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The Digital Index of Middle English Verse
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DIMEV 4810
IMEV 3087
NIMEV 3087
Serve thy God truly
Precepts in -ly — usually two quatrains, but sometimes in expanded versions
Note: See also lines 9-16 of 4418; for closely related texts see 553, 560, and 4840. This text is incorporated in 2369.
Subjects: precepts; humility
Versification: — four-line, eight-line — aaab, aaabaaab
Bibliographic Ghosts: Cambridge UK, Magdalene College 13 (F.4.13), f. 2; London, British Library Harley 2252 : see 4444-1



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Ashmole 349, Part I (SC 6704), f. 70
First Lines:
Gett thy goodes trulye
Sett thou them dulye…
Last Lines:
…þat will make the rich
Er thy lyues ending
Note: Eleven lines. Subscribed: ‘J. Booker Philomathes’.
2.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Rawlinson D.328 (SC 15444), f. 143
Transcription:
Serue god hertely
And þe worlde besely
Ete þi mete merely
Thanke god hertely
þeffe þu lef ne porely
he may mende hys laxse
with owte eny grefe
Note: Seven lines translating roughly, ‘deo seruit potenter…’, which follows.
Editions:
Meech, Sanford Brown. “A Collection of Proverbs in Rawlinson MS D 328.” Modern Philology 38 (1940-41): 113-32: 122.
3.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Tanner 407 (SC 10234), f. 17v
First Lines:
Serue god treuly
and þe world besely…
Last Lines:
…He may amende ȝou lyghtly
with owte ony greve
Note: Written as prose.
Editions:
Louis, Cameron, ed. The Commonplace Book of Robert Reynes of Acle: an edition of Tanner MS 407. New York: Garland, 1980: 179.
4.Source: Oxford, Balliol College 354, p. 446
Transcription:
Serve god truly
& þe world besily
Ete thy mete meryly
And euer leve in rest
Thank god highly
Thowgh he visit the porely
He may amend it lygthly
Whan hym lykethe beste
Note: 2 x 4 (aaab) or 1 x 8 (aaabaaab).
Facsimiles:
Early Manuscripts at Oxford University: Facsimile of Oxford, Balliol MS 354. (http://image.ox.ac.uk/show?collection=balliol&manuscript=ms354).
Editions:
Flügel, Ewald. “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts….” Anglia 26 (1903): 94-285: 255.
Dyboski, R., ed. Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from Balliol MS. 354, Richard Hill’s Commonplace Book. EETS e.s. 101 (1908); repr. 1984: 141.
Meech, Sanford Brown. “A Collection of Proverbs in Rawlinson MS D 328.” Modern Philology 38 (1940-41): 113-32: 131.
James, Montague Rhodes. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the College Library of Magdalene College Cambridge. Cambridge: at the UP, 1909: 26.
Brown, Carleton Fairchild. A Register of Middle English Religious & Didactic Verse. 2 vols. London: Oxford University Press for the Bibliographical Society: 1916-20: 1.216.
5.Source: London, British Library Harley 3810, Part I, f. 13v
Note: Six quatrains.
Editions:
Wright, Thomas, and James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, eds. Reliquiae Antiquae. 2 vols. London: Smith, 1845: 1.56.
Jordan, Richard. “Kleinere Dichtungen der Handschrfit Harley 3810.” Englische Studien 41 (1910): 253-66: 261-2.
Arber, Edward. The Dunbar Anthology, 1401-1508. London, New York: Frowde, 1901: 296.
6.Source: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ 1.1.6 [Bannatyne MS], f. 74
First Lines:
Serue thi god meikly
and þe warld merely besely
Eit thy meit merrely
and so thow may leif…
Last Lines:
…ffor he may mend the suddanly
and no man to greif
Note: Written as one 4-line stanza, abab, with internal rhyme; as eight lines counting internal rhyme, aaabaaab.
Facsimiles:
Fox, Denton, and William A. Ringler. The Bannatyne Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates’ MS. 1.1.6 London: Scolar Press, in Association with The National Library of Scotland, 1980.
Editions:
Murdoch, James Barclay. The Bannatyne Manuscript. 4 vols. in 11 parts, paged continuously. Hunterian Club 16, 32, 40, 46, 50, 55-56, 64-67 Glasgow: Anderson, 1873-1896: 200.
Ritchie, W. Tod, ed. The Bannatyne Manuscript. 4 parts in 4 vols. Scottish Text Society 3rd ser. 5 (1928); n.s. 22 (1928); n.s. 23 (1930); n.s. 26 (1934) Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1928-34; ed. by Ritchie et al: 2.181.
7.Source: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ 19.3.1, f. 175
Transcription:
Serue thou god truly and the world besely
ete thy mete merely and euer lyf in rest
thank god mekly thoughe he veset the poorly
for he may mende it lightly wen hym likthe best
Note: As a single long-line quatrain with internal rhyme, abab.
Facsimiles:
Hardman, Phillipa. The Heege Manuscript: A Facsimile of National Library of Scotland MS Advocates 19.3.1. Leeds Texts and Monographs, n.s. 16. Leeds: School of English, 2000.
8.Source: London, Lambeth Palace Library 853, p. 185
First Lines:
Serue ȝe god deuoutly
And þe world truly
Ete ȝe ȝoure mete mirili
And euere liue ȝe in reste

Serue þe euere god hyȝli
Þouȝ þat ȝe liue here poreli
He may amende it liȝtly
Whanne him likiþ beste
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. The Babees Book, etc. EETS o.s. 32 (1868); rev. ed. Early English Meals and Manners London: Trübner, 1876; repr. 1973: 58.
Förster, Max. “Kleinere mittelenglische texte.” Anglia 42 (1918): 145-224; 43 (1919): 191: 181.



Print Witnesses:
1.Source: STC 3055. Bieston, Roger, The bayte [and] snare of fortune…, Imprinted at London: by Iohn Wayland, at the signe of the Sunne ouer against the Conduite in Fletestrete, [1556?] A10v
Transcription:
GEt thy goods truly,
Spend them precisely,
Set thy goods duly,
Lende thou them wisely.
True getting,
Cise spending,
Due setting,
Wise lending,
Haue he little or much,
Kepeth a manne full rutche
Untyll hys ending
Finis
Attributed Title: Good Counsayle
Editions:
Dibdin, Thomas Frognall. Typographical Antiquities. Revised Joseph Ames and William Herbert. 4 vols. London: Bulmer, 1810, 1812, 1816, 1818: 3.531.
2.Source: STC 3055.5. Bieston, Roger, The bayte [and] snare of fortune…, Imprinted at London: by Iohn Wayland, at the signe of the Sunne ouer against the Conduite in Fletestrete, [1556?]
Transcription:
GEt thy goods truly,
Spend them precisely,
Set thy goods duly,
Lende thou them wisely.
True getting,
Cise spending,
Due setting,
Wise lending,
Haue he little or much,
Kepeth a manne full rutche
Untyll hys ending
Finis
Attributed Title: Good Counsayle
Editions:
Dibdin, Thomas Frognall. Typographical Antiquities. Revised Joseph Ames and William Herbert. 4 vols. London: Bulmer, 1810, 1812, 1816, 1818: 3.531.