First Shepherds' Play

Team Members: Marta Juzwiak, Ellen Kartz, and Kate Korman.

This play, written by the "Wakefield Master,"and begins the first of two 'Shepherd's plays. The shepherds in question are those to whom the angel of the Lord appears on the night that Jesus is born. Because the shepherds have no specific religious function in the cycle as a whole, they are used in a primarily comic role. Thus, the shepherd's plays are some of the best loved in the cycle.

*View the First Shepherd's Play in a framed document with linked gloss and annotations.


Incipit pagina pastorum

primus pastor
LOrd what thay ar weyll: that hens ar past
For thay noght feyll: theym to downe cast
here is mekyll vnceyll: and long has it last
Now in hart now in heyll: now in weytt now in blast
----------Now in care
Now in comforth agane
Now is fayre now is rane
Now in hart full fane
----------And after full fare


Thus this Warld as I say: farys on ylk syde
For after oure play: com sorows vnryde
For he that most may: When he syttys in pryde
when it comys on assay: is kesten downe wyde
----------This is seyn
When ryches is he
Then comys pouerte
Hors man Iak cope
----------Walkys then I weyn
I thank it god: hark ye what I mene
For euen or for od: I haue mekyll tene
As heuy as a sod: I grete with myn eene
When I nap on my cod: for care that has bene
----------And sorow
All my shepe ar gone
I am not left oone
The rott has theym slone
----------Now beg I and borow
My handys may I wryng: and mowrnyng make
Bot if good will spryng: the countre forsake
Fermes thyk ar comyng: my purs is bot wake
I haue nerehand nothyng: to pay nor to take
----------I may syng
With purs penneles
That makys: this heuynes
Wo is me this dystres
----------And has no helpyng
Thus sett I my mynde: truly to neuen
By my wytt to fynde: to cast the warld in seuen
My shepe haue I tynde: by the moren full euen
Now if hap will grynde: god from his heuen
----------Send grace
To the fare will I me: To by shepe perde
And yit may I multyple
----------For all this hard case

Secundus pastor
Benste benste: be vs emang
And saue all that I se: here in this thrang
He saue you and me: ouertwhart and endlang
That hang on a tre: I say you no wrang
----------Cryst saue vs
From all myschefys
From robers and thefys
From those mens grefys
----------That oft ar agans vs


Both bosters and bragers : god kepe vs fro
That with thare long dagers: dos mekyll wo
From all byll hagers: with colknyfys that go
Sich wryers and wragers: gose to and fro
----------For to crak
Who so says hym agane // were better be slane
Both ploghe and wane:// Amendys will not make
he will make it as prowde: a lord as he were
With a hede lyke a clowde: Felterd his here
he spekys on lowde: With a grym bere
I wold not haue trowde: so galy in gere
----------As he glydys
I wote not the better // Nor wheder is gretter
The lad or the master // So stowtly he strydys
If he hask me oght : that he wold to his pay
Full dere bese it boght : if I say nay
Bot god that all wroght : to the now I say
help that thay were broght : to a better way
----------For thare sawlys
And send theym good mendyng // With a short endyng
And with the to be lendyng // when that thou callys
how gyb goode morne : wheder goys thou
Thou goys ouer the corne: gyb I say how

primus pastor
Who is that Iohn horne : I make god avowe
I say not in skorne: thom how farys thou

Secundus pastor
hay ha // Ar ye in this towne

primus pastor
yey by my crowne

ijus pastor
I thoght by youre gowne
----------This was youre aray

primus pastor
I am euer elyke: wote I neuer what it gars
Is none in this ryke: a shepard farys wars

ijus pastor
poore men ar in the dyke: and oft tyme mars
The warld is slyke: also helpars
----------Is none here

primus pastor
It is sayde full ryfe: a man may not wyfe
And also thryfe: And all in a yere

ijus pastor
Fyrst must vs crepe: and sythen go

primus pastor
I go to by shepe: Secundus nay not so


What dreme ye or slepe: where shuld thay go
here shall thou none kepe: primus pastor A good syr: ho
----------Who am I
I wyll pasture my fe // where soeuer lykys me
here shall thou theym se ijus pastor
----------Not so hardy
Not oone shepe tayll: shall thou bryng hedyr

primus pastor
I shall bryng no fayll: A hundreth togedyr

ijus pastor
what art thou in ayll: longys thou oght whedir

primus pastor
Thay shall go saunce fayll: go now bell weder

ijus pastor
I say tyr

primus pastor
I say tyr now agane // I say skyp ouer the plane

ijus pastor
Wold thou neuer so fane // Tup I say whyr

primus pastor
What wyll thou not yit : I say let the shepe go
Whop Secundus pastor abyde yit: primus pastor will thou bot so
knase hens I byd flytt: as good that thou do
Or I shall the hytt: on thi pate lo
----------shall thou reyll
I say gyf the shepe space

ijus pastor
Syr a letter of youre grace
here comys slaw pase
----------Fro the myln whele

