Monday, 24 September 2012


Recently, while on Lindisfarne, I came across the story of Caedmon which was new to me. Perhaps he should be the patron saint of those who think that life has passed them by. Or maybe those who have unfulfilled dreams. Caedmon was a cowherd who was illiterate and, by all accounts, not in the least bit musical. He was probably one of that unfortunate group whom primary school music teachers call 'growlers'. Certainly, legend has it, if, after a day's work, the villagers were relaxing by singing songs around the harp, Caedmon was so embarrassed by his inability to sing in tune that he would slip away, back to his cows.

One night, he had a dream in which an unknown visitor came to him and encouraged him to sing. Refusing to take 'no' for an answer, this stranger commanded him to sing about the creation of the world. (Do you remember the passage in the Narnia Chronicles where Aslan sings the world into being?) Eventually, Caedmon began to sing and a local farmer heard him and was so impressed that he took him to meet Hilda, the Abbess at Whitby. She must have seen (or heard) something exceptional in this poor, illiterate cowherd. She instructed him in some passages of scripture and invited him to set them to music. Before long, Caedmon returned to the monastery with a haunting melody to which he had set the scripture Hilda had given him. Hilda encouraged him to join the brothers at the monastery and pursue his new-found talent for music. Over time, Caedmon became well known as a poet and composer whose music was said by all who heard it to point the soul to God.

An inspiring story of untapped potential - and thank God for the Hildas of this world who can discern giftedness where no one else can and then follow it up by believing in the person and encouraging them to begin a new journey!


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