Bede told the story of Cædmon who was an illiterate cow-herd who miraculously was able to recite a Christian song of creation in Old English verse. This miracle happened after Cædmon left a feast when they were passing a harp around for all to sing a song. He left the hall after feeling ashamed that he could not contribute a song. Later in a dream he said a man appeared to him and asked him to sing a song. Cædmon responded that he could not sing, yet the man told him that he could and asked him to “Sing to me the beginning of all things.” Cædmon was then able to sing verses and words that he had not heard of before. Cædmon then reported his experience first to a steward then to Hild the abbess. She invited scholars to evaluate Cædmon’s gift, and he was sent home to turn more divine doctrine into song. The abbess was so impressed with the success of his gift that she encouraged him to become a monk. He learned the history of the Christian church and created more music like the story of Genesis and many biblical stories which impressed his teachers. Bede says that Cædmon in his creation of his songs wanted to turn man from love of sin to a love of good deeds.
Caedmon’s hymn, composed between 658 and 680, modern English translation:
Now [we] must honour the guardian of heaven, the might of the architect, and his purpose, the work of the father of glory as he, the eternal lord, established the beginning of wonders; he first created for the children of men heaven as a roof, the holy creator Then the guardian of mankind, the eternal lord, afterwards appointed the middle earth, the lands for men, the Lord almighty
Our Father in heaven,
We thank You for the supernatural gift of poetry and song-writing that You bestowed upon Caedmon. We thank You for his fidelity. We humbly ask You for a resurgence of Christian poetry and songs within the Church of England. Amen.