This page contains a text in Old English with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old English Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old English language and its speakers' culture.
Wæs hé se mon in weoruldháde geseted oð ðá tíde þe hé wæs gelýfedre yldo, and hé næfre ænig léoð geleornade: and hé for þon oft in gebéorscipe, þonne þær wæs blisse intinga gedémed -- þæt híe ealle sceolden þurh endebyrdnesse be hearpan singan -- þonne hé geseah þá hearpan him néalæcan, þonne árás hé for scome from þæm symble, and hám éode tó his húse. Þá hé þæt þá sumre tíde dyde, þæt hé forlét þæt hús þæs gebéorscipes, and út wæs gongende tó néata scypene, þára heord him wæs þære nihte beboden, ðá hé þá þær in gelimplicre tíde his limo on reste gesette and onslæpte, þá stód him sum mon æt þurh swefn, and hine hálette and grétte, and hine be his naman nemde:
'Cædmon, sing mé hwæthwegu.'
Þá andswarode hé and cwæð: 'Ne con ic nóht singan, and ic for þon of þyssum gebéorscipe út éode, and hider gewát, for þon ic nóht cúðe.'
Eft hé cwæð sé þe mid him sprecende wæs: 'Hwæðere þú meaht mé singan.'
Cwæð hé: 'Hwæt sceal ic singan?'
Cwæð hé: 'Sing mé frumsceaft.'
Þá hé þá þás andsware onféng, ðá ongan hé sóna singan, in herenesse Godes Scyppendes, þá fers and þá word þe hé næfre ne gehýrde, þára endebyrdnes þis is:
Nú wé sculan herian heofonríces Weard,
Metodes mihte and his módgeþonc,
weorc Wuldorfæder; swá hé wundra gehwæs,
éce Dryhten, ord onstealde.
Hé ærest gesceóp eorðan bearnum
heofon tó hrófe, hálig Scyppend;
ðá middangeard, moncynnes Weard,
éce Dryhten, æfter téode
fírum foldan, Fréa ælmihtig.
He was a man appointed to secular life, up to the time that he was of advanced age, and he never learned any poetry. For that reason, often at the feast, when there was deemed to be cause for merriment -- so that they all in succession should sing to the harp -- when he saw the harp draw near to him, he arose from the feast out of shame and went home to his abode. Then one time he did this, so that he left the house of the feast and was going out to the cattle shed (their care was entrusted to him for the night). When at a suitable time he arranged his arms and legs on a resting place there, and fell asleep, a man stood by him in a dream and hailed and greeted him and called him by name:
"Caedmon, sing something for me."
Then answered he and said, "I can not sing, and because of this I went out from the feast and went here because I could (sing) naught."
Again he said (he who was speaking with him): "But you can sing to me."
Said he, "What shall I sing?"
He said, "Sing to me about the creation."
When he received this answer, he then began immediately to sing, in praise of God the Creator, those verses and those words which he had never ever heard; the arrangement of them is this:
|"Now we must praise the Lord of the kingdom of Heaven,|
|God's power and his purpose,|
|the work of the Father of Glory; thus he, of every wonder|
|the eternal Lord, established the beginning.|
|He first created, for the children of earth,|
|heaven for a roof, the holy Creator;|
|then the earth, mankind's Guardian,|
|the eternal Lord; afterwards settled|
|with men the earth, the Lord Almighty.|