37. The Saddlers' Play: The Harrowing of Hell

Man on earth, attend to me
And keep thy maker in thy mind,
And think how I endured for thee
With peerless anguish to be pained.
The covenant of my Father free
Have I fulfilled, as folk may find.
Therefore busy shall I be;
Those redeemed I shall unbind.
The fiend beguiled them then,
Though fruit of earthly food.
I have them got again
Through buying, with my blood.

And so, I shall that place restore
From which the Devil fell for sin.
For mankind shall dwell evermore,
In bliss that never fails, within.
All that in the world my workers were,
Out of their woe I shall them win,
And some sign I shall send before
Of grace, to make their joy begin.
A light now they shall have,
To show them I shall come soon.
My body lies in the grave
'Till all these deeds are done.

My Father ordained in this wise
After his will I should descend,
For to fulfil the prophecies,
And, as I spoke, my solace to send.
My friends who trust me, my allies,
Now from their foes I shall defend,
And, on the third day, right up rise,
And so to Heaven I shall ascend.
After, I shall come again
To judge both good and ill
To endless joy or pain.
Thus is my Father's will.

[Then they shall sing.]

My brethren, harken to me here!
Such hope of help never before we had;
For thousand and six hundred year
Have we been here, within this stead.
Now I see a sign of solace clear,
A glorious gleam to make us glad.
Therefore, I think our help is near,
And soon shall cease our sorrows sad.

Adam, my husband right,
This means solace, surely.
We both saw such a light
In Paradise, openly.

Adam, we shall well understand.
I, Isaiah, as God did intend,
I preached in Naphtali, that land,
And Zebulun, until the end.
I spoke of folk in darkness, and
I said a light should soon descend.
I taught this as a living man.
Now I see God this same light does send.
Of Christ now comes this light
Who died to save us now.
My point is proven right.
But Simeon, what say you?

Of great marvels is my tale,
For in the temple his people me found.
I had delight with him to deal,
And held him gently in my hand.
I said, "Lord, let your servant loyal
Pass now in peace to long life," and
"Now that I see the way you heal
I wish no longer to live on land."
This light you have conveyed
To people in this place.
The same that I to them said,
I see fulfilled apace.

A voice crying out, I made folk understand
The ways of Christ I best I can.
I baptised Him, with my own hand,
Even in the flood of the River Jordan.
The Holy Spirit from Heaven did descend
Like a white dove, down on Him, then.
The Father's voice, my joy to lend,
Was made to me, even as man:
"This is my Son," He said,
"In whom I am well pleased."
His light on us is laid;
He comes our cares to ease.

Of that same light, learning have I.
To me, Moses, he manifested his might-
And also unto another, Eli,
Where we were on a hill, on height.
White as snow was his body,
And his face like the sun in our sight.
No man on Earth was so mighty,
Long to look upon that light.
That same light now I see,
Shining on us, certain.
Therefore, I say truly,
We soon shall pass from pain.

Help, Beelzebub, to bind these boys!
Such uproar never was heard in Hell.

Why roar you, Ribald?  What are these toys?
What has happened?  Can you tell?

What?  Hear you not this ugly noise?
These wretches that in Limbo dwell,
They make mention of many joys
And make great mirth among themselves.

Mirth?  No, no, that point has passed;
More happiness they'll never have.

They cry on Christ full fast,
And say He shall them save.

Yea?  If he save them not, we shall,
For they are speared in a special space.
While I am prince and principal,
They'll never pass out of this place.
Call up Astoreth and Anaball
To give their counsel in this case,
Baal-Berith, and Belial,
To harm them that such goodness makes.
To Satan, our lord, also speak,
And bid them bring also
Lucifer, lovely to see.

All ready, lord.  I go.

Atollite portas, principes,
Open up, you princes of pains severe,

Et elevamini eternales,
Your endless gates that you have here!

What knave is there, that commotion makes
And calls himself king of us in here?

I taught while living, in each place,
He is a king of virtues clear,
A lord great in might
And strong in every strife,
In battles fierce to fight,
Of honourable life.

Honour?  In the devil's way!  For what deed?
All Earthly men to me are thrall!
The lad that you call "lord" indeed
Had never yet harbour, house, nor hall.

