Study Guide

Caedmon's Hymn Time

By Caedmon

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"When God makes up his mind, mind, mind, mind, mind,
It's all about the time, time, time, time, time"

For such a wee little poem, this hymn is all over the timeline, from the very beginning of chronology, to Caedmon's medieval "now," to an unending future of eternity. While this theme is closely related to the poem's contemplation of God, the universe, and the theme of religion, it's clear that Caedmon's speaker has also got time on his "mind plans."

Questions About Time

  1. Why do you think the hymn begins with "now"?
  2. "Eternal Lord" (4, 7) appears twice. Is this a more important title than the others?
  3. If you were to draw a timeline for this poem, what would it look like? What events would it include?

Chew on This

The time markers in Caedmon's Hymn construct a chronology for the poem that locates it in medieval England while still making it eternally relevant.

By juxtaposing "the eternal Lord" with two historical events—the creation of the heaven and the earth—Caedmon allows the godly, eternal time scale to intersect with the human time scale. Now that's an intersection worth visiting.

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