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Everyman is one the most famous Middle-Age plays. It is a poem, and the main character represents us all.
The story is that death comes for Everyman, and at first he tries to avoid it. He even offers death money to delay. When death is unwilling, he then seeks a companion to go to judgment with him.
Fellowship, representing his friends, turn him down. Kindred and Cousin turn him down similarly, though he upbraids them for unfaithfulness. He then appeals to Goods and Riches, who mock him and tell him they deceived him. Finally, he appeals to Good Deeds, but she is so weak she cannot even stand, representing the lack Everyman had in his life.
Unfortunately, the unknown, late-1400's author was of course a Roman Catholic, so the remedy is provide by Knowledge, the sister of Good Deeds, who has Everyman scourge himself in penance. This appeases God, strengthens Good Deeds, and clears his slate.
It's not the message I'd want to give anyone. Good deeds are wonderful, but good deeds involve the two great commandments, both of which tell us to <strong>love</strong>. There is no command to scourge ourselves in penance, and doing so will do nothing for your good deeds.
At the end Beauty, Strength, and Discretion fail him as he enters the grave, and the play takes the opportunity to remind us that only our deeds will follow us into the next life. It is even careful to place the source of all those good deeds in the cross of Christ and in the Triune God, though not before commending the Roman Catholic sacraments and priests, who are said to be even more important than angels.
Everyman is, however, an ancient classic. It has lived on because of its reminder of what's important beyond the grave.
Here begins a treatise how the High Father of heaven sends death to summon every creature to come and give an account of their lives in this world and is in the manner of a moral play.
I pray you all give your audience
And hear this matter with reverence
By figure a moral play
The summoning of Everyman called it is
That of our lives and ending shows
How transitory we be all day
This matter is wonderfully precious
But the intent of it is more gracious
And sweet to hear away
The story says man in the beginning
Look well and take good heed to the ending
Be you never so gay
You think sin in the beginning full sweet
Which in the end causes the soul to weep
When the body lies in clay
Here shall you see how fellowship and jolliness
Both strength, pleasure and beauty
Will fade from you as flower in May
For you shall hear our heavenly King
Call every man to a general reckoning
Give audience and hear what he does say.
I perceive here in my majesty
How that all creatures are to me unkind
Lying without fear in worldly prosperity
In spiritual sight the people are so blind
Drowned in sin they know me not for their God
In worldly riches is all their mind
They fear not my righteousness the sharp cross
My law that I showed when I for them died
They forget completely the shedding of my blood red
I hanged between two, it cannot be denied
To get them life I suffered to be dead;
I healed their feet, with thorns hurt was my head:
I could do no more than I did truly,
And now I see the people do clean forsake me.
They use the seven deadly sins damnable;
As pride, covetousness, wrath, and lechery,
Now in the world are made commendable;
And thus they leave to angels the heavenly company;
Everyman lives so after his own pleasure,
And yet of their life there is nothing sure:
I see the more that I them forbear
The worse they be from year to year;
All that live appear secure,
Therefore I will in all haste
Have a reckoning of Everyman's person
For if I leave the people thus alone
In their life and wicked tempests,
Verily they will become much worse than beasts;
For now one would by envy another up eat;
Love they all do clean forget.
I hoped well that Everyman
In my glory should make his mansion,
And to that I had them all elect;
But now I see, like traitors deject,
They thank me not for the pleasure that I to them meant,
Nor yet for their being that I them have lent;
I offered the people a great multitude of mercy,
And few there be that ask for it heartily;
They be so cumbered with worldly riches,
That it is essential on them I must do justice,
On Everyman, living without fear.
Where are you, Death, you mighty messenger?
Almighty God, I am here at your will,
Your commandment to fulfil.
Go to Everyman,
And show him in my name
A pilgrimage he must on him take,
Which he in no wise may escape;
And that he bring with him a sure reckoning
Without delay or any tarrying.
Lord, I will in the world go run over all,
And cruelly search out both great and small;
Every man will I beset that liveth beastly
Out of God's laws, and dreads not folly:
He that loves riches I will strike with my dart,
His sight to blind, and from heaven to depart,
Except that alms be his good friend,
In hell for to dwell, world without end.
