The York Mystery Cycle and the Worship of the City by Pamela M. King

By Pamela M. King

WINNER of the 2007 David Bevington Prize The York Play is the earliest near-complete English civic secret cycle. It advanced continually all through its lengthy functionality heritage, however the textual content that used to be recorded within the York sign up indicates that it used to be already a mature and complicated civic pageant by the point it used to be written down. This research uncovers the Cycle's reference to worship in York, within the experience either one of devotional perform and of civic honour, informing a specific interval within the cultural background of the town. The pageants within the sign in express of their other ways how the neighborhood which devised and played the Cycle looked the get together of the good summer time ceremonial dinner of Corpus Christi. in addition the rules of choice that supply the Cycle its constitution replicate the wider trend of the liturgical calendar, with its different feasts and fasts. The Cycle bears witness not just to the practices of spiritual observance in York, but additionally to the ecclesiastical politics during which town was once stuck up from the very starting of the 15th century. PAMELA KING is Professor of Medieval reports on the collage of Bristol.

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2 In Christ and the Doctors, however, the Virgin’s voice also has particular dramatic force as it echoes the voices of the mothers of the Innocents slaughtered in the preceding pageant: Allas, in bale þus am I boone ... My barne is lost, allas þe while ... Of sorowes sere schal be my sang ... 17 32 43 The end of the pageant, particularly the reproaches of the parents, follows Luke 11: 48–52 in almost exact detail. The central section of Christ and the Doctors has no direct gospel source, as Luke gives no account of the subject of the disputation.

38 Two are addressed to Pilate, and might be thought to derive from greetings for secular rulers in, for example, Royal Entries, and therefore properly have nothing to do with the prayers which invoke the presence of Christ; except that greetings in Royal Entries are generally declarative rather than exclamatory in mode. Henry VII was welcomed into York in 1487, for example, in the following terms: Moste high and mighty . christen Prince and our moost drad souuerain lige lord . your true and faithfull .

18 THE YORK CYCLE AND CORPUS CHRISTI finding work easy, and having all sorrows cured. 32 Corpus Christi processions allowed the whole community to gaze beneficially at the Body of Christ as he moved amongst them in the streets. So in terms of the office of the Mass itself, the moment of the Elevation of the Host, not the communion itself, was, for the laity, the liturgical climax. 33 The moment of Elevation was not only, though most crucially, brightly lit, but bells were pealed and incense burnt, while the laity were encouraged to murmur their own particular prayers.

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