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 background, however the textual content that used to be recorded within the York sign in exhibits that it was once already a mature and intricate civic competition by the point it used to be written down. This learn 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 historical past of town. The pageants within the sign up exhibit of their alternative ways how the neighborhood which devised and played the Cycle appeared the occasion of the nice summer time ceremonial dinner of Corpus Christi. furthermore the rules of choice that supply the Cycle its constitution mirror the wider development 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 used to be stuck up from the very starting of the 15th century. PAMELA KING is Professor of Medieval stories on the college of Bristol.

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Others of course are versions of the greetings Salve Regina and Ave Maria, independent antiphons, similar in rhetorical structure and also echoed by the playwrights, but addressed not to Christ but to the Virgin. 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.

This accords with the ritual in the order of the sacrament of Baptism where the newly baptised is presented with a lit candle and promised eternal life after Christ’s Second Coming. B. Hardison, Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1969), 100. 13 Hughes, Medieval Manuscripts, para. 909. 14 For Epiphany see further Chapter 5 below, pages 106–17. See Breviarium ad usum insignis ecclesie Eboracensis (York Breviary), ed. S. W. Lawley, 2 vols, Surtees Society Publications 71 (1880 for 1871) and 75 (1883 for 1882), vol.

162–5 The reference to the dragon is in fact a quotation from the Breviary for the Octave of Epiphany, demonstrating the author’s very direct debt to the liturgy. 17 The overt connection of baptism and judgement in general contributes to the cycle’s over-arching historical and sacramental structure of meaning. It is similar in creative impulse to a presumably different dramatist’s addition to the account in Genesis at the end of The Flood (Fishers and Mariners, IX), where Noah assures Ham that, although there will never be a second Flood, the world will not endure eternally but will be wasted by fire in the end (299–302).

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