44. The Drapers' Play: The Death of the Virgin

Hail, mighty Mary, God's mother so mild.
Hail to you, root of all rest; hail to you royal.
Hail, flower and fruit, neither faded nor defiled.
Hail, salve to all sinful; now tell you I shall:
Your son to yourself has me sent
As messenger:  truly he says
No longer than three days
Are left in this life that is lent.

And therefore he bids you, look that you blithe be
For into great bliss will that noble you bring,
Where you'll sit with himself, all solace to see,
And be crowned as his queen, and he himself king.
In mirth that ever shall be new
He sends me worthily with this:
A palm from out of Paradise
In token that it shall be true.

I thank my seemly son for all this message here.
Forever to him is due all loving,
That in this worthy way would send this good cheer,
Into heavenly bliss my bones for to bring.
But good sir, please tell me your name.

Gabriel.  Once willingly did I bring
The good word of his bearing;
In truth lady, I am the same.

Now, Gabriel, who truly by my son was sent,
Thank you for these tidings you bring now to me.
And loved is that Lord, for the gift which he lent:
That I might be chosen his handmaid to be.
Dear son, I beseech thee:
Great God, grant me grace,
The apostles to have in this place,
That they might my pallbearers be.

Now, food fairest of face, most faithful and free,
Your asking your son does grant of his grace
And says, all together in sight you shall see
All his apostles appear in this place
To work all your will at your wending
And soon all your pains shall be past,
And thou shall have life that will last
Evermore, without any ending.

Mary, my mother so mild and meek,
Chief chosen for chastity, tell me what cheer?

John, son, I tell you in truth, I am weak.
The call of my son I have heard; just now he was here
Doubtless, he said I shall die.
Within three days of this,
I'll be biding in bliss
Together with God the most high.

Ah, with your leave, lady, say it is not
And tell me no tidings to twin us in two
For if, blessed bird, to the bier you are brought,
Evermore in this world will my woe be for you.
Therefore, let it cease and be still.

No, John, son, myself now I see:
As God wills it must be
Therefore, be it done as his will.

Ah, worthy one, when you are gone, I shall be full woe,
Unless God give my brothers some word of your wending.

Yes, John my son, certainly, it shall be so.
They all shall come quickly here, at my ending.
The messenger promised me this:
That soon shall my penance be past,
And I'll go to life that will last,
Obediently biding in bliss.

Oh God omnipotent, the giver of all grace
Benedicite Dominus!   A cloud full clear
Enveloped me in Judah; I was preaching in that place.
And now I have much marvelling, how I come to be here.

Ah! Cease!  Of this assembling I cannot say
How, and in what manner, that now we are met.
Either mirth or mourning very well mean it may,
For suddenly in sight, here soon I was set.

Ah, brother, by my memory and my wits, so were we;
For I know that truly in various lands we were lent.
And how this assembly takes place, I can't see;
Unless to us each, God a message has sent

Ah, fellows, let be this uproar
For as God wills, it must needs be.
Peerless in power is he;
He is able to do this and more.

For Mary, that worthy, shall depart soon; I mean,
Into that infinite bliss that her bairn us bought.
That we in her sight all together be seen
Before she dissevers, her son she besought.
And thus has he wrought at her will:
When she shall be brought on a bier
That we may keep company near
This time, to attend her until.

Jesus, my darling, so worthy and dear,
I thank you, my dear son, for your great grace
That all this fair fellowship now I have here,
That they may give comfort to me in this case.
This sickness is sad and severe.
My maidens, now take care of me.
Cast water from there, above me.
I faint, so feeble, I fear.

Alas, for my lady that gleamed so light
That ever I lived for so long in this land
That I of this lady should see such a sight.

Alas, help, she dies in our hand!
Ah, Mary, of me have a mind;
Remember, please, before you go;
Some comfort on us two to show;
You know that we are of your kind.

What ails you women, excessively to weep?
Your din is annoying, I need now to die.
You should, when you saw me slip into sleep,
Have left off your fussing and let me lie.
John, cousin, make them stop and be still.

Ah, Mary, that mild is of mood,
When your son was raised on rood,
To tend you was his only will.

Therefore your bidding I'll do willingly.
If there's anything, mother, that I amend may
I pray thee, mildest of mood - tell me,
And dearest lady; I shall do it every day.

Ah John, son, if only all this pain were past.
With good heart, all of you who are here,
Pray for me faithfully, my dears,
For now the time comes very fast.

1 JEW:
Ah, food fairest of face, most faithful to find,
Oh, maiden and mother so mild and meek,
Because you are courteous and come of our kind,
Our sins to forgive, please your son do beseech
With mercy, to mend all our miss.

2 JEW:
Since fair lady, you come of our kin
Please help us now, most true virgin,
That we may be brought into bliss.

Jesus, my son, for my sake I ask this.
As gracious and great, please grant me my grace:
Those who come of my kind and repent of their miss,
Now specially them speed and spare them a space.
And be their defender, if your will it be,
And when I die and come to thee,
I pray me then for your mercy:
The fiend, please do not let me see.

And also, blessed bairn, if your will it be,
I sadly beseech you, my son, for my sake,
Men that are beset by storms or by sea,
Who wisely and willingly my worship awake,
And then name my name in that need,
That you let them not perish or spill.
Of this boon, my son - at your will
Now grant me, especially indeed.

Also, my blessed bairn, grant me this boon:
All that are hurt or in need and name me by name,
I pray, my son, for my sake, that you'll succour them soon
In afflictions so sharp - please shield them from shame.
And women also, when they are in birthing,
Now especially give good speed;
And if they perish in that need,
Them to heavenly bliss, you'll willingly bring.

Mary my mother, through the might now of me,
To make now your mind with mirth to be mending,
Your asking these holy requests I shall heed.
But mother, the fiend must needs be at your ending,
In figure full foul to alarm you.
My angels shall then be about you,
And therefore, dear dame, do not doubt you,
For, doubtless, this death will not harm you.

And therefore, my mother, come mildly to me,
For soon after you, my messanger I'll send
You'll sit with myself, all will have solace to see
You in pleasure eternal, and life without end.
In this bliss you shall ever abide.
For mirth you will never be missing,
But evermore bide in my blessing,
Wielding all this at my side.

I thank you, sweet son; I am certainly weak;
I may not now move me for mercy, almost.
To you, son who made me, your maiden so meek,
Through your grace, my good son, I give you my ghost.
My simple soul I send
To heaven, the highest in height,
To Jesus, my son most in might.
Take it now in your hand at the end.

My lovely angels, lighter than leaven,
Into the earth, I will that you wend:
Bring me my mother to highest of heaven,
With mirth and sweet melody, her mood to amend.
For here shall her merriment never be marred.
Mildly my mother right beside me
Shall sit next the high Trinity.
And never shall we be apart.

Lord, at your bidding I go willingly;
That flower unfaded, with pleasure shall get,

And just as you wish, Lord, labour shall we,
On every side solaced, that maiden to set.

Let us fly to her fast, her in force to defend,
To bring now that lady into this bliss bright.
Both body and soul of her shall ascend,
To royally reign with this regency right.

To bliss that lady to bring;
Now Gabriel, let us quickly be wending,
This maiden's mirth to be amending,
A seemly song let us sing.

[With one devil

and they sing the antiphon which is called "Ave Regina Celorum"]

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