Fn and Ft: SERMANO TEXT
Title: A Sermon on the Three Estates for the Twentieth Sunday After Trinity
Source: Alan J. Fletcher, "'The Unity of the State exists in the Agreement of its Minds': A Fifteenth-Century Sermon on the Three Estates," Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 22 (1991): 117-22. Published by permission of the copyright holder, Leeds Studies in English.
[-117-] DOMINICA VICESIMA POST FESTUM SANCTE TRINITATIS
'Loquentes vobismetipsis in psalmis et ympnis et canticis spiritualibus, cantantes et psallentes in cordibus vestris Domino.' Ad Ephesios, quinto. Et instantis dominice epistolari officio. Speke 3ow to 3owreselfe in psalmys and ympnys and spirituall songis, syngyng and seyng psalme in 3owre herttis to the Lorde.
3e schal understonde that there bithe iij maner of songis. The first song is Canticum amoris visceralis. The secunde is Canticum dulcoris socialis. The therde song is Canticum honoris triumphalis. Firste I sey ther is a song of gostly contemplacion. Now syne it is so that every song hathe iij partis, a trebil, a mene and a tenor, therefore I purpose withe the gostly comforthe of almy3ti God to apply these iij partis of song unto the iij ordurs of the Chirche, the tenor unto presthode, the mene unto wedloke, and the trebyll unto kny3thode. And this is the mater withe Goddys grace and 3our paciens that I purpose to stonde upon as at this tyme.
As for the first, dicitur attenendo. The tenor is grownde- settor and governore of every song. So is the reverent ordur of presthode grownde-setter and governore of all Cristis law and feythe, as it is wreton, Malachie secundo, 'Labia sacerdotis custodiunt scienciam et legem requirunt ex ore eius'. The lippis of a preste kepythe connyng and cristen pepil sechythe the law of God of his mowthe. And therfore this worschipfull ordur of presthode schall syng the tenor, and the ordur of wedloke schall syng the mene. For he that syngethe after the ruels of discant schall not passe x notis frome the tenor. So in like [-118-] wise thu man or woman that art in the sacrament of wedloke or els lyke to be, kepe thu then the x commawndementis of God, for that is inow3e unto thi salvacion. For unto the it is seyde, 'Cantate ei canticum novum, in psalterio decim cordarum psallite illi'. Syng unto owre Lorde a new song, in the sawtur of x stryngis syng unto hym. The ordur of kny3thod schall syng the trebill. For he that syngethe the trebyll may syng as hy3e as his voyce will 3eve him leve. So unto kny3tis is 3even leve for to fy3te for the feythe of Criste and for the commen prosperite, for to defence prelatis and prestis of the Chyrche of God, and to defende wedowys in there ry3te. And everychone of these iij ordurs syngethe unto other, as witnessithe the prophet David in the Sawtur. The order of presthode and the ordur of wedloke syngethe unto kny3thode and seythe, 'Cantate Domino canticum novum'. Syng 3e unto our Lorde a new song. Then presthode and kny3thode syngethe unto wedloke and seythe, 'Cantate Domino omnis terra'. All pepill beyng in the world syng unto owre Lorde a new song. Kny3thod and wedloke syngethe unto presthode and seythe, 'Cantate Domino et benedicite nomini eius'. Syng 3ow to the Lorde and blisse the name of hym. But how they syng echone to other, I report me to the maner of there disposicion and every ordur in his degre. For thei leve the syngyng of thre partis and they take upon hem to syng cownter and gemel, that is to sey, as for prestis of the Chyrche that scholde take hem unto prayer and contemplacion, many of hem taken hem unto temporall ocupacion and to many other disposicions of contrarius lyvyng where it perteynethe to hem to be holy and ever graciusly disposed, as Criste hymselfe seythe unto all prestis, 'Estote sancti sicut ego sanctus sum'. Be 3e [-119-] holy as I am holy. And the philosophir hathe a maner of seyng, and it is this, 'Non est dignus alios gubernare qui seipsum nescit vel necligit corrigere.' He is not worthi to governe other that cannot governe hymselfe. Therfore I cowncell 3ow be the maner of this text that I spake of at the begynnyng to syng more better. That is to sey, 3ow that hathe offendyd and not kept the tenor of owre song in duw forme, amende it hereafter. 'Loquentes vobismetipsis', et cetera.
Goo we now to the ordur of wedloke and lett us see whether they syng the myddil parte of owre song well or no, and that thei syng on the sawtre of x stryngis ary3te in tuwne or no. That is to sey, they kepe not the x commawndementis as they scholde do. Many of these ley pepyll dispise presthode, ne they take none hede to the worde of God. They 3efe no credens to the Scripture of almy3ti God. Thei take more hede to these wanton proficijs, as Thomas of Arsildowne and Robyn Hoode, and soche sympyll maters, but thei 3efe not so fast credens to the prophettis of God, as Isaye, Ieremye, David, Daniel and to al the twelve prophetis of God. So then I sey these maner of pepyll syng not there parte as thei scholde do. And therfore the apostill Paule in the Pistill of this day seythe thus, 'Videte quomodo caute ambuletis'. Se 3e how warly 3e schall go. 'Non quasi incipientes sed ut sapientes.' Not as unwise men but as wise men. 'Quoniam dies mali sunt.' For thyne dayes ben ivell. This scholde cawse 3ow to be perfyter in this parte of the song. And therfore I sey unto 3ow as I seyde at the begynning, 'Loquentes', et cetera.
