The Coventry Nativity Play


  •      Isaiah (as Prologue)
  •      Gabriel
  •      Joseph
  •      Mary
  •      The Three Kings
  •      The Three Shepherds
  •      The Two Prophets
  •      King Herod
         A Herald
  •      An Angel
  •      Two Soldiers
  •      Three Women



Isaiah. The sovereign that seeth every secret
He save you all and make you perfect and strong:
And give his grace with his mercy thereto meet,
For now in great misery mankind is bound.
The serpent hath given us so mortal a wound
That no creature is able us for to release
Till the right unction of Judah doth cease.
  Then shall much mirth and joy increase
And the right root in Israel spring,
That shall bring forth the grain of holiness:
And out of danger he shall us bring
Into that region where he is king:
Which above all other doth abound
And that cruel Satan he shall confound.
  Wherefore I come here upon this ground,
To comfort every creature of birth;
For I, Isaiah, the prophet, hath found
Many sweet matters, whereof we may make mirth
On this same wise.
For though Adam be doomed to death
With all his children, as Abel and Seth:
Yet, Ecce virgo concipiet!
Lo, where a remedy shall rise!
  Behold a maid shall conceive a child,
And get us more grace than ever man had.
And her maidenhood nothing defiled:
She is deputed to bear the Son, Almighty God.
Lo, sovereignties now may you be glad,
For of this maiden all we may be fain;
For Adam that now lies in sorrows full sad,
Her glorious birth shall redeem him again
From bondage and thrall.
Now be merry every man,
For this deed briefly in Israel shall be done,
And before the Father on his throne
That shall glad us all.
  More of this matter fain would I move,
But longer time I have not here for to dwell.
That lord that is merciful, his mercy so in us may prove
For to save our souls from the darkness of hell,
  And to his bliss--he us bring
  As he is--both lord and king;
  And shall be everlasting
  In secula seculos: Amen.


[Enter Gabriel to Mary.]

Gabriel. Hail! Mary, full of grace,
Our Lord God is with thee!
Above all women that ever was;
Lady, blessed may thou be.

Mary. Almighty Father and King of bliss
From all dyskes thou save me now:
For inwardly my spirit troubled is,
I am amazed and know not how.

Gabriel. Dread thee nothing, maiden, of this:
From heaven above hither am I sent,
Of embassage from that King of bliss,
Unto the lady and virgin reverent,
Saluting thee here as most excellent,
Whose virtue above all other doth abound;
Wherefore in thee grace shall be found:
For thou shalt conceive upon this ground
The Second Person of God on throne;
He will be born of thee alone,
Without sin tho shalt him see.
Thy grace and thy goodness will never be gone
But ever to live in virginity.

Mary. I marvel sore how that may be:
Man's company knew I never yet,
Nor never to do cast I me,
While that our Lord sendeth me my wit.

Gabriel. The Holy Ghost in thee shall light,
And shall endue thy soul so with virtue
From the Father that is on high:
These words, turtle, they be full true.
  This child that of thee shall be born
Is the Second Person in Trinity.
He shall save that was forlorn,
And the fiend's power destroy shall he.
  These words, lady, full true they be,
And further, lady, in thy own lineage,
Behold Elizabeth, thy cousin clean,
The which was barren and past all age.
  And now with child she hath been
Six months and more as shall be seen;
Wherefore, discomfort thee not, Mary,
For to God impossible nothing may be.

Mary. Now and it be that Lord's will
Of my body to be born and for to be
His high pleasure for to fulfil,
As his one handmaid I submit me.

Gabriel. Now blessed be the time set
That thou wast born in thy degree:
For now is the knot surely knit
And God conceived in Trinity.
  Now farewell lady of might most,
Unto the Godhead I thee beteyche.

Mary. That lord thee guide in every cost
And lowly he lead me and be my leech.

[Here the Angel departeth and Joseph cometh in and saith:

Joseph. Mary, my wife so dear!
How do ye, dame, and what cheer
Is with you this tide?

Mary. Truly, husband, I am here
Our Lord's will for to abide.

Joseph. What! I trow we be all shent!
Say, woman, who hath been here since I went
To rage with thee?

Mary. Sir, here was neither man, nor man's even,
But only the sond of our Lord God in heaven.

