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 B1, Bd (parallel view only), Br, Ca, CArms, Di, H, Hr, Ld, Ln, Mg, N, O, P, P1, SanM, T1, To, Tr1, W.

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    Nu scylun hergan[2]      hefaenricaes uard,

    metudæs maecti,      end his modgidanc,

    uerc uuldurfadur      sue[3] he uundra gihuaes,

    eci dryctin,      or astelidæ!

5     He aerist scop      eordu barnum

    heben til hrofe,      haleg sceppend;

    tha[4] middungeard,      moncynnæs uard,

    eci dryctin,      æfter tiadæ

    firum foldu,      frea allmectig.

Apparatus (Orthographic witness variants)

1a Nu] Ne N Nu ƿe H W Mg Ln B1 To O (Post-Correction) Ca Hr CArms Ld Nu pe Tr1 SanM Nu pue Di Nu puc P1 Br. 1a scylun hergan] scilun herga P scwlun herga Di scinlun horga Br sculon hergean N sculon herigean T1 sculan herian O sceolan herigean Ca sceolon herian To CArms sceolan herian Hr Ld sculon herian H W Mg SanM sculun herian Ln sceolon herion Tr1 scııılııı herga P1 herigan sculon B1. 1b hefaenricaes] hefenricæs P heofonrices T1 B1 To N O Ca Hr Ld H W Mg Ln SanM heofanrices CArms heofenrices Tr1 hefunrıcaes Di hesıııȷrıııcaes P1 hesimruicaes Br. 1b uard] pueard Di P1 Br ƿeard T1 B1 To N O Ca Hr CArms Ld H W Mg Ln peard Tr1 SanM. 2a metudæs] meotodes T1 metodes B1 To N O Ca W metudes Hr CArms Ld H Mg Ln Tr1 metudaes Di mecudes SanM ıııetııııdaes P1 metundaes Br. 2a maecti] mehti P mechtı Di P1 Br meahte T1 mihte B1 To N O Ca Hr CArms Ld W Mg Tr1 SanM myhte H michte Ln. 2b end] and P Di P1 Br Ond N T1 B1 To O Ca Hr CArms Ld H W Mg Ln Tr1 æ SanM. 2b modgidanc] ıııodgedaııc P1 modgedauc Br modgedeanc Di modgithanc P modgeþanc T1 B1 To Ca Hr Ld H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM modgeþonc N O modreþanc CArms. 3a uerc] ƿeorc T1 B1 To Hr Ld W Ln ƿurc H Mg peorc Tr1 pure SanM seorc CArms puere P1 Br puerc Di ƿeoroda N ƿero O (Pre-Correction) ƿera O (Post-Correction) Ca. 3a uuldurfadur] ƿuldorfæder T1 N O Ca W Mg Ln ƿulderfæder To Hr CArms Ld ƿuldarfæder H puldorfæder SanM puldorfeder Tr1 puldurfudur Di fadur P1 Br ƿuldorgodes B1. 3b sue] suae Di P1 Br sƿa T1 B1 To N O Ca Hr Ld H W Mg Ln sua CArms spa Tr1 SanM. 3b he] hae Di -- CArms. 3b uundra] ƿundra T1 B1 To N O Ld H W Mg Ln pundra Tr1 Di P1 Br ƿundre CArms pnndra SanM ƿuldres Ca -- Hr. 3b gihuaes] gihuæs P gehƿæs T1 To N O Ca Ld geƿas CArms gihnaes Br fela B1 -- Hr gehƿilc H W Mg gehƿylc Ln gehpilc SanM gehpylc Tr1. 4a eci] ece T1 B1 To N O Ca CArms Ld H W Mg Tr1 eche Ln ecce SanM -- Hr. 4a dryctin] drıchtın Di P1 Br drihten T1 B1 To N Ca H W Mg Ln Tr1 CArms Ld dryhten O dridhten SanM -- Hr. 4b or] ord B1 Ca H Mg Ln Tr1 SanM oord O ær To -- Hr Ld CArms ƿord W. 4b astelidæ] astealde H W Ln Tr1 B1 To astalde Di P1 Mg astnlde Br astald SanM onstealde T1 N O Ca -- Hr Ld CArms. 5a He] Hu Tr1 her P1 -- Hr þa he CArms Ld. 5a aerist] ærist P ærest T1 B1 N O Hr CArms Ld H Mg SanM ærost To æræst W ærust Ln erust Tr1 æres Ca uaerst Di aeırst P1. 