For here it was that Caedmon, the "Father of English Song," lived and died.
This man was called Caedmon. He could not sing, and although he loved to listen to the songs of others, "whenever he saw the harp come near him," we are told, "he arose out of shame from the feast and went home to his house." Away from the bright firelight out into the lonely dark he crept with bent head and lagging steps.
One night Caedmon crept away as usual, and went "out of the house where the entertainment was, to the stable, where he had to take care of the horses that night.
Awakening from his sleep, Caedmon remembered all that he had sung in his dream.
In the morning, full of his wonderful new gift, Caedmon went to the steward who was set over him, and told him of the vision that he had had during the night.
Then she commanded Caedmon, "in the presence of many learned men, to tell his dream and repeat the verses that they might all give their judgment what it was and whence his verse came."
And he who was wont to creep away in dumb shame, fearing the laughter of his fellows, sang now with such beauty and sweetness that they were all of one mind, saying that the Lord Himself had, of His heavenly grace, given to Caedmon this new power.
Then these learned men repeated to Caedmon some part of the Bible, explained the meaning of it, and asked him to tell it again in poetry.
Caedmon gladly did her bidding, and when he had been received among them, his brother monks taught to him all the Bible stories.
But Caedmon could neither read nor write, nor is it at all likely that he ever learned to do either even after he became a monk, for we are told that "he was well advanced in years" before his great gift of song came to him.
"Thus Caedmon, keeping in mind all he heard, and, as it were, chewing the cud, converted the same into most harmonious verse; and sweetly repeating the same, made his masters in their turn his hearers.