Tercius pastor
what a do what a do: is this t you betweyn
A good day thou and thou primus pastor hark what I meyn
----------you to say
I was bowne to by store:
drofe my shepe me before
he says not oone hore
----------Shall pas by this way
Bot and he were wood: this way shall thay go

iijus pastor
yey bot / tell me good: where ar youre shepe lo

ijus pastor
Now ser by my hede: yit se I no mo
Not syn I here stode: ijus pastor god gyf you wo
----------And sorow
ye fysh before the nett // And stryfe on this bett
Sich folys neuer I mett // Evyn or at morow
It is wonder to wyt: where wytt shuld be fownde
here ar old knafys yit : standys on this grownde
there wold by thare wytt: make a shyp be drownde
he were well qwytt: had sold for a pownde
----------Sich two
thay fyght and thay flyte // For that at comys not tyte
It is far to byd hyte To an eg or it go


Tytter want ye sowll: then sorow I pray
Ye brayde of mowll: that went by the way
Many shepe can she poll: bot oone had she ay
Bot she happynyd full fowll: hyr pycher I say
----------Was broken
Ho god she sayde// bot oone shepe yit she hade
The mylk pycher was layde//The skarthis was the tokyn
Bot syn ye ar bare: of wysdom to knowe
Take hede how I fare: and lere at my lawe
Ye nede not to care: if ye folow my sawe
Hold ye my mare: this sek thou thrawe
----------On my bak
Whylst I with my hand// lawse the sek band
Com nar and by stand// Both gyg and Iak
Is not all shakyn owte: and no meyll is therinp

primus pastor
yey that is no dowte:

Tercius pastor so is youre wyttys thyn
And ye look well abowte: nawther more nor myn
So gose youre wyttys owte: evyn as It com In
----------Geder vp
And seke it agane//

ijus pastor
May we not be fane//
He has told vs full plane
----------Wysdom to sup

Iak garco
Now god gyf you care: foles all sam
Sagh I neuer none so fare: bot the foles of gotham
Wo is hir that yow bare: youre syre and youre dam
Had she broght furth an hare: a shepe or a lam
----------Had bene well
Of all the foles I can tell// From heuen vnto hell
ye thre bere the bell// God gyf you vnceyll

primus pastor
How pastures oure fee: say me good pen

Thay ar gryssed to the kne:

ijus pastor fare fall the

Garco Amen
If ye will ye may se: youre bestes ye ken

primus pastor
Sytt we downe all thre: and drynk shall we then

iijus pastor
----------yey torde
I am leuer ete// what is drynk withoute mete//
Gett mete gett// And sett vs a borde
Then may we go dyne: oure bellys to fyll

ijus pastor
Abyde vnto syne:

iijus pastor be god Ser I nyll
I am worthy the wyne: me thynk it good skyll


My seruyse I tyne: I fare full yll / At youre mangere

primus pastor
Trus go we to mete // It is best that we trete
I lyst not to plete // To stand in thi dangere
Thou has euer bene curst: syn we met togeder

iijus pastor
Now in fayth if I durst: ye ar euen my broder

ijus pastor
Syrs let vs cryb furst: for oone thing or oder
That thise wordys be purst: and let vs go foder
----------Oure mompyns
lay furth of oure store // lo here browne of a bore

primus pastor
Set mustard afore // oure mete now begyns
here a foote of a cowe: well sawsed I wene
The pestell of a sowe: that powderd has bene
Two blodyngys I trow: A leueryng betwene
Do gladly syrs now: my broder be dene
----------With more
Both befe and moton // Of an ewe that was roton/
Good mete for a gloton // Ete of this store

ijus pastor
I haue here in my mayll: sothen and rost
Euen of an ox tayll: that wold not be lost
ha ha goderhayll: I let for no cost
A good py or we fayll: this is good for the frost
----------In a mornyng
And two swyne gronys // All a hare bot the lonys
We myster no sponys // here at oure mangyng

iijus pastor
here is to recorde: the leg of a goys
with chekyns endorde: pork partryk to roys
A tart for a lorde: how thynk ye this doys
A calf lyuer skorde: with the veryose
----------Good sawse
This is a restorite // To make a good appete

primus pastor
yee speke all by clerge // I here by youre clause
Cowth ye by youre gramery: reche vs a drynk
I shuld be more mery: ye wote What I thynk

ijus pastor
haue good ayll of hely: bewar now I wynk
For and thou drynk drely: in thy poll wyll it synk

primus pastor / A[l]so
This is boyte of oure bayll // good holsom ayll

iijus pastor
ye hold long the skayll Now lett me go to

Secundus pastor
I shrew those lyppys bot thou leyff me som parte

primus pastor
be god he bot syppys: begylde thou art


Behold how he kyppys:

