Abraham, Melchisedec, and Isaac


  •      God
  •      Abraham
  •      Lot
  •      Isaac
  •      Melchisedec
  •      A Knight
  •      Expositor
  •      A Messenger


Abraham, newly returned from the slaughter of the four kings, meets

Melchisedec riding.


Messenger. All peace, Lordings, that be present,
And hearken now with good intent,
How Noah away from us he went
  With all his company;
And Abraham, through God's grace,
He is come forth into this place,
And you will give him room and space
  To tell you his storye.
This play, forsooth, begin shall he,
In worship of the Trinity,
That you may all hear and see
  What shall be done to-day.
My name is Gobbet-on-the-Green,
No longer here I may be seen,
Farewell, my Lordings, all by dene
  For letting of your play.

[Enter Abraham.]

Abraham. Ah! thou high God, granter of grace
That ending nor beginning has,
I thank thee, Lord, that to me has
  To-day given victory.
Lot, my brother, that taken was,
I have restored him in this case,
And brought him home into his place
  Through thy might and mastery.
To worship thee I will not wond,
That four kings of uncouth land
To-day hast sent into my hand,
  And of riches great array.
Therefore of all that I can win
To give thee tithe I will begin,
When I the city soon come in,
  And share with thee my prey.
Melchisedec, that here king is
And God's priest also, I wis,
The tithe I will give him of this,
  As just is, what I do.
God who has sent me victory
O'er four kings graciously,
With him my spoil share will I,
  The city, when I come to.

Lot. Abraham, brother, I thank it thee,
Who this day hast delivered me
From enemies' hands, and their postye,
  And saved me from woe!
Therefore I will give tithing
Of my goods while I am living,
And now also of his sending,
  Tithe I will give also.

[Then comes a knight to Melchisedec.

Knight. My lord, the king's tidings aright
Your heart for to gladden and light:
Abraham hath slain in fight
  Four kings, since he went.
Here he will be this same night,
And riches with him enough dight.
I heard him thank God Almight
  For grace he had him sent.

Melchisedec (stretching his hand to heaven). Ah! blessed be God that is but one!
Against Abraham I will be gone
Worshipfully, and then anon,
  My office to fulfil,
Will present him with bread and wine,
For, grace of God is him within;
Speeds fast for love mine!
  For this is God's will.

Knight (with a cup). Sir, here is wine withouten were,
And thereto bread, both white and clear,
To present him in good manere
  That so us helped has.

Melchisedec. To God, I know he is full dear,
For of all things his prayer
He hath, without danger,
  And specially great grace.

Melchisedec (coming to Abraham and offering him a cup
  of wine and bread on a plate
). Abraham, welcome must thou be,
God's grace is fully in thee,
Blessed ever must thou be
  That enemies so can make.
I have brought, as thou may'st see,
Bread and wine for thy degree;
Receive this present now from me,
  And that I thee beseke.

Abraham. Sir king, welcome in good say,
Thy present is welcome to my pay.
God has helpéd me to-day
  Unworthy though I were.
He shall have part of my prey
That I won since I went away.
Therefore to thee thou take it may
  The tenth I offer here.

[He delivers to the King a laden horse.

Melchisedec. And your present, sir, take I,
And honour it devoutly,
For much good it may signify
  In time that is coming.
Therefore horse, harness, and peryé,
As falls to my dignity,
The tithe of it I take of thee,
  And receive thy off'ring.

[Abraham receives the bread and wine, and Melchisedec the laden horse as tithe from Lot.

Lot. And I will offer with good intent
Of such goods as God hath me sent
To Melchisedec here present,
  As God's will is to be.
Abraham, my brother, offered has;
And so will I with God's grace:
This royal cup before your face,
  Receive it now of me.

[Lot offers the wine and bread, which Melchisedec receives.

Melchisedec. Sir, your off'ring welcome is,
And well I know forsooth, I wis,
That fully God's will it is
  That is now done to-day.
Go we together to my city,
And now God heartily thank we
That helps us aye through his postye,
  For so we full well may.

