Cædmon’s Hymn

A reconstruction of the hypothetical written ancestor to all surviving recensions of the poem

Based on M (orthographic forms) and the West-Saxon eorðan recension (substantive readings) with collations from the Northumbrian aelda recension, the Northumbrian eordu recension, the West-Saxon eorðe recension, and the West-Saxon ylda recension.

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    Nu scylun[1] hergan      hefaenricaes uard,

    metudæs maecti,      end his modgidanc,

    uerc uuldurfadur      sue[2] he uundra gihuaes,

    eci dryctin,      or astelidæ!

5     He aerist scop      eordu barnum

    heben til hrofe,      haleg sceppend;

    tha[3] middungeard,      moncynnæs uard,

    eci dryctin,      æfter tiadæ

    firum foldu,      frea allmectig.

Apparatus (All Recension readings (analytic))

1a Nu] {([Nu aelda Nu eorðan])}{([Nu ƿe ylda Nu ƿe eorðe])([Nu pue eordu])}.

1a scylun] {([scylun aelda][sculon eorðan sculon ylda][scwlun eordu][sceolon eorðe])}.

1a hergan] {([hergan aelda][herian ylda herian eorðe][herigean eorðan][herga eordu])}.

1b hefaenricaes] {([hefaenricaes aelda][heofonrices eorðan heofonrices ylda heofonrices eorðe][hefunricaes eordu])}.

1b uard] {([uard aelda][ƿeard eorðan ƿeard ylda ƿeard eorðe])([pueard eordu])}.

2a metudæs] {([metudæs aelda][meotodes eorðan][metudes ylda metudes eorðe][metudaes eordu])}.

2a maecti] {([maecti aelda][meahte eorðan][myhte ylda][mechti eordu][mihte eorðe])}.

2b end] {([end aelda])([ond eorðan ond ylda ond eorðe][and eordu])}.

2b his] {([his aelda his eorðan his ylda his eordu his eorðe])}.

2b modgidanc] {([modgidanc aelda][modgeþanc eorðan modgeþanc ylda modgeþanc eorðe][modgedanc eordu])}.

3a uerc] {([uerc aelda][ƿeorc eorðan ƿeorc eorðe][ƿurc ylda])([puerc eordu])}.

3a uuldurfadur] {([uuldurfadur aelda][ƿuldorfæder eorðan ƿuldorfæder ylda][ƿulderfæder eorðe])([puldurfadur eordu])}.

3b sue] {([sue aelda][sƿa eorðan sƿa ylda sƿa eorðe][suae eordu])}.

3b he] {([he aelda he eorðan he ylda he eordu he eorðe])}.

3b uundra] {([uundra aelda][ƿundra eorðan ƿundra ylda])([pundra eordu])}{([-- eorðe])}.

3b gihuaes] {([gihuaes aelda gihuaes eordu][gehƿæs eorðan])}{([gehƿilc ylda])}{([-- eorðe])}.

4a eci] {([eci aelda eci eordu][ece eorðan ece ylda])}{([-- eorðe])}.

4a dryctin] {([dryctin aelda][drihten eorðan drihten ylda][drichtin eordu])}{([-- eorðe])}.

4b or] {([or aelda or eorðan or eordu])}{([ord ylda])}{([-- eorðe])}.

4b astelidæ] {([astelidæ aelda])([astealde ylda][astalde eordu])}{([onstealde eorðan])}{([-- eorðe])}.

5a He] {([He aelda He eorðan He ylda He eordu])}{([-- eorðe])}.

5a aerist] {([aerist aelda aerist eordu][ærest eorðan ærest ylda ærest eorðe])}.

5a scop] {([scop aelda][sceop eorðan sceop eorðe][scoop eordu])}{([gescop ylda])}.

5b eordu] {([eorðan eorðan][eordu eordu])([eorðe eorðe])}{([aelda aelda][ylda ylda])}.

5b barnum] {([barnum aelda][bearnum eorðan bearnum ylda bearnum eordu bearnum eorðe])}.

6a heben] {([heben aelda][heofon eorðan heofon ylda heofon eorðe][hefen eordu])}.

6a til] {([til aelda])}{([to eorðan to ylda to eordu to eorðe])}.

6a hrofe] {([hrofe aelda hrofe eorðan hrofe ylda hrofe eordu hrofe eorðe])}.

6b haleg] {([haleg aelda][halig eorðan halig ylda halig eordu])}{([-- (transposed to end of poem) eorðe])}.

6b sceppend] {([sceppend aelda sceppend eordu][scyppend eorðan scyppend ylda])}{([-- (transposed to end of poem) eorðe])}.

7a tha] {([tha aelda][þa eorðan Þa eorðe][da eordu])}{([-- ylda])}.

7a middungeard] {([middungeard aelda][middangeard eorðan middangeard eorðe])([middumgeard eordu])}{([middangearde ylda])}.

7b moncynnæs] {([moncynnæs aelda][moncynnes eorðan moncynnes eorðe][mancynnes ylda][moncinnes eordu])}.

7b uard] {([uard aelda][ƿeard eorðan ƿeard ylda ƿeard eorðe])([peard eordu])}.

8a eci] {([eci aelda eci eordu][ece eorðan ece ylda ece eorðe])}.

8a dryctin] {([dryctin aelda][drihten eorðan drihten ylda drihten eorðe][drichtin eordu])}.

8b æfter] {([æfter aelda æfter eorðan æfter ylda æfter eorðe][aefter eordu])}.

8b tiadæ] {([tiadæ aelda][teode eorðan teode eorðe][tiade eordu])}{([tida ylda])}.

9a firum] {([firum aelda firum eorðan firum ylda firum eordu][fyrum eorðe])}.

9a foldu] {([foldu aelda][foldan eorðan])}{([on foldu eordu][on folden eorðe])}{([on foldum ylda])}.

9b frea] {([frea aelda frea eorðan frea ylda frea eordu frea eorðe])}.

9b allmectig] {([allmectig aelda][ælmihtig eorðan ælmihtig ylda][allmechtig eordu])}{([ælmihtig halig scyppend eorðe])}.


[1]scylun] scylun is either first person plural with an unexpressed subject (i.e. [ƿue/ƿe] scylun), or third person plural with uerc uuldurfadur, 3a, as subject. The former interpretation is supported by the form in Bede’s paraphrase, debemus; but the latter interpretation is suggested by a lack of convincing syntactic parallels in Old English (see especially Mitchell 1985b), and, perhaps, similar syntax in the Benedicite (Stanley 2002, 3). See above, §§ 5.18-5.20 and 2.43. scylun (and variant spellings) appears without a pronominal subject in all witnesses to the Northumbrian aelda recension (i.e. P and M) and the earliest witnesses to the West-Saxon eorðan recension (N, O [Pre-Correction], and T1). All other recensions and later manuscripts of the West-Saxon eorðan recension have a variant of ƿue/ƿe as subject.

[2]sue] Howlett suggests that sue may be intended as an adverb (“thus”) rather than a causal conjunction (“as, because”). For a discussion of the evidence, see above, § C.9. The punctuation here assumes sue is a conjunction.

[3]tha] tha can be construed as either a causal conjunction (“when”) or an adverb (“then”). While the reading has considerable effect on our understanding of the poem’s structure and theology (see above, § C.9, and esp. Blockley 1998, 20-26), neither reading can be ruled out conclusively. The punctuation in this edition follows that of most modern editions in treating tha as an adverb.