The encounter between Jesus and the woman of the well, a Samaritan who lived in the village of Sychar.

This is a story about a woman so bowled over by love that she is talking about it all over the market place. She has been in love before. Some of the men in the market have been her lovers, some of the women betrayed by their husbands or sons in their liaisons with Gyna.

It is a small town. Everyone knows about intimacies between any members of the community. Yet, like us, when together in a group, they cover up their own sins and hurts, and want to make her the scapegoat. She is both strong enough to take it and weak enough to say honestly what she feels “this time” - about the man she has met.

This is a story of prejudice and reconciliation, of lust and love, and of the power of the vision of God to transform needful and empty lives. The prejudice among Judeans, Galileans, and Samaritans is overcome by honest encounter; the shame and perverseness of the village prostitute are overcome by her meeting a man who can tell her whole heart; and she and her fellow villagers are transformed by the understanding and love which come from the man of Galilee whom Gyna calls the Messiah.

Both the cast and the congregation become involved in this transformation, and welcome the one who can tell them their whole heart.

Yeshua and Gyna

Gathering of the Community

Cast (except Gyna) and clergy enter to hymn or other music, and take their places in the chancel. The clergy remain centre stage until the proclamation of the Gospel.


Celebrant The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.
People And also with you.
Celebrant Almighty God,
whose son Jesus Christ
gives the water of eternal life
may we always thirst for you,
the spring of life and source of goodness;
through him who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever.
Deacon The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
People Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
(People sit.)
Gyna, the woman of the well, enters running up the nave.
Gyna Come, Sycharites!
come see a man I have met!
God! what a man I have met!
Come! see the man who has told me my heart;
My God! he has told me all that I have done –
He must be the anointed one of God, the Messiah!
Men The Messiah!
Women, chanting The Messiah!
Men Gyna,
the Messiah would not come to such as you!
Man 1 “Come, see a man,” says Gyna
Man 2 “Come, see a man,” says Gyna
Man 3 “Come, see a man,” says Gyna
Man 1 But, Gyna, you have seen every man among us,
Man 2 and we have seen you as you are:
Men all hot for your embrace!
Gyna It is not that, I tell you!
this man does not fire me with lust:
my body’s numb before him,
and my mind lights up,
and he told me everything I ever did!
Women We wonder who he is:
he cannot be John of Jordan –
John keeps himself from women,
besides, he never leaves the river.
Men But we have heard of another man:
Man 1 John says this man is he that is to come –
Man 2 that this man has favour with the Lord,
Man 3 that this man speaks the truth of the Lord,v

Men and some of those who followed John
now follow him,
and John is thankful,
honoured that they should.
Women The Lord would not favour a Judaean!
Gyna What man would speak with you?
and he a man of God?
and what Judean would address
an Israelite of Samaria?
Woman 1 More likely he would spit to see us,
Woman 2 and touch the Judean charms upon his head,
Woman 3 and avert his eyes from the unclean Samaritans,
Gyna Yet this man spoke to me…
his speech is Galilean:
yet he speaks like a Judean about our worship.

Men How did you meet him?
Gyna proudly I was carrying my waterpot in this noon’s heat,
walking to the well as I do every day,
the well our father Jacob gave Joseph.

Men proudly Indeed,
as Gerizim mount is holy for our spirit,
so the well is holy for our thirst:
Sychar would not live without it.

Gyna So,
there I saw the man seated,
weary in the hot noon day.
Dusty, but he was good to look at –
a young man - yet perhaps thirty years –
I felt myself burn for him.
Women We told you, Gyna found another man for lust!
Gyna Perhaps, at first for lust –
but not for lust
when once his eyes looked on me
and his words sounded:
Voice Give me to drink.
Gyna All he asked was a cup of water for his thirst
as the noon sweat stood on his brow;
all I thought was - this is a man
I could worship,
this is a man I could serve –
a man unlike you raunchy womanizers
who worship my body till your fire goes limp
Woman 1 You’re getting old and weak, Gyna,
Woman 2 when you don’t force men to their
knees before you;
Woman 3 when you speak of worshipping
anyone but yourself!
Gyna Yes, I knew he was
no fruit for my picking;
but, old habits hardly leave at once,
so I chided him, as others I have teased:

“You, Judean, how ask you me to drink,
how ask you me, Samaritan and woman that I am?
no Judean speaks with us
who respects his holy heritage.”

