The Harrowing of Hell

The Chester Cycle Play XVIII (18) – The Harrowing of Hell

Hic incipit Pagina Decima Septima de
Decensu ad Inferna et de his qut ibidem fiebant
secundum Evangelium Nicodemi
Et primo fiat lux in inferno materialis
aliqua subtilitate machmata, et postea dicat Adam

001 ADAM. O lord and soveraigne saviour,
002 our comfort and our counselour,
003 of this light thou art author
004 as I see well in sight.
005 This ys a signe thou wilt succour
006 thy folkes that lyven in great langour,
007 and of the devill be conquerour,
008 as thou hast yere beheight.

009 Mee thou madest, lord, of claye,
010 and gave me paradyce in to playe;
011 but through my synne, the soothe to saye,
012 depryved I was therefroe,
013 and from that weale put awaye,
014 and here have longett sythen aye
015 in thestearnesse both night and daye,
016 and all my kynd also.

017 Nowe, by this light that I nowe see,
018 joye ys come, lord, through thee,
019 and one thy people hast pittye
020 to put them out of payne.

021 Sycker, yt may non other bee
022 but nowe thow hast mercye on mee,
023 and my kynd through thy postye
024 thou wilt restore agayne.

025 ESAYUS. Yea, secerlye, this ilke light
026 comys from Goddes Sonne almight,
027 for so I prophecyed aright
028 whyle that I was livinge.
029 Then I to all men beheight,
030 as I goostlye sawe in sight,
031 these wordes that I shall to myght
032 rehearse withowt tarienge:

‘Populus qui ambulabat in tenebris vidit lucem magnam.’

033 The people, I sayd that tyme expresse,
034 that yeeden abowt in thesternesse
035 seene a full great lightnesse,
036 as we donne nowe ychone.
037 Nowe ys fulifilled my prophecye
038 that I, the prophet Esaye,
039 wrote in my booke that will not lye,
040 whoso will looke theron.

041 SIMEON JUSTUS. And I, Symeon, sooth to saye,
042 will honour God all that I maye;
043 for when Cryst child was, in good faye,
044 in temple I him tooke
045 and, as the Holye Gooste that daye
046 taught me or I went awaye,
047 these wordes I sayd to Godes paye
048 that men may fynd in booke:

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, domme, secundum verbum tuum, in pace’

049 There I prayed, withowten les,
050 that God would lett me be in peace.
051 For he is Christ that commen was,
052 I had both feld and seene,
053 that he had ordeynt for mans heale,
054 joye to the people of Israell,
055 nowe ys yt wonne, that ylke weale,
056 to us, withowten weene.

057 JOHANNES BAPTISTA. Yea, lord, I am that prophett Johan
058 that baptysed thee in flood Jordan
059 and prophecyed to every natyon
060 to warne of thy commynge
061 to bringe the people to salvatyon
062 by merrytt of thy bitter Passyon,
063 through fayth and penance to have remyssion
064 and with thee to have wonnynge:

Penitentiam Appropinquat enim regnum caelorum’

065 And with my finger I shewed expresse,
066 when I lyved in wildernesse,

067 a lambe in tokeninge of thy lycknesse,
068 our ransome for to bee.
069 At thy commynge we had forgivenesse;
070 mercye concluded ryghtwisenesse.
071 Wherfore these wordes I doe rehearse
072 with honour unto thee:

‘Ecce agnus Dei, ecce, qui tollit peccata mundi.’

073 SEETHE. And I, Seethe, Adams sonne, am here,
074 that livinge went, withowten were,
075 to aske at paradyce a prayer
076 at God, as I shall saye:
077 that he would grant an angell in hye
078 to give me oyle of his mercye
079 to anoynt my father in his anoye,
080 in sycknes when he laye.

081 Then to me appeard Mychaell
082 and bade me travell never a deale,
083 and sayde for remynge nyf prayers felle
084 that grant me not to seeke;
085 nyf of that might I have none,
086 made I never so mych mon,
087 tyll fyve thousand yeres were gonne
088 and fyve hundreth yeeke.

Omnibus flectibus dicat David:

089 A, high God and kinge of blys,
090 worshipped be thy name, ywys
091 I hope that tyme nowe commen ys
092 delyvered to be of languor.
093 Come, lord, come to hell anon,
094 and take owt thy folkes everychon,
095 for the yeares be all comen and gonne
096 sythen mankynd first came here.

Tunc Sathan sedens in cathedra dicat daemonibus:

097 Hell-houndes all that binne here,
098 makes you boune with boste and beere,
099 for to thys felowshippe in fere
100 there byes a feerly freake.
101 A noble morsell ye have mone;
102 Jesu that ys Godes Sonne
103 comes hither with us to wonne.
104 One him nowe ye you wreake.

105 A man hee ys fullye, in faye,
106 for greatly death hee dread todaye,
107 and these wordes I hard him saye:
108 ‘My soule is threst to death.’
109 Such as I made halt and blynd,
110 he hasse them healed into theire kynd.
111 Therfore this bolster looke ye bynd
112 in bale of hell-brethe.

