The English Pater Noster Play: Evidence and Extrapolations


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Probably the best-known early reference (indeed the earliest yet found) to the Pater Noster play is a passage in the English translation of John Wyclif's De Officio Pastorali which claims that "freris han tauƷt pe paternoster in engliƷsch tunge as men seyen in pe pley of Ʒork and in many oþere cuntreys."1 Karl Young's pioneering article on the York Pater Noster play also took this Wycliffite text as his starting point.2 His citation of this early reference (c.1378, about the same date as the earliest surviving references to the York and Beverley Corpus Christi pageants) raises a number of interesting points. Young concentrated in his study on the York play and the records of the York Pater Noster ·Guild that was founded to organize it; in this article I would like, after briefly surveying all the surviving records, to shift the emphasis onto the records of the Beverley Pater Noster play in an effort to investigate the nature of the play on the basis of all the extant evidence.

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