Joseph. Say not so, woman, for shame let be:
Ye be with child so wondrous great,
Ye need no more thereof to treat
Against all right.
For sooth this child, dame, is not mine;
Alas, that ever with my eyne
I should see this sight.
Tell me, woman, whose is this child?

Mary. None but yours, husband, so mild
And that shall be seen, I wis.

Joseph. But mine, alas! alas! why say ye so?
Well away, woman, now may I go
Beguiled as many another is.

Mary. Nay truly, sir, ye be not beguiled
Nor yet with spot of sin I am not defiled;
Trust it well, husband.

Joseph. Husband in faith, and that acold;
Ah well away, Joseph, as thou art old!
Like a fool now may I stand
And truss; but in faith, Mary, thou art in sin.
So much as I have cherished thee, dame, and all thy kin,
Behind my back to serve me thus:
  All old men example take by me,
How I am beguiled here may you see,
To wed so young a child.
Now farewell, Mary, I leave thee here alone,
Woe worth thee dame, and thy works each one!
For I will no more be beguiled
For friend nor foe.
Now of this deed I am so dull
And of my life I am so full,
No farther may I go.

Angel. Arise up, Joseph, and go home again
Unto Mary thy wife that is so free;
To comfort her look that thou be fain,
For, Joseph, a clean maiden is she.
She hath conceived without any trayne
The Second Person in Trinity:
Jesu shall be his name certainly,
And all this world save shall he.
Be not aghast.

Joseph. Now, Lord, I thank thee with heart full sad.
For of these tidings I am so glad
That all my care away is cast,
Wherefore to Mary I will in haste.
  Ah, Mary, Mary, I kneel full low,
Forgive me, sweet wife, here in this land;
Mercy, Mary, for now I know
Of your good governance and how it doth stand:
Though that I did thee misname.
Mercy, Mary, while I live
Will I never, sweet wife, thee grieve,
In earnest nor in game.

Mary. Now, that Lord in Heaven, sir,--he you forgive!
And I do forgive you in his name
For evermore.

Joseph. Now truly, sweet wife, to you I say the same;
But now to Bethlehem must I wynde
And show myself so full of care,
And I to leave you this great behind,
God wot, the while, dame, how you should fare.

Mary. Nay hardily, husband, dread ye nothing,
For I will walk with you on the way.
I trust in God, Almighty King,
To speed right well in our journey.

Joseph. Now I thank you, Mary, of your goodness
That you my words will not blame;
And since that to Bethlehem we shall us address
Go we together in God's holy name.

[They set out on their way.

  Now to Bethlehem have we leagues three,
The day is nigh spent, it draweth towards night,
Fain at your ease, dame, I would that ye should be:
For you grow all weary, it seemeth, in my sight.

Mary. God have mercy, Joseph, my spouse, so dear!
All prophets hereto do bear witness
The evry time now draweth near
That my child will be born, which is King of bliss.
Unto some place, Joseph, kindly me lead,
That I might rest me with grace in this tide,
The light of the Father over us both spread
And the grace of my son with us here abide.

Joseph. Lo, blessed Mary, here shall ye lend;
Chief chosen of our Lord, and cleanest in degree:
And I for help to town, will I wend.
Is not this the best, dame, what say ye?

Mary. God have mercy! Joseph, my husband, so meek,
And I heartily pray you go now from me.

Joseph. That shall be done in haste, Mary, so sweet!
The comfort of the Holy Ghost leave I with thee.
Now to Bethlehem strait will I go,
To get some help for Mary so free,
Some help of women, God may me send!
That Mary, full of grace, pleased may be.

[Enter a Shepherd.

1st Shepherd. Now God that art in Trinity,
Thou sawest my fellows and me;
For I know not where my sheep nor they be,
This night it is so cold,
Now is it nigh the middest of the night,
These weathers are dark and dim of light,
That of them can I have no sight,
Standing here on this wold.
But now to make their hearts light,
Now will I full right
Stand upon this loe.
And to them cry with all my might:
Full well my voice they know,
What ho, fellows, ho, hoo, ho!

[Enter two other Shepherds.

2nd Shepherd. Hark, Sym, hark, I hear our brother on the loe,
This is his voice, right well I know,
Therefore towards him let us go,
And follow his voice aright,
See, Sym, see where he doth stand;
I am right glad we have him found.
Brother! where hast thou been so long,
And it is so cold this night?

