Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

A to Z Index

The Voice of an Angel
two-part story
Music: Vassilis Tsabropoulos; Byzantine Chant
A tenth-century Greek monk is joined by a total stranger for Mattins.
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition

AT daybreak one Sunday morning in 982, a monk on Mount Athos could be heard chanting before an icon of Mary. At his side, taking it in turns to sing, was another monk – not his own elder, who had left him alone for a night and gone to nearby Karyes, but a visitor, a total stranger who had knocked on his door in the small hours and introduced himself as Monk Gabriel.

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Six Posts
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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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.

ONE day in 1705, the nuns of a convent on Kefalonia heard that pirates were toiling up the hill, intent on rape and plunder. So they hurried to their chapel, where they kept a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.

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Redeemed for Five Shillings
Music: George Frideric Handel
Elfric, the tenth-century English abbot, suggests a practical way of thinking about the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

GOD, in the old law, commanded his people, that they should offer to him every firstborn male child, or redeem it with five shillings. Of their cattle also, to bring whatever was firstborn to God’s house, and there offer it to God. But if it were an unclean beast, then should the master slay it, or give to God another clean beast.

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Stick and Carrot
Music: John Marsh
The Virgin Mary and her son team up to get the best out of some careless monks.
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition

THE Abbot of the Vatopedi monastery was in the chapel alone one morning, when suddenly he heard a voice.

After looking this way and that, he realised it had come from an icon of Mary, with her child Jesus on her lap.

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Aaron’s Rod
Music: Johann Baptist Cramer
The Victorian practice of hanging sugared nuts on a Christmas tree was bursting with Biblical symbolism.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

GOD bade Moses, the leader, take twelve dry rods from the twelve tribes of the people of Israel, and lay them before the holy ark within the great tabernacle: and he would by those rods declare whom he had chosen for bishop.

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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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All Posts
Tagged The Blessed Virgin Mary (12 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 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.
3 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.
4 Annunciation
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Cynewulf reflects on the mystery of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary.
5 Candlemas
A February celebration for which the faithful have brought candles to church since Anglo-Saxon times.
6 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 2
7 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.
8 With Hymns and Sweet Perfumes
By
Elfric of Eynsham
Elfric imagines how the Virgin Mary went to her eternal home.
9 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.
10 The Miracle of Piso Livadi
Three fishermen let their tongues run away with them, and were left counting the cost.
11 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.
12 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.
Authors
Cynewulf (8th century)
3 posts
Elfric of Eynsham (955-1010)
3 posts
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?

Visit. Marry. Hope.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
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 ‘Bray’
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
An arithmetical puzzle combining addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and fractions.
Do you know ‘ocean’ (7), and ‘a famously incorruptible Roman senator’ (4)?
Do you know ‘outrage, public disgrace’ (7 letters), and ‘King David of Israel’s third wife’ (7 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SPIT and finish with FIRE.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with ASH and finish with OAK.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

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: High Tiles (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: Target Number (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic