Who Was Caedmon?

Caedmon has been described as ‘the first English poet’ and ‘the father of English song’.  He was gifted in paraphrasing the Latin scriptures into the ordinary language of the day through poetic verse and song and he is considered to have been the first to write this particular type and form of religious poetry in the English language. 

Caedmon’s story is told by Bede in ‘An Ecclesiastical History of the English People’.  He was a herdsman who lived in the area of Whitby in the seventh century and during his lifetime composed many songs based on the scriptures.

Caedmon died in 680AD and was buried at Whitby Abbey where his shrine became an important centre of pilgrimage in the North.  Unfortunately, apart from the nine lines recorded by Bede none of Caedmon’s poems seem to have survived, despite the fact that their influence in teaching the Christian faith was equal to that of the wall-paintings and stained-glass windows in the early churches.