I’m delighted that I’m getting to preach on Hilda of Whitby tomorrow. As with many saints, Hilda’s big achievements are a little overwhelming so I’ve chosen to focus on an aspect of her character that is more within our grasp to emulate in our daily lives – that of her gift of encouragement. Hilda was a great educator and all great educators are encouragers. After having a dream in which he spontaneously sang a hymn about creation, Caedmon was taken to Hilda by a friend for ‘assessment’. Hilda immediately recognised that Caedmon had been given a miraculous gift of God and encouraged him to join the monastery – after which he wrote many more hymns for the people to sing in their own language. Caedmon’s hymn is the earliest recorded hymn we have in Old English – we find it in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. You can listen to it in its original form (spoken) here:
Those of you who have read my blog before will know that I have Hilda-themed stoles. The first line of Caedmon’s hymn is on my red stole and this serves as a reminder to me both to worship God (the first line is ‘now let us honour the warden of heaven’) and to encourage others in their gifts – just as Hilda encouraged Caedmon in his.