Faithful John

Players and narrators walk in to lyre music, like the Oberrufer plays. But they have texts and read in the form of Reader’s Theatre, with lyre music interspersed, then walk out as they came in.

Faithful John

Written by H Grimm

Made into Hexameter by Katherine Rudolph

Once in a Kingdom of yore – lay an aged King near to his death hour

Only one son did he have – a young lad who was lacking in forethought

Thus sent the King for his servant – and feebly addressed him as follows:

“Faithful John, soon shall my death be – indeed I have no fear of dying,

But I am sorely concerned – for my son who will need yet some guidance.

You who have always been true – will you help me in this situation?

Promise to guide him and teach him – as father, from out of the wisdom.”

Answered him John who was faithful, “No matter what this vow may cost me

Even if death be my fate – will I honour your please and fulfil it.”

Spoke the wise King to his servant, – “My death now shall be deeply peaceful.

Listen to one last request: – will you open the doors of my castle?

For my own son, so that after – my passing the treasures shall be his.

But you must not let him see – in the last room beyond the long hallway,

For he would have to behold – there the portrait of that radiant Princess

Who in the Dwelling of Golden – resides all known beauty surpassing.

If he should catch but a glimpse – he would fall ill and danger would threaten,

You must protect him from that.” – “So I shall on my oath I do promise,”

Pledged Faithful John to his master – who lay back and died with a calm face.

After the time of the mourning – his new treasures did John show the King

There was one room he avoided – the one with the dangerous picture.

Then the King asked, “Faithful John, – will you please tell me why we can’t enter.

Surely my father would want me – to see all the treasures he offered.”

Then Faithful John gave his answer – “I promised your father I wouldn’t.

This very chamber holds something – that’s certain to cause you misfortune.

Trying to break the door open – will not be a likely solution.”

“I shall not rest” said the King – “until I’ve beheld this new treasure.

It will indeed bring destruction – if I do not see what is in there.”

Then will a sigh Faithful John – unlocked the great portal and entered.

Standing in front of the painting – he tried to protect his new master.

Headstrong, the King stood on tiptoe – and looked over Faithful John’s shoulder.

When the young monarch beheld – the magnificent beauty before him,

Shining with jewels resplendent – he fell over fainting in wonder.

Carrying him to his bed – said John, “Now misfortune has fallen,

What will the end be of this? – May God help me heal this affliction.”

After the King had awakened – he asked John, “That portrait, whose is it?”

“That is the Princess”, said John – of the Dwelling of Gold o’er the waters.”

Then the young King bowed his head – in earnest he spoke with his pulse beat,

“If all the leaves on the trees – were tongues e’er they could not utter

How I adore that fair maiden – my life and my being I’ll offer.

Please, Faithful John, take me to her – Oh, how can I visit the Princess?”


After a long pause, discerning – said Faithful John “There is a way now

All that the princess has round her – is fashioned of gold, naught of silver

Give away all your five tons – to be made into dishes and goblets

Sculptures of creatures and love birds, – to her we shall bring them without fail.”

Decked in the clothing of merchants – and laden with gifts from the goldsmiths,

John and his King went a sailing – Long crossed they the sea to the city.

That of the Princess whose castle – shone burnished with Gold from the shore line.

Spoke Faithful John to the King – “Make your vessel adorned for the Princess.

Forth to the castle I’ll go – and return with the love whom you long for.”

Gathering some of the treasures – the gold they had hammered and fashioned,

He soon arrived at the courtyard – so wondrous and golden to look at.

Spying a maid at the well – who was filling two buckets of golden

Claiming to be just a merchant – he showed the few treasures he carried

Then saw the girl all the skill – the refinement that shone in their shaping.

Quickly she said, “Now the Princess – will sure be delighted to see you.

All your fine objects of gold – she will praise for their beauty and purchase.

Therewith she led him inside – and the Princess indeed was enchanted

“Bring me the objects of Gold – for such splendour might be in my palace.”

“I, John, am only the servant,” – said he “of the merchant who owns them.

Even your castle resplendent – would hold not a tenth of his treasures.

Come with me now to the ship – and you’ll see for yourself what I’m meaning.”

When they arrived at the vessel – the King stood transfixed at her fairness.

Love for the Princess possessed him – He led her below to the goldwork.

Soon as the two disappeared – Faithful John told the crew to set sail.

“Sail that the ship might near fly – as a bird that will traverse the ocean.”

Meanwhile the King and the Princess – were raptly absorbed in the art work.

Finally climbed they on deck – and they found that the ship was in mid-sea.

“Treachery,” cried out the Princess, – “how cruelly you have betrayed me.

Death I would truly prefer – than to be thus entrapped by a merchant.”

“I am no merchant,” said he – “but a King who by love for you perish!

Yea when I first saw your portrait – was I utterly taken and fainted.

Pardon me for this deceit – for your radiance has overcome me.”

Comfort and warmth at last won her – to marry she finally promised.


While they were courting aboard ship – played John melodies on his panpipes.

There near the prow of the ship – flew three ravens at leisure around him,

These were the words that they spoke – said the first “there he goes with the Princess.”

“Yes,” said his mate, “but she’s not yet – all his as he yearned and desired her.”

