First presented at England's soaring Chelmsford Cathedral, and then broadcast on the BBC, the play blends music, poetry and heightened prose in telling the story of Caedmon, Britain's first known poet. Set in seventh-century England, the action of the play is commented on by the Venerable Bede, who acts as narrator and describes the arrival of the stuttering, withdrawn Caedmon at Whitby Abbey, where he is spellbound by the singing of the chapel choir. Given a job as a stableman, Caedmon finds it difficult to communicate with his fellow workers, and unable to "sing for his supper" at the Whitby Ale Feast. But then, in a miraculous dream, Caedmon recalls the tragic death of his beloved in childbirth, and suddenly the guilt with which this wrenching event had saddled him is lifted by the occurrence of a divine revelation. At the urging of the kindly Abbess Hilda, to whom he recounts his dream, Caedmon leaves the stable and embraces the monastic life—and suddenly he is free to "sing" at last and to create the timeless verse for which he is celebrated to this day.
A work of rare eloquence and beauty by one of the modern theatre's master dramatists. Dealing with the spiritual awakening of Caedmon, the seventh-century British poet, warrior and monk, the play finds a parable for our own time in the moving story of a man who finds salvation in the service of a higher power. Suitable for production in either a theatre or a church. "In the Indian Summer of his creative life playwright Christopher Fry has created yet another play, full of gold, liquid poetry." —Chelmsford Weekly News.