113 SECUNDUS DAEMON. Syr Sathanas, what man ys hee
114 that should thee pryve of thy postie?
115 Howe darre he doe agaynste thee
116 and dread his death todaye?
117 Grayter then thou he seemes to be,
118 for degradit of thy degree
119 thou must be soone, well I see,
120 and pryved of thy praye.

121 TERTIUS DEMON. Who ys he so styffe and stronge
122 that so maysterlyke comes us amonge,
123 our felowshippe as he would fonge?
124 But therof he shall fayle.
125 Weyt he us with any wronge,
126 he shall synge a sorye songe;
127 but on thee, Sathan, or yt be longe,
128 and his will ought avayle-

129 SATHANAS. Agaynst thys shrewe that commys here
130 I tempted the folke in fowle manere.
131 Aysell and galle to his dinere
132 I made them for to dight,
133 and sythen to hange him on roode-tree.
134 Nowe ys he dead, right so through mee,
135 and to hell, as yee shall see,
136 hee comys anonne in hyght.

137 SECUNDUS DAEMON. Syr Sathanas, ys not this that syre
138 that raysed Lazour out of the fyre?

139 SATHANAS. Yea, this ys hee that would conspire
140 anonne to reave us all.

141 TERTIUS DAEMON Owt, owt! Alas, alas!
142 Here I conjure thee, Sathanas,
143 thou suffer him not come in thys place
144 for ought that may befall.

145 SECUNDUS DAEMON. Yea, sekerly, and he come here,
146 passed ys cleane our power,
147 for all this felowshippe in fere
148 have home away he would;
149 for at his commandement
150 Lazour, that with us was lent,
151 maugre our teythe awaye hee hent,
152 and him might we not hould.

Tunc venit Jesus et fiat clamor, vel sonitus magnus materialis,
et dicat Jesus ‘Attollite portas, principes, vestras,
et elevamini portas aeternales, et introibit rex gloriae’

153 JESUS. Open up hell-gates anonne,
154 ye prynces of pyne everychon,
155 that Godes Sonne may in gonne,
156 and the kinge of blys.

157 SECUNDUS DAEMON. Go hense, poplard, owt of thys place
158 or thou shalt have a sorye grace.
159 For all thy boaste and thy manace
160 theise men thou shalt amys.

161 SATHANAS. Owt, alas, what ys thys?
162 Seghe I never so mych blys
163 towardes hell come, iwys,
164 sythen I was warden here.

165 My masterdome fares amys,
166 for yonder a stubberne fellowe ys,
167 right as wholye hell were his,
168 to reave me of my power.

169 TERTIUS DAEMON. Yea, Sathanas, thy soverayntie
170 fayles cleane. Therfore thou flee,
171 for no longer in this see
172 here shalt thou not sytt.
173 Goe forth! Feight for thy degree!
174 Or elles our prynce shall thou not bee;
175 for nowe passys thy postee
176 and hethen thou must flytt.

Tunc surgens Sathanas de sede dicat.

177 SATHANAS. Owt, alas, I am shent!
178 My might fayles, verament.
179 This prynce that ys nowe present
180 will pull from me my praye.
181 Adam by myne intycement,
182 and all his blood, through me were shent.
183 Nowe hethen they shall all be bent,
184 and I in hell for aye.

185 DAVID REX. I, kinge Davyd, nowe well may saye
186 my prophecye fulfilled is, in faye,
187 as nowe shewes in sight verey,
188 and soothly here ys seene.
189 I taught men thus here in my lyefe-daye
190 to worshippe God by all waye,
191 that hell-yates he should afraye
192 and wonn that his bath bynne.

Confiteantur domino misericordiae eius et mirabilia eius,
filius hominis contrivit portas aereas et vectes ferreas confregit’

Tunc item dicat Jesus

193 JESUS. Open up hell-yates yett I saye,
194 ye prynces of pyne that be present,
195 and lett the kinge of blys this waye
196 that he may fulfill his intent.

197 SATHANAS. Staye! What, what ys hee, that kinge of blys?

198 DAVID REX. That lord the which almightie ys,
199 in warre no power like to his,
200 of all blys ys gretest kynge.
201 And to him ys non like, iwys,
202 as ys soothly seene by thys,
203 for men that somtyme dyd amysse
204 to his blys he will them bringe.

Hic extrahuntur patriarchi (Here must God take owt Adam)

205 JESUS. Peace to thee, Adam, my dearlynge,
206 and eke to all thy osspringe
207 that ryghtwise were in yearth livinge.
208 From mee yee shall not severe.
209 To blys nowe I wyll you bringe there
210 you shalbe withowt endinge.
211 Mychaell, lead these men singinge
212 to blys that lasteth ever.

213 MYCHAELL. Lord, your will donne shalbe.
214 Come forth, Adam, come with mee.
215 My lord upon the roode-tree
216 your synnes bath forbought.
217 Nowe shall ye have likinge and lee,
218 and be restored to your degree
219 that Sathan with hys subtyltye
220 from blys to bale had brought.