Lo, yonder I see Everyman walking;
Full little he thinks of my coming;
His mind is on fleshly lusts and his treasure,
And great pain it shall cause him to endure
Before the Lord Heaven King.
Everyman, stand still; where are you going
So happily? Have you forgotten your Maker?
Why do you ask?
Would you want to know?
Yea, sir, I will show you;
In great haste I am sent to you
From God out of his majesty.
What, sent to me?
Though you have forget him here,
He thinks on you in the heavenly sphere,
As we depart, you shall know.
What does God want from me?
That shall I show you;
A reckoning he will need to have
Without any longer delay.
To give a reckoning longer leisure I crave;
This blind matter troubles my wit.
On you you must take a long journey:
Therefore your book of account with you bring;
For turn again you cannot, by no means,
And look you be sure of your reckoning:
For before God you shall answer and show
Your many bad deeds and good but a few;
How you have spent your life, and in what way,
Before the chief lord of paradise.
Have regret that we were in that way,
For, know well, you shall not repent.
Full unready I am such reckoning to give.
I do not know you; what messenger are you?
I am Death, whom no man dreads.
For every man I put to rest and no man do I spare;
For it is God's commandment
That all me should obey.
O Death, you have come when I least had you in mind;
In your power it lies to save me,
Yet of my goods will I give you, if you will be kind,
Yea, a thousand pounds shall you have,
And defer this matter till another day.
Everyman, it may not be, by no means;
I am not moved by gold, silver, nor riches,
Nor by pope, emperor, king, duke, nor princes.
For I could receive gifts great,
All the world I might get;
But my custom is clean contrary.
I give you no delay: come here, and do not tarry.
Alas, shall I have no longer delay?
I may say Death gives no warning:
To think on you, it maketh my heart sick,
For all unready is my book of reckoning.
But twelve year if I might have remaining,
My accounting book I would make so clear,
That my reckoning I should not need to fear.
Wherefore, Death, I pray you, for God's mercy,
Spare me till I be provided of remedy.
You it will not avail to cry, weep, and pray:
But haste you lightly that you were gone the journey,
And prove your friends if you can.
For, know well, the tide awaits no man,
And in the world each living creature
For Adam's sin must die of nature.
Death, if I should this pilgrimage take,
And my reckoning surely make,
Show me, for Saint Charity,
Should I not come again shortly?
No, Everyman; and once you be there,
You may never again come here,
Trust me truly.
O gracious God, in the high seat celestial,
Have mercy on me in this most need;
Shall I have no company from this vale terrestrial
Of mine acquaintance that way me to lead?
Yea, if any be so hardy,
That would go with you and bear you company.
Hie you that you were gone to God's magnificence,
Thy reckoning to give before his presence.
What, do you own your life that is given you,
And your worldly goods as well?
I had thought so, truly.
Nay, nay; it was but lent to you;
For as soon as you are gone,
Another awhile shall have it, and then go therefrom
Even as you have done.
Everyman, you are mad; you have your senses five,
And here on earth will not amend your life,
For suddenly I do come.
O wretched caitiff, to where shall I flee,
That I might escape this endless sorrow!
Now, gentle Death, spare me till tomorrow,
That I may change my ways
With good advice.
Nay, to that I will not consent,
Nor no man will I delay,
But to the heart suddenly I shall smite
Without any advice.
And now out of your sight I will me take;
See you make you ready shortly,
For you may say this is the day
That no man living may escape away.
Alas, I may well weep with sighs deep;
Now have I no manner of company
To help me in my journey, and me to keep;
And also my writing is full unready.
What shall I do now for me to excuse?
I would to God I had never been born!
To my soul a full great profit it had be;
For now I fear pains huge and great.
The time passeth; Lord, help that all wrought;
For though I mourn it availeth nought.
The day passeth, and is almost a-go;
I did not know well what for to do.
To whom were I best my complaint to make?
What, and I to Fellowship thereof spake,
And showed him of this sudden chance?
For in him is all mine affiance;
We have in the world so many a day
Be on good friends in sport and play.
I see him yonder, certainly;
I trust that he will bear me company;
Therefore to him will I speak to ease my sorrow.