Secundus pastor I shrew you so smart
And me on my hyppys: bot if I gart
Be thou wyne be thou ayll // bot if my brethe fayll
I shall sett the on sayll // God send the good gayte

Tercius pastor
Be my dam saull alyce: It was sadly dronken

primus pastor
Now as euer haue I blys: to the bothom it is sonken

ijus pastor
yit a botell here is:

Tercius pastor that is well spoken
By my thryft we must kys: T Secundus pastor that had I forgoten
----------Bot hark
Who so can best syng // Shall haue the begynnyng

primus pastor
Now prays at the partyng // I Shall sett you on warke
We haue done oure parte: and songyn right weyll
I drynk for my parte:

ijus pastor Abyde lett cop reyll

primus pastor
Godys forbot thou spart: and thou drynk euery deyll

iijus pastor
Thou has dronken a quart: therfor choke the the deyll

primus pastor
----------Thou rafys
And it were for a sogh // Ther is drynk enogh

iijus pastor
I shrew the handys it drogh // ye be both knafys

primus pastor
Nay we knaues all: thus thynk me best
So ser shuld ye call: ijus pastor furth let it rest
we will not brall: primus pastor then wold I we fest
This mete Who shall: into panyere kest

iijus pastor
----------Syrs herys
For oure saules lett vs do // poore men gyf it to

primus pastor
Geder vp lo lo // ye hungre begers // Frerys

ijus pastor
It draes nere nyght: trus go we to rest
I am euen redy dyght: I thynk it the best

iijus pastor
For ferde we be fryght: a crosse lett vs kest
Cryst crosse benedyght: eest and west
----------For drede
I hc onazorus // Crucyefixus
Morcus andreus // God be oure spede

herkyn hyrdes awake: gyf louyng ye shall
he is borne for youre sake: lorde perpetuall
he is comen to take: and rawnson you all
youre sorowe to slake: kyng emperiall
----------he behestys
That chyld is borne // At bethelem this morne
Ye shall fynde hym beforne // Betwix two bestys


primus pastor
A godys dere domnius: What was that sang
It was wonder curiose: with small noytys emang
I pray to god saue vs: now in this thrang
I am ferd by ihc// somwhat be wrang
----------Me thoght
Oone scremyd on lowde// I suppose it was a clowde
In myn erys it sowde// By hym that me boght

Secundus pastor
Nay that may not be: I say you certan
For he spake to vs thre: as he had bene a man
When he lemyd on this lee: my hart shakyd than
An angell was he: tell you I can
----------No dowte
He spake of a barne// We must seke hym I you warne
That betokyns yond starne// That standys yonder owte

Tercius pastor
It was meruell to se: so bright as it shone
I wold haue trowyd veraly: it had bene thoner flone
Bot I sagh with myn ee: as I lenyd to this stone
It was a mery gle: such hard I neuer none
----------I recorde
As he sayde in a skreme// Or els that I dreme
we shuld go to bedleme// To wyrship that lorde

primus pastor
That same childe is he: that prophetys of told
Shuld make them fre: that adam had sold

ijus pastor
Take tent vnto me: this is inrold
By the wordys of Isae: a prynce most bold
----------Shall he be
And kyng with gowne// Sett on dauid trone
Sich was neuer none// Seyn with oure ee

iijus pastor
Also Isay says: oure faders ten vs told
That a vyrgyn shuld pas: of Iesse that wold
Bryng furth by grace: a floure so bold
That vyrgyn now has: these wordys vphold
----------As ye se
Trust it now we may// he is borne this day
Exiet virga// De radice iesse

primus pastor
Of hym spake more: Sybyll as I weyn
And nabugodhonosor: from oure faythe alyene
In the fornace where thay wore: thre childre sene
The fourt stode before: godys son lyke to bene

ijus pastor
----------That fygure


Was gyffen by reualacyon// That god wold haue a son
This is a good lesson // Vs to consydure

Tercius pastor
Of hym spake Ieromy: and moyses also
Where he sagh hym by: a bushe burnand lo
When he cam to aspy: if it were so
Vnburnyd was it truly: at comyng therto
----------A wonder

primus pastor
That was forto se // hir holy vyrgynyte
That she vnfylyd shuld be // Thus can I ponder
And shuld haue a chyld: sich was neuer sene

ijus pastor
pese man thou art begyld: thou shall se hym with eene
Of a madyn so myld: greatt meruell I mene
yee and she vnfyld: a virgyn clene
----------So soyne

primus pastor
Nothyng is inpossybyll // Sothly that god wyll
It shalbe stabyll // That god wyll haue done

ijus pastor
Abacus and ely: prophesyde so
Elezabeth and zachare: and many other mo
And dauid as veraly: is witnes therto
Iohn Baptyste sewrly: and daniel also

