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1450: A Miracle Play


The main source for this section is "Piers the Plowman", and "Everyman and Mediaeval Miracle Plays".


Narrator 2

It is 1450, and the Feast Day of St Martin.

Narrator 1

It is a time for song and merriment!

Narrator 2

A time for Miracle Plays to teach the gospel truths.

Narrator 1

Let the people rejoice!

(dance sequence follows. After, dancers can sit round as "Voices")

(fanfare, enter messenger, reading from fake scroll)

Messenger

I ask -that you all attend
And hear this matter with reverence.
This is a tale of penitence:
A tale told by Apostle John,
Of how heaven is the Inheritance
Of all who turn to God's own Son,
And ask for mercy for their wrong,
Beg for pity with all their might,
That they might sing the Angel's song
Of all who turn from wrong to right.

(enter Jesus with staff, who sits as in meditation, drawing on ground with long stick)

Look to the Lord, for you have need
Of mercy for the evil deed.

(points to Jesus, then retires)

(enter woman who kneels, sobbing, followed by Pharisee, Scribe and Accuser)

Pharisee (pushes woman to ground)

Hark, sir prophet! To you we pray
That you would give a just sentence
Upon this woman, who this same day
In sinful adultery has done offense

(picks up stone)

Scribe

In Moses' law, right there we found
That such a woman should be slain
To a stake to be first bound
And with great stones, burst out her brain.

(picks up stone)

Accuser

Come on, sir prophet. We wait no more.
Shall we this woman with stones kill?
Or to her house, her horns, restore?
In this matter, tell us your will.

(picks up stone)

Voices

Stone her! Stone her!

Pharisee

She's guilty like the Maid called Joan:
The fighting woman from Orlean.
The crowd has made its choice quite clear.
Listen, and once more you shall heart

Voices (louder than before)

Stone her! Stone her! Stone her'

(there is quiet; the three with stones became almost fixed like statues)

Jesus

Ask yourself which of you never sinned
And is pure, without blame
Let him without sin cast the stone
It is not lightly that we maim!

(stoops to write with finger on floor)

Pharisee

Alas, alas, I am ashamed!
I am afraid that I shall die
All my sins, even properly named,
The prophet wrote before mine eye.

(points and writing, leaves)

Scribe

Alas, the time that I do fear:
All my sins are made most clear.

(leaves)

Accuser

Alas, all my sins that man did write
I wish that I were out of sight!

(leaves)

(the woman moves to kneel before Jesus, who rises)

Woman

Though I am worthy for my sin
To suffer death most painful
Yet holy prophet, be kind
In your Judgement be merciful
Of all my sins I bear In mind.
With all my heart, I am sorry,

Jesus

There is true sorrow, that I see
Go home again, and walk at large.
Make sure you live in honesty
And sin no more, that Is my charge

(turns -to face all)

Though your sins be ever so great
For them be sad and ask mercy
All your sins, I shall take away
Just ask for mercy, come to pray.

(leads woman out)

(enter Priest, dressed in simple garments)

Priest

Let us pray for Our Lordís gentle mercy

(all bow heads in prayer and may join in second line response)

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi:
miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi:
miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi:
dona nobis pacem.

(turns, bows to the altar; others do likewise and follow him out)