Man 1 No more would we address the rank Judeans:
Man 2 So, too, no Judean would address us –
Man 3 We, Israelites of Samaria, they scorn.
Gyna But he did so speak, and more:
Voice A gift of drink I asked
if you, who were asked a gift,
if you knew what God has given and will give,
if you knew who asked you for your gift,
you would ask him for his gift,
and he, who asked a drink,
he would have given you a gift
of living water.
Gyna So,
he began to speak to me in riddles.
Who was asking for water, he or me?
laughing he spoke so in riddles, but I saw
he was a Judean, thirsty as he was,
who would receive no thing, but first
angry before receiving drink, make me glad
I should be able to give his worship anything.
Women True,
Judeans are proud,
they would not want from us ?
and we of Samaria would not need from them.
Gyna This man, it seemed, needed water.
So I turned on him.
“Great lord,” I said,
“how could you give me?
You have no bucket and the well is deep;
how then will you reach down to the sparkling spring,
the living drink beneath the brackish top?

Who do you think you are at all?
Are you greater than the patriarch?
Israel son of Isaac son of Abraham?
He gave us this well by his divining,
found us the water by his staff,
and himself drank:
and Jacob’s sons and daughters took their fill,
and his sheep and his goats and his oxen.

Great Judean! Are you so wonderful?
Can you do these things?”

Women Well spoken, woman, let such Judeans return,
let them return to Herod and the Romans.
Gyna I was angry,
I tossed my hair upon my shoulders,
I raged at him, and yet –
he was beautiful to look at.

He did not rage at me:
I wonder now that I could argue with him,
so gentle was he, as if to free me of my rage.

Voice I asked when I was thirsty,
but from this well’s slaking I would thirst again.
The water you can give,
the water even your father Israel can give,
will need replenishment.

I who am thirsty for that
have in my gift the living spring,
after whose taking is no thirst.
This well remains here in Joseph’s field:
the living water I share becomes a well
within whoever drinks of it –
a well within herself,
springing up to life eternal,
gushing out to quench all thirst,
a springwater throughout all ages.

Man 1 Woman, do you know he was Judean?
Man 2 This speech you give him, lets him sound
Man 3 like a magus from Iran,
wise man from the land of Cyrus.
Gyna He was Judean, he was no foreigner;
he might have been an Israelite of Sychar,
one of us - the high priest himself, so he seemed.

A father to me, speaking of the everlasting;
a counsellor, inviting me to comfort;
wonderful, a great man of peace,
a mighty spirit.

I fell before him, reaching out to touch his feet,
and said,
“Lord, give me this water.
so I may never thirst.”

Women You are a common whore and slave
to bend before an insolent Judean!
Gyna My pride returned
rising, I said,
“Yes, give me this wonder water,
so I may not wearily wander
imitative dance so that I may not heavily haul –
give me your magic!”
A young man appears in the nave, unseen by Gyna, but remarked on by the chorus, murmuring and pointing.
Gyna’s song and dance
I came to you in the midday sun,
you could have had my body and loins;
I came to you sitting by the well –
if only I could rouse you to love!
You asked for water, not for love;
you asked for a drink from the well,
a well with water fresh and alive:
but one that cannot refresh our souls.

You offered me your wonders,
greater than rain:
you offered me your springing well
within my soul.

Oh, what a man you are, but not for lusting!
Oh, what a man you are, so full of promise;

Oh, what a man you are, so full of beauty,
Oh, what a man you are, so full of truth.

Yet, you disappointed me:
I could not mold you, hold you, fold you:
I wanted you for my own –
but you’re not like any man I ever met.

