1500 - Anonymous - Sermon for 20th Sunday after Trinity

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Date 1500(late 15th century)
Author Anonymous
Title Sermon for 20th Sunday after Trinity
Mentions Robin Hood; prophesies of Thomas of Erceldoune [Thomas the Rhymer]

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-05-18. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-07.


  Goo we now to the ordur of wedloke and lett vs see whether they syng the myddill parte of owre song well or no. and þat þei [syng] on the sawtre of x stryngis aryȝte 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 þe worde of God. They ȝefe no credens to þe scripture of almyȝti God. Thei take more hede to these wanton proficijs as Thomas of Arsildowne [or Robyn Hoode] and soche sympyll maters, but þei ȝefe not so fast credens [to] the | prophettis of God, as Isaye, Ieremye, Dauid, Daniel, and to al the twelue prophetis of God. So then I sey þese maner of pepyll syng not there parte as þei scholde do.[1]

Source notes

The text cited above is from Stephen Morrison's edition (see Editions below). Brackets and "|" as in printed source. Brackets "enclose editorial emendations to the base text from any source";[2] "|" indicates change of MS folio. Omitted in the base text, the words "or Robyn Hoode" are supplied by Morrison from another manuscript which, like the main text witness, is probably of late 15th century date. Another MS has "and robyn hoode". The other variants for the passage cited are hardly significant for our purpose. Singing the middle part of our song refers to the theme of the sermon:

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 almyȝti God to apply these iij partis of song vnto þe iij ordurs of the chirche: the tenor vnto presthode, the mene vnto wedloke, | and the trebyll vnto knyȝthode.[3]

The Latin heading of this sermon, the 62nd in a late-15th century cycle of Sunday sermons, is "Dominica xxa post Festum Sancte Trinitatis".[3]

IRHB comments

The "wanton proficijs as Thomas of Arsildowne" refer to tales about Sir Thomas de Ercildoun, also known as Thomas the Rhymer, a Scottish laird of the 13th century. He is the hero of a well known ME romance in which he gains the gift of prophecy during a stint in Elfland to which he is abducted by its queen. Several prophecies attributed to him survive in the works of Scottish and English writers of the late medieval and early modern period. A well nown ballad, Thomas Rhymer, was later written about him. See references in Background section for editions etc.