Expositor (riding). Lordings, what may this signify,
I will expound openly
That all, standing hereby,
  May know what this may be.
This off'ring, I say verament,
Signifieth the new Testament,
That now is used with good intent
  Throughout all Christianity.
In the old law without leasing,
When these two good men were living,
Of beasts was all their off'ring
  And eke their sacrament.
But since Christ died on the rood-tree,
With bread and wine him worship we,
And on Shrove Thursday in his maundy
  Was his commandment.
But for this thing used should be
Afterward as now done we,
In signification, believe you me,
  Melchisedec did so;
And tithes-making, as you see here,
Of Abraham beginning were.
Therefore he was to God full dear,
  And so were they both too.
By Abraham understand I may
The father of heaven in good fay,
Melchisedec a priest to his pay
  To minister that sacrament
That Christ ordained on Shrove Thursday
In bread and wine to honour him aye;
This signifieth, the truth to say,
  Melchisedec's present.

God. Abraham, my servant, I say to thee,
Thy help and succour I will be,
For thy good deed much pleaseth me,
  I tell thee surely.

Abraham. Lord, one thing that thou wilt see,
That I pray after with heart free,
Grant me, Lord, through thy postye:
  Some fruit of my body!
I have no child, foul nor fair,
Save my Nurry to be my heir,
That makes me greatly to apayre.
  On me, Lord, have mercy!

God. My friend, Abraham, leave thou me.
Thy Nurry thine heir shall not be,
But one son I shall send thee,
  Begotten of thy body.
Abraham, do as I thee say:
Look up and tell, and if thou may,
Stars standing on the stray;
  That impossible were.
No more shalt thou, for no need,
Number of thy body the seed
That thou shalt have withouten dreed,
  Thou art to me so dear.
Wherefore, Abraham, servant free,
Look that thou be true to me,
And fore-word here I make with thee
  Thy seed to multiply.
So much more further shalt thou be,
Kings of thy seed men shall see,
And one child of great degree
  All mankind shall forby.
I will that from henceforth alway
Each knave's child on the eighth day
Be circumcised, as I say,
  And thou thyself full soon;
And who circumcised not is
Forsaken shall be by me, I wis;
For disobedient that man is,
  Therefore look that this be done.

Abraham. Lord, already in good fay
Blessed be thou, ever and aye;
For that men truly know may
  Thy folk from other men,
Circumcised they shall be all
Anon for aught that may befall.
I thank thee, Lord, thy own thrall,
  Kneeling on my knee'n.

Expositor. Lordings all take good intent
What betokens this commandment:
This was some time a sacrament
  In th' old law truly ta'en.
As followeth now verament,
So was this in the old Testament;
But when Christ, away it went,
  And baptism then began.
Also God promises here
To Abraham, his servant dear,
So much seed that in no manere
  Number'd it might be.
And one seed, mankind to forby,
That was Jesus Christ witterlye
For of his kind was our Lady,
  And so also was he.

God. Abraham, my servant Abraham.

Abraham. Lo, Lord, already here I am.

God. Take Isaac, thy son by name
That thou lovest best of all
And in sacrifice offer him to me
Upon that hill, beside thee.
Abraham, I will that it so be
For aught that may befall.

Abraham. My lord, to thee is my intent
Ever to be obedient,
That son that thou to me hast sent,
  Offer I will to thee.
And fulfil thy commandment
With hearty will, as I am kent
High God, Lord Omnipotent,
  Thy bidding done shall be.
My menye and my children each one
Lingers at home, both all and one,
Save Isaac shall with me gone
  To a hill here beside.

[Enter Isaac.

Abraham. Make thee ready, my darling,
For we must do a little thing.
This wood upon thy back thou bring,
  We must not long abide.
A sword and fire I will take,
For sacrifice I must make;
God's bidding will I not forsake,
  But aye obedient be.

Isaac. Father, I am all ready
To do your bidding meekly,
To bear this wood full bound am I,
  As you command me.

Abraham. O Isaac, Isaac, my darling dear,
My blessing now I give thee here.
Take up this faggot with good cheer,
  And on thy back it bring,
And fire with me I will take.

