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Origins: Caedmon's Hymn

16 Oct 18 - 11:00 AM (#3956902)
Subject: BS: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Dave the Gnome

In Whitby (Yorkshire UK for those not in the know) there is a pub called 'The Middle Earth'. I had always assumed there was some sort of Tolkeinian connection but never really figured out how. Over the weekend however I discovered that Caedmon, Anglo Saxon poet and previously stable hand at Whitby Abbey until his miraculous conversion from being an illiterate peasant to being a major poet, wrote the following lines -

Now let me praise the keeper of Heaven's kingdom,
The might of the Creator, and his thought,
The work of the Father of glory, how each of wonders
The Eternal Lord established in the beginning.
He first created for the sons of men
Heaven as a roof, the holy Creator,
Then Middle-earth the keeper of mankind,
The Eternal Lord, afterwards made,
The earth for men, the Almighty Lord.


Eeeee, thought I, you live and learn!


16 Oct 18 - 12:12 PM (#3956909)
Subject: RE: BS: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Iains

Midgard (an anglicised form of Old Norse Miðgarðr; Old English Middangeard, Swedish and Danish Midgård, Old Saxon Middilgard, Old High German Mittilagart, Gothic Midjun-gards; "middle yard") is the name for Earth inhabited by and known to humans in early Germanic cosmology, and specifically one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology. It has been a part of NW European mythology for a long time. Both Caedmon and Tolkien borrowed from mythology. Asgard seems to have been changed a little by Caedmon.


16 Oct 18 - 12:33 PM (#3956914)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: GUEST,Jack Campin

Is that the bit that the serial killer in Peter Robinson's Caedmon's Song recites in the original Anglo-Saxon while disembowelling his victim?


16 Oct 18 - 12:50 PM (#3956919)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Dave the Gnome

Dunno, Jack. Never seen it. Did he have any connection with Whitby?


16 Oct 18 - 12:53 PM (#3956920)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: GUEST,Jack Campin

It's a brilliant book, and yes most of it happens in Whitby. There is a sequel, the name of which I forget and which I haven't read yet. The two are sometimes sold in a single volume.


16 Oct 18 - 01:15 PM (#3956924)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Dave the Gnome

I'm back for a while this weekend. I shall trawl some bookshops! Thanks, Jack.


16 Oct 18 - 02:30 PM (#3956937)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Helen

Thanks for this thread Dave the G. I studied Anglo-Saxon at Uni and loved it. I started trying to re-read Beowulf a couple of years ago. I was doing ok but then got sidetracked by other things.

Perhaps you should investigate these:


Gnomic Verses

They might be about you. LOL


16 Oct 18 - 02:43 PM (#3956943)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Dave the Gnome

Thanks, Helen, I have saved that link and will treasure it.

To those interested, here is the Anglo Saxon version of Caedmon's Hymn. I suspect some characters have been incorrectly translated though :-(

Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard
metudæs maecti end his modgidanc
uerc uuldurfadur sue he uundra gihuaes
eci dryctin or astelidæ
he aerist scop aelda barnum
heben til hrofe haleg scepen.
tha middungeard moncynnæs uard
eci dryctin æfter tiadæ
firum foldu frea allmectigprimo cantauit Cædmon istud carmen.



Nu scilun herga hefenricæs uard
metudæs mehti and his modgithanc
uerc uuldurfadur sue he uundra gihuæs
eci dryctin or astelidæ.
he ærist scop ældu barnum
hefen to hrofæ halig sceppend
tha middingard moncynn&ealig; s uard
eci dryctin æfter tiadæ
firum foldu frea allmehtig


16 Oct 18 - 03:31 PM (#3956947)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Dave the Gnome

I think that is the same verse in Anglo Saxon and in something else. I dunno what the something else is though. Helen? Do you know?


16 Oct 18 - 09:43 PM (#3957023)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: leeneia

Dave, I think they are the same poem transliterated in different ways.

Thanks for posting it. It's interesting.


17 Oct 18 - 02:56 AM (#3957048)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Dave the Gnome

I wondered about that leeneia. Second is possibly phonetic?


17 Oct 18 - 05:04 AM (#3957059)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: GUEST,Jack Campin

Both versions have HTML encoding typos.

Wikipedia says there are 19 surviving manuscripts of it, and considering that, these differences are insignificant.


17 Oct 18 - 07:09 AM (#3957085)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Helen

Firstly, I studied Anglo Saxon 40 years ago, so most of the brain cells which were in use then have slowly melted away, along with my memory. I'm very rusty at it.

I think the two verses are the same but with different spelling choices. The verse may have been written down by two different scribes with different ideas of how to spell the Anglo Saxon words, but also there are a couple of alpha characters which are not shown in either version.

