A Monastic Hymn for St Bede the Venerable


Christ was his King. No other lord
Did Bede aspire to serve.
No other love could claim the heart
He gave without reserve.

From boyhood onward his delight
Was in the scriptures found,
Or singing praise to him who hung
Upon the Rood, thorn-crowned.

Like Easter night, Bede’s quiet cell
Saw Christ arising there;
And when Ascension dawned at last
The Son shone bright and fair.

To Christ the King of glory sing,
And God the Father praise,
Whose Spirit dwells in peaceful hearts
And guides them in his ways.

If you enter Bede’s name in the search box in the sidebar, a number of posts about him will be indicated.

The St Petersburg Bede (Saint Petersburg, National Library of Russia, lat. Q. v. I. 18), formerly known as the Leningrad Bede, is an early surviving illuminated manuscript of Bede’s eighth century history, the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’). It was taken to the Russian National Library of St Petersburg at the time of the French Revolution. Although not heavily illuminated, it is famous for containing the earliest historiated initial (i.e one containing a picture) in European illumination. The opening three letters of Book 2 of Bede’s history are decorated, to a height of 8 lines of the text, and the opening ‘h’ contains a bust portrait of a haloed figure carrying a cross and a book. This is probably intended to be St.Gregory the Great, although a much later hand has identified the figure as St. Augustine of Canterbury. Dated c. 731 – 746.


13 thoughts on “A Monastic Hymn for St Bede the Venerable”

  1. Thanks for posting this lovely hymn – not familiar to me before. The 1st verse is particularly challenging as an example of single minded commitment to Christ the King. Did he really die singing ‘Rex Gloriae’?

    • According to Cuthbert’s Letter to Cuthwin, which provides our only account of Bede’s death, he did indeed sing the Rex Gloriae in his last days, but he actually died shortly after chanting the Gloria Patri. Anyone who know the antiphon Rex Gloriae will be astounded that a dying man could even attempt it.

  2. I love the inscription above his tomb at Durham, taken from one of his prayers:
    Christ is the morning star
    Who when the night
    Of this world is past
    Brings to his saints
    The promise of
    The light of life
    & opens everlasting day.

  3. St John Vianney, Wantage will be going on Pilgrimage to Yorkshire for a week in June. We will visit York and St Margaret Clitheows Shrine with the possibility of Mass there; Fountains, Rievaulx and Jervaulx Abbeys, also Durham, Lindesfarne and Ampleforth! We will need a holiday when we return! In preparation I decided to read Bede – A history of the English Church and People – what a read! It is fascinating and awesome and I will have to read it again! Thank you for the hymn it is beautiful.

  4. Lovely hymn. What melody do you like to use for it?

    I have used the quote from Bede’s tomb for sympathy cards; it’s a wonderful choice for a memorial card.

    As an historian, I like to think of Bede as our patron saint, and still a member of the discipline in good standing.

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