Well met, good Fellowship, and good morrow!
Everyman, good morrow by this day.
Sir, why lookest you so piteously?
If any thing be amiss, I pray you, me say,
That I may help to remedy.
Yea, good Fellowship, yea,
I am in great jeopardy.
My true friend, show to me your mind;
I will not forsake you, unto my life's end,
In the way of good company.
That was well spoken, and lovingly.
Sir, I must needs know your heaviness;
I have pity to see you in any distress;
If any have you wronged you shall revenged be,
Though I on the ground be slain for you,
Though that I know before that I should die.
Verily, Fellowship, gramercy.
Tush! by your thanks I set not a straw.
Show me your grief, and say no more.
If I my heart should to you break,
And then you to turn your mind from me,
And would not me comfort, when you hear me speak,
Then should I ten times sorrier be.
Sir, I say as I will do indeed.
Then be you a good friend at need:
I have found you true here before.
And so you shall evermore;
For, in faith, and you go to Hell,
I will not forsake you by the way!
You speak like a good friend; I believe you well;
I shall deserve it, and I may.
I speak of no deserving, by this day.
For he that will say and nothing do
Is not worthy with good company to go;
Therefore show me the grief of your mind,
As to your friend most loving and kind.
I shall show you how it is;
Commanded I am to go a journey,
A long way, hard and dangerous,
And give a strict count without delay
Before the high judge Adonai.
Wherefore I pray you, bear me company,
As you have promised, in this journey.
That is matter indeed! Promise is duty,
But, and I should take such a voyage on me,
I know it well, it should be to my pain:
Also it make me afraid, certain.
But let us take counsel here as well as we can,
For your words would fear a strong man.
Why, you said, If I had need,
You would me never forsake, alive nor dead,
Though it were to Hell truly.
So I said, certainly,
But such pleasures be set aside, you seem to say:
And also, if we took such a journey,
When should we come again?
Nay, never again till the day of doom.
In faith, then will not I come there!
Who has you these tidings brought?
Indeed, Death was with me here.
Now, by God that all has bought,
If Death were the messenger,
For no man that is living today
Will I go that loathsome journey—
Not for the father that begat me!
You promised otherwise, pardon.
I know well I say so truly;
And yet if you will eat, and drink, and make good cheer,
Or haunt to women, the lusty company,
I would not forsake you, while the day is clear,
Trust me truly!
Yea, to that you would be ready;
To go to mirth, solace, and play,
Your mind will sooner apply
Than to bear me company in my long journey.
Now, in good faith, I will not that way.
But and you will murder, or any man kill,
In that I will help you with a good will!
O that is a simple advice indeed!
Gentle fellow, help me in my necessity;
We have loved long, and now I need,
And now, gentle Fellowship, remember me.
Whether you have loved me or no,
By Saint John, I will not with you go.
Yet I pray you, take the labor, and do so much for me
To bring me forward, for saint charity,
And comfort me till I come without the town.
Nay, and you would give me a new gown,
I will not a foot with you go;
But and you had tarried I would not have left you so.
And as now, God speed you in your journey,
For from you I will depart as fast as I may.
Whither away, Fellowship? will you forsake me?
Yea, by my word, to God I commit you.
Farewell, good Fellowship; for this my heart is sore;
Adieu forever, I shall see you no more.
In faith, Everyman, farewell now at the end;
For you I will remember that parting is mourning.
Alas! shall we thus depart indeed?
Our Lady, help, without any more comfort,
Lo, Fellowship forsaketh me in my most need:
For help in this world where shall I resort?
Fellowship here before with me would merry make;
And now little sorrow for me does he take.
It is said, in prosperity men friends may find,
Which in adversity be full unkind.
Now where for succour shall I flee,
Since Fellowship has forsaken me?
To my kinsmen I will truly,
Praying them to help me in my necessity;
I believe that they will do so,
For kind will creep where it may not go.
I will go say, for yonder I see them go.
Where be you now, my friends and kinsmen?
Here be we now at your commandment.
Cousin, I pray you show us your intent
In any wise, and not spare.
Yea, Everyman, and to us declare
If you be disposed to go anywhere,
For know well, we will live and die together.
