Caedmon wrote many of the Bible’s central passages in the form of Old English poems according to the English historian Bede.
Caedmon was an Anglo-Saxon herdsman (basically a serf) who lived at the Abbey of Whitby sometime between AD 650-680, Northumberland.
The Abbey was a double monastery and convent – one side for men, the other for women, founded in 657 by St. Hilda, or “Hild”, whose father was a nephew of King Edwin of Northumberland.
Caedmon was initially an illiterate herdsman at the abbey – he could not read, write, or play a musical instrument.
Bede recorded that Caedmon could meditate on a passage of scripture or doctrine, and write a song overnight. Caedmon is probably the earliest known English poet. He may never have learned Latin – it appears that he wrote in an early Anglo-Saxon dialect, which others translated into Latin. About 20 early manuscripts of Bede’s History exist; some of them include Anglo-Saxon versions of Caedmon’s hymn along with the Latin translation.
Bede (pronounced Bae-duh) (672-735) was born during the time of Hilda and Caedmon, and lived most of his life in the monastery of Jarrow, which was also in Northumbria. . Bede was one of the earliest English historians; he also translated parts of the Bible.