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!

Sweet Essence of Eden

Fragrant, plumeria blossom falls to rest on neighbouring Heliconia Rostrata leaf (Hanging Lobster Claw Flower) ~ Kauai 2023

Every flower is fragrant through the power of the Holy Spirit, in a delicate flow of aroma and tenderness of colour; the beauty of the Great contained in what is small. ~Akathist Glory to God for All Things, Kontakion 3

Without winter there would be no spring, and without spring there would be no summer. So it is also in the spiritual life: a little consolation, and then a little grief-and thus little by little we work out our salvation. Let us accept everything from the hand of God. ~St. Joseph the Hesychast

Everything that God has created is beautiful!

Even the flowers are full of grace!

Like so many places all over the world that are special to each one of us – to me, Hawaii is the Living Epitome of Heavenly Fragrance. It still contains the Sweet Essence of Eden with: Aromatic maile (MY-lee) leaves from the rainforest… Divinely fragrant, mangoes that hang as luscious, topaz jewels… Delightfully perfumed blooms of pikake, jasmine, lilies, and plumeria…

All of these and more, help awaken the numinous senses with Awe in Nature’s Mysterious Beauty of the Great.

When we perceive God’s Gift of Nature, how can we not admire it?

How can we not be grateful for consoling glimpses and reminders that Paradisiacal Eden – once our Original Home – is never very far away from us?

May we take time today to observe, touch and smell one flower!

May we listen to the still, small, voice of flowers that continue to magnify our Creator!

May we actively allow our day to be filled with the Sweet Essence of Eden and the Divine Fragrance of Christ!

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!

Rejoicing in His Creatures

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

When God, who is absolute fullness, brought creatures into existence, it was not done to fulfill any need but so that His creatures should be happy to share His likeness, and so that He himself might rejoice in the joy of His creatures as they draw inexhaustibly upon the Inexhaustible. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

Love all God’s creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything.  If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

I will never laugh at anyone for grieving over a loved beast. I think God wants us to love Him more, not to love creatures (even animals) less. We love everything in one way too much (i.e., at the expense of our love for Him), but in another way we love everything too little. No person, animal, flower, or even pebble has ever been loved too much – i.e., more than every one of God’s works deserves. ~ C. S. Lewis

Take delight in all things that surround us. All things teach us and lead us to God. All things around us are droplets of the love of God – both things animate and inanimate, the plants and the animals, the birds and the mountains, the sea and the sunset and the starry sky. They are little loves through which we attain to the great Love that is Christ. Flowers, for example, have their own grace; they teach us with their fragrance and with their magnificence. They speak to us of the love of God. They scatter their fragrance and their beauty on sinners and on the righteous. ~ Elder Porphyrios

…Animals can instinctively sense if you love them. The animals in Paradise felt the fragrance of Grace and served Adam. Since the transgression, nature groans together with man… My mind tells me that even the animals are better than me; so, I humble myself and obey them. Very early this morning, being tired from praying all night and exhausted because of my illness, I lay down to rest. After a while, I heard a kitten meowing outside my cell as if she needed something. I really wanted to rest, but I humbled myself and went against my own will. I obeyed the kitten and replied to her calling. I went to open the door. It had started to rain and I let her in so she wouldn’t get wet. What do you think then? Should I obey the animals or not? My thoughts tell me I should. ~ St. Paisios

With love and gratitude to my past creatures (dogs, rabbit, goldfish, birds and cats), who’ve made my life richer… Such a blessing to have been their human for a time!

Oh… and last but not least, cheers to the current grand-cat-by-default… who deigns to allow me to feed her treats.

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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