1st Shepherd. Oh, friends! there came a pyrie of wind
  With a mist suddenly,
That forth off my ways went I,
And great heaviness then made I,
And was full sore afright;
Then for to go wist I not whither,
But travelled on this hill hither and thither.
I was so weary of this cold weather,
That near passed was my might.

3rd Shepherd. Brother, now we be past that fright,
And it is far within the night:
Full soon will spring the daylight,
It draweth full near the tide.
Here awhile let us rest
And repast ourselves of the best.
Till that the sun rise in the east,
Let us all here abide.

[There the Shepherds draw forth their meat, and do eat and drink, and as they drink they see the star and say thus:

Brother, look up and behold,
What thing is yonder that shineth so bright?
As long as ever I have watched my fold,
Yet saw I never such a sight
In field.
Aha! now is come the time that old fathers hath told,
That in the winter's night so cold,
A child of maiden born, be he would,
In whom all prophecies shall be fulfilled.

1st Shepherd. Truth it is without nay,
So said the prophet Isaye,
That a child should be born of a maid so bright
In winter nigh the shortest day,
Or else in the middest of the night.

2nd Shepherd. Loved be God, most of might!
That our grace is to see that sight;
Pray we to him as it is right
If that his will it be,
That we may have knowledge of this signification,
And why it appeareth on this fashion
And ever to him let us give laudation,
In earth, while that we be.

[There the angels sing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo."

3rd Shepherd. Hark, they sing above in the clouds clear!
Heard I never of so merry a choir.
Now gentle brother draw we near
To hear their harmony?

1st Shepherd. Brother, mirth and solace is come us among
For, by the sweetness of their song;
God's Son is come, whom we have looked for long,
As signifieth this star we do see.

2nd Shepherd. Glory, Gloria in Excelsis, that was their song,
How say ye fellows! said they not thus?

1st Shepherd. That is well said, now go we hence
To worship that child of high magnificence;
And that we may sing in his presence,
Et in terra pax omnibus.

[There the Shepherds sing:]

  As I out rode this enderes' night,
Of three jolly shepherds I saw a sight,
And all about their fold a star shone bright;
They sang, Terli, terlow;
So merrily the shepherds their pipes can blow.

Joseph. Now, Lord, this noise that I do hear
With this great solemnity,
Greatly amended hath my cheer,
I trust high news shortly will be.

[There the Angels sing "Gloria in Excelsis" again.

Mary. Ah Joseph, husband, come hither anon
My child is born that is King of bliss.

Joseph. Now welcome to me, the maker of man,
With all the homage that I can;
Thy sweet mother here will I kiss.

Mary. Ah Joseph, husband, my child waxeth cold
And we have no fire to warm him with.

Joseph. Now in my arms I shall him fold,
King of all kings by field and by frith,
He might have had better, and himself would
Than the breathing of these beasts to warm him with.

Mary. Now, Joseph, my husband, fetch hither my child,
The maker of man, and high King of bliss.

Joseph. That shall be done, anon, Mary so mild!
For the breathing of these beasts hath warmed him, I wis.

1st Angel. Herdmen kind, dread ye nothing,
Of this star that ye do see;
For this same morn God's son is born,
In Bethlem of a maiden fre.

2nd Angel. Hie you hither in haste,
It is his will ye shall him see
Lying in a crib of poor repast;
Yet of David's line come is he.

1st Shepherd. Hail, maid-mother, and wife so mild!
As the angel said, so have we found,
I have nothing to present to thy child,
But my pipe; hold, hold! take it in thy hand;
Wherein much pleasure that I have found,
And now to honour thy glorious birth,
Thou shalt it have to make thee mirth.

2nd Shepherd. Now, hail be thou, child, and thy dame,
For in a poor lodging here art thou laid;
So the angel said, and told us thy name.
Hold, take thou here my hat on thy head,
And now of one thing thou art well sped;
For weather thou hast no cause to complain,
For wind, nor sun, hail, snow, and rain.

3rd Shepherd. Hail, be thou Lord over water and lands
For thy coming all we may make mirth,
Have here my mittens to put on thy hands
Other treasure have I none to present thee with.

