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 (Orthographic recensional variants)

1a Nu] Nu ƿe ylda eorðe Nu pue eordu. 1a scylun] sculon eorðan ylda scwlun eordu sceolon eorðe. 1a hergan] herian ylda eorðe herigean eorðan herga eordu. 1b hefaenricaes] heofonrices eorðan ylda eorðe hefunricaes eordu. 1b uard] ƿeard eorðan ylda eorðe pueard eordu. 2a metudæs] meotodes eorðan metudes ylda eorðe metudaes eordu. 2a maecti] meahte eorðan myhte ylda mechti eordu mihte eorðe. 2b end] ond eorðan ylda eorðe and eordu. 2b modgidanc] modgeþanc eorðan ylda eorðe modgedanc eordu. 3a uerc] ƿeorc eorðan eorðe ƿurc ylda puerc eordu. 3a uuldurfadur] ƿuldorfæder eorðan ylda ƿulderfæder eorðe puldurfadur eordu. 3b sue] sƿa eorðan ylda eorðe suae eordu. 3b uundra] ƿundra eorðan ylda pundra eordu -- eorðe. 3b gihuaes] gehƿæs eorðan gehƿilc ylda -- eorðe. 4a eci] ece eorðan ylda -- eorðe. 4a dryctin] drihten eorðan ylda drichtin eordu -- eorðe. 4b or] ord ylda -- eorðe. 4b astelidæ] astealde ylda astalde eordu onstealde eorðan -- eorðe. 5a He] -- eorðe. 5a aerist] ærest eorðan ylda eorðe. 5a scop] sceop eorðan eorðe scoop eordu gescop ylda. 5b eordu] eordu eordu eorðe eorðe aelda aelda ylda ylda. 5b barnum] bearnum eorðan ylda eordu eorðe. 6a heben] heofon eorðan ylda eorðe hefen eordu. 6a til] to eorðan ylda eordu eorðe. 6b haleg] halig eorðan ylda eordu -- (transposed to end of poem) eorðe. 6b sceppend] scyppend eorðan ylda -- (transposed to end of poem) eorðe. 7a tha] þa eorðan eorðe da eordu -- ylda. 7a middungeard] middangeard eorðan eorðe middumgeard eordu middangearde ylda. 7b moncynnæs] moncynnes eorðan eorðe mancynnes ylda moncinnes eordu. 7b uard] ƿeard eorðan ylda eorðe peard eordu. 8a eci] ece eorðan ylda eorðe. 8a dryctin] drihten eorðan ylda eorðe drichtin eordu. 8b æfter] aefter eordu. 8b tiadæ] teode eorðan eorðe tiade eordu tida ylda. 9a firum] fyrum eorðe. 9a foldu] foldan eorðan on foldu eordu on folden eorðe on foldum ylda. 9b allmectig] ælmihtig eorðan 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.