Isaac. Your bidding I will not forsake,
Father, I will never slake
  To fulfil your bidding.

[Isaac takes the wood on his back, and they set out for the hill.

Abraham. Now Isaac, son, go we our way
To yonder mountain, if that we may.

Isaac. My dear father, I will essay
  To follow you full fain.

Abraham. Oh! my heart will break in three,
To hear thy words I have pity.
As thou wilt, Lord, so must it be:
  To thee I will be bane.
Lay down thy faggot my own son dear!

Isaac. All ready, father, lo, it is here.
But why make you so heavy cheer?
  Are you anything adread?
Father, if it be your will,
Where is the beast that we shall kill?

Abraham. There is none, son, upon this hill
  That I see here in this stead.

Isaac. Father, I am full sore afraid
To see you bare this naked sword.
I hope for all middle-yard
  You will not slay your child.

Abraham. Dread thee not, my child, I read
Our Lord will send of his godhead
Some kind of beast in thy stead,
  Either tame or wild.

Isaac. Father, tell me, or I go,
Whether I shall have harm or no.

Abraham. Ah, dear God, that me is woe!
  Thou bursts my heart in sunder.

Isaac. Father, tell me of this case,
Why you your drawn sword has,
And bare it naked in this place;
  Thereof I have great wonder.

Abraham. Isaac, son, peace! I pray thee,
Thou breaks my heart even in three.

Isaac. I pray you, father, leave nothing from me,
  But tell me what you think.

Abraham. O Isaac, Isaac, I must thee kill.

Isaac. Alas! father, is that your will,
Your own child here for to spill,
  Upon this hill's brink?
If I have trespassed in any degree,
With a rod you may beat me;
Put up your sword, if your will be,
  For I am but a child.

Abraham. Oh, my son! I am sorry
To do to thee this great annoy,
God's commandment do must I,
  His works are aye full mild.

Isaac. Would God, my mother were here with me!
She would kneel upon her knee,
Praying you, father, if it might be,
  For to save my life.

Abraham. Oh, comely creature, but I thee kill,
I grieve my God, and that full ill:
I may not work against his will
  But ever obedient be.
O Isaac, son, to thee I say:
God has commanded me this day
Sacrifice--this is no nay--
  To make of thy body.

Isaac. Is it God's will I should be slain?

Abraham. Yea, son, it is not for to layne;
To his bidding I will be bane,
  Ever to his pleasing.
But that I do this doleful deed,
My Lord will not quit me my meed.

Isaac. Marry! father, God forbid
  But you do your off'ring.
Father, at home your sons you shall find
That you must love by course of kind.
Be I once out of your mind,
  Your sorrow may soon cease,
But you must do God's bidding.
Father, tell my mother of nothing.

Abraham. For sorrow I may my hands wring,
  Thy mother I cannot please.
O Isaac, blessed may'st thou be!
Almost my wit I lose for thee,
The blood of thy body so free
  I feel full loth to shed.

Isaac. Father, since you must needs do so,
Let it pass lightly and overgo;
Kneeling on my knees two,
  Your blessing on me spread!

Abraham. My blessing, dear son, give I thee
And thy mother's with heart so free;
The blessing of the Trinity,
  My dear son, on thee light!

Isaac. Father, I pray you hide mine een
That I see not your sword so keen;
Your stroke, father, I would not seen,
  Lest I against it thrill.

Abraham. My dear son Isaac, speak no more,
Thy words make my heart full sore.

Isaac. O dear father, wherefore, wherefore?
  Since I must needs be dead,
One thing I would you pray:
Since I must die the death this day,
As few strokes as you may,
  When you smite off my head.

Abraham. Thy meekness, child, makes me afray;
My song may be "Well away!"

Isaac. O, dear father, do away
  Your making so mickle moan!
Now truly, father, this talking
Doth but make long tarrying.
I pray you come and make ending
  And let me hence gone!

Abraham. Come hither, my child, that art so sweet:
Thou must be bound now, hand and feet.

[Binding Isaac.

