Caedmon's Hymn (Peter Bird)

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  • (Posted 2005-10-25)  CPDL #10010:       
Editor: Peter Bird (submitted 2005-10-25).  
Score information: Letter, 10 pages, 186 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Sung first in Anglo-Saxon (pronunciation guide provided), then in Latin, and finally in Modern English.

General Information

Title: Caedmon's Hymn
Composer: Peter Bird

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SacredAnthem

Languages: Old English, Latin, English
Instruments: Triangle(s)/chime(s)/bell(s) on d'' and/or d'''

First published: 2005
Description: The text of this hymn was recorded by the Venerable Bede. The melody of Cædmon’s famous hymn has been lost; however, the rhythms (triple time) are recorded in three 8th- and 9th-century manuscripts of Bede's Historia. This hymn is a perfect gem of hymnody and follows the rules exactly: verse, verse, refrain, verse, close. There is no evidence that this Hymn was ever previously sung in Latin. In this setting, the message and the musical theme are preserved through many changes of form as the language and the musical style gradually progress from those of the early Middle Ages to those of the English Baroque.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Old_English.png Old English text

Nü scolun herigean heofonrices Weard,
Meotodes meahte ond his mōdgeþanc,
weorc Wuldorfæder, swā hē wundra gehwæs
ēce Drihten, ōr onstealde.
Hē ærest sceōp eorðan bearnum
heofon tō hrōfe, hālig Scyppend.
Þā middangeard monncynnes Weard
ēce Drihten, æfter tēode
firum foldan, Frēa ælmehtig.

Latin.png Latin translation

Nunc laudemus Praeses regni caelestis,
Vim Creatoris, cogitationemque Suum,
opera Patris Praeclari; quam ille, Dominus aeternus,
[omnia] miracula ab principio instituebat.
Primo aetheram qua tectum finxit
liberis Terrae, Creator sanctus.
Terram mediam deinde Custos hominum,
Dominus aeternus, postea viris fecit,
orbem terrarum nostrum, Dominus omnipotens!

English.png English translation

Now we should praise the Guardian of heaven's kingdom,
the Creator's might, and His subtle thought,
the work of the Glorious Father; how He [all] wonders was,
eternal Lord, originally establishing.
He first shaped, for Earth's children,
heaven as roof, Holy Creator.
Then middle-Earth: mankind's Keeper,
eternal Lord, afterwards made
for men: our Earth. Master almighty!