Mary. Now, herdmen kind,
For your coming,
To my child shall I pray,
As he is heaven's king,
To grant you his blessing,
And to his bliss that ye may wynd
At your last day.

[There the Shepherds sing again:]

  Down from heaven, from heaven so high,
Of angels there came a great company,
With mirth, and joy, and great solemnity
They sang, Terli, terlow;
So merrily the shepherds their pipes can blow.

[The two prophets come in.

1st Prophet. Novellis, novellis, of wonderful marvellys,
Were high and sweet unto the hearing,
As Scripture tellis, these strange novellis
To you I bring.

2nd Prophet. Now, heartily, sir, I desire to know,
If it would please you for to show,
Of what manner a thing?

1st Prophet. Were it mystical unto your hearing,--
Of the nativity of a king?

2nd Prophet. Of a king?
Whence should he come?

1st Prophet. From that region royal and mighty mansion,
The seed celestial and heavenly wisdom,
The Second Person, and God's one Son,
For our sake is man become.
This godly sphere, descended here,
Into a virgin clear,
She undefiled,
By whose work, obscure our frail nature
Is now beguiled.

2nd Prophet. Why, hath she a child?

1st Prophet. Ah, trust it well,
And never the less,
Yet is she a maid even as she was,
And her son the king of Israel.

2nd Prophet. A wonderful marvel, How that may be,
And far doth excel--
  All our capacity,
How that the trinity,
  Of so high regality,
Should joined be,
  Unto our mortality.

1st Prophet. Of his one great mercy
  As ye shall see the exposition,
Through whose humanity all Adam's progeny
Redeemed shall be
  Out of perdition;
Sith man did offend, who should amend,
  But the said man and no other;
For the which cause he,
  Incarnate would be,
And live in misery
  As man's one brother.

2nd Prophet. Sir, upon the Deity, I believe perfectly,
Impossible to be, there is nothing;
Howbeit this work, unto me is dark,
In the operation or working.

1st Prophet. What more reproof is unto belief
Than to be doubting.

2nd Prophet. Yet doubts ofttimes hath derivation.

1st Prophet. That is by the means of communication,
Of truths to have a due probation,--
By the same doubts, reasoning.

2nd Prophet. Then to you, this one thing,
Of what noble and high lineage is she,
That might this verible prince's mother be?

1st Prophet. Undoubted she is come of high parrage,
Of the house of David, and Solomon the sage,
And one of the same line joined to her by marriage
Of whose tribe, we do subscribe
This child's lineage.

2nd Prophet. And why in that wise?

1st Prophet. For it was the guise
To count the parent on the man's line,
And not on the feminine,
Amongst us here in Israel.

2nd Prophet. Yet can I not espy, by no wise
How this child born should be without nature's prejudice.

1st Prophet. Nay, no prejudice unto nature I dare well say,
For the king of nature may
Have all his one will,
Did not the power of God, make Aaron's rod
Bear fruit in one day?

2nd Prophet. Truth it is indeed.

1st Prophet. Then look you and rede.

2nd Prophet. Ah! I perceive the seed
Whereupon that you spake,
It was for our need
That he frail nature did take,
And his blood he should shed
Amends for to make
For our transgression,
As it is said in prophecy, that of the line of Judë
Should spring a right Messië,
By whom all we
Should have redemption.

1st Prophet. Sir, now is the time come,
And the date thereof run
Of his Nativity.

2nd Prophet. Yet I beseech you heartily,
That ye would show me how
That this strange novelty
Were brought unto you?

1st Prophet. This other night so cold,
Hereby upon a wold,
Shepherds watching their fold
In the night so far,
To them appeared a star,
And ever it drew them near,
Which star they did behold,
Brighter they say a thousand fold
Than the sun so clear
In his midday sphere;
And they these tidings told.

2nd Prophet. What, secretly?

1st Prophet. Na, na, hardily,
They made there of no council,
For they sang as loud,
As ever they could,
Praising the king of Israel.

2nd Prophet. Yet do I marvel,
In what pile or castle,
These herdmen did him see.

1st Prophet. Neither in halls, nor yet in bowers,
Born would he not be,
Neither in castles, nor yet in towers,
That seemly were to see,
But at his Father's will,
The prophecy to fulfil,
Betwixt an ox and an ass
Jesu this king born he was;
Heaven he bring us till!