[-120-] The ordur of kny3thode syngethe also fer owte of tuwne. For as Valens rehersithe ad omne genus hominum, he seythe that kny3tis scholde in the prosperite of a lande as be the handis in a naturall body. For the hondys of a man offer themselfe in all maner of perrels that longethe to the naturall body. So in like wyse kny3tis in there Repuplica scholde fy3te for the feythe of Criste and ever defende the comen prosperite and prestis, and to protect, fortifye and preserve wedows in there ry3t. But and they scholde do for a preste or a wedow and for soche actis as perteynethe to there duty and to there ordur, they wyll not open there mowthes ne take non attendaunce ne no direccion to there supportacion but if case be that they may have a good palfrey of plesaunce, or x pownde in a bag. So they syng not the trebyll of our song as they scholde do. Therfore the apostill Paule in the Pistil of this day seythe, 'Propterea nolite fieri inprudentes, sed intelligentes que sit voluntas Dei'. Therfore nyll 3e be made unwyse but understondyng whiche is the wyll of God. As who seythe, remember 3owreselfe in tho thyngis that perteynethe unto 3our degre that almy3ti God hathe calde 3ow to and exsecute that, ffor therein is gret wysdome, and so schall 3e plese God.
The maner of the disposicion of these iij ordurs afore spoken of may well be exemplifyed be fygure of Scripture, what tyme that Moyses had brow3t the childern of Israell owte of ther owne plentowse cuntre into the wrechednes and thraldome of the Egipcians. When they satt upon the bankes of the floddes of Babilon, thei wept and made grete mone and sorow, seyng thus, 'Super flumina Babilonis illic sedimus et flevimus dum recordaremur tui, Syon'. We sitt and wepe upon the floddis of Babilone while we have thow3te of thi Holy Chirche. And the Egipcians seyde unto hem a3ene, 'Cantate nobis canticum de Syon'. Syng 3e the songis of clennes that 3e sang when 3e were in Syon. And these [-121-] pepyll of Israel answerd a3ene thus, 'Quomodo cantabimus canticum Domini in terra aliena?' How schal we syng the swete songis of owre Lorde in a strawnge cuntre beyng in thraldome? We may syng not ells but 'lamentaciones, carmen et ve', the songis of sorow and woo and the dety of wrechednesse. Be these pepyl of Israell is understonde every cristen man and woman beyng in soche ordur or degre as God hathe calde hym to. As first he hathe calde prestis unto prayer, chanons, monkis, ffreris, and all men and women of holy religion, God hathe calde hem to contemplacion, to wakyng and to prayng, and kny3tis and other statis of the temporalte, he callythe hem to defendyng the commen prosperite, marchauntis in truw mesure in biyng and sellyng, craftismen in ther ocupacion, and pore men to labor. But it may be seyd that many of these hathe ben or els bythe now in the thraldom of the Egipcians, that is to sey, the fende and all his felischipe, where as thei may sey unto hemselfe, 'Super flumina', et cetera. And the fende hathe seyde unto hem a3ene, Cantate nobis', et cetera. That is to sey, the pepil of this londe but fewe 3eris ago, thei were mo in comparisone vertuesly disposed then there bythe nowadayes. And therfore the devyll skornethe us and seythe, 'Why syng not 3e the songis of vertues lyvyng as 3e were wont to do?' And therfore we may answere a3ene al hevely, 'Quomodo cantabimus', et cetera.
Therfore at the reverence of God let us have a good consideracion of the grete kyndnes of Criste and all these importuable and contrarius lyvyng. And lete us have evermore in owre remembraunce whether owre lyvyng be good in every degre to the plesure of God or no, and doyng owre duty to God as the blissed apostill informethe us in the Pistil of this day and seythe, 'Gracias [-122-] agentes semper pro omnibus in nomine Domini nostri Ihesu Cristi, Deo et Patri'. Evermore doyng thankyngis for all thyngis in the name of owre Lorde Criste Ihesu, to God and to the Fadur. 'Subiecti invicem in timore Cristi'. Be 3e soget together in the drede of Criste, as who seythe, be 3e soget all pepil to Criste. And all pepyll in there degre be soget to there soverens in kepyng the commawndementis of God, and so schall we plese God in this present lyfe, and after naturall dethe com to that lyfe that is most speciall. And there schall we syng withe Ihesu, his aungels and all his seyntis, 'Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Domine Deus Sabaoth.' To the whiche, et cetera.
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