Oh, to think that I bore lust for you,
to think that I longed for your seed;
Oh, I would have missed
all the gifts that you gave to me
gifts that far exceed any need.

The only thing that you’d do with me
is talk of my life and my dreams;
and for all the questions you asked of me,
my answers tripped on my lips.

Oh, what a man you are, but not for lusting;
Oh, what a man you are, so full of promise!
Oh, what a man you are, so full of beauty,
Oh, what a man you are, so full of truth!

Men Gyna - look!
Women Gyna - cease your song and dance!
Men Gyna - he is here!
Women Gyna - here’s your wonder man!
Gyna looks at the youth, then laughs:
Gyna That is not he! that is but a boy,
one of his company, who came upon me there,
speaking with him.
This is not he! this is but an unshaven cub
you would know the master lion if he came!
Men Lad! who are you? what is your wish?
Youth I am Jochanan ben Zebedee,
I come from my master to seek hospitality.
Women Who is your master, child?
Are you Judeans?
Jochanan We are Galileans, most; we walk from Judea;
and my master, Yeshua, of the house of David.
Men Judeans or Galileans, and they seek to be guests,
they seek hospitality of us they call Samaritans!
Gyna Leave the lad! You have to hear
what that man said to me;
that man - you say “Yeshua” –
that Yeshua said:
Voice Go call your man
and bring him here with you.
Chorus Her man! What prophet he?
She has no man, but many!
Gyna My man! my husband! “Sir,” I said,
“I have no husband.”
His eyes and voice compelled my truthful word,
truth came to him from me;
full of truth he is
and I could find no space in me for lies,
no space for turning,
no avoidance of the facts.
Jochanan Yes, sister. he is full of truth,
and he is overflowing with the good favour of God,
so when we stand before him
truth fills us, and deception drains away.
Men So, it is “sister” is it?
Gyna is your “sister”:
she’s doxy for all the rest.
Woman 1 Happy Gyna!
Woman 2 Now she has a family!
Woman 3 Or at least this virgin brother!
Jochanan We are sisters and brothers with the master.
God be with you, folk of Sychar,
we come in peace.
Gyna, approaching Jochanan
You walk with him, lad? How do you live
with those eyes and that voice?
Does he tell you all you think and do?
Jochanan Yes, he knows our hearts,
he knows all minds.
We do not so much of his,
but what we know, we love,
even when it’s pain to love.
Gyna I tell you - Jochanan, is it? - I tell you
he knew me, and he told me all my life:
Voice You have well spoken
that you have no husband:
for you have had five men,
and the man you have now
is not your man:
you have said this in very truth.
Chorus Yes, you spoke in truth –
yes, he spoke in truth,
he told you truly of your life.
Gyna I bowed to him again.
“Sir, I discern that you are a prophet.”
I was dizzy.
All I wanted was my bucketful.
Prophets are uncomfortable
you cannot gossip with them,
much less seduce them.

Yet I must know more: I may never hear again
the voice of certainty and the tones of truth.
“Sir, what think you of this puzzle:
our fathers of Israel worshipped here at Gerizim.
You Judeans say Zion is the place for God.
What say you of this?”

Voice The time is coming, Gyna, –
Gyna - I had not told my name –
Voice - when in no mountain, here or there,
shall the Father be adored.
You of Samaria worship a memory
whose truth you cannot grasp.
We of Judea worship him we know
in the close fight of truth:
for salvation comes out from Judea.

But, Gyna, the time is coming,
the time of disclosure is now here
when all who truly worship,
Judean or Samaritan,
shall worship and adore the Father,
moved by Spirit,
and knowing in truth.

For the Father seeks those of Spirit,
and such seek the Father.
God is Spirit, as our breath,
and those who adore Spirit
worship through Spirit
and sincerely in their hearts.