2nd Prophet. Sir, ah! but when these shepherds had seen him there,
To what place did they repair?

1st Prophet. Forth they went, and glad they were;
Going they did sing,
With mirth and solace, they made good cheer,
For joy of that new tiding.
And after as I heard them tell,
He rewarded them full well
He granted them heaven therein to dwell.
In are they gone with joy and mirth,
And their song it is Noël.

[There the Prophets go forth, and Herod and the messenger (or herald) comes in.

Herald. Peace, Lord Barons of great renown!
Peace, sir knights of noble presence!
Peace, gentlemen companions of noble order!
I command that all of you keep silence.
Peace while your noble king is in presence!
Let no person stint to pay him deference;
Be not bold to strike, but keep your hearts in patience,
And to your Lord keep heart of reverence,
For he, your king, has all puissance!
In the name of the law, I command you peace!
And King Herod--"la grandeaboly vos umport."

Herod. Qui status in Jude et Rex Israel,
And the mightiest conqueror that ever walked on ground;
For I am even he that made both heaven and hell,
And of my mighty power holdeth up this world round.
Magog and Madroke, both them did I confound,
And with this bright brand their bones I brake asunder,
That all on the wide world on those rappis did wonder.
I am the cause of this great light and thunder;
It is through my fury that they such noise do make.
My fearful countenance the clouds so doth encumber,
That often for dread thereof the very earth doth quake.
Look when I with malin this bright brand doth shake;
All the whole world from the north to the south,
I may them destroy with one word of my mouth,
To recount unto you my innumerable substance
That were too much for any tongue to tell;
For all the whole Orient is under mine obedience,
And prince am I of purgatory, and chief captain of hell.
And those tyrannous traitors by force may I compel
Mine enemies to vanquish, and even to dust to drive,
And with a twinkle of mine eye not one to be left alive.
Behold my countenance and my colour,
Brighter than the sun in the middle of the day!
Where can you have a more greater succour,
Than to behold my person that is so gay;
My falchion and my fashion with my gorgeous array?
He that had the grace always thereon to think,
Live they might alway without other meat or drink.
And this my triumphant fame most highly doth abound,
Throughout this world in all regions abroad,
Resembling the favour of that most mighty Mahound
From Jupiter by descent, and cousin to the great God,
And named the most renowned King Herod,
Which that all princes hath under subjection,
And all their whole power under my protection.
And therefore my herald here called Calchas,
Warn thou every port, that no ships arrive,
Nor also alien stranger through my realm pass,
But they for their truage do pay marks five,
Now speed thee forth hastily,
For they that will the contrary,
Upon a gallows hanged shall be;
And, by Mahound, of me they get no grace.

Herald. Now, lord and master! in all the haste,
Thy worthy will it shall be wrought,
And thy royal countries shall be past,
In as short time as can be thought.

Herod. Now shall our regions throughout be sought
In every place, both east and west;
If any caitiffs to me be brought,
It shall be nothing for their best.
And the while that I do rest,
Trumpets, viols, and other harmony,
Shall bless the waking of my majesty.

[Here Herod goeth away, and the three Kings speaketh in the street.

1st King. Now blessed be God, of his sweet sonde
For yonder a bright star I do see!
Now is he come us among
As the prophets said that it should be.
  He said there should a babe be born
Coming of the root of Jesse,
To save mankind that was forlorn,
And truly come now is he.
  Reverence and worship to him will I do
As God and man, that all made of nought.
All the prophets accorded and said even so,
That with his precious blood mankind should be bought.
  He grant me grace by yonder star that I see,
And into that place bring me,
That I may him worship with humility
And see his glorious face.

2nd King. Out of my way I deem that I am
For tokens of this country can I none see;
Now God that on earth madest man,
Send me some knowledge where that I be.
  Yonder me thinks a fair bright star I see,
The which betokeneth the birth of a child,
That hither is come to make man free,
He, born of a maid, and she nothing defiled,
  To worship that child is mine intent.
Forth now will I take my way:
I trust some company God hath me sent,
For yonder I see a king labour on the way,
  Toward him now will I ride.
Hark, comely king, I you pray,
Into what coast will ye this tide,
Or whither lies your journey?

