The Works of Arthur Golding (Translations)

Abraham's Sacrifice, 1575
Modern Spelling Version
Transcribed by B.F. © copyright 2002

< Octavo. 63 pages >


ABRAHAM, a shepherd
SARA, his wife
ISAAC, their son


The Play
Appendix I
Suggested Reading
Appendix II: Connections
Appendix III: Vocabulary, Language


God save you everychone both great and small
Of all degrees: right welcome be you all.
It is now long, at least as seems to me,
Since here such preace* together I did see.
Would God we might each week through all the year
See such resort in Churches as is here.
Ye Gentlemen and Ladies, I ye pray
Give ear and harken what I have to say.
To hold your peace alonely I require.
What ween* you (some will say) by that desire.          [Pro.10]
We nother can nor will away with that.
But yet you must, or else I tell you flat,
That both of us our labor lose togither.
In speaking I, and you in coming hither.
Wherefore I crave but silence at your hand,
My words with patience for to understand.
Both great and small, alonely do but hear,
And I will tell you strange & wondrous gear.*
Wherefore now harken: for the thing is great
Whereof I mind this present time to treat.                    [Pro.20]
You think yourselves perchance to be in place,
Were as you be not, now as stands the case.
For Lausan is not here, it is far hence.
But yet when need requires, I will dispense
With all of you, that hence within an hour
Each one may safely be within his bower.
As now this is the land of Palestine.
What? Do you wonder at these words of mine?
I say yet further to you, see you well.
Yon place? It is the house wherein doth dwell             [Pro.30]
A servant of the living Gods, whose name
Hight* Abraham the righteous man, the same
Whose lively faith hath won him endless fame.
Anon you shall him tempted see and tried,
Aye & touched to quick with griefs that shall betide.
And lastly you shall see him justified
By faith, for killing (in a certain wise)
Isaac his dearest son in sacrifice.
And shortly you shall see strange passions:
The flesh, the world his own affections                        [Pro.40]
Not only shall be showed in lively hew,
But, (which more is) his faith shall them subdue.
And that is so, many a faithful wight,*
Anon shall bear me record in your sight.
First Abraham, and Sara you shall see,
And Isaac did shall with them both agree.
Now are not these sufficient witnessings?
Who minds therefore to see so wondrous things,
We pray him only talking to forbear
And unto us to give attentive ear,                                [Pro.50]
Assuring him that he shall see and hear
No trifling toys* but grave & wondrous gear,
And that we will his ears to him restore,
To use them as he listeth as before.


[Abraham cometh out of his house & sayth.]

ABRAHAM: Alas, my God, and was there ever any,
That hath endured of cumbrances so many,
As I have done by fleeting* too and fro,
Since I my native country did forgo?
Or is there any living on the ground,
Of benefits that hath such plenty found?
Lo how thou makest mortal men to see,
Thy passing goodness by calamity.
And as of nought thou madest everything:
So out of ill thou causest good to spring.                     [10]
Was never wight to blessed at thy hand,
That could thy greatness fully understand.
Full three-score years and thereto fifteen mo,
My life had lasted now in weal and woe,
According to the course in sundry-wise
Appointed by thy heavenly destinies,
Whose will it was I should be bred and born
Of Parents rich in cattle, coin, and corn.
But unto him that richest is in fee,
What joy or comfort could his riches be,                    [20]
When he compelled, compelled was (I say)
To see, to serve, and worship every day,
A thousand forged gods instead of thee,
Which mad'st the heaven & earth which we do see?
Thou then eftsoons did'st will me to convey
Myself from those same places quite away.
And I immediately upon thy call,
Left Parents, country, goods with gods & all.
Yea Lord, thou knowst I wist* not whither then
Thou would'st me lead, or where me stay agen*:         [30]
But he that followeth thee, full well may say,
He goeth right: and while he holds that way
He never needs to fear that he shall stray.

[Sara coming out of the same house sayeth.]

