While Hilda guided the fortunes of Whitby Abbey, another legend sprang alive, that of Caedmon, who has been acknowledged as ‘The Father of English Sacred Song’. Caedmon was a brother at the monastery whose main duty appears to have been tending horses. Not a young man and ill-educated, after evening dinner when everyone took turns to entertain those present at the table, it was Caedmon’s habit to slip away before he could be embarrassed by his lack of talent.
One night he left the gathering and went to settle the horses. Later after falling asleep, a stranger appeared in his dreams and asked him to sing (reciting was considered to be ‘singing’ in those days). When Caedmon answered he was unable to, the stranger assured him he could, then commanded the sleeping brother to sing about the Creation. To his amazement, Caedmon began to sing while he dreamed. The next morning when he awoke, he remembered all the words