Language and History English two-minute tales, music and mental agility puzzles
Anglo-Saxon Britain (410-1066)
High Beneath Heaven’s Roof : The Cross of Christ speaks, and tells of the amazing transformation from sign of shame to sign of redemption.
High Beneath Heaven’s Roof

Translated from the Old English of ‘The Dream of the Rood’, lines 80 to 94, by Cynewulf.

‘The Dream of the Rood’ is an Anglo-Saxon poem, possibly composed by Cynewulf (possibly the 8th century bishop Cynewulf of Lindisfarne, in the Kingdom of Northumbria), which imagines what the Cross of Christ might say of that momentous Friday.

“NOW the time has come for men far and wide upon this earth to have me in veneration, and for the whole, wonderful creation to make its prayers to this Standard.

“It was on me that the Son of God suffered for a time, so now I am lifted up on high beneath heaven’s roof, and may save the life of any man that stands in awe of me.*

“It was I who was the harshest of tortures and the most hateful of things to every nation, until I made the right Way of Life open to those who have the power of speech.

“And it was I whom the Prince of Glory, heaven’s Guardian, honoured above all the trees upon the hill,** just as he honoured his mother, Mary herself, above all women, for the sake of all the human race.”

* ‘hælan’ means heal or save the life of. In John 3:14-15 Jesus likens his crucifixion to Moses lifting up the brazen serpent in the wilderness to heal snake bites.

** ‘the hill’ could be any hill, or it could be Calvary, where three crosses stood on that day.

Translated from the Old English of ‘The Dream of the Rood’, lines 80 to 94, by Cynewulf.

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Cynewulf (7) Extracts from Literature (93) History (393) Lives of the Saints (94) Anglo-Saxon History (44) Mediaeval History (60) Northumbrian Enlightenment (30) Bible and Saints (109)

Picture: © Olaf Tausch, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0. View original
The cross atop the icon-screen in the Byzantine church of the Panagia Ekatontapyliani on the island of Paros, Greece.
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By Cynewulf
(8th century)
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Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

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