Come, Magnify Him!

Garden bouquet, picked for a friend this week: Heather, Viburnum, Pieris Japonica, Sword Fern

Light was first
Through the Lord’s
word Named day:
Beauteous, bright creation! ~ St. Caedmon

Greetings on St. Caedmon’s Day!

This 7th century British Saint heard angels sing, and recorded their heavenly hymn which became the earliest English poem in existence!

Previous Blisswood post shows the ruins of the ancient Whitby monastery where St. Caedmon lived.

After reading St. Caedmon’s Hymn from these Latin, Moore/Leningrad Northumbrian Dialects/Bodleian West Saxon sources and translations – this poem achingly called to me, asking to be adapted further.

I translated it into a more contemporary old English and put my adaptation to the ancient melody of the 13th century Byzantine Hymn: Defte Lai.

My version of St. Caedmon’s Hymn with Sheet music here.

Below is my version of St. Caedmon’s Creation Hymn, rusticly sung and recorded, accompanied by my faux-lyre (ukulele) using the chords: Fm; Cm; and B♭m.

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 (not just a Tolkien invention)- it means the world, the middle enclosure – which exists between heaven and hell. From Middle English middel-erde, and Old English middangeard.

I’m grateful for the heavenly hymn St. Caedmon has bequeathed to us, and his role in the early English Orthodox church… From his beginnings as a humble shepherd – to his subsequent life as a meek monk in a great, historic, monastery.

When the song of the lips becomes the song of the soul, we’re able to – bit by bit, acquire a small, uplifting, repertoire of prayerful Psalmody from the heart – by singing anytime praises to the Glory of God!

Spiritual Blossoms of the Isles

Heath blooming at Lochinver, Scotland – by Ivor Bond from Pixabay

On the third Sunday after Pentecost we honour all the saints who, during the first millennium, have shone forth from England, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Scotland.

Being of Scottish and Irish heritage, this Sunday is very special to me.

Timeline of Orthodoxy in the British Isles

A Brief History of Orthodox England

We magnify thee, O all ye saints who have shone forth in the Isles, and we honour thy holy memory, for ye intercede with Christ our God on our behalf. ~ Saints of the British Isles Magnification

All Ye Saints of the British Isles pray to God for us!

From the ends of the earth, O Lord, the Isles of the Sea offer Thee all the saints who have shone forth therein as the fair fruit of Thy salvific splendour. Through their supplications and through the Theotokos, preserve Thy Church and Thine Isles in the profoundest peace, O most Merciful One. ~ Festal Troparion for All the Saints of the British Isles

Today the choirs of the saints who have pleased God in the Isles, standeth in the Church and invisibly prayeth to God for us. With them the angels give glory; and all the saints of the Church of Christ celebrate with them, and all together they beseech the Pre-Eternal God for us. ~ Kontakion Tone 3

The saints are shown to be fair blossoms of the Garden of Eden, laden with the nectar of good works and the sweet scent of Orthodox teachings, whereby our souls are fed and our spiritual thirst is quenched, Come ye therefore, let us hasten beneath their shade and let us bless them as the delight and adornment of the Isles, and as a model and pattern for our lives, for they have received unfading crowns of glory and all together they beseech the Pre-Eternal God for us. ~ Ikos

Let all the ranks of saints and angels make glad with us, singing in spiritual choir. They have beheld Our Sovereign, the Queen of Heaven and Lady of the Isles, Who is glorified by all the faithful. And the souls of all the righteous celebrate with them, beholding Her most precious hands stretched forth in supplication beseeching peace for the world, renewal of the Orthodox Faith in the Isles and the salvation of our souls. ~ Stichera of the Saints of the British Isles, Tone 8

O Queen of heaven and Lady of the Isles, to pray to God for us!

St. Caedmon’s Day Greetings

Thank you Fr. Serafim Mull Monastery for kind permission to use St. Caedmon’s Icon.

O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. ~ Psalm 96:1

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; ~ Ephesians 5:19

…a psalm is the work of angels, a heavenly institution, the spiritual incense. ~ St. Basil the Great

Today is St. Caedmon’s Day! This 7th British Saint heard angels sing and wrote the earliest English poem in existence.

It’s heart-piercingly beautiful, and after wading through these Latin, Northumbrian, West Saxon translations and sources of his work… I knew this poem was just aching to be adapted into a simpler, modern English read.

Sadly, no original music remains of St. Caedmon’s hymn, and alas and alack, I never found any olden West Saxon melodies to work with… They’re scarcer than hen’s teeth!

You can imagine how thrilling it was to encounter the ancient 13th century Byzantine Greek Chant, Defte Lai and know how the majestic melody would also suit the adaptation of St. Caedmon’s poem. It’s pure joy to reclaim Defte Lai’s ageless air for another venerable Orthodox Hymn.

One of St. Caedmon’s contemporaries was the Greek monastic – St. Theodore of Tarsus, who became the 8th Archbishop of Canterbury England, so my Byzantine nod isn’t too far removed.

Here’s the pdf sheet music for my 2022 adaptation and recording below of St. Caedmon’s Hymn.

3 chords used in this recording – while leaning on my ukulele crutch are: Fm; Cm; and B♭m

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 (not just a Tolkien invention)- it means the world, the middle enclosure – which exists between heaven and hell. From Middle English middel-erde, and Old English middangeard.

Through the Holy Prayers of St. Caedmon, may we – through the Wonderful Mystery of Creation, magnify our Blessed and Timeless Lord!

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