Isaac. Ah, father! we must no more meet
  By aught that I can see,
But do with me just as you will,
I must obey, and that is skill,
God's commandment to fulfil,
  For needs so must it be.
Upon the purpose that have set you,
Forsooth, father, I will not let you,
But evermore unto you bow,
  While that I may.
Father, greet well my brethren young,
And pray my mother for her blessing,
I come no more under her wing:
  Farewell for ever and aye!
But, father, I cry you mercy,
Of that I have trespassed to thee,
Forgiven, father, that it may be
  Until doom's day.

Abraham. My dear son, let be thy moans;
My child, thou grievedst me but once.
Blessed be thou body and bones,
  And I forgive thee here.
Lo, my dear son, here shalt thou lie;
Unto my work now must I hie,
I had as lief myself to die
  As thou, my darling dear.

Isaac. Father, if you be to me kind,
About my head a kercher bind,
And let me lightly out of your mind,
  And soon that I were sped.

Abraham. Farewell, my sweet son of grace!

Isaac. I pray you, father, turn down my face
A little while, while you have space,
  For I am full sore adread.

Abraham. To do this deed I am sorry.

Isaac. Yea, Lord, to thee I call and cry:
On my soul may thou have mercy,
  Heartily I thee pray.

Abraham. Lord, I would fain work thy will.
This young innocent that lies so still
Full loth were I him to kill
  By any manner of way.

Isaac. My dear father, I you pray,
Let me take my clothes away,
For shedding blood on them to-day,
  At my last ending.

Abraham. Heart! if thou would'st break in three,
Thou shalt never master me,
I will no longer let for thee,
  My God I may not grieve.

Isaac. Ah, mercy, father! why tarry you so?
Smite off my head, and let me go!
I pray you, rid me of my woe;
  For now I take my leave.

Abraham. Ah, son! my heart will break in three
To hear thee speak such words to me.
Jesus, on me thou have pitý
  That I have most in mind!

Isaac. Now, father, I see that I shall die,
Almighty God in majestý,
My soul I offer unto thee:
  Lord, to it be kind.

[Abraham takes the sword, as if to kill his son, when two angels appear. One of them seizes the point of the sword, and says,

1st Angel. Abraham, my servant dear!

Abraham. Lo, Lord! I am already here.

1st Angel. Lay not thy sword in any manner
  On Isaac, thy dear darling!
Nay! do thou him no annoy!
For thou dreadest God; well, see I,
That of thy son hast no mercy
  To fulfil his bidding.

2nd Angel. And for his bidding thou doest aye,
And spares neither, for fear nor fray,
To do thy son to death to-day,
  Isaac to thee full dear,
Therefore God has sent by me in fay,
A lamb that is both good and gay
Into this place as thou see may,
  Lo! it is right here.

Abraham. Ah, Lord of heaven and king of bliss!
Thy bidding I shall do, I wis.
Sacrifice here to me sent is
  And all, Lord, through thy grace.
A horned wether here I see,
Among the briars tied is he,
To thee offered it shall be
  Anon, right in this place.

[Let Abraham sacrifice the ram.

God. Abraham, by myself I swear,
For thou hast been obedient ever,
And spared not thy son so dear,
  To fulfil my bidding,
Thou shalt be blessed, thou art worthy,
Thy seed I shall multiply,
As stars and sand so many het I,
  Of thy body coming.
Of enemies thou shalt have power,
And thy blood also in fear,
For thou has been meek and boneer
  To do as I thee bade.
And all nations leave thou me,
Blessed evermore shall be
Through fruit that shall come of thee
  And saved through thy seed.


Expositor. Lordings, the signification
Of this deed of devotion,
An you will, it is shewn,
  May turn you to much good.
This deed you see done in this place,
In example of Jesus done it was,
That for to win mankind grace
  Was sacrificed on the rood.
By Abraham you may understand
The Father of heaven that can fand
With his son's blood to break that band
  The devil had brought us to.
By Isaac understand I may
Jesus who was obedient aye,
His father's will to work alway,
  His death to undergo.