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 witness readings (parallel))

1a Nu] Nu aelda Nu pue eordu Nu eorðan Nu ƿe ylda Nu ƿe eorðe.

1a scylun] scylun aelda scwlun eordu sculon eorðan sculon ylda sceolon eorðe.

1a hergan] hergan aelda herga eordu herigean eorðan herian ylda herian eorðe.

1b hefaenricaes] hefaenricaes aelda hefunricaes eordu heofonrices eorðan heofonrices ylda heofonrices eorðe.

1b uard] uard aelda pueard eordu ƿeard eorðan ƿeard ylda ƿeard eorðe.

2a metudæs] metudæs aelda metudaes eordu meotodes eorðan metudes ylda metudes eorðe.

2a maecti] maecti aelda mechti eordu meahte eorðan myhte ylda mihte eorðe.

2b end] end aelda and eordu ond eorðan ond ylda ond eorðe.

2b his] his aelda his eordu his eorðan his ylda his eorðe.

2b modgidanc] modgidanc aelda modgedanc eordu modgeþanc eorðan modgeþanc ylda modgeþanc eorðe.

3a uerc] uerc aelda puerc eordu ƿeorc eorðan ƿurc ylda ƿeorc eorðe.

3a uuldurfadur] uuldurfadur aelda puldurfadur eordu ƿuldorfæder eorðan ƿuldorfæder ylda ƿulderfæder eorðe.

3b sue] sue aelda suae eordu sƿa eorðan sƿa ylda sƿa eorðe.

3b he] he aelda he eordu he eorðan he ylda he eorðe.

3b uundra] uundra aelda pundra eordu ƿundra eorðan ƿundra ylda -- 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 drichtin eordu drihten eorðan drihten ylda -- eorðe.

4b or] or aelda or eordu or eorðan ord ylda -- eorðe.

4b astelidæ] astelidæ aelda astalde eordu onstealde eorðan astealde ylda -- eorðe.

5a He] He aelda He eordu He eorðan He ylda -- eorðe.

5a aerist] aerist aelda aerist eordu ærest eorðan ærest ylda ærest eorðe.

5a scop] scop aelda scoop eordu sceop eorðan gescop ylda sceop eorðe.

5b eordu] aelda aelda eordu eordu eorðan eorðan ylda ylda eorðe eorðe.

5b barnum] barnum aelda bearnum eordu bearnum eorðan bearnum ylda bearnum eorðe.

6a heben] heben aelda hefen eordu heofon eorðan heofon ylda heofon eorðe.

6a til] til aelda to eordu to eorðan to ylda to eorðe.

6a hrofe] hrofe aelda hrofe eordu hrofe eorðan hrofe ylda hrofe eorðe.

6b haleg] haleg aelda halig eordu halig eorðan halig ylda -- (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 da eordu þa eorðan -- ylda Þa eorðe.

7a middungeard] middungeard aelda middumgeard eordu middangeard eorðan middangearde ylda middangeard eorðe.

7b moncynnæs] moncynnæs aelda moncinnes eordu moncynnes eorðan mancynnes ylda moncynnes eorðe.

7b uard] uard aelda peard eordu ƿeard eorðan ƿeard ylda ƿeard eorðe.

8a eci] eci aelda eci eordu ece eorðan ece ylda ece eorðe.

8a dryctin] dryctin aelda drichtin eordu drihten eorðan drihten ylda drihten eorðe.

8b æfter] æfter aelda aefter eordu æfter eorðan æfter ylda æfter eorðe.

8b tiadæ] tiadæ aelda tiade eordu teode eorðan tida ylda teode eorðe.

9a firum] firum aelda firum eordu firum eorðan firum ylda fyrum eorðe.

9a foldu] foldu aelda on foldu eordu foldan eorðan on foldum ylda on eorðe.

9b frea] frea aelda frea eordu frea eorðan frea ylda frea eorðe.

9b allmectig] allmectig aelda allmechtig eordu ælmihtig eorðan ælmihtig ylda 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.