A sonnet for the Venerable Bede

bedeThe 25th of May is the day the Church remembers and celebrates the Venerable Bede, who died on that day in 735.  Bede was a Saint and Scholar, whose wonderful Ecclesiastical History of the English People, is still the major source for early English History, as well as being, in itself a deeply inspiring book. He is buried in Durham cathedral and set above his tomb, in beautiful shimmering letters, is the text of one of the prayers he wrote. My sonnet in celebration of Bede draws on this prayer so I give its text here in both Latin and English and have posted a photograph of it below the poem.

As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button. This poem is from my collection of verse ‘The Singing Bowl’, published by  Canterbury Press

Bede’s Prayer:

Christus est stella matutina, Alleluia

Qui nocte saeculi transacta, Alleluia

Lucem vitae sanctis promittit, Alleluia;

Et pandit aeternam, Alleluia


(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.)


I kneel above your bones and read your words.

Church-Latin letters, shimmering in gold,

A kingdom-glimmer through the dark and cold,

A revelation gleaming on the shards

Of all our broken lives and promises.

Christus est stella matutina

Qui nocte saeculi transacta

Christ is the morning star. He promises

The light of life when this dark night is past…

Lucem vitae sanctis promittit

You speak for all his Wounded witnesses,

The morning star will shine on us at last.

Scholar and saint, illuminate the way

That opens into everlasting day.

If you are enjoying these posts, you might like, on occasion,(though not every time of course!) to pop in and buy me a cup of coffee. Clicking on this banner will take you to a page where you can do so, if you wish.
Buy Me A Coffee

Bede's Prayer

Bede’s Prayer


Filed under christianity, literature, Poems

12 responses to “A sonnet for the Venerable Bede

  1. Elaine Levitt

    I like sharing my birthday with Bede, so wise and faithful. A lovely prayer to share with him.

  2. tcbmcleish

    A beautiful echo to Bede himself. Thank you Malcolm

  3. Mary Ferris

    Please keep sending these beautiful pieces.
    I am passing them onto others too.
    Mary Ferris.

  4. James Luttrull

    Durham Cathedral was my first grand gothic place of worship to visit. I still remember my eyes lifting and my knees buckling. So awesome, so awe-inspiring. And then this quiet place where the Venerable Bede is buried. He macro to the micro. Thank you for this sonnet and invoking those memories.

  5. Reblogged this on Pastor Michael Moore's Blog and commented:
    A holy spot I was able to visit in Durham Cathedral… thank you, Malcolm ❤️

  6. Cynthia Howell

    I’m so glad to have discovered a contemporary (and good) Christian poet. I also like your eclectic virtual library shelf!

  7. Laura Mazza-Dixon

    I ordered a copy of your book, “The Singing Bowl” and have found many treasures there. But it is even more fulfilling to have the background for the poems presented in the way you do in this blog. Thank you for all of your work bringing history and ancient texts back into our awareness. I recommend to you a poem about the Venerable Bede by Rennie McQuilkin in his book “Afterword.” .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.