Of the Kalendre of
`O dere Aungel', quod
I,`seye me, I beseke yow, teche me somwhat of the
yonder Cercle, and also of that solempne fest, whether
that it endure in suche solempnyte.'
`Thou wotest wel, that the Chirche Militant', quod he,`that laboureth here in Erthe, hath in comyn vsage for to halden oftymes solempne festes, somme more and somme lesse, after the tyme and dygnyte bylongyng therto, and after the worthynesse of the Sayntes, for whiche they ben holden, eyther els for somme specialte of seruyse that they owen to them, as knyghtes to Seynt George101, goldsmythes to Seynt Dunstone102, and soo forthe of other. Thenne to that ende, that no defaute be, ne the tymes foryete ne falle oute of mynde, att whiche tymes suche feestes shold be holde, they ben wryten in a Kalender, eueriche in theyr ordre, as the yere falleth.
`Now is it so, that this Chirche Mylytant enforceth for to sewen and counterfetena as moche as he may the Hyhe Chirche aboue, for wel she wote and vnderstandeth, that fro thennes she come, and there she bygan as the doughter comyng fro the moder. Loo, thus seyth Seynt Iohan103: "I sawe", saith he, "the Cyte of Ierusalem descendyng newe fro Heuen." And yf thou knewe clerely, or vnderstood this thyng, thou sholdest wel wyte what it is, that thou hast sene here aboue, and that it is the example and the patron of this Cercle aboue.
`This Cercle aboue that thou seest is the Kalender, whiche with the tornynge aboute sheweth the dayes of the Sayntes, what tyme they shall solempnyse theyr festes. Euery yere this Cercle maketh [96r] a torne aboute. Euery sterre standeth for a day, and euery sonne for the space of thyrty dayes, whiche is clepeth a monethe.
`But thou shalt vnderstande the mesurynge of these dayes after the mouynge of the materiall sonne and sterred Heuen bynethe. For we taken for a general rewle that there ben none alternementes of dayes, neyther of monethes, but one contynuell day, that neuer shalle ben ended, alweyes that therb may be had parfyte remembraunce of alle these, that haue put peyne and laboure to louen oure Lord God, as some hauen for his loue shed all theyr blood, and somme in otherwyse suffred grete dysese; the dayes of theyr obytesc , in whiche they yelden theyr ghoostes, ben marked in this present Kalendre.
`The sterres that standen, as I haue sayd the, in stede of the dayes, haue suche an ordynance as I shal here telle the. The day byfore the feste that shal be solempnysed, the sterre sheweth hym self, castyng a beme of ful grete clerte to the same Saynt of whome shalle be the feste, for to make his feste the more notabely to be knowen to all. Thenne cometh the Angel of that same Seynt of whome shalle be the fest, with moche multitude of other Angels to the forsaid shynyng sterre, syngyng and makyng moche melodye, and bryngyng with them this forsaid Saynt, and presentynge before the Mageste, ryght as thou hast sene here thre clothed in purpre and corouned with gold, whiche entred within the golden Heuene.
`These thre ben thre noble martirs that myghtely stoden for the Feyth of Cryst. That one is Seynt Laurence104, whiche that now the day of his feste is brought byfore our Blessid Lord. These other two ben Seynt Steuen105 & Saynt Vyncent106, whiche that were in Erthe of the same ordre of dekene107. These gone forth with hym for to doo hym honoure before the Hyhe Lord.
`There is before oure Lord now made an huge assemble of moche multitude of Sayntes that ben comen for to see this grete solempnyte, and for to amplye this feste with ioye and with preysyng of God. Right soo after them, by tornynge of the Cercle, cometh forth other Sayntes in the same wise, eueriche after other, as theyr dayes fallen for to holde also their solempne festes, for this maner of doyng ne stynteth; no tyme that here nys a feste. Neuer the later nought all y lyke ryall, but somme ben holden more solempne than some, after the meritees of them for whome they ben. But alweyes lytel feste sawe I neuer here, but alle grete and ryall.
`And yet I seye the more. There is holden a ful ryall and solempne feest of Mychael the Prouost108 and alle his companye of Angels, [96v] in remembraunce how he chacid Lucifer fro hens in to Helle. And also in honoure of alle these Ordres and Ierarchyes of these Hooly Aungels, they doubleth these feste, and sheweth them seluen before oure Lord God, preysynge and worshypynge with grete solempnyte.
`Also in the feste of Al Halowen109, euery Saynt in this Cirkle taketh his owne place as it is ordeyened them of God. There is the Grete Assemble of his Honourable Court gadred to geders. A wonder thynge to tellen of the ioye and myrthe of the swete songes and of the lusty instrumentes, sounynge ful delyciously.
'No gretter feste is there none thorugh oute al the yere, except the speciall festes of the Hyhe Kynge hym seluen, and the Glorious Quene, that muste nedes of ryght be moche more solempne than ony other feste.'
`Syth ye haue bigonne', quod I,`to tellen of these festes, me lusteth ful gretely for to here speke more of that mater.'
`Sothly', quod he. `I shalle telle the to thy lyste more of these festes. There ben fyue festes in the yere, whiche ben holden ful solempne of the Glorious Quene, of whiche the firste is rote and begynnyng of alle other feste. That is the halewynge of hir Concepcion110, what tyme that she was chosen as a plaunte, purged or preserued fro alle maner vnclennes, or ony tatche of synne. For what tyme that this thynge was done of oure lordes Grace, that this Blessid Lady was conceyued, the Angels here aboue made a grete assemble, one the grettest that euer was in Heuen seyn bifore tyme.
`And there they helden a parlement, and saiden in this wyse: "Now neyheth that we must nedes make moche myrthe and ioye, wel more than we haue made bifore this tyme present, for now is the noble seed y sowen, that shalle causen moche ioye and gladnes to alle creatures. Hit shalle ben douteles a wonder grete thynge of worthynesse, what tyme it is growen and shewed vppon the Erthe. A wonder noble fruyte it is shapt for to bere, full good and profytable, and of ful myghty vertue. Lete vs therfore besyly ordeyne and make oure self redy to make an huge feste.
"We must lerne musyk & craft of armonye, for alle that we can is lytell ynowe to that solempnyte. Goo we therfore make vs al redy ageynst the Kynges comynge, to holde this newe feste, soo that we be nought behynde at this solempnyte."
"Soothly", quod Cherubyn and somme of these other, "this thynge is full appertynent to ben executed. But sothely vs byhoueth instrumentes for to pleyen vppon, yf that we shall make more solempnyte than we haue made bifore. But now haue we none, ne here ben no werkers for to make them newe, no [99r] mater wherof for to make them, wherfor it semyth me necessary yf that ony of yow wold take this iourney to the bordure of Helle, where that Adams yssue abydeth theyr redempcion, and telle them these tydynges that our Blysful Lord God hath made an ordynanced hastely to helpen them oute of theyr dysese, for he hath blessyd and saynctyfyed a newe precious plante that is comen of their lyne, and descendyd fro the stock of Dauyd. And no doute, ful grete ioye it wylle be to that companye, and hyhe thankes shall they haue for theyr message.
"Soo thenne Kyng Dauyd wylle be full redy to presenten hym seluen to done al that we desyren, by cause of these plesaunt and gracious tydynges. And for as moche as he is an harpour and a player vpon al maner instrumentes of musyke, and knoweth wel the werkes of suche manere thynges, he may and can best deuysen in what maner that we shalle haue instrumentes, and he wylle ordeyne for vs maystres of musyke for to teche vs pleyen withouten defaute."