1st King. To seek a child is mine intent,
Of whom the prophets have meant.
The time is come now is he sent,
By yonder star here may you see.

2nd King. Sir, I pray you with your licence,
To ride with you into his presence;
To him will I offer frankincence
For the head of the whole church shall he be.

3rd King. I ride wandering in ways wide
Over mountains and dales, I wot not where I am,
Now king of all kings send me such guide,
That I may have knowledge of this country's name.
  Ah, yonder I see a sight be seeming all afar,
The which betokens some news as I trow,
As me thinks a child appearing in a star;
I trust he be come that shall defend us from woe.
  Two kings yonder I see, and to them will I ride,
For to have their company: I trust they will me abide.
Hail, comely kings augent!
Good sirs, I pray you whither are ye meant?

1st King. To seek a child is our intent,
Which betokens yonder star as ye may see.

2nd King. To him I purpose this present.

3rd King. Sirs, I pray you, and that right humbly
With you that I may ride in company;
To Almighty God now pray we,
That his precious person we may see.

[Here Herod cometh in again, and the messenger saith:

Herald. Hail, Lord! most of might!
Thy commandment is right.
Into thy land is come this night
Three kings, and with them a great company.

Herod. What make those kings in this country?

Herald. To seek a king and a child, they say.

Herod. Of what age should he be?

Herald. Scant twelve days old fully.

Herod. And was he so late born?

Herald. Eh! sir, so they show'd me this same day in the morn.

Herod. Now, in pain of death, bring them me beforn
And, therefore, herald, hie thee now, in haste,
In all speed that thou were dight,
Or that those kings the country be past,--
Look thou bring them all three before my sight.
And in Jerusalem enquire more of that child?
But I warn thee that thy words be mild,
For there take thou heed, and craft thereto
His power to foredo,
That those three kings shall be beguiled.

Herald. Lord, I am ready at your bidding,
To serve thee as my lord and king,
For joy thereof, lo, how I spring,
With light heart and fresh gambolling,
Aloft here on this mould.

Herod. Then speed thee forth hastily,
And look that thou bear thee evenly
And also I pray thee heartily,
That thou do commend me
Both to young and old.

Herald (returning to the Three Kings). Hail, sir kings, in your degree!
Herod; king of these countries wide
Desireth to speak with you all three,
And for your coming he doth abide.

1st King. Sir, at his will we be right bane
Hie us, brother, unto that lord's place;
To speak with him we would be fain
That child that we seek, he grant us of his grace.

Herald (bringing in the Kings). Hail, Lord, without peer!
These three kings have we brought.

Herod. Now welcome, sir kings, all in fere;
But of my bright ble, sirs, abash ye nought.
Sir kings, as I understand,
A star hath guided you into my land;
Wherein great harie ye have found,
By reason of her beams bright;
Wherefore I pray you heartily,
The very truth that you would certify;
How long it is surely,
Since of that star you had first sight?

1st King. Sir king, the very truth we say.
And to show you, as it is best,
This same is even the twelfth day
Since it appeared to us to be west.

Herod. Brother, then is there no more to say,
But with heart and will keep ye your journey,
And come home again this same way,
Of your news that I may know.
You shall triumph in this country,
And with great concord banquet with me
And that child myself then will I see,
And honour him also.

2nd King. Sir, your commandment we will fulfil,
And humbly obey ourselves theretyll,
He that weldeth all things at will.
The ready way us teach,
Sir king, that we may pass your land in peace.

Herod. Yes! and walk softly even at your own ease.
Your passport for a hundred days
Here shall you have of clear command;
Our realm to labour any ways
Here shall you have by special grant.

3rd King. Now farewell, king of high degree,
Humbly of you our leave we take.

Herod. Then adieu, sir kings, all three,
And while I live be bold of me;
There is nothing in this country,
But for your own ye shall it take.

[Exeunt the Three Kings.

Now these three kings are gone on their way,
Unwisely and unwittingly have they all wrought.
When they come again, they shall die that same day,
And thus these vile wretches to death shall be brought;
  Such is my liking.
He that against my laws will hold,
Be he king or kaiser, never so bold,
I shall them cast into cares cold,
And to death I shall them bring.

[There Herod goeth his way, and the Three Kings come in again.

1st King. Oh, blessed God, much is thy might!
Where is this star that gave us light?

