babe so bright,
That he should come with us to dwell
In our temple, like a beam of light.
And other prophets prophesied
And of this blessed babe did tell,
And of his mother, a maiden bright,
In prophecy the truth they tell:

That he should come and harrow Hell,
Like a giant, quickly to glide
And fiercely the devils' malice to quell
And throw their power all aside.
The worthiest one in the world so wide,
His powers so great no tongue can tell;
He sends all succor on every side,
As redemption for Israel.
Thus say they all,
Those patriarchs and prophets clear:
"A babe is born as saviour here,
Knit in our flesh for all our cheer,
Both great and small."

Yes, well were I for ever and ay
If I might see that babe so bright,
Before I'm buried here in clay.
Then would my body mend in might
Right faithfully.
Now, Lord, please grant me your grace
To live here in this world a space
That I might see that infant's face
Before I die.

Ah, Lord God, I think I may endure;
We believe that babe shall find me here.
Now surely, with age I am so poor
That ever it abates my cheer.

Yet if nature fails for the age in me,
God yet may lengthen my life, surely,
Till I that babe and food so free
Have seen with sight.
For truly, if I knew release,
Then nothing could cause my heart unease.
Lord, lend me grace, if you please,
And make me light.

When will you come?  Let see, have done;
Nay, come at once, and tarry not,
For surely, my life-days are nearly done,
For age to me great woe has wrought.

Great woe is wrought to the heart of a man
When he must lack what he would have;
I hope to have no health again
Until I have seen that which I crave.

Ah, think you these two eyes shall see
That blessed babe before they go out?
Yea, I pray God that it might be;
Then I were put all out of doubt.


ANGEL:
Old Simeon, God's servant right,
Good news to you I bring, I say.
For the Holy Spirit most of might
Says that you shall not die away
Until you've seen
Jesus, the babe that Mary bore
For all mankind, to slake their care.
He shall make comfort for less and more,
By morn and even.


SIMEON:
Ah, Lord, great thanks to you I say,
That grace to give to me aright,
Before I am buried here in clay,
To see that seemly beam so bright.

No man on Earth so well can be,
Compared to my solace and mirth today:
To see upon that Mary's knee
Jesus, my joy and saviour ay,
Blessed be his name.
Lo, now I can see, the truth to tell,
The redemption of Israel,
Jesus, my lord Emmanuel,
Without blame.


MARY:	
Joseph, my husband and my peer,
If you will to me take intent,
I will show you in this manner
What I will do.  Thus have I meant:
Full forty days, now, came and went
Since that my babe Jesus was born.
Therefore, I would him now present
As Moses' law told us before,

Here in this temple, before God's sight,
As other women do, as I see.
So I think it good and right
To do the same now, cheerfully,
After God's law.


JOSEPH:
Mary, my spouse, and maiden pure,
This custom that you mention to me
Is for those women, rich and poor,
Who have conceived with sin, fleshly,
To bear a child.
The law is written for them, quite plain,
That they must be purified again,
For, in man's pleasure for certain,
They were before defiled.

But Mary, my lady, you need not do so,
For this cause to be purified, lo,
In God's temple.
For surely you are a pure virgin
In every thought, your heart within;
Nor ever wrought you fleshly sin,
Nor any ill.


MARY:	
That I my maidenhead have kept still,
That is only through God's will,
You may be sure.
Yet to fulfil the law truly 
That comes down from the Almighty,
And as an example of humility,
I would offer.


JOSEPH:
Ah, Mary, blessed will you be ay;
You always wish to do God's will.
As you have said, Mary, so I say;
I will gladly consent theretill
Without a doubt.
Therefore, let us prepare our way
And make our offering to God today,
Just as you yourself do say,
With hearts devout.


MARY:	
To do so, I am ready here.
But one thing, Joseph, is amiss.

JOSEPH:
Mary, my spouse and maiden clear,
What is your trouble?  Tell me this.
MARY:	Both beast and birds we must needs have:
A lamb and two dove-birds also.
But we have no lamb, nor may not crave.
Therefore, Joseph, what do you now
Advise we did?
If we do not as custom is,
Then blameworthy are we; and this
Is what I fear shall be amiss,
Which God forbid.

JOSEPH:  
Ah.  Good Mary, the law is this:
The rich must offer both lamb and bird
(The two white turtledoves, that is);
Two doves alone are well preferred
For the poor's offering.
And, Mary, we have these dove-birds two,
As well befits.  Now let us go;
They are in this basket, lo,
For us to bring.

And if we have not everything-
The lamb and birds that rich men have-
Remember, we are offering
Our baby, Jesus, as we vouchsafe
Before God's sight.
He is our lamb, Mary, so fear not;
For wealth and power, none better is sought.
Well indeed you have him brought,
Our offering good.

He is the lamb of God, I say,
That all our sins shall take away
From this world here.
He is the lamb of God, indeed,
Defending us from all misdeeds,
Born of your womb, he has us freed,
For our good cheer.

MARY:	
Joseph, my spouse, what you say is true.
Let us go forth on our way.

JOSEPH: 
Let us go, Mary, and do our due,
And meekly make offering today.
Lo, here is the temple, on this hill,
And also the priest, ordained by skill,
Power having.
And, Mary, let us go there quickly,
And let us both kneel there devoutly,
And offer up to God, meekly,
Our due offering.

MARY:	
Unto my God, highest in Heaven,
And to this priest ordained by skill,
Jesus my baby, I offer him,
Here with my heart and my good will,
Right heartily.
Now, pray for us to God on height,
O priest, present here, with his might,
That this deed may, in his sight,
Be deemed worthy.

