English Language and History

The brief stories below are taken from history, myth or fiction. Each one is accompanied by games and exercises in essential grammar and free composition, based on old school textbooks.

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Latest
Birds of Paradise
Music: George Frideric Handel
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf paints a word-picture of heaven and the seraph-band that swoops and soars before the throne.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

WHEREFORE the kindred of the Seraphim, quick to act, strengthened to authority, steadfast in the truth, rise up amidst the angel host in worship; how excellently the tireless throng sings! far and near reaches their voice, sonorous in its slow beauty.

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Six Posts
The Six Leaps of Faith
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf explores a prophecy from the Song of Solomon.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

WHEN first he leapt, he lighted on a woman, an untouched maid; and human form he took there (though without sin) that he might be Comforter to all that dwell on earth.

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At Heaven’s Gate
Music: George Frideric Handel
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf takes us to the threshold of God’s holy city, and gives us a choice.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

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.

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St Helen Finds the True Cross
two-part story
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
The mother of the Roman Emperor goes to Jerusalem on a quest close to her heart.
Based on ‘Elene’ by Cynewulf
(8th century)

EMPEROR Constantine the Great secured his crown by displaying the sign of the Cross in battle, and soon afterwards, in 326, he encouraged his Christian mother, Helen, to go to Jerusalem to find Christ’s original, true Cross.

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High Beneath Heaven’s Roof
Music: George Frideric Handel
The Cross of Christ speaks, and tells of the amazing transformation from sign of shame to sign of redemption.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

“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.

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Annunciation
Music: Pavel Chesnokov
Cynewulf reflects on the mystery of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

YOUNG was the woman,
an untouched maid, he took for mother;
it was with no man’s caresses of love
that the bride grew great with child.
Never then, nor since, in this world
was any woman’s reward its equal;
it was Mystery, the Master’s secret.

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The Last Commandment
Music: George Frideric Handel
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf imagines the farewell between Jesus and his Apostles, forty days after his resurrection.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

“BE glad of heart! Never shall I wander; my love shall follow you unceasingly. My might I give you, and I am with you always, even unto the end, that through my gift none shall ever lack God.”

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All Posts
Tagged Cynewulf (7 posts)
page 1
1 Birds of Paradise
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf paints a word-picture of heaven and the seraph-band that swoops and soars before the throne.
2 The Last Commandment
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf imagines the farewell between Jesus and his Apostles, forty days after his resurrection.
3 The Six Leaps of Faith
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf explores a prophecy from the Song of Solomon.
4 At Heaven’s Gate
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf takes us to the threshold of God’s holy city, and gives us a choice.
5 Annunciation
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Cynewulf reflects on the mystery of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary.
6 St Helen Finds the True Cross
Based on ‘Elene’ by Cynewulf
(8th century)
The mother of the Roman Emperor goes to Jerusalem on a quest close to her heart.
page 2
7 High Beneath Heaven’s Roof
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The Cross of Christ speaks, and tells of the amazing transformation from sign of shame to sign of redemption.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Active or Passive?

Use each of the verbs below in either the active or the passive form. Can you use both forms?

Sign. Part. Remain.

The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Face’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FULL and finish with STOP.
Do you know ‘meticulous’ (7 letters), and ‘father of Goneril, Regan and Cordelia’ (4 letters)?
Do you know ‘beg’ (7 letters), and ‘a single game in the sport of darts’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘move in a zig-zag fashion’ (4), and ‘a 1711 opera by Handel’ (7)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FRIES and finish with CHIPS.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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History (375)
Fiction (80)

letters game

Make words from two or more of the tiles below. What is the highest-scoring word you can make?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: ‘Scrabble’ letters game Games with Words

numbers game

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Maths Gym Mental arithmetic