2nd King. Now kneel we down here on this presence
By seeking that Lord of high magnificence;
That we may see his high excellence,
If that his sweet will be.

3rd King. Yonder, brother, I see the star,
Whereby I know he is not far;
Therefore, lords, go we now,
Into this poor place.

[There the Three Kings go in to the jeseyne, Mary and her child.

1st King. Hail, Lord, that all this world hath wrought!
Hail God and man together in fere.
For thou hast made all thing of nought
Albeit that thou liest poorly here.
A cup full of gold here I have thee brought
In tokening thou art without peer.

2nd King. Hail be thou, Lord of high magnificence
In tokening of priesthood, and dignity of office,
To thee I offer a cup full of incense;
For it behoveth thee to have such sacrifice.

3rd King. Hail be thou, Lord long looked for!
I have brought thee myrrh for mortality;
In tokening those shalt mankind restore
To life by thy death upon a tree.

Mary. God have mercy, kings, of your goodness!
By the guiding of the Godhead hither are ye sent;
The provision of my sweet son, your ways home redress,
And ghostly reward you for your present.

1st King. Sir kings, after our promise,
Home by Herod, I must needs go.

2nd King. Now truly, brother, we can no less,
But I am so far watched I wot not what to do.

3rd King. Right so am I, wherefore I you pray
Let all us rest us awhile upon this ground.

1st King. Brother, your saying is right well unto my pay
The grace of that sweet child save us all sound.

Angel. King of Taurus, Sir Jaspar!
King of Araby, Sir Balthasar!
Melchior, king of Aginara!
To you now am I sent.
For dread of Herod, go you west home
In those parts when ye come down,
Ye shall be burrid with great renown:
The Holy Ghost this knowledge hath sent.

1st King. Awake, sir kings, I you pray,
For the voice of an angel I heard in my dream!

2nd King. That is full true that ye do say
For he rehearsed our names plain.

3rd King. He bade that we should go down by west
For dread of Herod's false betray.

1st King. So for to do it is the best,
The child that we have sought, guide us the way!

[Turning to the babe.

Now farewell, the fairest of shape so sweet,
And thanked be Jesus of his sond.
That we three together so suddenly should meet
That dwell so wide, and in a strange land;
And here to make our presentation
Unto this king's son cleansed so clean,
And to his mother for our salvation;
Of much mirth now may we mean,
That we so well hath done this oblation.

2nd King. Now farewell, Sir Jaspar, brother to you,
King of Taurus, the most worth;
Sir Balthasar, also to you I bow
And I thank you both of your good company,
While we together have been.
He that made us to meet on hill,
I thank him now, and ever I will;
For now may we go without ill;
And of our offering be full fain.

3rd King. Now sith that we must needly go
For dread of Herod, that is so wroth,
Now farewell brother, and brother also;
I take my leave here of you both,
This day on foot.
Now he that made us to meet on plain.
And offered to Mary in her jeseyne,
He give us grace in heaven again,
Altogether to meet.

[Exeunt the Three Kings: Enter the Herald and King Herod.

Herald. Hail, King most worthiest in wede!
Hail, maintainer of courtesy through all this world wide!
Hail, the most mightiest that ever bestrode a steed!
Hail, most manfullest man in armour man to abide!
Hail in thine honour!
These three kings that forth were sent
And should have come again before thee here present,
Another way, Lord, home they went
Contrary to thine honour.

Herod. Another way!--out! out!--out!
Hath those foul traitors done me this deed?
I stamp, I stare, I look all about;
Might them I take I should them burn at a glede.
I rend, I roar, and now run I wood;
Ah! that these villain traitors hath marred this my mood!
They shall be hanged if I come them to.

[Here Herod rages in the pageant, and in the street also.

Eh! and that kerne of Bethlehem, he shall be dead,
And thus shall I do for his prophecy.
How say you, sir knights, is not this the best red,
That all young children for this should be dead
With sword to be slain?
Then shall I, Herod, live in lede,
And all folk me doubt and dread,
And offer to me both gold, riches, and mede,
Thereto will they be full fain.

1st Soldier. My Lord, King Herod by name,
Thy words against my will shall be
To see so many young children die, is shame;
Therefore counsel thereto gettest thou none of me.