In wealth and woe we will with you hold,
For over his kin a man may be bold.
Grant mercy, my friends and kinsmen kind.
Now shall I show you the grief of my mind:
I was commanded by a messenger,
That is an high king's chief officer;
What account is that which you must render?
That would I know.
Of all my works I must show
How I have lived and my days spent;
Also of ill deeds, that I have used
In my time, since life was me lent;
And of all virtues that I have refused.
Therefore I pray you go with me,
To help to make mine account, for Saint Charity.
What, to go there? Is that the matter?
Nay, Everyman, I would rather fast bread and water
All this five year and more.
Alas, that ever I was born!
For now shall I never be merry
If that you forsake me.
Ah, sir; what, you be a merry man!
Take good heart to you, and make no moan.
But one thing I warn you, by Saint Anne,
As for me, you shall go alone.
My _Cousin_, will you not with me go?
No, by our Lady; I have the cramp in my toe.
Trust not to me, for, so God me speed,
I will deceive you in your most need,
It will not avail you us to entice.
You shall have my maid with all my heart;
She loveth to go to feasts, there to be nice,
And to dance, and abroad to start:
I will give her leave to help you in that journey,
If that you and she may agree.
Now show me the very effect of your mind.
Will you go with me, or remain behind?
Remain behind? Yea, that I will and I may!
Therefore farewell until another day.
How should I be merry or glad?
For fair promises to me make,
But when I have most need, they me forsake.
I am deceived; that maketh me sad.
Cousin Everyman, farewell now,
For truly I will not go with you;
Also of mine own an unready reckoning
I have to account; therefore I make tarrying.
Now, God keep you, for now I go.
Ah, Jesus, is all come to this?
Lo, fair words the fool please;
They promise and nothing will do certain.
My kinsmen promised me faithfully
For to abide with me steadfastly,
And now fast away do they flee:
Even so Fellowship promised me.
What friend were best me of to provide?
I lose my time here longer to abide.
Yet in my mind a thing there is—
All my life I have loved riches;
If that my good now help me might,
He would make my heart full light.
I will speak to him in this distress—
Where are you, my Goods and Riches?
Who calleth me? Everyman? What haste you have!
I lie here in corners, trussed and piled so high,
And in chests I am locked so fast,
Also sacked in bags, you may see with yours eye,
I cannot stir; in packs low I lie.
What would you have, lightly me say.
Come here, Goods, in all the haste you may,
For counsel I have need of you.
Sir, and you in the world have trouble or adversity,
That can I help you to remedy shortly.
It is another disease that grieves me;
In this world it is not, I tell you so.
I am sent for another way to go,
To give a straight account general
Before the highest Jupiter of all;
And all my life I have had joy and pleasure in you.
Therefore I pray you go with me,
For, by chance, you may before God Almighty
My reckoning help to clean and purify;
For it is said ever among,
That money maketh all right that is wrong.
Nay, Everyman, I sing another song,
I follow no man in such voyages;
For if I went with you
You should fare much the worse for me;
For because on me you did set your mind,
Your reckoning I have made blotted and blind,
That your account you cannot make truthfully;
And that you have for the love of me.
That would grieve me full sore,
When I should come to that fearful answer.
Up, let us go there together.
Nay, not so, I am too brittle, I may not endure;
I will follow no man one foot, be you sure.
Alas, I have you loved, and had great pleasure
All the days of my life on goods and treasure.
That is to your damnation without lessening,
For my love is contrary to the love everlasting.
But if you had me loved moderately during,
As, to the poor give part of me,
Then should you not in this pain be,
Nor in this great sorrow and care.
Lo, now was I deceived or I was aware,
And all I may blame my spending of time.
What, did you think that I am yours?
I had thought so.
Nay, Everyman,_ I say no;
As for a while I was lent you,
A season you have had me in prosperity;
My condition is man's soul to kill;
If I save one, a thousand I do spill;
Do you think that I will follow you?
Nay, from this world, not truly.
I had thought otherwise.
Therefore to your soul Goods is a thief;
For when you are dead, this is my guise
Another to deceive in the same wise
As I have done you, and all to his soul's regret.
O false Good, cursed you be!
