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Whitby and Caedmon

Memorial to Caedmon, St Mary's Churchyard, Whitby.

The inscription reads, "To the glory of God and in memory of Caedmon the father of English Sacred Song. Fell asleep hard by 680."


Names like Shakespeare, Chaucer, Wordsworth and Keats automatically spring to mind when we talk about English poetry. But the first recorded English poet was a shy and retiring cowherd, seemingly from very humble origins and with minimal education, called Caedmon. He had no musical or poetic skills – or so it seemed.


Caedmon lived as a humble monk caring for the animals at the earlier monastery where Whitby Abbey now stands. According to legend, one night he fell asleep amongst the animals in his care, and dreamt that he was told to sing about God’s creation. In the morning he was able to sing the holy lines he had heard in his dream.


He later became a zealous monk and an accomplished and inspirational Christian poet.

In 1898, Caedmon's Cross was erected in his honour in the graveyard of St Mary's Church in Whitby.


Wow! Here is an inspirational story about revealing and celebrating latent talent. It begs the question: What are YOUR latent talents?


We only have one surviving piece of his work, now known as Caedmon’s hymn..


Now we must honour the guardian of heaven,

the might of the architect, and his purpose,

the work of the father of glory —

as he the beginning of wonders

established, the eternal lord.

He first created for the children of men

heaven as a roof, the holy creator

Then the middle earth, the guardian of mankind

the eternal lord, afterwards appointed

the lands for men, the Lord almighty.


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