Hark, Beelzebub, I have great dread,
For hideously I heard him call.

Ho, fasten our gates, a curse you speed,
And set forth watches on this wall-
And if he call, or cry
To make us more debate,
Lay on him then, hardily,
And make him go his gait.

Tell me what boys dare be so bold,
For dread to make such noise and fray!

It is the Jew that Judas sold
To death, only the other day.

Oh, this tale in time is told.
This traitor has crossed our will, alway.
He shall be here, and in my hold.
Let him leave not, I you pray.

Nay, nay, he will not go
Away; I'll be aware.
He plans to overthrow
All Hell, ere he go far.

No, liar, in that he shall fail.
For all his noise, I him defy.
I know his plans from top to tail;
He lives on guile and trickery.
That is how he brought out of our jail,
Just lately, Lazarus of Bethany.
Therefore, I gave to the Jews counsel
That they, by all means, make him die.
I entered into Judas
That agreement to fulfil.
Therefore, for hire, he has
Forever to stay here still.

Sir Satan, since we hear you say
That you and they were of one assent,
And know he took Lazarus away
That to us had come for government,
Think you that you now harm him may,
To show the power he has meant?
If he now deprives us of our prey,
We'd wish to be told when they went.

I bid you, be not abashed,
But boldly make you bound
With tools that you can trust
To ding that dastard down.

Principes, portas tollite,
Undo your gates, you princes of pride,
Et introibit rex gloriae,
The king of bliss comes now inside.

Out!  Harrow!  What scoundrel is he
That says his kingdom shall be cried?

That may you in my Psalter see,
For that detail I prophecied.
I said that he should break
Your bars and bands by name,
And on you, vengeance wreak.
Now you shall see the same.

This place shall stand no longer stuck.
Open up, and let my people pass!

Out!  Behold, our wall has broke,
And burst are all our bands of brass;
Tell Lucifer all is unlocked.

What, then, is Limbo lost?  Alas!
Make Satan help revenge to wreak;
This work is worse than ever it was.

I bade you should be bound
If he made masteries more!
Go, ding that dastard down
And set him sad and sore!

Yes, set him sorely, that is soon said-
But come yourself, and serve him so!
We may not abide his bitter affray;
He would us harm though we were more!

What?  Liars, why should you be flayed?
Have you no strength to make him go?
At once, look that my gear be arrayed,
I shall to that foul scoundrel go!
Ho!  My good man, abide
With all your boast and jeer,
And tell me at this tide
What masteries you make here?

I make no masteries.  But these are mine;
Them I will save, I tell you now.
You had no power them to pain.
As my thralls for their good-that is how
They have here sojourned, not as thine
But in thy ward, as well you know.

And what the Devil have you ever done?
You never came near them till now.

Now is the time certain
My Father ordained before-
When they should pass from pain,
And dwell in mirth evermore.

Your father I knew well by sight.
He worked with wood, his food to gain.
And Mary, I think, was your mother-right?
That's all that there is to all your kin.
Who made you to be so great of might?

You wicked Devil!  Let be your din;
My Father lives in Heaven on height,
With bliss that shall never dim.
I am his own Son.
His wishes I shall fulfil.
And we shall dwell as one,
And sunder when we will.

God's son?  Then you should be very glad.
No property need you to crave!
But, you have lived like any lad,
In sorrow, like a simple knave.

That was for heartfelt love I had,
For every soul, for it to save.
And, in order to make you confused and mad,
And, by that reason, thus duly to have
My Godhead here, I hid
In Mary, mother mine,
So it should not be spied
By thee nor none of thine.

Ah!  This I wish told in every town!
So-since you say that God is your sire,
I shall to you prove, by right reason,
You are arguing His people into the mire.
To break His bidding they were bound.
And, because they followed my desire,
From Paradise He put them down,
In Hell, here, to have their hire.
And you, day and night,
Have taught, all people among,
To do reason and right.
And here you work all wrong.

I work no wrong.  That you shall know,
If I my people from woe shall win.
My prophets plainly preached even so;
All this business that I begin.
They said that I should die, and go
To Hell-that I should enter in,
And save my servants from this woe,
This pit where damned souls sit for sin.
And each true prophet's tale
Must be fulfilled in me;
I have them brought with bale,
And in bliss shall they be.