5a scop] scoop Di P1 Br sceop T1 B1 To Hr Ld gescop W Mg Ln Tr1 Ca gesceop H O gestop SanM. 5b eordu] eordu Di P1 Br eorðe Hr CArms Ld eorþū N aelda M ylda H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM aeldu P. 5b barnum] barnū M bearnum B1 O Mg Ln Tr1 SanM Di bearnū T1 To N Ca Hr CArms Ld H W pearıııım P1 peannum Br. 6a heben] hefen P Br efen Di P1 heofon T1 B1 To N O Ca Hr CArms Ld H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM. 6a til] to P Di P1 Br T1 B1 To N O Ca Hr CArms Ld H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM. 6a hrofe] hrofæ P rofe W Mg SanM Ca CArms hrope Tr1. 6b haleg] halig P Di P1 Br T1 B1 To N O Ca H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM -- Hr Ld CArms. 6b sceppend] scyppend T1 B1 O Ca H Mg Ln Tr1 scypend N scippend W styppend SanM scepen M drihten To -- Hr Ld CArms. 7a tha] da Di P1 da̽ Br ða O þa T1 To N Ca Hr CArms Ld þe B1 -- H Mg Ln Tr1 W SanM. 7a middungeard] middingard P middangeard T1 B1 N Ca Hr CArms Ld middongeard O middaneard To mıddumgeard Di P1 middumgaerd Br middangearde H Mg Ln Tr1 middanearde W myddangearde SanM. 7b moncynnæs] moncınnes Di moncynnes T1 N O Ca Hr CArms Ld manncynnes B1 W mancynnes To H Mg mankynnes Ln Tr1 moııeıııııes P1 Br mancimes SanM. 7b uard] ƿeard T1 B1 To N O Ca Hr CArms Ld H W Mg Ln peard Di P1 Br Tr1 pærd SanM. 8a eci] ece T1 B1 To N O Ca Hr CArms Ld H W Mg Tr1 eche Ln ecce SanM eeı P1 Br. 8a dryctin] drihten T1 B1 To N CArms Ld H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM Hr drih Ca dryhten O drıntın Di drıchtıııı P1 drichtin Br. 8b æfter] æfť To Ca After SanM aefter P1 Br cefter Di tefter Hr epter Tr1. 8b tiadæ] tıade Di P1 teode T1 B1 To O Ca Hr Ld ciade Br eode N -- CArms tida H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM. 9a firum] firū Ca fyrum B1 Ld W fyrū Hr sysū CArms finū N pirum Tr1. 9a foldu] foldan T1 B1 To N O Ca on foldu Di ol foldu P1 Br on folden Hr CArms Ld on foldum H W Mg Ln SanM on poldum Tr1. 9b frea] fre Br CArms euca Tr1. 9b allmectig] allmehtig P allmechtıg Di P1 Br ælmihtig T1 B1 To N O Ca Mg Ln ælmyhtig H ealmihti W elmihtig Tr1 ælmihtes SanM ælmihtig halig scyppeod Hr Ld almnhtyg halig scyppend CArms.


[2]scylun] scylun is either first person plural with an unexpressed subject (i.e. [uue] scilun), 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). As Mitchell points out, there are parallels to uerc as subject.

In addition to P and M, scilun (and variant spellings) is found without uue or equivalent in N the uncorrected form of O, and T1 (all reflecting early forms of the West-Saxon eorðan recension); the fact that the West-Saxon eorðan recension appears to acquire a we in the course of its transmission indicates how this reading could have arisen through scribal trivialisation. See also §§ 5.18-5.20 for a discussion.

[3]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.

[4]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.