JOSEPH: 
Lo, sir, and two dove-birds are here.
Receive them with your holy hands.
We have no more to give, I fear,
For we have neither rents nor lands,
Truly.
But, good sir, pray to God in thought
To accept these things, that we have brought,
That we have offered as we ought
Here, heartily.

PRIEST: 
O God, and granter of all grace,
Blessed be your name, both night and day.
Accept this offering in this place,
That is given to you alway.
Ah, blessed Lord, say never "nay,"
But let this offering be curative
To all such folk living here on clay,
Who humbly thus to you will give.

This baby, lord, here in your sight,
Born of a maiden's womb undefiled-
Accept him, Lord, as a special gift
Given to us all, both elder and child,
So specially.
If this babe, born and offered here,
May defend us, then we need not fear,
But always shall his grace declare,
Here, eagerly.

Ah, blessÚd babe!  Now, welcome be,
Born of a maiden in chastity.
You are our shield, our joy and glee,
I say truly.
Welcome, our wit and our wisdom;
Welcome our joy, all and sum;
Welcome, redemptor omnium,
To us, heartily.

ANNA:	
Welcome, blessÚd Mary, and maiden ay;
Welcome, most humble in your array;
Welcome, bright star that shines like day,
All for our bliss.
Welcome, the blessÚd beam so bright;
Welcome, the source of all our light;
Welcome, the one who pleasure has plight
To all of us.

Welcome, blessÚd babe so free;
Welcome, our welfare bodily;
And welcome, joy of all, truly,
Both great and small.
Babe, welcome to your place secure;
Babe, welcome now for our succour;
And, babe, welcome, with all honour,
Here in this hall.

ANGEL: 
Old Simeon, I say to thee, 
Dress yourself in your array;
Come to the temple, where you shall see
Jesus, that babe that Mary bore.
Come now; be bold.

SIMEON: 
Ah, Lord, I thank you heartily;
Now, I am light as leaf on tree.
My age is gone; I say truly,
Because of that which is told to me,
I am not old.

Now I will to the temple go
To see the babe that Mary bore;
He is my health in well and woe,
And keeps me ever from great care.
Hail, blessÚd babe that Mary bore,
And blessÚd be your mother, Mary mild,
Whose womb you yielded, fresh and fair,
And she a virgin undefiled.

Hail, babe, the Heavenly Father's child,
Chosen to cheer us in our mischance.
No Earthly tongue can tell undefiled
How great is your power, in every chance.
Hail, most worthy, deliverance
And shield for us, from every ill;
Without your shield we get grievance,
And for our deeds we all should spill.

Hail, O wildflower virginal,
The scent of your goodness ascends to us all.
Hail, best fortune to great and small
For our good.
Hail, rose royal, the reddest of hue,
Hail, flower unfading, always new,
Hail, kindest in comfort that ever man knew
Or could.

And humbly I ask you, here as I kneel,
To suffer your servant to take you in his hands,
In my arms to hold you, that I may be healed:
Where I'm balefully bound, to break all my bonds.

Now, come to me, lord of all lands;
Come, mightiest over the sea and the sands;
Come, joy of all the streets and all strands
Everywhere.
Come embrace me, best babe that is born;
Come embrace me, mirth of every morn;
Come embrace me, or else I am lorn
For my years.

I thank you, Lord God, for your great grace,
For sparing me a little space
This babe in my arms to embrace
As the prophecy tells.
I thank you, who my life has lent;
I thank you, so benificent;
This babe, who to my arms was sent,
With mirth my sadness quells.

My sadness now is quelled with mirth;
My strength is now renewed and fresh.
By grace you gave this gift of worth,
Thus fittingly, here to touch your flesh
Most seemly in sight.
In helping thus, a friend never fails;
Your mercy every man avails,
Both in forests and in dales;
Thus marvelous and much is your might.

Ah, babe, you shall be blessÚd for ay,
For you are my saviour, I say,
And you shall rule me from this day,
For all my life.
Now, blessed be your name,
For you save us from shame
And protect us from blame
And from all strife.

Now, I care no more for my life
Since I have seen this royal one thrive:
My strength, and also my ender of strife,
I say.
Now, send your servant away in peace;
For my eyes have seen the prophecies,
The salvation for all on land and seas
Forever and ay.

Salvation, lord, you ordained, I say,
Here before the face of your people.
And your light you have shone today
To be seen by all the folk that were feeble
For evermore,
And your glory for the children of Israel,
Who with you in your kingdom forever shall dwell
When the damned shall be driven to Hell
Then, with great care.


JOSEPH: 
Mary, my spouse and maiden mild,
In my heart I marvel here greatly
To hear what these folks say of our child.
They talk of such great mastery
That he shall do.

MARY:	
Yes, surely, Joseph, I marvel too,
But I shall ponder it in my mind.

JOSEPH: 
God give him grace here well to do,
For he is of a noble kind.

SIMEON: 
Mary, I'll tell the truth to you:
He was put here to save us from woe,
To redeem the many, to rescue also,
As I say.
But the sword of sorrows your heart shall fill
When truly you see your son suffer ill
For the good of all wretches; that shall be his will
Here, in faith.

But be comforted again you may,
And in heart be glad-the truth I do say-
For his might is so much that no tongue can say "nay"
Here to his will.
For this babe as a giant so swiftly shall glide,
And the mightiest masters shall fall on each side
For the sake of all people within this world wide,
Be they good or ill.

Therefore, babe, protect us that we shall not spill,
And farewell, the maker of all at your will;
Farewell, star steadiest; let us be still
In truthfulness.
Farewell, the royalest rose that is reigning;
Farewell, the babe best in bearing;
Farewell, God's son, grant us your blessing
To end our distress.

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