The relationship between religious lyric and religious drama in medieval England is a close one. Dramatic speeches of welcome and salutation (with each line beginning ‘hail…’ or ‘welcome’) are very similar in structure to surviving lyrics, often drawing on the same liturgy. Research by George C Taylor has carefully explored the overlap in form and content between lyric and drama, and Lu Emily Pearson and Richard Osberg have also drawn attention to passages within plays which can be isolated as lyrics. I’m interested not only in lyrics that you can isolate, but also moments in drama which draw on shared awareness of lyric form. Here’s a post on one example in the N-town cycle, and next week a similar example from John Skelton’s early Tudor play, Magnificence.
My last post looked at characters sharing lines and stanzas in Middle English cycle plays. These shared lines and stanzas were sometimes ominous or implicative, showing how characters are drawn into evil or collaborate in cruelty. But joining together in the construction of a stanza can also signal joy and celebration in these plays. This post shows you some of these spectacular collaborative stanzas in Middle English drama.