Now, since you wish to allege the law,
You shall be convicted before we twin
In two, for each witness that you draw
Is also against you, before you begin.
Soloman said, for he foresaw,
That whoever enters Hell within
Shall never come out, thus scholars know.
And therefore, fellow, leave this din.
Job, your servant, also
Thus, in his time, did tell
That neither friend nor foe
Should find a release from Hell.

He spoke the truth, that you shall see,
That in Hell may be no release.
But, of that place, then preach did he
Whose sinful care shall ever increase.
And, in that jail ever shall you be
Where sorrows severe shall never cease.
And, because my folk from this are free,
They now shall pass to the place of peace.
They were here with my will,
And so they forth shall go,
And you yourself shall fulfil,
Without end, all their woe.

Oh, then I see how you mean, among
Your malice, some temperace to mix as well.
Since you say not all shall gang,
But some shall always with us dwell.

You know that well; else it would be wrong.
The cursed ones:  Cain, who slew Abel,
And all those that hasted themselves to hang,
Like Judas and Achitophel,
Daithan, and Abiram,
And all of this assent-
Also, tyrants every one
Who me and mine torment.

And all that wish not to accept my law
That I have left on Earth just now
(That is, my coming for to know,
My sacrament to accept also,
And my death and rising to construe)-
Such disbelievers are not true.
Unto my doom I shall them draw,
And judge them harshly, I tell you.
But all who love to hear
My law, and believe in me,
Shall never have harms here,
But joy, as is worthy.

Now, here is my hand; I'm well repaid.
This point well profits us.  And how?
If this be true, what you have said,
We shall have more than we have now.
This law that you of late have laid,
I'll teach men to reject, I vow.
If they believe, they are betrayed,
For I shall twist them anyhow.
I shall walk on every side,
And make them sin, I know.

No, fiend, you shall be tied,
So not far shall you go.

Tied?  That's hateful to expound!
No, good fellow, you'll be hit!

Michael, my angel, make him bound;
Tie down that fiend; he shall not flit.
And, Devil, I command you go down
Into your cell where you shall sit.

Out!  Hey!  Harrow!  Help, Mahoun!
Now I go mad; I lose my wit.

Satan, we said before,
Now you shall feel your fit.

Alas, for dole and care!
I sink into Hell's pit!

Ah, Jesus, Lord, much is your might.
Yet you humble yourself in this way here,
To help us all, as you said that night
When we transgressed, I and my peer.
Here we have lived without any light
Four thousand and six hundred year.
Now I see, by this solemn sight,
How your mercy has made us clear.

Ah, Lord, we were worthy
More torments still to taste,
But mend us with mercy
As you in might are most.

Ah, Lord, I love you utterly,
That you would make me messenger
Your Earthly coming for to cry
And teach your faith to people there-
And then, before you, for to die
And bring good news to people here,
How they should have your help quickly.
Now I see all your points appear
That David, prophet true,
Oftentimes told unto us.
Of this coming he knew,
And said it should be thus.

As I have said, still say I so:
Ne derelinquas, domine,
Animam meam in inferno.
You shall not leave my soul astray
In deepest Hell where the damned must go,
Nor allow me never your saints to see:
The sorrow of them that stay in woe
And full of filth, and may not flee.

We thank his great goodness;
He fetched us from this place.
Make joy now, great and less!

We praise God for His grace!

[Then they shall sing.]

Adam, and my friends all here,
From all your foes come forth, with me.
You shall be set in solace and cheer
Where you shall never sorrows see.
And Michael, my own angel clear,
Recieve these souls all unto thee
And lead them now as you shall hear:
To Paradise, with joy and glee.
To my grave, return I will,
To rise up from the dead;
And thus I shall fulfil
All things that I have said.

Lord, we shall go as you say;
To joy I shall these people send.
But, so these devils no trick can play,
Lord, bless us with your holy hand.

My blessing have you all this day.
I shall be with you where you wend.
And all who love my law loyally,
They shall be blessed, without an end.

To you, Lord, be praising;
You rescued us from woe.
For solace we shall sing
Laus tibi cum gloria.

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