Cædmon's Hymn

Original Text: 
(a) Cambridge University Library MS. Kk 5.16 ["Moore"], fol. 128v; (b) Leningrad, Saltykov-Schedrin Public Library MS. Q.v.I.18, fol. 107, from Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie, The Manuscripts of Cædmon's Hymn and Bede's Death Song (New York: Columbia University Press, 1937): 13, 17. PR 1613 D6 Robarts Library. Cf. "Northumbrian Fragments," edited by Henry Sweet, A Second Anglo-Saxon Reader: Archaic and Dialectal, 2nd edn., revised by T. F. Hoad (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978): 106.
(a) ca. 737
2metudæs maecti end his modgidanc
3uerc uuldurfadur sue he uundra gihuaes
4eci dryctin or astelidæ
5he aerist scop aelda barnum
6heben til hrofe haleg scepen.
7tha middungeard moncynnæs uard
8eci dryctin æfter tiadæ
9firum foldu frea allmectig
primo cantauit Cædmon istud carmen.
(b) 746
10Nu scilun herga hefenricæs uard
11metudæs mehti and his modgithanc
12uerc uuldurfadur sue he uundra gihuæs
13eci dryctin or astelidæ.
14he ærist scop ældu barnum
15hefen to hrofæ halig sceppend
16tha middingard moncynnæs uard
17eci dryctin æfter tiadæ
18firum foldu frea allmehtig
19          Now let me praise the keeper of Heaven's kingdom,
20          the might of the Creator, and his thought,
21          the work of the Father of glory, how each of wonders
22          the Eternal Lord established in the beginning.
23          He first created for the sons of men
24          Heaven as a roof, the holy Creator,
25          then Middle-earth the keeper of mankind,
26          the Eternal Lord, afterwards made,
27          the earth for men, the Almighty Lord.
          In the beginning Cædmon sang this poem.]


1] 17 manuscripts of Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (finished in 731), dated from the 8th to the 15th centuries, contain the Anglo-Saxon version of the first poem by the first known English poet, Cædmon. The two earliest of these manuscripts render the poem in a Northumbrian dialect. The Cambridge University Library "Moore" manuscript appears in an 8th-century hand, and the Leningrad manuscript can be precisely dated in 746. For the circumstances of the making of this poem, see the notes on Cædmon's life. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.