kids encyclopedia robot

Cædmon's Hymn facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Caedmon's Hymn Moore mine01
Cædmon's Hymn written in Northumbrian. This is the earliest known version of this work.

Cædmon's Hymn is a short Old English poem originally composed by Cædmon. It was about God. It survives in a Latin translation by Bede in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum and in other dialects written down in several manuscripts of Bede's Historia. Bede wrote about the poet and his work in the fourth book of his Historia.


Bede told the story of Cædmon who was an illiterate cow-herder who was suddenly 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. But 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. Cædmon was sent home to turn more divine doctrine into song. The abbess was so impressed with the success of his gift that she told him to become a monk. Cædmon lived a long and very productive life as a monk. He created songs from all kinds of Church history and doctrine.

Choral settings of Caedmon's Hymn

The text has been set to music by a number of composers of choral music. Graham Keitch used Bede's translation for a motet which was commissioned to mark the 1100th anniversary of the death of the Anglo Saxon queen, Aethelflaed. It was first sung during the commemorative Evensong for Queen Aethelflaed which took place in Gloucester Cathedral, June 12th 2018.

Translated text

Images for kids

kids search engine
Cædmon's Hymn Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.