2nd Soldier. Well said, fellow, my troth I plight;
Sir king! perceive right well you may
So great a murder to see of young fruit,
Will make a rising in thine own countrey.

Herod. A rising!--out! out! out!

[There Herod rages again, and then saith thus:

Out villain wretches, hereupon you I cry,
My will utterly, look that it be wrought,
Or upon a gallows both you shall die,
By Mahound, most mightiest, that me dear hath bought!

1st Soldier. Now, cruel Herod, sith we shall do this deed,
Your will needfully in this must be wrought.
All the children of that age, die they must need,
Now with all my might they shall be upsought.

2nd Soldier. And I will swear here upon your bright sword,
All the children that I find, slain they shall be;
That make many a mother to weep, and be full sore afeard,
In our armour bright, when they us see.

Herod. Now you have sworn, forth that ye go
And my will that ye work both by day and night,
And then will I for fain trip like a doe;
But when they be dead, I warn you, bring them before my sight.

Angel. Mary and Joseph, to you I say,
Sweet word from the Father I bring you full right;
Out of Bethlehem into Egypt forth go ye the way
And with you take the king, full of might,
For dread of Herod's red.

Joseph. Arise up, Mary, hastily and soon!
Our Lord's will needs must be done,
Like as the angel bade.

Mary. Meekly, Joseph, mine own spouse,
Toward that country let us repair,
In Egypt,--some token of house,--
God grant us grace safe to come there!

[Here the women come in with their children, singing them, and Mary and Joseph goeth clean away.

  Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child;
  By, by, lullay, lullay, thou little tiny child;
                By, by, lully, lullay.

  O sisters too! how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling, for whom we do sing
By, by, lully, lullay.

  Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

  That woe is me, poor child for thee!
And ever morn and day,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lallay.

1st Woman. I lull my child wondrously sweet,
And in my arms I do it keep,
Because that it should not cry.

2nd Woman. That Babe that is born, in Bethlehem so meek,
He save my child and me from villainy!

3rd Woman. Be still! be still! my little child!
That Lord of lords save both thee and me;
For Herod hath sworn with words wild
That all young children slain they shall be.

1st Soldier. Say ye whither, ye wives, whither are ye away?
What bear you in your arms needs must we see;
If they be men children, die they must this day,
For at Herod's will all things must be.

2nd Soldier. And I in hands once them hent,
Them for to slay nought will I spare;
We must fulfil Herod's commandment;
Else be we as traitors, and cast all in care.

1st Woman. Sir knights! of your courtesy
This day shame not your chivalry,
But on my child have pity,
For my sake in this stead;
For a simple slaughter it were to sloo
Or to work such a child woe
That can neither speak nor go,
Nor never harm did.

2nd Woman. He that slays my child in sight,
If that my strokes on him may light,
Be he squire or knight,
I hold him but lost.
See thou false losyngere
A stroke shalt thou bear me here
And spare you no cost.

3rd Woman. Sit he never so high in saddle,
But I shall make his brain addle,
And here with my pot ladle,
With him will I fight.
I shall lay on him as though I wode were,
With this same womanly gear;
There shall no man stir,
Whether that he be king or knight.

[The innocents are massacred.

1st Soldier. Who heard ever such a cry
Of women, that their children have lost
And greatly rebuking chivalry
Throughout this realm in every coast
Which many a man's life is like to cost;
For this great revenge that here is done,
I fear much vengeance thereof will come.

2nd Soldier. Eh! brother, such tales may we not tell,
Wherefore to the king let us go,
For he is like to bear the bell,
Which was the cause that we did so;
Yet must they all be brought him to
With wains and waggons full freight.
I trow there will be a careful sight.

[They come before Herod.

1st Soldier. Lo! Herod, king! here must thou see
How many thousands that we have slain.

2nd Soldier. And needs thy will fulfilled must be,
There may no man say there again.

Herald. Herod, king! I shall thee tell,
All thy deeds is come to nought.
This child is gone into Egypt to dwell,
Lo! Sir, in thine own land what wonders byn wrought.

Herod. Into Egypt? Alas! for woe,
Longer in land here I cannot abide.
Saddle my palfry, for in haste will I go
After yon traitors now will I ride
Them for to sloo.
Now all men hie fast
Into Egypt in haste:
All that country will I tast
Till I may come them to.