SARA: In thinking and bethinking me what store
Of benefits I have had erst heretofore,
Of thee my God which ever hast provided
To keep my mind and body undefiled,
And furthermore according to thy word
(Which I took then as spoken but in boord*)
Hast blissed my aged time above all other,                  [40]
By giving me the happy name of mother.
I am so ravished in my thought and mind,
that (as I would full fain) no mean I find
The least of all the benefits to commend,
Which thou my God dost daily still me send.
Yet sith alone with thee Lord here I am,
I will thee thank at least-wise as I can.
But is not yon my husband whom I see?
I thought he had been further off from me.

ABRAHAM: Sara, Sara, thy mind I well allow,          [50]
Nought hast thou said but I the same avow.
Come on, and let us both give thanks togither
For God's great mercy since our coming hither
The fruit thereof as both of us hath found:
Let praise & thanks from both of us resound.

SARA: Contented Sir, how might I better do,
Than you to please in all you set me too?
And even therefore hath God ordained me.
Again, wherein can time spent better be,
Than in the setting-forth of God's due praise,              [60]
Whose majesty doth show itself always.
Above and eke beneath, before our eyes?

ABRAHAM: Of truth no better can a man devise,
Than of the Lord to sing the excellence,
For none can pay him other recompense
For all his gifts which daily he doth send,
Than in the same, his goodness to commend.
The Song of Abraham and Sara.
Come on then, let us now begin to sing
with hearts in one accord,
The praises of the sovereign heavenly king                  [70]
our only God and Lord.
His only hand doth give us whatsoever
We have, or shall hereafter have for ever.
It is alonely he that doth maintain
the heaven that is so high,
So large in compass and in space so main:
and eke the starry sky,
The course whereof he stablished hath so sure,
That aye withouten fail it doth endure.
The scorching heat of summer he doth make,              [80]
the harvest and the spring:
And winter's cold that maketh folk to quake,
in season he doth bring.
Both weathers, fair and fowl, both sea & land,
Both night and day be ruled by his hand.
Alas good Lord! and what are we that thou
did'st choose and entertain
Alonely us of all the world, and now
doth safely us maintain
So long a time from all the wicked routs*                    [90]
In town and country where we come throughouts.
Thou of thy goodness drewest us away
from places that are given
To serve false gods: and at this present day
hast wand'ringly us driven,
To travel still among a thousand dangers,
In nations unto whom we be but strangers.
The land of Egypt in our chiefest need
thou mad'st to have a care,
Thy servants bodies to maintain and feed                    [100]
with fine and wholesome fare,
And in the end compelledst Pharaoh,
Full sore against his will, to let us go.
Four mighty Kings were already gone
away with victory,
I overtook and put to flight anon
before they could me spy.
And so I saw the fields all stained red
With blood of those which through my sword lay dead.
From God received well this benefit:                           [110]
for he doth mind us still,
As his dear friends in whom he doth delight,
and we be sure he will,
Perform us all things in due time and place,
As he hath promised of his own free grace.
To us and unto our posterity
this land belongs of right,
To hold in honor and felicity
as God it hath behight,*
And we believe it surely shall be so,                            [120]
For from his promise God will never go.
Now tremble you ye wicked wights therefore,
which sowed are so thick
Throughout the world, & worship now such store
of gods of stone and stick,
Which you yourselves with wicked hands do carve,
To call upon and vainly for to serve.
And thou O Lord whom we do know to be
the true and living God,
Come from thy place, that we may one day see          [130]
the vengeance of thy rod
Upon thy foes, that they may come to nought
With all their gods devised through wicked thought.

ABRAHAM: Go to my Sara, that great God of ours
Hath blessed us, to th' intent that we all hours
Should for his gifts which he alone doth give,
Him serve and praise as long as we do live,
Now let us hence and chiefly take good heed,
We hazard not our son too much indeed,
By suffering him to haunt the company                        [140]
Of wicked folk, with whom you see we be.
A new-made vessel holdeth long the scent
Of that that first of all is in it pent.
A child by nature nere so well-disposed,
By bringing-up is quite and clean transposed.

SARA: Sir, I do hope my duty for to do,
Therefore the thing that we must look unto,
Is that Gods will may be fulfilled in him.
Right sure I am we shall him wield so trim,
And that the Lord will bliss him so: as all                     [150]
Shall in the end to his high honor fall.

* * * *
[Satan in the habit of a Monk.]