221 SATHANAS. Owt, alas! Nowe goes awaye
222 all my prysoners and my praye;
223 and I myselfe may not starte awaye,
224 I am so stretlye tyed.
225 Nowe comes Christe, sorrowe I maye
226 for me and my menye for aye.
227 Never sytben God made the first daye
228 were we so sore afrayd.

Here must Adam speake to Enocke and Helye.

229 ADAM. Syrs, what manner of men bene yee
230 that bodelye meete us, as I see,
231 that dead come not to hell as wee,
232 sythen all men dampned were?
233 When I trespassed, God height mee
234 that this place closed should bee
235 from yearthly men to have entree,
236 and yett I fynd you here.

237 ENOCKE. Syr, I am Enocke, the sooth to saye,
238 put in this place to Goddes paye;
239 and here have lyved ever synce aye
240 at likinge all my fill.

241 And my fellowe here, in good faye,
242 ys Helye the prophet, see yee maye,
243 that ravished was in this araye,
244 as hit was Godes will.

245 HELIAS PROPHETA. Yea, bodely death, leeve thou mee,
246 yett never suffred wee,
247 but here ordaynt we are to bee
248 tyll Antechriste come with hise.
249 To fight agaynst us shall hee
250 and slea us in this holye cittye;
251 but sekerly, within dayes three
252 and a halfe, we shall ryse.

253 ADAM. And who ys this that comes here,
254 that lives with you in this manere?

255 LATRO. I am that theeffe, my father dere,
256 that honge on roode-tree.
257 For I beleeved withowten were
258 that Christ might save us both in feere,
259 to him I made my prayer,
260 the which was granted mee.

261 When I see synnys full verey
262 that hee was Goddes Sonne, sooth to saye,
263 to him devoutely did I praye,
264 in his regyon when he come
265 that he would thinke on me alwaye;
266 and hee answered and sayd: ‘This daye
267 in paradice thou shalt with me playe.’
268 Hederward I nome.

269 Then he betaught me this tokeninge,
270 this crosse upon my backe hanginge,
271 to Michaell angell for to bringe,
272 that I might have entree.

273 ADAM. Nowe goe wee to blys, ould and yonge,
274 and worshippe God all willinglye;
275 and thiderward I read we singe
276 with great solempnitie.

Tunc eant omnes, et incipiat Michaell ‘Te Deum laudamus’

277 MULlER. Woe be the tyme that I came here,
278 I saye to thee nowe, Lucifere,
279 with all thy felowshipp in fere
280 that present be in place.
281 Wofull am I with thee to dwell,
282 syr Sathanas, sargeant of hell.
283 Endles sorrowe and paynes cruell
284 I suffer in this case.

285 Sometyme I was a taverner,
286 a gentle gossippe and a tapster,
287 of wyne and ale a trustie bruer,
288 which woe hath me wrought.
289 Of kannes I kept no trewe measure.
290 My cuppes I sould at my pleasure,
291 deceavinge manye a creature,
292 thoe my ale Were nought.

293 And when I was a bruer longe,
294 with hoppes I made my alle stronge;
295 esshes and hearbes I blend amonge
296 and marred so good malt.
297 Therfore I may my handes wringe,
298 shake my cuppes and kannes ringe.
299 Sorrowfull maye I syke and singe
300 that ever I so dalt.

301 Tavernes, tapsters of this cittye
302 shalbe promoted here with mee
303 for breakinge statutes of this contrye,
304 hurtinge the commonwealth,
305 with all typpers-tappers that are cunninge,
306 mispendinge much malt, bruynge so thinne,
307 sellinge smale cuppes money to wynne,
308 agaynst all trueth to deale.

309 Therfore this place nowe ordayned ys
310 for such yll-doers so mych amysse.
311 Here shall they have ther joye and blys,
312 exalted by the necke,
313 with my master, mightie Mahound,
314 for castinge malt besydes the combes,
315 myche water takinge for to compound,
316 and little of the secke.

317 With all mashers, mengers of wyne, in the night
318 bruynge so, blendinge agaynst daylight,
319 sych newe-rnade claret ys cause full right
320 of sycknes and disease.
321 Thus I betake you, more and lesse,
322 to my sweete mayster, syr Sathanas,
323 to dwell with him in his place
324 when hyt shall you please.

325 SATHANAS. Welcome, dere daughter, to us all three.
326 Though Jesu be gonne with our meanye,
327 yett shalt thou abyde here still with mee
328 in payne withowt ende.

329 SECUNDUS DAEMON. Welcome, sweete ladye! I will thee wedd,
330 for manye a heavye and dronken head
331 cause of thy ale were brougt to bedd
332 farre worse then anye beaste.

333 TERTIUS DAEMON. Welcome, deare darlinge, to endles bale.
334 Usynge cardes, dyce, and cuppes smale,
335 with many false othes to sell thy ale-
336 nowe thou shall have a feaste!

337 Finis

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