Besserman offers thorough readings of Caedmon's Hymn
and two Middle English lyrics as well as detailed readings of portions of the Old English Exodus, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Troilus and Criseyde, and Le Morte Darthur.
": Now must we praise the Guardian of the kingdom of Heaven, the Creator's power and His purposeful conception,/the work of our glorious father, likewise each of his wonders,/everlasting Lord, Establisher of all beginnings and origins./He first created for the children of the earth/Heaven's firmament, the roof of the sky, Holy creator;/then the middle-kingdom, mankind's Guardian,/eternal lord, afterwards adorned/the world for humans, the lord God, almighty.
Similarly, the attribution of ignoble motives to Bede's non-reproduction of the text of Caedmon's hymn
can be disregarded, for a vernacular text would have no place in the Latin composition that was the Ecclesiastical History.
Early British literature's many references to God intervening in the lives of men and women and giving the gift of poetry, song, praise and revelation to God's greatness include "Caedmon's Hymn
," (the best known) which tells of Caedmon being gifted with poetry and song which he was incapable of producing before a visitation by "a being," or "a certain person," or "One," who bid him sing even though Caedmon, a laborer, protests that he could not.
and material cultural in the world of Bede.
opens: "Nu scylum hergan hefaenricase Uard, Metudaes maecti end his modgidanc." "Now we shall praise heaven-kingdom's Guardian, the Creator's might, and his mind-thought." When a sound in Old English was irreproducible by Latin letters, Anglo-Saxon scribes borrowed Germanic runes like the thorn, p, representing the th consonant or "interdental" (notice where your tongue goes when you produce it), probably the most difficult English sound for nonnative speakers to pronounce.
Following are a few representative samples illustrating the distinctive features of the Northumbrian (Bede's Death Song, Caedmon's Hymn
, Leiden Riddle), Mercian (Vespasian Psalter) and Kentish dialects (Kentish Psalm).
Szarmach, "Anthem: Auden's 'Caedmon's Hymn
'"; Nils Holger Petersen, "'In Rama Sonat Gemitus.
was approved at the monastery 'in the presence of a number of the more learned men'.(4) He produced more verses on biblical and religious topics when they were recited to him.