These pieces were written in 2019 and are dedicated to Aleksander Szram. They reflect stories which have been passed down of three men who were prominent in the early history of Christianity in Northumbria.
1. Aidan (died 651)
Saint Aidan is sometimes known as Patron Saint of Firefighters, and his vision (which was a literal one) will show why. He was the first bishop of Lindisfarne (Holy Island), where he established a monastery c. 635. While in his island cell one day he saw smoke and flames rising from the walls of Bamburgh Castle, the residence of the Christian King of Northumbria. Realising that this was an enemy invasion he prayed for the deliverance of Bamburgh and the wind miraculously changed course, blowing the fire towards the invading forces and saving the city.
2. Cuthbert (c. 634-687)
One of the best-known Northumbrian saints, Cuthbert was born (c. 634) and brought up near Melrose, which is now in Scotland. While tending sheep on the hills near his home in the year 651 he had a vision in which he saw a light in the sky, after which angels came down to earth and carried the soul of a pure man up to heaven. He later found that his vision coincided with the time of Aidan's death and resolved to become a monk.
3. Caedmon (died c. 684)
Sometimes referred to as the Father of English Sacred Song, Caedmon was an illiterate cow-herder employed by Whitby Monastery. Unable to take his turn at singing whenever a harp was passed round at a feast, he would always run off feeling ashamed. One night, when he was sleeping near the animals, a stranger appeared to him in a dream and asked him to sing about the beginning of all things. On waking, Caedmon was able to sing the verses he had heard in his dream as well as words and songs he had not heard before. His new talent was greatly appreciated in the monastery, where he soon beame a monk. His hymn to creation, sometimes called Caedmon's Hymn, is the oldest recorded Old English poem.