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The 19th of November is the feast day of Abess Hilda of Whitby, and I am posting this poem in her honour a couple of days early so that those who wish to copy or use it in services or for personal prayer on the day can do so. Saint Hilda was great leader of the Church in England and the first patron of English Christian poetry. She also presided at the crucial and controversial Synod of Whitby and brought that Synod to a fruitful and peaceful conclusion. gas 0095 When I posted this sonnet on her feast day some years ago it happened that the church’s General Synod was meeting and I had that in mind as part of my prayerful remembrance of Hilda, as you will hear in the preamble to the recording of the poem.

According to Bede, Cædmon was a lay brother who cared for the animals at the monastery Streonæshalch (now known as Whitby Abbey). One evening, while the monks were feasting, singing, and playing a harp, Cædmon left early to sleep with the animals because he knew no songs. f gas regulations The impression clearly given by St. Bede is that he lacked the knowledge of how to compose the lyrics to songs. While asleep, he had a dream in which “someone” ( quidam) approached him and asked him to sing principium creaturarum, “the beginning of created things.” After first refusing to sing, Cædmon subsequently produced a short eulogistic poem praising God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

Upon awakening the next morning, Cædmon remembered everything he had sung and added additional lines to his poem. types of electricity consumers He told his foreman about his dream and gift and was taken immediately to see the abbess. The abbess and her counsellors asked Cædmon about his vision and, satisfied that it was a gift from God, gave him a new commission, this time for a poem based on “a passage of sacred history or doctrine”, (account taken from this Wiki article )

So as I remember Hilda with thanksgiving I also give thanks for all the churches and church leaders who have been patrons of the arts and especially those who have found a space and place for poetry in liturgy. I give thanks too for all those churches who have chosen to weave my own poems into liturgy and sermons and pray that those words have been fruitful

Thank you so much for this sonnet. q gastrobar leblon I was Rector of Whitby some years ago and I feel that you have expressed some essential aspects of Hild very well indeed. Looking at the lovely item makes me ask whether you know that there is a medieval piece of window glass depicting Hilda in St. electricity projects ks2 Lawrence Church, Warkworth (where I now live). It is one of only two medieval pieces, the other being of St. Brigid. I often ask myself how they survived, and what their survival says about the honour in which these saints were held.

Your sonnet talks of our need for reconciliation, in all sorts of ways. I think that Hilda is enormously important in the history of our relationship with continental Europe. She went with the decision at Whitby, which meant a departure from the ways she loved, but by doing so, she ensured that the English (and British) Church became part of the greater whole. electricity nw The consequences were not only ecclesiastical, but also cultural, scholarly and political. The Synod of Streonshalh was no historical byway. What does it say to our present dilemma?