An actor's part exists for the role of 'God' in this play; it is currently held by a private collection in the United Kingdom. Although most of the lines belong to God, a partial list of other characters from the play can be reconstructed through references and cues:
- God the Father
- An Angel
"The Part of God", MS (transcription)
God the father speaketh The Aungell . In heauen our record God Come my welbeloued mans only sauing hea<l.. for thou alone hast conquered hell synne & death< Christ. Dyd hole spill God Sitt on my right hand after thy gret toille Vntill I haue made thine enemies thy fotestole Here Christ goeth vp to his throne< An Aungell . or open yt euer. God Behold this Lion of the stocke of Iuda the rote of Dauid hais obteyned alwaye To open this boke and vnclaspe yt and to know all the secrettes of yt Sathan . Villeny and wronge . God Tary michaell a while yet in so moche as he will reson yt what wronge Sathan haue I done the Sathan . Robbed me God Nay Sathan when yt ^is well knowen I haue taken that wch was but myne owne< Sathan . of the and me / God . Why so Sathan let heare I the Sathan . ther to dwell . God But thos whom thou Sathan for syn dost blame I haue sanctified & clensed with ye blod of yis <l Thou apeachest them of synne to me night & < and the blod of this lambe hathe washt it <a Sathan . more busynes God . I am the god wth whom dwelles no wickednes< my nature abhorreth then all wrongfulnes for Sathan yf in case of syn I shuld wronge the I were falsely said to hate iniquite ~ Sathan . yf thou deale Iustice God But yet Sathan thou dost not reme< thy spitefull malice against man ev< . for when I made man at furst in gret honour and planted him to liue in paradice of pleasure Thou hockeredst so much ther his felicyte yt thou broughtst hym to disobedience even through yy env<y Ther thou deceyvedst him first of his place and broughtst hym throw yy subtelty to yis sinfull ca<s for I made hym always to haue byn Innocent< Yf he had neuer broken my Commaundement And thou wroughtst all this then canst yu be yf for like malice I worke like pollicye / |angry
Sathan . suche pollicye in god God Why not Sathan in all thinges wch be good . Sathan . of preventing mischefe God . Yet the same may be to good mens relefe / yt folowes not that he is a mischievous person Wch wth pollycie preventes all evell in ych^Season<e nor policye here cannot be taken in evell meaning That I have prevented thy malicious workinge But subtill falshod and craftye pollicy are always concurrant in thy nature wholy Sathan . I am right sure / God Why because, I placed here in thy sight Theise two whom thou saiest I haue no right< Thou calledst them synners I say they be non for that they be sanctyfied from syn euery one< Then I do not wrong the Sathan in this case< Sathan . Trye that – God Then take the comissioners whom thou willt chose< I will abyde the iudgement of those . Yt yf it be iudged by the commissyoners That I haue done the wrong take them yer pisoners< Whom wilt yu take or chose let heare . Sathan . I cannot tell where God Here is Abraham wilt thou haue hym . Sathan . not dyshonest you God Wilt thou haue Moses for he makes muche for the wch brought the Lawe to man an enemy And my gret curse therwth dyd bringe Vpon mankinde even whole for synne Afore the lawe was synne was not imputed By occasion wherof synne only encresed And yet for all this the lawe had no power to take away synne or make iuste a synner Consideringe this yf ther be any chose one wold thinke that moses were for thy pur^pose Sathan . Iuggell in my matte< God Wilt thou haue Isay or Dauid let heare Sathan . an adultere< God Yet Iohn Baptiste he must nedes plese the Sathan . to ly in the diche< God What sayest thou then vnto the theif Wch was so gret a worker of mischef< Sathan . and worse also .
God Then seing my mocyon herin cannot please the Chose them thy self and I will agree / Sathan . the diuell were a knave God Then whom wilt thou chose Sathan let heare . Sathan . in any wise God And I am content wth thy eleccion sathan . Come further Verite and Iustice bothe twaine Here Sathan dothe thinke that I do him wronge in sauing of man from his pryson strong and hathe chosen comissioners you too on my partie to trye the matter & to ende the controuersie / Verite . wch in god was neuer spied God Yet must you abate it againe here wth Sathan . Wch claimes through synne the best title to man Wylt thou be content now Sathan that I Do chose now likewise wch make for my partie Sathan . yt shalbe so God I will[ ser ]chose but soche as shalbe indifferent as Sathan thou hast chosen for thine entent Come furthe mercie and peace here quickly You most help to finishe wth your sisters a controuersy< Sathan sais / that I wrong hym herin to saue man wch was once condempned for synne< and yt is brought vnto this conclusyon That yt must be tryed even by yis comission for him self he hathe chosen Iustice & verite and I haue chosen you to be on my partie Peace now lord be devided God Yet must Sathans cause here be decised and by this comission right must be tried for yf in me ther shuld be found iniquite I am wrongfully called the god of equite now Sathan . Sathan . what than . God Here are the comissioners redy for vs bothe an houre space Sathan . may cry fy on y< God Arte thou contented now sathan tell m<e Sathan . ther to f<. <lpd-pre>
Noting the inscription “old verses | Frõ limebrook” on the outside of the role, and observing that the “Limebrook” meant must be the village two to three miles from Brampton Bryan, the Harleys’ home, Chambers concludes that “There seems little doubt, therefore, that this was a local product of north Herefordshire on the very border of Wales” (240). The competent but unidentified hand of the scribe leads Chambers to conjecture a date of c.1570-80. Harbage opts for a smaller range of c.1570-75 and assigns it to 1575; Wiggins prefers an earlier date of 1564 on the grounds that the 1570s are quite late for God to appear on the English stage.
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
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References to the Play
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Palfrey and Stern contextualise the manuscript alongside other actors' parts from England and the Continent, noting that the 'part of God' is "the first English part to survive with cues, generally of three or four words. Yet it differs in one significant aspect from the other rolls: in this part the speaker of the cue is named" (19).
See Wiggins 382 ("Religious play").
For What It's Worth
Among the curious features of the “part” is the stage direction “an houre space”, which Chambers takes to mean “that God here withdraws and that the play proceeds for an hour before his presence is again required” (241).
Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 15 June 2018.