If hosen and shoon thou ne’er gavest nane,/Every night and alle;
The whinnes shall pricke thee to the bare bane;
An[d] Christe receive thy saule...
... If ever thou gavest meat or drink,/Every night and alle;
The fire shall never make thee shrinke; An[d] Christe receive thy saule...’¹,
The Lyke-wake Dirge is a dialect poem from North Yorkshire¹, and it makes very plain the connection between acts of charity and the eventual fate of the individual soul. Fail in the obligations of the Seven (Corporal)² Works of Mercy and you risk passing through ‘Brigg o’ Dread’ and ‘purgatory fire’, as the Dirge has it later, only to come to Hell for ever. The Works were as follows:
Two churches (Pickering and Wickhampton) still have all seven of their Works, and it is possible that others elsewhere are also complete. In Norfolk especially though, there are a number of churches with most of the seven left. In the table below are all those I have seen. On the page for Pickering (the most extensively painted church in England) there is also a short treatment (and a picture of the Harrowing of Hell, part of the very full Pickering Passion Cycle to be included here as soon as I can arrange it). There are more specific details in the pages on the individual paintings, but so far as their general theme is concerned they speak very eloquently for themselves.
¹The Lyke-wake Dirge (Whinny-Moor Song): quoted here from
Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars, Yale, 1992, pp.358-9. (For the Yorkshire dialect version of this ancient Dirge, try Johnny Walker and Mike Ryalls' page on it.). I am not entirely certain that An really is a shortened form of and here. Whether or not the dirge is pre-Christian in origin, this An may, rather, be a remnant of Middle English usage, and mean if , (or even before) a meaning that persisted as late as Shakespeare (e.g. Loves Labours Lost, V, 2).
² The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy were not generally the province of layfolk and they are not painted in the English Church (so far as I know).
|Barnby, Suffolk||Edingthorpe, Norfolk||Hoxne, Suffolk||Lathbury, Buckinghamshire||Linkinhorne, Cornwall NEW|
|Moulton St. Mary, Norfolk||Pickering, N. Yorks||Potter Heigham, Norfolk||Trotton, Sussex||Wickhampton, Norfolk|
©2000 Anne Marshall +++**++