No mistake possible, in his mind: Sachs, who had declared that he would not enter the song-contest for Pogner's daughter, has outrageously lied, and here is the proof of it, this song which he means to sing at the tournament. "Now," bursts forth Beckmesser, "everything becomes clear to me!" He jumps, hearing Sachs at the door, and stuffs the paper into his pocket.

He volunteers to give Walter some instructions, but they do not avail him much in the end, for the lesson is sadly disturbed by the gibes of the boys, in a scene full of musical humor. At last Pogner and Beckmesser, the marker, who is also a competitor for Eva's hand, enter from the sacristy.

It was this sort of thing, perpetrated by the very men who denied him any musical gift, that Wagner held up to derision in Beckmesser's song. The tittering swells into a roar, and at last Beckmesser, cursing Sachs for a deceiver and false friend, flies. With that, fooling ends. To music of a rare sweet gravity Sachs invites the "volk" to hearken to the song when given by the man who composed it.

The people gather to watch and hear and judge; Beckmesser makes a muddle of the song and is laughed off the scene; then Sachs pleads Walther's case, and he is allowed, though not a master, to sing. He triumphs, and by one stroke is admitted to the guild and wins the prize. Virtually the play ends here. Sachs' winding-up address can only be dealt with in connection with the music.

Catherine in the afternoon, and Walther, knowing nothing of the rules of the mastersingers, some of which have hurriedly been outlined to him by David, a youngster who is an apprentice at shoemaking and also songmaking, fails, though Hans Sachs, a master in both crafts, recognizes evidences of genius in the knight's song, and espouses his cause as against Beckmesser, the town clerk, who aims at acquiring Pogner's fortune by winning his daughter.

Beckmesser wants to serenade Eva mistaking Magdalena at the window in Eva's dress for that lady; Sachs insists on finishing Beckmesser's new shoes for the contest of the morrow, and revenges himself for the insult inflicted upon Walther in the morning by striking one blow for every mistake.

Eva readily agrees, but Sachs, who has overheard them, frustrates the scheme by opening his window and throwing a strong light upon the street by which they would have to pass. Beckmesser, lute in hand, now comes down the street and begins a serenade under Eva's window.

"Oh, Sachs, my friend, what thanks do I owe you! How did you know what was weighing on my heart?" "Much was staked upon that cast," replies Sachs; "now pluck up heart!" He catches sight of Beckmesser, who ever since arriving with the rest of the masters has been feverishly studying his bit of music-sheet, at intervals wiping the desperate sweat from his brow. "Mr. Marker, how are you getting on?"

He has hardly ceased, when Beckmesser thrusts apart the curtains. "Have you finished? I have quite finished with the blackboard!" He holds up for inspection the blackboard, overscored on both sides with great chalk-marks. The masters break into laughter. "Have the goodness to listen," demands Walther imperiously; "I have only just reached the point where my song is to publish my lady's praise!"

He murmurs, taking the seat: "For your sake, beloved, it shall be done!" "The singer sits!" announces Kothner. "Begin!" shouts Beckmesser out of sight. From Beckmesser's cry "Begin!"