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 (Substantive 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] sculon herigean T1 O Ca To CArms Hr Ld H W Mg SanM Ln Tr1 scııılııı herga P1 herigan sculon B1. 1b hefaenricaes] hesıııȷrıııcaes P1 Br. 1b uard] peard Tr1 SanM. 2a metudæs] mecudes SanM ıııetııııdaes P1 Br. 2b end] and P Di P1 Br N T1 B1 To O Ca Hr CArms Ld H W Mg Ln Tr1 æ SanM. 2b modgidanc] modreþanc CArms. 3a uerc] peorc Tr1 pure SanM seorc CArms puere P1 Br puerc Di ƿeoroda N ƿero O (Pre-Correction) ƿera O (Post-Correction) Ca. 3a uuldurfadur] puldorfæder SanM puldorfeder Tr1 puldurfudur Di fadur P1 Br ƿuldorgodes B1. 3b sue] spa Tr1 SanM. 3b he] hae Di -- CArms. 3b uundra] pundra Tr1 Di P1 Br ƿundre CArms pnndra SanM ƿuldres Ca -- Hr. 3b gihuaes] geƿas CArms gihnaes Br fela B1 -- Hr gehƿilc H W Mg Ln gehpilc SanM Tr1. 4a eci] -- Hr. 4a dryctin] dridhten SanM -- Hr. 4b or] ord B1 Ca H Mg Ln Tr1 SanM O ær To -- Hr Ld CArms ƿord W. 4b astelidæ] astealde H W Ln Tr1 B1 To 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] uaerst Di aeırst P1. 5a scop] gescop W Mg Ln Tr1 Ca H O gestop SanM. 5b eordu] eorðe Hr CArms Ld eorþum N aelda M H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM aeldu P. 5b barnum] pearıııım P1 peannum Br. 6a til] to P Di P1 Br T1 B1 To N O Ca Hr CArms Ld H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM. 6a hrofe] hrope Tr1. 6b haleg] -- Hr Ld CArms. 6b sceppend] styppend SanM scepen M drihten To -- Hr Ld CArms. 7a tha] þe B1 -- H Mg Ln Tr1 W SanM. 7a middungeard] mıddumgeard Di P1 middumgaerd Br middangearde H Mg Ln Tr1 W SanM. 7b moncynnæs] moııeıııııes P1 Br mancimes SanM. 7b uard] peard Di P1 Br Tr1 pærd SanM. 8a eci] eeı P1 Br. 8a dryctin] drıntın Di drıchtıııı P1 drichtin Br. 8b æfter] cefter Di tefter Hr epter Tr1. 8b tiadæ] ciade Br eode N -- CArms tida H W Mg Ln Tr1 SanM. 9a firum] sysum CArms finum 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] 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.