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English Language and History .com is a collection of two-minute tales drawn from history, myth and fiction. Each tale is accompanied by word games testing grammar and expression, based on textbooks used in British schools from the 1920s to the 1960s.

St Hild and the Synod of Whitby
The respected Abbess oversaw the English Church’s historic commitment to adopt Byzantine traditions.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

HILD was the Abbess of a monastery for both men and women in Whitby, on the north east coast of England. “All who knew her”, says St Bede, “called her mother, because of her outstanding devotion and grace”.

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How St Benedict Biscop brought Byzantium to Britain
Music: Byzantine Chant
The chapel of Bede’s monastery in Sunderland was full of the colours and sounds of the far-off Mediterranean world.
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

IN addition, Benedict introduced the Roman mode of chanting, singing, and ministering in the church.

With that in mind, he obtained permission from Pope Agatho to take back with him John, the archchanter of the church of St Peter and abbot of the monastery of St Martin, to teach the English.

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Tagged ‘Lives of the Saints’ (84 posts)
page 1
1 The Voice of an Angel
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A tenth-century Greek monk is joined by a total stranger for Mattins.
2 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.
3 Mountain of Light
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
St Bede says that Christ’s Transfiguration should remind us that we live in two worlds at the same time.
4 Taste and See
Wonder spread through a Tyneside monastery after Bishop Cuthbert asked for a drink of water.
5 Passover to Pentecost
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
St Bede explains how the Exodus and the Ten Commandments are related to Easter and Whitsuntide.
6 Lost Innocence
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
In the fourth century, Britain’s Christians acquired a taste for watering down the mystery of their message.
page 2
7 The Last Commandment
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf imagines the farewell between Jesus and his Apostles, forty days after his resurrection.
8 Bede and the Paschal Controversy
The earliest Christians longed to celebrate the resurrection together at Passover, but that was not as easy as it sounds.
9 St Bega
In Irish princess fled to Cumbria to escape the Vikings, clutching her precious silver bracelet.
10 Crayke Abbey
The long-lost monastery at Crayke in North Yorkshire was home to two saints with different but equally valuable gifts.
11 St Erkenwald, Light of London
The seventh-century Bishop of London helped kings and clergy to shine Christian light into the darkness of mere religion.
12 Undoubting Thomas
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
Abbot Elfric praised St Thomas for demanding hard evidence for the resurrection.
page 3
13 Tamed by Wisdom, Freed by Grace
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
Abbot Elfric expounds a Palm Sunday text to explain how Christianity combines orderly behaviour with intelligent and genuine liberty.
14 Breaking Death
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
For Jesus Christ to step down alive from his cross would have been a mighty miracle, but not the mightiest.
15 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.
16 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.
17 Annunciation
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Cynewulf reflects on the mystery of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary.
18 The Blessings of Nicholas Mogilevsky
Passengers sharing Bishop Nicholas’s Moscow-bound flight found his blessings faintly silly, but that was when the engines were running.
page 4
19 St Chad and the Invisible Choir
Chad, the seventh-century Bishop of Mercia, seemed to be making a lot of music for one man.
20 The Night-time Disciple
Nicodemus did not allow intellectual doubts to get in the way of what he knew in his heart.
21 St Nicholas and the Empty Granary
The saintly Bishop helped the captain of a merchant ship to cut through the red tape, and save his town from starvation.
22 St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.
23 St Ahmed
A Turkish official was itching to know the secret behind a Russian slave girl’s personal charm.
24 Redeemed for Five Shillings
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
Elfric, the tenth-century English abbot, suggests a practical way of thinking about the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
page 5
25 Candlemas
A February celebration for which the faithful have brought candles to church since Anglo-Saxon times.
26 The Bearded Foreigner
A Japanese swordsman confronts a Russian monk for... actually, he’s not really quite sure.
27 Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.
28 St Nicholas the Wet
Two frantic parents implore St Nicholas’s help in rescuing their baby boy.
29 Wenceslaus: A Life for a Life
The murder of the ‘good king Wenceslas’ led to a flowering of Christian faith in Europe.
30 Aaron’s Rod
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
The Victorian practice of hanging sugared nuts on a Christmas tree was bursting with Biblical symbolism.
page 6
31 How St Euphemia Saved Christmas
The martyr St Euphemia played a vital role in preventing the message of Christmas from being watered down.
32 Cuthbert and the Mystery Guest
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
A young monk was rewarded for taking his duties as guest-master seriously.
33 The Spy
In 1910, Constantine Zervakos, a young monk from the Greek island of Paros, found himself charged with espionage.
34 Our Lady’s Mantle
Shortly after Askold and Dir founded Kiev in 862, they launched a brazen but ill-fated assault on the capital of the Roman Empire.
35 Not a Scratch!
Hapless extremists try to wipe out a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.
36 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 7
37 Cuthbert and the Dun Cow
The magnificent cathedral at Durham owes its existence to a missing cow.
38 Cvthbertvs
Henry VIII’s experts declared that saints were nothing special, but St Cuthbert had a surprise for them.
39 With Hymns and Sweet Perfumes
By
Elfric of Eynsham
Elfric imagines how the Virgin Mary went to her eternal home.
40 The Spear of St Mercurius
Based on a sermon by
Elfric of Eynsham
Roman Emperor Julian was ready to destroy an entire Christian community over his wounded pride.
41 Bread from Heaven
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Cuthbert trusted that keeping his promised fast would not do him any harm.
42 Wulfstan and the Seal of Approval
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
William the Conqueror’s purge of the English Church was halted by a humble bishop and a dead king.
