School of Music
University of Nebraska--Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0100
(phone: [402] 472-2507; Internet: plefferts1@unl.edu)

Data entry: Peter M. Lefferts
Checked by: Peter Slemon
Approved by: Peter M. Lefferts

Author: Wycliffe, John
Title: Of Feigned Contemplative Life (exerpt)
Source: Frederic D. Matthews, ed., The English Works of Wyclif Hitherto Unprinted, Early English Text Society, orig. ser. 74 (London: Trübner, 1880), 187-96 at 191-92.

[-191-] Also bi song the fend lettith men to studie and preche the gospel; for sith mannys wittis ben of certeyn mesure and myzt, the more that thei ben occupied aboute siche mannus song the lesse moten thei be sette aboute goddis lawe; for this stirith men to pride and iolite and lecherie and othere synnys, and so vnableth hem many gatis to vnderstonde and kepe holy writt that techeth mekenesse, mornynge for oure synnys and othere mennus, and stable lif and charite. and zit god in all the lawe of grace chargith not siche song but deuocion in herte, trewe techynge and holy spekynge in tonge, and goode werkis and holy lastynge in charite and mekenesse; but mannus foly and pride stieth vp euere more and more in this veyn nouelrie. First men ordeyned songe of mornynge whanne thei weren in prison, for techynge of the gospel, as ambrose and men seyn, to putte awey ydelnesse and to be not vnoccupied in goode manere for the tyme; and that songe and oure acordith not, for oure stirith to iolite and pride, and here stirith to mornynge and to dwelle lenger in wordis of goddis lawe. Than were matynys and masse and euen song, placebo and dirige and comendacion and matynes of oure lady ordeyned of synful men, to be songen with heize criynge to lette men fro the sentence and vnderstondynge of that that was thus songen, and to maken men wery and vndisposid to studie goddis lawe for akyng of hedis: and of schort tyme thanne weren more veyn iapis founden; deschaunt, countre note and orgon and smale brekynge, that stirith veyn men to daunsynge more than to mornynge, and here-fore ben many proude and lecherous lorelis founden and dowid with temperal and worldly lordischipis and gret cost. but thes foolis schulden drede the scharpe wordis of austyn, that seith: as oft as the song likith me more than doth the sentence that is songen, so oft I confesse that I synne greuously.

And zif thes knackeris excusen hem bi song in the olde lawe; seie that crist, that best kepte the olde lawe as it schulde be aftirward, tauzt not ne chargid vs with [-192-] sich bodely song ne ony of his apostlis, but with deuocion in herte and holy lif and trewe prechynge, and that is ynowthz and the beste. but who schulde thanne charge vs with more ouere the fredom and liztnesse of cristis lawe? And zif thei seyn that angelis heryen god bi song in heuene; seie that we kunnen not that song, but thei ben in ful victorie of here enemys and we ben in perilous bataile, and in the valeye of wepynge and mornynge; and oure song lettith vs fro betre occupacion and stirith vs to many grete synnes and to forzete vs self. but oure fleschly peple hath more lykynge in here bodely eris in sich knackynge and taterynge than in herynge of goddis lawe, and spekynge of the blisse of heuene, for thei wolen hire proude prestis and othere lecherous lorelis thus to knacke notis for many markis and poundis; but thei wolen not zeue here almes to prestis and children to lerne and to teche goddis lawe; and thus bi this nouelrie of song is goddis lawe vnstudied and not kepte, and pride and othere grete synnys meyntenyd. and thes fonnyd lordis and peple gessen to haue more thank of god and to worschipe hym more in haldynge vp of here owen nouelries with grete cost than in lernynge and techynge and meyntenynge of his lawe and his seruauntis and his ordynaunce. but where is more disceit in feith, hope and charite? for whanne ther ben fourty or fyfty in a queer thre or foure proude and lecherous lorellis schullen knacke the most deuout seruyce that noman schal here the sentence, and alle othere schullen be doumbe and loken on hem as foolis. and thanne strumpatis and theuys preisen sire iacke or hobbe and williem the proude clerk, hou smale thei knacken here notis; and seyn that thei seruen wel god and holy chirche, whanne thei dispisen god in his face, and letten othere cristene men of here deuocion and compunccion, and stiren hem to worldly vanyte; and thus trewe seruyce of god is lettid and this veyn knackynge for oure iolite and pride is preised abouen the mone.

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