You traitor to God, that have deceived me,
And caught me in your snare.
Marry, you put yourself in my care,
Of that I am glad,
I must needs laugh, I cannot be sad.
Ah, Goods, you have had long my heartly love;
I gave you that which should be the Lord's above.
But will you not go with me indeed?
I pray you truth to say.
No, so God me speed,
Therefore farewell, and have good day.
O, to whom shall I make my moan
For to go with me in that heavy journey?
First Fellowship said he would with me gone;
His words were very pleasant and happy,
But afterward he left me alone.
Then spake I to my kinsmen all in despair,
And also they gave me words fair,
They lacked no fair speaking,
But all forsake me in the ending.
Then went I to my Goods that I loved best,
In hope to have comfort, but there had I least;
For my Goods sharply did me tell
That he brings many into Hell.
Then of myself I was ashamed,
And so I am worthy to be blamed;
Thus may I well myself hate.
Of whom shall I now counsel take?
I think that I shall never speed
Till that I go to my Good Deed,
But alas, she is so weak,
That she can neither go nor speak;
Yet will I venture on her now—
My Good Deeds, where be you?
Here I lie cold in the ground;
Your sins have me so very bound,
That I cannot stir.
O, Good Deeds, I stand in fear;
I must of you ask counsel,
For help now should come right well.
Everyman, I have understanding
That you be summoned account to make
Before Messiah, of Jerusalem King;
And you do by me ask
That journey with you will I take.
Therefore I come to you, my moan to make;
I pray you, that you will go with me.
I would full gladly, but I cannot stand truly.
Why, has anything on you fell?
Yea, sir, I may thank you of all;
If you had perfectly cheered me,
Your book of account now full ready had be.
Look, the books of your works and deeds eke;
Oh, see how they lie under the feet,
To your soul's heaviness.
Our Lord Jesus, help me!
For one letter here I can not see.
There is a blind reckoning in time of distress!
Good Deeds, I pray you, help me in this need,
Or else I am for ever damned indeed;
Therefore help me to make reckoning
Before the Redeemer of all thing,
That King is, and was, and ever shall.
Everyman, I am sorry of your fall,
And would I help you, if I were able.
Good Deeds, your counsel I pray you give me.
That shall I do truly;
Though that on my feet I may not go,
I have a sister, that shall with you also,
Called Knowledge, which shall with you abide,
To help you to make that dreadful reckoning.
Everyman, I will go with you, and be your guide,
In your most need to go by your side.
In good condition I am now in every thing,
And am wholly content with this good thing;
Thanked be God my Creator.
And when he has brought you there,
Where you shalt heal you of your smart,
Then go you with your reckoning and your Good Deeds together
For to make you joyful at heart
Before the blessed Trinity.
My Good Deeds, gramercy;
I am well content, certainly,
With your words sweet.
Now go we together lovingly,
To Confession, that cleansing river.
For joy I weep; I would we were there;
But, I pray you, give me cognition
Where dwelleth that holy man, Confession.
In the house of salvation:
We shall find him in that place,
That shall us comfort by God's grace.
Lo, this is Confession; kneel down and ask mercy,
For he is on good terms with God almighty.
O glorious fountain that all uncleanness doth clarify,
Wash from me the spots of vices unclean,
That on me no sin may be seen;
I come with Knowledge for my redemption,
Repent with hearty and full contrition;
For I am commanded a pilgrimage to take,
And great accounts before God to make.
Now, I pray you, Absolution, mother of salvation,
Help my good deeds for my piteous exclamation.
I know your sorrow well, Everyman;
Because with Knowledge you come to me,
I will you comfort as well as I can,
And a precious jewel I will give you,
Called penance, wise voider of adversity;
With it shall your body chastised be,
With abstinence and perseverance in God's service:
Here shall you receive that scourge of me,
Which is penance strong, that you must endure,
To remember your Savior was scourged for you
With sharp scourges, and suffered it patiently;
So must you, or you escape that painful pilgrimage;
Knowledge, keep him in this voyage,
And by that time Good Deeds will be with you.
But in any wise, be sure of mercy,
For your time draws near, and you will saved be;
Ask God mercy, and he will grant truly,
When with the scourge of penance man doth him bind,
The oil of forgiveness then shall he find.
