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Anglo-Saxon Britain (410-1066)
At Heaven’s Gate : The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf takes us to the threshold of God’s holy city, and gives us a choice.
At Heaven’s Gate

Freely translated from the Old English of ‘Christ’, by Cynewulf. For a literal translation, see Anglo-Saxon Poetry.

Cynewulf (possibly the 8th century bishop Cynewulf of Lindisfarne) presents the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as a choice given to all mankind: what kind of life do we want in the hereafter, and what are we prepared to do in order to obtain it?

Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors;
and the King of glory shall come in.

Psalm 24:7

OPEN, ye gates! Creation’s King would enter his citadel, would lead into the joy of joys a people (they are no small company) snatched from the devil by his Victory. Affinity shall angels and men have for ever after. There is a covenant together between God and man, a spiritual pledge: love, hope of life, all the joys of light.

Listen! We have heard how that holy child the famous Son of the Measurer, by his advent restored health to us, who dwell beneath the skies, freed us, and kept us free; that now each man living, while yet he remains here, might choose whether

disgrace of hell, or glory of heaven,
light of lights, or hateful night,
exultant choir, or grief in the shadows,
joy of the Lord, or clamour of devils,
punishment with wrath, or glory with honour,
life, or death,

is what he longs to achieve, while flesh and spirit dwell yet in the world. Glory be to the mighty Trinity, and endless gratitude!

Freely translated from the Old English of ‘Christ’, by Cynewulf. For a literal translation, see Anglo-Saxon Poetry.

More like this

Cynewulf (7) Extracts from Literature (93) Lives of the Saints (96) History (406) The Blessed Virgin Mary (11) Anglo-Saxon History (44) Mediaeval History (62) Northumbrian Enlightenment (30) Bible and Saints (111)

Picture: © Kevin King, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0. View original
‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates.’ The portcullis in the gate of Cahir Castle, Ireland. The 12th century fortress stands on a river island in the Suir, roughly halfway between Limerick on the west coast of the Republic of Ireland, and Waterford on the east.
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By Cynewulf
(8th century)

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