Jochanan Sister, you are blessed to hear him so:
there is truth in you,
light in you,
Spirit in you,
that you should hear these words from him.
Gyna I was faint, shaken by his words,
astonished at his truth,
exhausted at my own truth
which forced me to his words;
faint, thinking of the Promise –
I had not thought of the Promise all these years
I said,
“I know that Messiah is coming,
the anointed one of God;
and when the Messiah is with us
he will disclose all things to us”
All Refrain 1 We know that Messiah is coming,
the anointed one of God;
and when the Messiah is with us,
he’ll disclose all things to us.

Jochanan He declares all things in truth,
he makes everything alive;
he fills us all with hope,
with the peace and love of God:
All sing Refrain 1
Men Messiah will declare all things,
Messiah has the favour of God;
Messiah will set up truth
for all the world to see.
All sing Refrain 1
Women The truth of Judea shall meet
the truth of Samaria;
Israel will reunite,
and the Gentiles sing God’s praise.
All sing Refrain 1
Jochanan Refrain 2 He comes fully to dwell with us
and we are born anew!
He comes not to judge,
but to reconcile with our loving Father
in heaven.
All sing Refrain 2
Jochanan Yeshua, he who saves,
he who comes with light:
the source of living waters,
Yeshua, the living Word.
All sing Refrain 2
Jochanan He does not come to judge,
he comes to live with us;
but the judgment is,
that the light is in the world.

He does not come to lead,
to provoke a political scene;
but the crisis is,
the light is in the world.

All sing Refrain 2
Jochanan He has come to us to reveal
the truth lies in our hearts;
to find the depth of our lives,
to disclose the heart of the world.

And those who lie are abashed,
but the truth will come to the light,
and all who hear of his works
will know that he is divine.

Gyna and Jochanan I know that Messiah has come –
the anointed One of God,
and now that Messiah is with us,
he discloses all things to us.

All sing We know that Messiah has come –
the anointed One of God,
and now that Messiah is with us,
he discloses all things to us.
Women What, lad! can you speak like that!
tut, lad! the woman says you are not he!

Men Peace!
the lad has known the truth:
the lad must speak the truth:
we Sycharites fear the truth
Gyna I fear the truth.
I fear that man I have met.
I fear the man who told me all I had done.
I fear the eyes and the voice that told me
all my heart.

I looked at him, as I spoke of Messiah:
I saw about him the green of the earth and the trees:
the water flooded up at his feet –

there were cracks across the sky,
and flames were at his eyes,
flames about his feet.

I saw eyes about me,
I heard the beat of wings,

All sing Refrain 2
Gyna I felt a rushing of the wind.
He looked at me and spoke
his answer, more than my question,
more than anyone dare say:
Voice from the north ‘EHYEH ‘ASHER ‘EHYEH
Voice from the south EGO EIMI HO ON
Voice from the north ANI HU HAMEDEBAR ELAYIK
Voice from the south EGO EIMI HO LALON SU
The dance picks up speed and during it the actors remove their masks. During this, voices are heard from the church, in as many languages as are available: for example,
Ego sum qui loquor team
Ich bins der mit dir redet
Je le suis, moi que te parle
Io, che ti parlo, so desso…
The dancers stop, looking down the nave:
Jochanan Yeshua comes to dwell with you.
Gyna, followed by all: Let us bring Yeshua to live with us –
Yes, let us go to him –
Come, let us go –
All cast run down through the nave.
Deacon. continuing the narrative of the Gospel:
“They went out of the city and came to him…. and from that city many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the word of the woman, who testified: “He told me all things that ever I did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they begged him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. and many more believed because of his

The Gospel of Christ.

People Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Celebrant The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People And also with you.
The Offertory proceeds and members of the cast bring up the Gifts.
Prayer over the Gifts
Spring of life and Source of goodness,
receive all we offer you this day,
and bring us to the living water,
Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Prayer after Communion God of our pilgrimage,
we have found the living water.
Refresh and sustain us
as we go forth on our journey,
in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.
Note: for variations on Gyna’s song and the Final song, see the liturgical notes on the productions at St Mark’s, Parkdale, and at the Episcopal Divinity School. The above text of these songs is as rewritten by Timothy Taylor for his musical setting.

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