SATAN: I go, I come, I travel night and day,
I beat my brains, that by no kind of way
My labor be in any wise misspent.
Reign God aloft above the firmament,
The earth at least to me doth wholly draw,
And that mislikes not God nor yet his law
As God by his in heaven is honored:
So I on earth by mine am worshiped.
God dwells in heaven, and I on earth likewise             [160]
God maketh peace, and I do wars devise.
God reigns above, and I do reign below:
God causeth love, and I do hatred sow.
God made the starry skies and earthy clods:*
I made much more: for I did make the gods.
God served is by Angels full of light:
And do not my fair Angels glister* bright?
I trow* there is not one of all my swine,
Whose groin* I make not godlike for to shine.
Those lechers, drunkards, gluttons, over-fed,              [170]
Whose noses shine fair tipped with brazil* red,
Which wear fine precious stones upon their skins
Are my upholders & my Cherubins.
God never made a thing so perfect yit,
That could the makers full perfection hit.
But I have made, (whereof I glory may)
A thousand worser than myself far way.
For I believe and know it in my thought,
There's but one God, & that myself am nought.
But yet I know there are whose foolish mind               [180]
I have so turned quite against the kind,
That some (which now is common long agone)
Had liever* serve a thousand gods than one.
And others have conceived in their brain,
That for to think there is a God is vain.
Thus since the time that man on mould* was made,
With happy luck I followed have this trade
And follow will (come loss or come there gain)
So long as I this habit may maintain,
I say this habit wherewithal as now                              [190]
The world is unacquainted: but I vow
The day shall come it shall be known so rife,
Of every wight, both child, yea man, and wife,
That nother town nor village shall scape free
From seeing it to their great misery.
O cowl,* o cowl, such mischief thou shalt work,
And such abuse shall underneath thee lurk
At high-noon days: O Cowl, O Cowl I say,
Such mischief to the world thou shalt convey,
That if it were not for the spitefulness,                         [200]
Wherewith my heart is fraughted* in excess:
Even I myself the wretched world shall rue,
To see the things that shall through thee ensue.
For I, than who, of all none worse can be,
Am made yet worse by putting-on of thee.
These things shall in their time without all fail
Be brought to pass. As now I will assail
One Abraham, who only with his race
Withstands me, and defies me to my face.
Indeed I have him often times assailed:                        [210]
But ever of my purpose I have failed.
I never saw old fellow hold such tack.*
But I will lay such load upon his back,
That (as I hope) ere long I shall him make
A son of mine. I know that he doth take
The true Creator for his only hold
To trust unto: and that doth make him bold.
Indeed he hath alliance with the true
Creator, who hath promised him anew
Right wondrous things, according whereunto               [220]
He hath already done, and still will do.
But what for that? If steadfastness him fail
To hold out still: what shall his hope avail?
I trow I will so many blows him give,
That from his hold at length I shall him drive.
His elder son I fear not: and the other
Shall hardly scape these hands of mine: the mother
Is but a woman: as for all the meinie*
That serve him, they be simple souls as any
Can lightly be: there is a ragged rout*                         [230]
Of silly shepherds, nother skilled nor stout*
Enough against my wily sleights to stand.
But hence I will and work so out of hand.*
To have them, that unless I miss my mark,
Anon I will deceive their greatest Clark.

* * * *

[Abraham coming out of his house again sayeth.]

ABRAHAM: Whatever thing I do or say,
I weary am thereof straight way,
How meet so ever that it be,
So wicked nature reigns in me.
But most of all it me mislikes.                                      [240]
And to the heart with sorrow strikes,
That seeing God is never tired
In helping me, yea undesired:
I also likewise do not strain
Myself, unweary to remain,
In due and true acknowledgment.
Of his great mercy to me sent,
As well with mouth as with my heart.

THE ANGELL: Abraham, Abraham.

ABRAHAM: ~~~ Lord here I am.

ANGELL: Go take thine only dear-beloved son,        [250]
Even Isaac, and bring him to the place
Which hight the myrrh of God: which being done
Slay him in sacrifice before my face:
And burn him whole upon a hill which I
Will show thee there, go hie thee by and by.