In Sweet's Anglo Saxon Reader in Prose & Verse, the note for Caedmon's Hymn says there are four copies of the hymn in a Northumbrian form. West-Saxon form is also mentioned so I think they might be variations relating to differences in dialect. The first verse quoted by D the G is from the Moore manuscript and the second one is from the Leningrad manuscript.

A bit confusing.

This bit is in Latin:

primo cantauit Cædmon istud carmen, which is translated as Caedmon first sang this song, so it is an editor's note.


17 Oct 18 - 07:35 AM (#3957088)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Dave the Gnome

Great stuff - thanks Helen. You can get any information you need on Mudcat. Who needs Google :-)


17 Oct 18 - 05:02 PM (#3957182)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Helen

Gnomic verses aka Maxims I


sample of Anglo Saxon language - Maxims II

Gnomic verses aka Maxims II

Translation of first few:

A king must keep the realm. A city seen from afar,
the cunning work of giants, some remain upon the earth,

the ornate handiwork of wall-stones. The wind is the swiftest in the sky—
thunder is loudest in the moment. Christ’s powers are mighty.

The way of the world is greatest. Winter is the coldest,
the spring most icy—it’s cold for the longest—

the summer the most sun-beautiful—the heaven is hottest—
the harvest is most blessed, it brings to men

the whole year’s crops, what God sends to them.
The truth is very tricky, treasure the dearest,

and gold is for every man, the old man is the wisest,
aged in ancient years, who has experienced many events.

Woe is wondrously tenacious—the clouds keep rolling.


My quick reading/catching up via Google shows that the Gnomic verses were for memorising information or short wise phrases or concepts, e.g. like proverbs. That explains why it is is disjointed, unrelated phrases.

Helen


17 Oct 18 - 05:21 PM (#3957184)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Dave the Gnome

Akin to my own ramblings, some would have it! :-)


17 Oct 18 - 05:40 PM (#3957187)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Helen

Now for the fun bit:

You can read the Anglo Saxon words with a bit of help with the pronunciation.

'f' when placed between vowels can be pronounced 'v' e.g. 'haerfest' = 'harvest'. My favourite A-S word in 'hafoc' which is 'hawk' and a hawk causes havoc in the field among it's prey.

'sc' is pronounced 'sh' so 'biscop' is 'bishop', 'scyld' is 'shield'.

The vowel sounds were slightly different, but close enough, e.g. 'cealdost' = 'coldest'.

The two alpha characters in the alphabet, known as thorn and eth which you can Google ("Anglo Saxon thorn eth") have a 'th' sound.

Thorn looks like a 'p' (lower case) with the vertical stroke above and below the line. Eth (lower case) looks like a 'd' but with a left curving vertical stroke and a cross bar on it. Anywhere those two characters are shown in a word the sound is "th".

So 'eordan' (with the different d character) is 'earth', 'byd" is 'be-eth' (i.e. 'is'), 'bringed' is 'bringeth'.

'ge' is pronounced 'y' with the not-quite a vowel sound, half way between a vowel and an 'u' sound. Like the first 'o' in 'potato' if you pronounce it 'putt-a-to' with the accent on the 'a'. 'ge' before a word sort of changes it like 'weorc' = 'work' and 'geweorc' = 'workings'.

'geares' is pronounced 'years'.

'be' in front of a word is exactly the same as modern English. 'Before', 'beset', 'behind', and 'for' in front of a word, same as our words, e.g. 'forget', 'forgo, 'forswear' but 'fore' is 'in front of' so 'foreword', etc.

Some similarities to modern German language, which I only - regrettably - studied briefly at school. German 'forgessen' = 'forget', 'forgot', forgotten'.

So now you might be able to read some of the text I linked to in the sample Anglo Saxon link in my previous post.

Remember the sort of life they lived: axes, swords, earth, sky, heaven, hawk, tree, etc. Same words different spelling and pronunciation.

Go for it. Have fun!


17 Oct 18 - 06:23 PM (#3957189)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Helen

Forgot to say, a 'c' at the beginning of a word is pronounced 'k' so 'cyning' is 'kinning' or maybe 'koo-ning' (access on first syllable) = king.


18 Oct 18 - 03:08 AM (#3957226)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Dave the Gnome

Interesting little You Tube clip here -

What If English Were Phonetically Consistent?

I think it sounds quite Anglo Saxon or Old English.

Well, not compared to Caedmon's hymn but I think you will see what I mean.


18 Oct 18 - 05:47 AM (#3957237)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: Helen

Funny!


19 Oct 18 - 03:12 AM (#3957369)
Subject: RE: Origins: Caedmon's Hymn
From: GUEST

Caedmon's Hymn has survived in two or three different dialect forms of Anglo-Saxon, which is why you'll find variants in various editions of A-S poetry.

I set it to music a few years ago. If anyone's interested to see the music, you can write to me privately at realjillrogoff@gmail.com .

Jill Rogoff