“Why be she not,” said the first one – “such sweethearts are seldom to be seen.”

“Nevertheless,” said the second, – “Right after they land at the seashore,

Doom will befall their engagement – a horse of the finest a chestnut,

Leaping ahead of our young King – will tempt him to mount and if he does,

Far from his love will the King be, – away in the air will that horse fly.

Never again will he see her.” – “Oh my,” said the first “then there’s no hope?”

“Well now if somebody else were – to mount the wild chestnut right quickly,

Draw from its holster a pistol, – and shoot the horse dead would the King stay?”

“Who would be likely to do that? – If he did it however and told it.

Crippled would that dainty chap be – from foot to the knee he’d to stone turn!

Greater’s the problem that that – if the wedding despite that should happen,

For our young groom unawares – a fine robe would be laid in his chamber,

Woven of gold and of silver – but if he should put on the garment,

Burned would he be to the bare bone – for inside it’s sulphur and pitch-tar.”

“What?” said his mate, “can be done?” – “Well if someone with gloved hands should toss it,

Into the fire such a robe, – would burn up, the King would be safe then,

Whoever did this and told – from the knee to the heart he’d to stone turn.”

“Ah,” said the third to them then – “There is more to the problem than that.

After the wedding the dance – will be held and the Queen will be waltzing.

Suddenly she will turn pale – and will faint and die there in the ballroom.

However, should someone lift her – and draw from her right breast three blood drops

She would be saved from her death – but whoever would do this and tell it

Death would be his last reward – from the head to the toes he’d to stone turn.”


Then flew the ravens away – how distressed was he then, John the servant.

For if he failed would his King – be without his new bride his life too.

Yet if the deeds were fulfilled – he himself would meet death and to stone turn.

“Save him I must at all cost, – though myself and my person may perish.”


So when the land came in sight, – all things happened the ravens had foretold,

Came the fine horse for the King – but his servant leapt on it and shot it.

Angry then were the attendants – the King replied “This is my servant.

Faithful John knows now the right deed.” – They went to prepare for the wedding:

Taking the gown gold and silver, – he eagerly started to don it,

Then to the King’s consternation – his John tossed it into the fireplace.

“What” said the courtiers, “Look, – he has even destroyed the King’s raiment!”.

“Leave him alone,” said the King – “for my own Faithful John stands before you.”

After the wedding, the dance – and the bride who had seemed so resplendent,

Suddenly pales and fell down – in a faint at the feet of her husband.

Quickly appeared Faithful John – and he hastened to lift her and hold her.

Then from her right breast he drew – the three drops of red blood which he spat out.

Healed was the bride at that instant – the King who had seen what had happened,

Sent him then straight to the dungeon – condemned him to death the next morning.

As he was led to the gallows – said John, “I’m allowed one last word here.”

“Yes, that is just,” spoke the King – “It is the law and I cannot deny it.”

Whereupon Faithful John stated, – “To you I have always been truthful.

Serving you just as a father.” – He told of the raven’s prediction.

And of the deeds he fulfilled – as he told all his body to stone turned

‘Til with his last word he perished – The King and the Queen were remorseful.

“See how my servant so faithful – was punished and died for my misdeed.”

Taking the statue he went – to his bedroom and weeping spoke to it.

“How can I bring your life back? – Faithful John for I miss you quite sorely?”


Twins bore the Queen as time passed – sons who grew strong, well-mannered and thoughtful,

They were a joy to their parents – but once while the Queen was at Chapel,

They were at home with their father – He, gazing forlorn at the statue.

Spoke once again of his heartache – “Oh, how can I bring you your life back?”

Faithful John answered him this time – “By using what to you is dearest.”

“All would I give what I’m rich in.” – Then John gave reply to his master:

“Cut off the heads of your children, – the twins who are playing beside you.

Sprinkle me then with their blood – And I’ll come back to serve you as ever.”

Shocked was the King but he thought then – considered then all that had happened.

John saved his life and his wife’s too – So swiftly he drew forth the sword blade.

Cut off the heads of his two sons – and sprinkled their blood on the white stone.

Standing again live and healthy – John came back to life as he promised.

Said Faithful John, “Do not fear – for your faith shall not go unrewarded.”

Taking the heads of the children – he placed them back on to their bodies

Rubbing the wounds with their blood – he called them to life whole and happy.

Laughing and playing and jumping – as if they had not ever perished.

Then the great King full of joy – saw his Queen coming back from her prayers.

“Quick, Faithful John, take the children – into the closet and hide there!”

When his wife entered he asked her – “Have you been praying at chapel?”

“Yes, but I constantly think – of our own Faithful John and his passing.”

“Dear, we can give him his life back – but we’ll need to give up our two children.”

Pale was the queen, full of terror, – then trembling, she answered, “All, John has given!

We will do likewise. We owe it to him – for he’s always been faithful.”

Then her own husband rejoiced – that she’d made the same sacrifice he had.

When he had opened the closet – out came Faithful John and his children.

“Let us thank God he’s delivered – and we have our own sons now beside us.”

When the good King told his Queen – the whole story, their joy was unbounded.

Long was their reign and the Kingdom – flourished in peace ever after.