St. Caedmon’s Hymn

This Icon of St. Caedmon is used with Fr. Serafim’s kind permission (Mull Monastery).

Happy St. Caedmon’s Day! (February 24/11)

St. Caedmon (mid 7th century AD) is the first known English author of the earliest recorded poem in Great Britain.

In the eighth century, Venerable Bede wrote that St. Caedmon was initially a herdsman, with an unpleasant singing voice. One night, in a heavenly dream, St. Caedmon heard the angelic hymn – Creation. The next day he shared what he heard, and to the astonishment of all, sang this as beautifully as it had been sung to him. When the holy St. Hilda, abbess of Whitby Abbey nearby learned of this, she encouraged St. Caedmon to join the Yorkshire monastery.

This same Abbey had previously hosted the important Synod of Whitby in 664, which included the correct calculation date of Pascha… in order for Britain to celebrate it the same time as Rome and the East.

Whitby Abbey Ruins image by Michaela Wenzler from Pixabay. This overlooks the coastal town of Whitby, Yorkshire.

The poem we know as “Caedmon’s Hymn” was recorded by Bede in Latin, in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

After reading St. Caedmon’s Hymn from these Latin, Moore/Leningrad Northumbrian Dialects/Bodleian West Saxon translations – the poem was aching to be adapted into a simpler, modern English read/recitation as seen further below.

I used the music of the beautiful, ancient 13th century Byzantine Greek Hymn Defte Lai (Come O ye People) to accompany my adaptation of St. Caedmon’s poem… As St. Theodore of Tarsus, was a Greek monk (and contemporary of St. Caedmon’s) and as St. Theodore became the 8th archbishop of Canterbury, England, I decided to intertwine east and west with the ancient Byzantine melody Defte Lai.

St. Theodore of Tarsus played a pivotal role unifying the British parishes, educating the clergy and the faithful in liturgics and church music. (More in depth here) Many of whom St. Theodore consecrated as bishops, later came to be venerated as saints, including Sts. Cuthbert, Erkenwald, John, Eata, Bosa, Trumwine and Chad.

Sheet Music and recording found here – of my adaptation of St. Caedmon’s Creation Hymn:

Come magnify Him,
Creator of the firmament,
Author of each and all,
And glorify His purpose;
Love, Invincible.

Come and honour Him,
Protector of Fair Paradise,
Holy, Mighty, Immortal,
Architect, Omnipotent;
Father of Glory.
Blessed, Timeless, Lord,
Thou hast established Thy wonders,
Before middle earth* was formed,
Or adorned with Thought of Mind;
Lord, God Almighty!

For the sons of men;
Thou formed the Roof of Heaven!

* Middle earth means the world, the middle enclosure – which exists between heaven and hell. From Middle English middel-erde, and Old English middangeard.

Here is another beautiful rendition of St. Caedmon’s Hymn by Peter Pringle sung in Anglo Saxon English and believe he composed the melody himself.

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