Caedmon is perhaps one of Whitby’s most famous ancestors, and although he lived a very long time ago he is still remembered here in Whitby today. Caedmon school at the side of the new bridge, and of course Caedmon’s Cross in the Churchyard of St Hilda’s Church near Whitby Abbey stand testament to England’s first ever poet.
Caedmon was a herdsman who lived at Whitby Abbey at the same time as St Hilda. Caedmon had no gift other than his skills of looking after the herds which lived in the grounds of Whitby Abbey. Caedmon was a very shy quiet man and so had no interest in the social gatherings at Whitby Abbey where the ale often flowed freely and people would sing. At these times Caedmon would often slipway from the party.
On a significant night of his life Caedmon had a dream where a celestial being visited him and said, “CAEDMON SING ME A SONG”.
CAEDMON Replied “I CANNOT SING THAT IS WHY I LEFT THE ENTERAINMENT”,
The stranger persisted “YOU SHALL SING”
“WHAT SHALL I SING?” Asked Caedmon.
“SING OF THE BEGINNING OF CREATED BEINGS” said the stranger, and so Caedmon began to sing the praises of God.
Now must be praised the warden of heaven’s Realm, The creators mite and his minds thought, The glorious work of the father: How of ever wonder he, The lord eternal, Laid the fountain he shaped. The erst for the son of god. Heaven to be their roof; Holy creator The middle world he, Mankind’s warden eternal lord, Afterwards prepared the earth for men; Lord almighty.
Dreams are usually forgotten on wakening, but this one so distinct and clear that a feeling of the power so wonderfully given. He told the town reeve, who was Caedmon’s master, what a wonderful gift had been given.Caedmon was led to the Abess Hilda at Whitby Abbey. She asked the learned and learners of the Abbey to come and listen to Caedmon’s dream, and by the judgement of them all it might be known from where it came. It seemed to them that the dream had been sent by the lord god.
Caedmon was taken into the Abbey where he lived until he died, writing songs for the people from the truth of the Scriptures.
Caedmon was the first English Poet.
Translation Of Caedmon’s Poem
BY CW KENNEDY PRAISE WE THE LORD
OF THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM
GOD’S POWER AND WISDOM
THE WORKS OF HIS HAND;
AS THE FATHER OF GLORY,
WROUGHT THE BEGINNING
OFF ALL HIS WONDERS!
WARDEN OF MEN!
FIRST, FOR A ROOF;
O’ER CHILDREN OF EARTH,
HE STABLISHED THE HEAVENS,
AND FOUNDED THE WORLD,
AND SPREAD THE DRY LAND
FOR THE LIVING TO DWELL IN.
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