iijus pastor
----------So sayng
he is godys son alen // without hym shalbe none
his sete and his trone // Shall euer be lastyng

primus pastor
Virgill in his poetre: sayde in his verse
Euen thus by gramere: as I shall reherse
Iam noua pergenies celo de [mittitur] alto
Iam rediet virgo redeunt saturnia regna

ijus pastor
Weme tord what speke ye: here in myn eeres
Tell vs no clerge: I hold you of the freres
----------ye preche
It semys by youre laton // ye haue lerd youre caton

primus pastor
herk syrs ye fon // I shall you teche
he sayde from heuen: a new kynde is send
Whom a vyrgyn to neuen: oure mys to amend
Shall conceyue full even: thus make I an end


And yit more to neuen: that samyne shall bend vnto vs
With peasse and plente// with ryches and menee
Good life and charyte// Blendyd amanges vs

Tercius pastor
And I hold it trew: For ther shuld be
When that kyng commys new: pearsse by land and se

ijus pastor
Now brethern adew(:or//) take tent vnto me
I wold that we know: of this song so fre
----------Of the angell
I hard by hys steuen// he was send downe fro heuen

primus pastor
It is trouth that ye neuen// I hard hym well spell

ijus pastor
Now by god that me boght: it was a mery song
I dar say that he brought: foure and twenty to a long

iijmus pastor
I wold it were soght: that same vs emong

primus pastor
In fayth I trow noght: so many he throng
----------On a heppe
Thay were gentyll and small(:or//) And well conyd with all

iijus pastor
yee bot I can thaym all // Now lyst / I lepe

primus pastor
Brek outt youre voce: let se as ye yelp

iijus pastor
I may not for the pose: bot I haue help

Secundus pastor
A thy hart [is in thy] hose

primus pastor
now in payn of a skelp
This sang thou not lose

iijus pastor
thou art an yll qwelp
----------For angre

Secundus pastor
Go to now begyn

primus pastor
he lyst not well ryn

iijus pastor
God lett vs neuer blyn
----------Take at my sangre

primus pastor
Now an ende haue we doyn: of our song this tyde

ijus pastor
Fayr fall thi growne . well has thou hyde

iijus pastor
Thou furth lett vs ron: I wyll not abyde

primus pastor
No lyght makethe mone: that haue I asspyde
----------Nouer the les
lett vs hold oure beheste

ijus pastor
That hold I best

iijus pastor
This [ h ] we ye eest
----------After my ges

primus pastor
wold god that we myght: this yong bab see

ijus pastor
many prophetys that syght: desyryd veralee
to haue seen that bright:

iijus pastor
and god so hee


wold shew vs that Wyght: we myght say perde/ We had sene
That many sant desyryd// with prophetys inspyrd
If thay hym requyryd yit I closyd ar thare eene

ijus pastor
God graunt vs that grace:

Tercius pastor
god so do

primus pastor
Abyde syrs a space: lo yonder lo
It crommys on a rase: yond sterne vs to

ijus pastor
It is a grete blase: oure gate let vs go
----------here he is

iijus pastor
Who shall go in before

primus pastor
I ne rek by my hore

ijus pastor
ye ar of the old store
----------It semys you I wys

primus pastor
hayll kyng I the call: hayll most of myght
hayll the worthyst of all: hayll duke hayll knyght
Of greatt and small: thou art lorde by right
hayll perpetuall: hayll faryst wyght
----------here I offer
I pray the to take If thou wold for my sake
with this may thou k lake This lytyll spruse cofer

Secundus passtor
hayll lytyll tyn mop: rewarder of mede
hayll bot oone drop: of grace at my nede
hayll lytyll mylk sop: hayll dauid sede
Of oure crede thou art crop: hayll in god hede
----------This ball
That thou wold resaue lytyll is that I haue
This wyll I vowche saue To play the with all

iijus pastor
hayll maker of man: hayll swetyng
hayll so as I can: hayll praty mytyng
I cowche to the than: for fayn nere gretyng
hayll lord here I ordan: now at oure metyng
----------This botell
It is an old by worde It is a good bowrde
for to drynk of a gowrde It holdys a mett potell

he that all myghtys may: the makers of heuen
That is for to say: my son that I neuen
Rewarde you this day: as he sett all on seuon
he graunt you for ay: his blys full euen


He gyf you good grace// Tell furth of this case
he spede youre pase// And graunt you good endyng

primus pastor
Fare well fare lorde: with thy mader also

ijus pastor
we shall this recorde: where as we go

iijus pastor
we mon all he restorde: god graunt it be so

primus pastor
Amen to that worde: syng we therto
----------On hight
To Ioy all sam// With myrth and gam
To the lawde of this lam// Syng we in syghe

Explicit vua pagina pastorum