Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Christianity Comes to Northumbria

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Christianity Comes to Northumbria

Article excerpt

According to England's first historian, the Venerable Bede, King Edwin of seventh-century Northumbria pondered the question of whether he should adopt and extend throughout his reign the Christian faith of his new wife Aethelburg. To seek advice, he brought his thanes and advisers together for a feast and was persuaded by the last tbane to speak, a poet.

O mighty King, your versifying thane

Now takes his turn to speak of that campaign

To bring the Christian faith to this fair land

- And Truth (or so we're led to understand).

As we warm ourselves at this mead-hall fire

And hear the maidens sing and pluck the lyre,

I have been meditating on the flight

Of these small birds that somehow find our light.

Through yonder mead-hall door the sparrows enter

And find brief refuge from an angry winter. …

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