From MS. Harl. No. 7333, fol. 193, v0, of the beginning of the sixteenth century. This curious piece is inserted as an illustration of the ancient customs at this season of the year.
Source: Thomas Wright, Specimens of Old Christmas Carols Selected from Manuscripts and Printed Books (London: The Percy Society, 1841)
A Christemasse game, made by Maister Benet Howe.
God Almyghty seyde to his apostelys, and echon off them were baptiste, and none knew of othir, etc.
Petir! Petir! prynce of aposteles alle,
Primat of the chirche and governore
Of the fflokke, O pastor principalle,
Whiche for my love suffridest dethes showre,
Come have thy mede ordeyned for thy laboure,
Come on, Petir, syt down at my knee,
Here is a place preparate for the.
Doctoure of Jentiles, O perfite Paule,
By grace convertid from thy grete erroure
And crueltè, chaunged to Paule fro Sawle,
Of faythe and trowthe moost perfyte prechowre,
Slayne at Rome under thilke emperoure,
Cursyd Nero, Paule, sit downe in this place,
To the ordeyned by purveaunce of grace.
Jon the wangelyst, O virgyne pure,
For thy clennesse and pure virginitè,
Crystes moder was commytte to thy cure,
Exiled to Patyhmos thurghe crueltè,
Wrote the booke of goddis privitee,
Of boylyng oyle venquysshing the heete,
Com sit downe, Johan, this place for the is mete.
Andrewe, myldist of othir seyntys alle,
To whom for meekenesse and mansuetude
Alle worly wetnesse semed bitter galle,
Whos lustis alle thowe dyd pleynly exclude,
And in the crosse undir Egeas rwde
Thowe suffrydiste dethe, remembring my passioun,
Come nere, Andrew, to receyve thi guerdoun.
Blessid Barthylmewe, hevene blisse to wynne,
Aftir grete passioun and bittre tormente,
O myghty martir, right owte of thyne owne skynne
Thow were torne and cruelly to-rent
For thy constaunce cowde not from feithe be bent,
Of ryghtwisnesse thi laboure most be qwytte,
Come, Barthilmewe, and right downe here thow sitte.
Thomas! Thomas! that suffredist dethe in Ynde,
Persid withe a spere, the feithe for to susteyne,
Harde of beleeve but ytt thow did unkynde,
By thyn hardness from mys-belevys certeyne
Many a sowle, and so kept hem fro peyne,
Syt downe, therfore, here in this bathe of blisse,
Welcome, Thomas, welcome to me y-wis!
Seynte Simon, thow dyd the feithe reherce,
Caughte my lawe and prechyd my doctrine,
Unto the peple of the reame of Perce,
Wher to the dethe thy dydden the diffyne;
Therfore, Simon, by purviaunce divine
Righte here withe me shalle be thy dwellyng place;
Sit downe, Simon, in the see of grace.
Mathy, chosen yn by very sort and grace
Unto the numbre of apostolacye,
Whan cursid Juds hs forsake his place,
Thurghe his falshede and treachery,
Thy perfite lyfe broughte the to prelacye,
Thy blyssyd lif and perfite governaunce
Unto this seete shalle the now avaunce.
James, brother to Johan my ffrend so dere,
Preching my peeple in the lande of Ynde,
Undir Hermogenes martyred thow were,
Thy constaunce shalle never be sette by-hynde,
Of hevens blysse thowe shalle alle ffoysen fynde;
Come, sitte downe heere, righte in this place of blisse,
Which for thy mede to the ordayned is.
Philippe, thowe preched peple of Sythye,
By perfyte doctrine the feithe to susteyne,
In trewe byleeve howe they shuld multyplye,
Anmonyshing theire erroure to resteyne,
Wherfore there thowe suffryd passion and peyne,
And for thy passyon and sufferaunce
Come sitte downe here, in his place of plesaunce.
Blissid Barnabè, electe by grace divine
To be oone of the chosen companye,
And sitte upon the seetes twelfe in fyne,
Of thy triumphe laureat and victorie,
Come and receive reward of glorie,
Come sitte here in this seete celestialle,
For reward of thi palme victorialle.
Mathewe, thow scribe of trouthe and veritè,
Labouryng in the wyne of scripture,
Wyne of doctrine broching gret plentè,
By grete tribulacion and reddure,
Suffrid passioun, worthi to endure
Eternally in bliss for thy greete constaunce,
Come and rejoice thyne owne inheritaunce.
Feast day of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist is December 27;
Feast day of St. Thomas, Bishop and Martyr is December 28;
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