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Venerable Bede’s Death Song

I frequently view the scholarly entries found at  And just today I read this entry concerning the last words dictated by the Venerable Bede, an early chronicler of the history of England and its people.

A Translation of the Venerable Bede’s Death Song

“THE VENERABLE BEDE, an eighth-century English monk, was known mostly for an extensive history, the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of
the English People), that charted nearly eight centuries of the history of Britain from the Roman invasion of 55 B.C. to Bede’s lifetime. His life was one of devoted scholarship recognised for both his erudition and for an extensive evangelism that sought to make the gospel more accessible to the Anglo-Saxons.   Bede’s protégé Cuthbert wrote that Bede composed a five-line Old English poem on his deathbed.”

The above is a short summary of the work that Mr. Thieme did, and which in my opinion represents excellent scholarship.

While he was born an Anglo-Saxon, Bede  chose to follow the Christian way of worship.  And Cuthbert, like many of the scholars of those days, liked to hide messages inside of the texts that they authored, to explain to those with eyes that see and ears that hear, some additional information about the topic in question.

Mr. Thieme’s translation can be found online at Academia dot edu, using this link:

But I thought that I should take a look at what might have been encoded, inside of the Anglo-Saxon text itself, since I also had some luck at translating texts in that language.  And I just love to uncover hidden secrets inside of texts!  How about you?

Here’s what I found, and I believe that it is interesting:

Below are the letters, the frequencies that they appear in the text, and the meanings for each of the newly created words:

e: 18             eno = similar to heonu = “Lo, behold!”
o: 12
n: 10

i: 9                íð = “more easily”
ð: 9

r: 8
æ: 8             ræst = “rest, quiet, freedom from toil”
s: 7
t: 6

g: 6
d : 6            gód = “goodness, good, GOD”

h: 6
f: 5               hæf = “what is lifted”

m: 4             má = More , rather , further, besides
a: 4

w: 3
y: 3
c: 2                   wýsc = Choice

b: 1               bæl = the fire of a funeral pile, in which dead bodies were burned
l: 1

Since Bede was born an Anglo-Saxon, his followers were pointing out that by following the Christian religion, he had gained something that his heritage would not have afforded him, normally. I have it as:

Lo, behold! it is easier to find a rest in God
(for that which) has been lifted (by God);
rather than the choice of a funeral pile.

Or in this case, an Anglo-Saxon cremation pyre.

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