ABRAHAM: What! Burn him! Burn him! Well I will do so.
But yet my God, the thing thou put'st me to
Seems very strange and irksome for to be --
Lord, I beseech thee, wilt thou pardon me?
Alas, I pray thee give me strength and power,             [260]
To do that thou commandest me this hour.
I well perceive and plainly now do find,
That thou art angry with me in thy mind.
Alas my Lord I have offended thee.
O God by whom both heaven & earth made be,
With whom intendest thou to be at war?
And wilt thou cast thy servant down so far?
Alas my son, alas, what shall I do?
This matter asks* looking-to.

* * * * *
[A company of Shepherds coming out of Abraham's house. ...]

ONE HALF: High time it is Sirs as I trow ... [270]
We hie us packing* on a row
To our companions where they be.

THE OTHER HALF: Even so thinks me.
For if we all together were
We should the lesser need to fear.

ISAAC: How Sirs, I pray you tarry. Will
You leave me so behind you still?

SHEPHERDS: Good child abide you there,
Or else our master your father
And our mistress your mother may, ... [280]
Be angry for your going away:
The time will come by God's good grace,
That you shall grow and prove a pace:
And then he shall perceive the charge,
Of keeping flocks in fields at large,
What dangers come from hill and dale,
By ravening beasts that lie in stale*,
Among the coverts of the wood
To kill our cattle for their food.

ISAAC: And do ye think I would, ... [290]
Go with you though I could,
Before I knew my father's mind?

SHEPHERDS: Indeed a child of honest kind,
And well brought up, ought evermore
His father's and his mother's lore
In all his doings to obey.

ISAAC: I will not fail it (if I may)
To die therefore: but will ye stay
A while until I run and know
My fathers will?

SHEPHERDS: ~~~ Yea, therefore go. ... [300]
The Song of the Shepherds
O happy is the wight
That grounds himself aright
On God, and maketh him his shield:
And lets the worldly-wise,
Which look about the skies,
Go wander where they list in field.
No rich, ne poor estate,
Can puff or yet abate,
The godly and the faithful heart:
The faithful goeth free ... [310]
Although he martyred be
A thousand times with woe and smart.
The mighty God him leads,
In chiefest of his needs,
And hath of him a special care,
To make him to abide,
Even at the point to slide,
When worst of all he seems to fare.
Whereof a proof we see
Our master well may be: ... [320]
For why, the more him men assail
And urge on every side:
Less fear in him is spied,
And less his courage doth him fail.
He left his native soil,
Hard famine did him foil,
Which drave him into Egypt land,
And there a king of might,
Took Sara from his sight,
Unjustly even by force of hand. ... [330]
But straight on suit to God,
The king through God's sharp rod,
Did yield to him his wife straight-way,
And Abraham never stayed,
But as the king him prayed,
Departed thence without delay.
And during this his flight
He grew to so good plight*,
That loath to part away was fain:
Because, as stood the case, ... [340]
To little was the place,
To keep the flocks of both them twain.
There fell a sudden jar
Between nine Kings through war,
Wherein five kings were put to flight,
And Loth himself, with all
His goods both great and small,
Away was carried clean and quite.
Our faithful Master straight,
On news of this conceit, ... [350]
Made fresh pursuit immediately:
And having but as then
Three hundred eighteen men,
Did make the en'mies all to fly.
And of the rescued prey
The tenth to the Priest did pay.
And having done each man his right,
Returned home anon,
With commendation,
For putting so his foes to flight. ... [360]
But nother son he had,
Nor daughter him to glad.
Which thing when Sara did perceive,
She put her maid in bed,
To serve her husband's stead,
Because herself could not conceive.
So Agar bare a son
A thirteen years outrun,
Whose name is called Ismael.
And to this present day, ... [370]
Our master's goods are aye
Increased passing wondrous well.
Then for the covenant's sake
Which God himself did make,
Between him and our master dear,
Our master and we all,
As well the great as small,
At once all circumcised were.

ISAAC: My fellows: God hath showed himself to us.
So good, so loving and so gracious, ... [380]
That I can never any thing yet crave
No small ne great, but that I much more have,
Than I desire. I would have gone with you
(As you do know) to see full fain: but now
Behold my father cometh here at hand.