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The OED entry for happen notes the following:

In Middle English fel it hap meant "it happened."

A search for the phrase reveals this OED entry and nothing else relevant. It is not clear how one would use this phrase in a conversational context. For example, could it be used in a sentence like the following?

Fel it hap that the man did dege.

i.e.:

It happened that the man died.

Or, was it used as an exclamation?

The man did dege! Fel it hap!

*All "Middle-English-y" example sentences here are of my own making, and I know nothing about Middle English.

How was this phrase used? Can you provide any notable examples from medieval works?

Thanks in advance!

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  • I guess 'fel it hap' was a nonce nonce expression. Almost all the sources I checked give only one example (the one I've posted as an answer). I didn't find any other example. – Decapitated Soul Sep 2 '20 at 19:48
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Your first example seems correct to me. Here's a quote from ME compendium:

Þan fel it hap þat þei founde ful sone a grete bor.
[Middle English Compendium]

Another example in poetry:

In þat faire forest feiþely for to telle;
Wiþ alle his menskful meyné,
þat moche was & nobul;
Þan fel it hap, þat þei founde ful sone a grete bor,
& huntyng wiþ hound & horn harde alle sewede;
[Wikisource]

Then fel it hap that thei founde ful sone a grete bor
[Ancient Metrical Tales - Google Books]

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  • Why do you have the same example twice (#1 and #3)? – Laurel Sep 1 '20 at 10:41
  • @Laurel, This is the only example I could find. And it's thrice not twice. :P – Decapitated Soul Sep 1 '20 at 11:29

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