Thanked be God for his gracious work!
For now I will my penance begin;
This has rejoiced and lightened my heart,
Though the knots be painful and hard within.
Everyman, look your penance that you fulfill,
What pain that ever it to you be,
And Knowledge shall give you counsel at will,
How your accounts you shall make clearly.
O eternal God, O heavenly figure,
O way of rightness, O goodly vision,
Which descended down in a virgin pure
Because he would Everyman redeem,
Which Adam forfeited by his disobedience:
O blessed Godhead, elect and High Divine,
Forgive my grievous offence;
Here I cry you for mercy in this presence.
O ghostly treasure, O Ransomer and Redeemer
Of all the world, Hope and Conductor,
Mirror of Joy, and Founder of Mercy,
Who illumines heaven and earth thereby,
Hear my clamorous complaint, though it late be;
Receive my prayers; unworthy in this heavy life,
Though I be, a sinner most abominable,
Yet let my name be written in Moses' table;
O Mary_ pray to the Maker of all thing,
Me for to help at my ending,
And save me from the power of my enemy,
For Death assails me strongly;
And, Lady, that I may by means of your prayer
Of your Son's glory to be partaker,
By the means of his passion I it crave,
I beseech you, help my soul to save.
Knowledge, give me the scourge of penance;
My flesh therewith shall give acquittance:
I will now begin, if God give me grace.
Everyman, God give you time and space:
Thus I bequeath you in the hands of our Savior,
Thus may you make your reckoning sure.
In the name of the Holy Trinity,
My body sore punished shall be:
Take this body for the sin of the flesh;
Also you delightest to go gay and fresh,
And in the way of damnation you did me bring;
Therefore suffer now strokes and punishing.
Now of penance I will wade the water clear,
To save me from Purgatory, that sharp fire.
I thank God, now I can walk and go;
And am delivered of my sickness and woe.
Therefore with Everyman I will go, and not spare;
His good works I will help him to declare.
Now, Everyman, be merry and glad;
Your Good Deeds comes now; you may not be sad;
Now is your Good Deeds whole and sound,
Going upright upon the ground.
My heart is light, and shall be evermore;
Now will I smite faster than I did before.
Everyman, pilgrim, my special friend,
Blessed be you without end;
For you is prepared the eternal glory.
You have me made whole and sound,
Therefore I will abide, whatever may you astound.
Welcome, my Good Deeds; now I hear your voice,
I weep for very sweetness of love.
Be no more sad, but ever rejoice,
God sees your living in his throne above;
Put on this garment on your behalf,
Which is wet with your tears,
Or else before God you may it miss,
When you to your journey's end come shall.
Gentle Knowledge, what do you it call?
It is a garment of sorrow:
From pain it will you borrow;
Contrition it is,
That gets forgiveness;
It pleases God surpassing well.
Everyman, will you wear it for your healing?
Now blessed be Jesus, Mary's Son!
For now have I on true contrition.
And let us go now without tarrying;
Good Deeds, have we clear our reckoning?
Yea, indeed I have it here.
Then I trust we need not fear;
Now, friends, let us not part in twain.
Nay, Everyman, that will we not, certain.
Yet must you lead with you
Three persons of great might.
Who should they be?
Discretion and Strength they are called,
And your Beauty may not abide behind.
Also you must call to mind
Your Five Senses as for your counselors.
You must have them ready at all hours.
How shall I bring them here?
You must call them all together,
And they will listen to you immediately.
My friends, come and be present
Discretion, Strength, my Five Senses, and Beauty.
Here at your will we be all ready.
What will you that we should do?
That you would with Everyman go,
And help him in his pilgrimage,
Advise you, will you with him or not in that voyage?
We will bring him all there,
To his help and comfort, you may believe me.
So will we go with him all together.
Almighty God, loved you be,
I give you praise that I have hither brought
Strength, Discretion, Beauty, and Five Senses; lack I nought;
And my Good Deeds, with Knowledge clear,
All be in my company at my will here;
I attend no more to my business.
And I, Strength, will by you stand in distress,
Though you would in battle fight on the ground.