page 8
43 Terror in the Deep
Irish monk St Columba is credited with being among the first witnesses to the ‘Loch Ness monster’.
44 St Elizabeth the New Martyr
The grand-daughter of Queen Victoria was as close to the poor of Moscow’s slums as she was to the Russian Tsar.
45 Stick and Carrot
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
The Virgin Mary and her son team up to get the best out of some careless monks.
46 St Mary of Egypt
Back in the 6th century, a young woman was ruining her own life and the lives of others.
47 The Lessons of History
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
England’s first and greatest historian explains why history is so important.
48 St Bede of Wearmouth and Jarrow
The mild-mannered, artistic monk was nevertheless a founding father of the English nation.
page 9
49 St George, Patron Saint of England
George was born in Israel and served in the Roman army, yet makes an ideal patron for England.
50 St George the Triumphant Martyr
One of the Emperor Galerius’s most trusted generals openly defied him.
51 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.
52 St Aidan Returns King Penda’s Fire
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
When Penda tried to burn down Bamburgh Castle, St Aidan turned the pagan King’s own weapons against him.
53 St Patrick of Ireland
After escaping from six years as a slave in Ireland, Patrick wanted only one thing: to go back.
54 King Edwin and the Hand of Destiny
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Forced from his throne and threatened with murder, Edwin makes a curious bargain for his deliverance.
page 10
55 Caedmon Learns to Sing
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
A shy and unmusical stable-hand suddenly began to sing wise and moving hymns.
56 St David of Wales
The popular monk was elected as bishop of Menevia in Wales in 550.
57 St Wilfrid’s Debt
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)
The Blessed Virgin Mary adds four years to the life of Bishop Wilfrid, and an angel suggests a suitable thank-you.
58 Macarius and the Hyena
Based on ‘The Lives of the Desert Fathers’
(4th century)
A monk of the Egyptian desert helped a desperate mother, and was richly rewarded.
59 Cuthbert and the Expert Witness
Based on the account by Reginald of Durham
(12th century)
A hungry monk thought he had got away with the tastiest of crimes, but St Cuthbert kept his promise to his beloved birds.
60 St Dwynwen
St Dwynwen was a 5th century princess regarded by some as Wales’s answer to St Valentine.
page 11
61 The Martyrdom of St Alban
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Alban voluntarily swapped places with a priest, and was executed for being a member of a banned religious sect.
62 The Martyrdom of St Stephen
Stephen was the first person to lose his life because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.
63 St Nicholas and the Golden Dowry
Nicholas used his inheritance to help three vulnerable girls escape a life of exploitation.
64 The Dove and the Flame
By
Elfric of Eynsham
Elfric, Abbot of Eynsham in the reign of Æthelred the Unready, reflects on two appearances of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.
65 St Nicholas and the Luckless Sailor
After surviving a terrible storm, a crew-member on St Nicholas’s ship met with a tragic accident.
66 The Law of the Innocents
St Adamnán worked tirelessly to secure protection, rights and dignity for the women of Ireland.
page 12
67 The Miracle of St John of the Caves
The story of an unexpected escape through the heart of a hill.
68 St John Damascene
John’s enduring influence is evident today in the rich sights and sounds of Christian liturgy.
69 The Alleluia Victory
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
How hard-pressed Christians on the Welsh border won a battle without bloodshed.
70 The Martyrdom of St James the Great
James, brother of John the Evangelist, was executed for his faith by a close friend of the Emperor Caligula.
71 The Keeper of the Gate
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A widow cast her precious icon into the sea rather than see it dishonoured by government agents, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
72 The Sacred Snakes of Kefalonia
Once a year, regular as clockwork, the little snakes slither into the convent for a Feast of the Virgin Mary.
page 13
73 St Nicholas of the Cats
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A very unusual monastery with some very unusual protectors.
74 The Miracle of Piso Livadi
Three fishermen let their tongues run away with them, and were left counting the cost.
75 St Andrew, Patron of Scotland
Scotland’s association with the brother of Peter is down to an early 8th century Bishop of Hexham.
76 Cyril and Hypatia
A ‘Christian’ mob kidnapped and murdered a much-loved professor of mathematics - for her politics.
77 A Battle of Wills
Based on ‘A Book of Golden Deeds’ by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
Two strong and determined men refused to back down.
78 King Alfred and the Beggar
Based on the ‘Historia de Sancto Cuthberto’
(11th century)
An everyday act of charity triggered off a series of extraordinary events.
page 14
79 St Cuthbert and the Otters
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
An inquisitive monk spied on a guest’s night-time walks.
80 How St Benedict Biscop brought Byzantium to Britain
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The chapel of Bede’s monastery in Sunderland was full of the colours and sounds of the far-off Mediterranean world.
81 St Wilfrid and the Angel of Light
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)
St Wilfrid finds comfort during his tussle with the King of Northumbria
82 St Wilfrid and the Sheriff’s Wife
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)
St Wilfrid brings healing to the wife of his own gaoler.
83 Cuthbert and the Miracle of the Wind
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The young monk taught some hard-hearted pagans a lesson they’d never forget.
84 St Hild and the Synod of Whitby
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The respected Abbess oversaw the English Church’s historic commitment to adopt Byzantine traditions.

Word Play: Adjectives

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New Puzzles
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.
Try writing complete sentences using these nouns as either the subject or the object of a verb.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Polyword ‘Green’
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.

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Do you know ‘princes and princesses, kings and queens’ (7 letters), and ‘jump up and down on one foot’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘a brilliant solo passage in a concerto’ (7 letters), and ‘e.g. lion, tiger’ (3,3 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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