Long before Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God is at hand, the prophet Daniel declared that the Lord’s kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Dan. 7:14). The first reference to Heaven’s Kingdom in the Old English language is in a hymn dating back to the seventh century, in which the songwriter-poet Caedmon declares that “the Eternal Lord, the guardian of mankind, established Heaven as a roof for the children of men, and created middle earth, and appointed lands for people.” He urges us to “praise the keeper of Heaven’s kingdom, the might of the Creator and His purposes, the work of the Father of glory.”
Unlike Daniel, Caedmon was neither literate nor musical. He was, in fact, a farm hand, who cared for the animals at Hilda’s great double monastery in Whitby. Bede, the earliest English historian, tells us that he dreaded the feast days when people sang and made music on the harp. In order to avoid having to take part, he sidled away one day and hid in the stables.
As Psalm 139:7ff reminds us, however, it is not so easy to escape from the Lord! Falling asleep amongst the horses, Caedmon met an unknown person in a dream, who took no notice whatsoever of his protestations concerning his lack of musical skill but commanded him instead just to sing. Obeying reluctantly the farm hand opened his mouth – and out flowed a beautiful song about creation, which he remembered clearly on waking. Continue reading