And though it were through the world round,
We will not depart for sweet nor sour.
No more so will I until death's hour,
No matter what comes of it.
Everyman, we advise you first of all;
Go with a good advice and deliberation;
We all give you virtuous admonition
That all shall be well.
My friends, hearken what I will tell:
I pray God reward you in his heavenly sphere.
Now listen, all that be here,
For I will make my testament
Here before you all present.
In alms half my good I will give with my hands twain
In the way of charity, with good intent,
And the other half still shall remain
In quiet to be returned there it ought to be.
This I do in spite of the fiend of hell
To go quite out of his peril
Ever after and this day.
Everyman, listen what I say;
Go to priesthood, I you advise,
And receive of him in any wise
The holy sacrament and ointment together;
Then shortly see you return again here;
We will all await you here.
Yea, Everyman, hurry to be ready,
There is no emperor, king, duke, nor baron,
That has of God as great commission,
As has the least priest in the world;
For of the blessed sacraments pure and benign,
He carries the keys and from them has the cure
For man's redemption, it is ever sure;
Which God for our soul's medicine
Gave us out of his heart with great sorrow;
Here in this transitory life, for you and me
The blessed sacraments seven there be,
Baptism, confirmation, with priesthood good,
And the sacrament of God's precious flesh and blood,
Marriage, the holy extreme unction, and penance;
These seven be good to have in remembrance,
Gracious sacraments of high divinity.
Gladly would I receive that holy body
And meekly to my ghostly father I will go.
Everyman, that is the best that you can do
: God will you to salvation bring,
For priesthood exceeds all other things;
To us Holy Scripture they do teach,
And converts man from sin heaven to reach;
God has to them more power given,
Than to any angel that is in heaven;
With five words he may consecrate
God's body in flesh and blood to make,
And handles his maker between his hands;
The priest binds and unbinds all bands,
Both in earth and in heaven;
You minister all the sacraments seven;
Though we kissed your feet you were worthy;
You are surgeon that cures sin deadly:
No remedy we find under God
But all only priesthood.
Everyman, God gave priests that dignity,
And places them in his stead among us to be;
Thus are they above angels in degree.
If priests be good it is so surely;
But when Jesus hanged on the cross with great smart
There he gave, out of his blessed heart,
The same sacrament in great torment:
He sold them not to us, that Lord Omnipotent.
Therefore Saint Peter the apostle says
That Jesus' curse have all they
Which God their Savior do buy or sell,
Or they for any money do take or tell.
Sinful priests give the sinners example bad;
Their children sit by other men's fires, I have heard;
And some haunt women's company,
With unclean life, as lusts of lechery
These be with sin made blind.
I trust to God no such may we find;
Therefore let us priesthood honor,
And follow their doctrine for our souls' aid;
We be their sheep, and they shepherds be
By whom we all be kept in surety.
Peace, for yonder I see Everyman come,
Which has made true satisfaction.
Me thinks it is he indeed.
Now Jesus be our Chief and speed.
I have received the sacrament for my redemption,
And then my extreme unction:
Blessed be all they that counseled me to take it!
And now, friends, let us go without longer delay;
I thank God that you have tarried so long.
Now set each of you on this rod your hand,
And shortly follow me:
I go before, there I would be; God be our guide.
Everyman, we will not from you go,
Till you have gone this voyage long.
I, Discretion, will remain with you also.
And though this pilgrimage be never so strong,
I will never part from you:
Everyman, I will be as sure by you
As ever I did by Judas Maccabee.
Alas, I am so faint I may not stand,
My limbs under me do fold;
Friends, let us not turn again to this land,
Not for all the world's gold,
For into this cave must I creep
And turn to the earth and there to sleep.
What, into this grave? alas!
Yea, there shall you be consumed more and less.
And what, should I smother here?
Yea, by my faith, and never more appear.
In this world live no more we shall,
But in heaven before the highest Lord of all.
I cross out all this; adieu by Saint John;
I take my cap in my lap and am gone.
What, Beauty? Where will you go?
Peace, I am deaf; I look not behind me,
Not and you would give me all the gold in your chest.
Alas, in what may I trust?
Beauty goes fast away hurriedly;
She promised with me to live and die.
Everyman, I will you also forsake and deny;
Your game does not appeal to me at all.
Why, then you will forsake me all.
Sweet Strength, tarry a little space.
Nay, sir, by the cross of grace
I will hurry me from you fast,
Though you weep till your heart breaks.
You would always remain with me, you said.
Yea, I have you far enough conveyed;
You be old enough, I understand,
Your pilgrimage to take on hand;
I regret that I here came.
Strength, you to displease I am to blame;
Will you break promise that is debt?
In faith, I care not;
You are but a fool to complain,
You spend your speech and waste your brain;
Go thrust you into the ground.
I had thought surer I should you have found.
He that trusts in his Strength
She deceives him at the length.
Both Strength and Beauty forsake me,
Yet they promised me fair and lovingly.
Everyman, I will after Strength be gone,
As for me I will leave you alone.
Why, Discretion, will you forsake me?
Yea, in faith, I will go from you,
For when Strength goes before
I follow after evermore.
Yet, I pray you, for the love of the Trinity,
Look in my grave once piteously.
Nay, so nigh will I not come.
O all things fail, save God alone;
Beauty, Strength, and Discretion;
For when Death blows his blast,
They all run from me full fast.
Everyman, my leave now of you I take;
I will follow the others, for here I you forsake.
Alas! then may I wail and weep,
For I took you for my best friend.
I will no longer you keep;
Now farewell, and there an end.
O Jesus, help, all have forsaken me!
Nay, Everyman, I will bide with you,
I will not forsake you indeed;
Thou shalt find me a good friend at need.
Grant mercy, Good Deeds; now may I true friends see;
They have forsaken me everyone;
I loved them better than my Good Deeds alone.
Knowledge, will you forsake me also?
Yea, Everyman, when you to death do go:
But not yet for no manner of danger.
Grant mercy, Knowledge, with all my heart.
Nay, yet I will not from here depart,
Till I see where you shall be come.
Me thinks, alas, that I must be gone,
To make my reckoning and my debts pay,
For I see my time is nigh spent away.
Take example, all you that this do hear or see,
How they that I loved best do forsake me,
Except my Good Deeds that bideth truly.
All earthly things are but vanity:
Beauty, Strength, and Discretion, do man forsake,
Foolish friends and kinsmen, that fair spake,
All flee save Good Deeds, and that am I.
Have mercy on me, God most mighty;
And stand by me, you mother and maid, holy Mary.
Fear not, I will speak for you.
Here I cry God mercy.
Shorten our end, and diminish our pain;
Let us go and never come again.
Into your hands, Lord, my soul I commend;
Receive it, Lord, that it be not lost;
As you me bought, so me defend,
And save me from the fiend's boast,
That I may appear with that blessed host
That shall be saved at the day of doom.
In manus tuas—of might's most
For ever—commendo spiritum meum.
Now has he suffered that we all shall endure;
The Good Deeds shall make all sure.
Now has he made ending;
Me thinks that I hear angels sing
And make great joy and melody,
Where Everyman's soul received shall be.
Come, excellent elect spouse to Jesus:
Hereabove you shalt go
Because of your singular virtue:
Now the soul is taken from the body;
This moral men may have in mind;
You hearers, take it of worth, old and young,
And forsake pride, for he deceives you in the end,
And remember Beauty, Five Senses, Strength, and Discretion,
They all at the last do Everyman forsake,
Save his Good Deeds, there doth he take.
But beware, if they be small
Before God, he has no help at all.
None excuse may be there for Everyman:
Alas, how shall he do then?
For after death amends may no man make,
For then mercy and pity do him forsake.
If his reckoning be not clear when he do come,
God will say, ite maledicti in ignem aeternum.
And he that has his account whole and sound,
High in heaven he shall be crowned;
To which place God brings us all
That we may live body and soul together.
To this will help the Trinity,
Amen, say you, for Saint Charity.
So ends the moral play of Everyman.
<p>We have our own play, a version of <a href="the-octavius-early-christian-debate.html">The Octavius</a> that we perform as part of our <a href="church-seminar-early-christianity.html">seminar on early christianity</a>.</p>
My newest book, Rome's Audacious Claim, was released December 1!