March 14th, 2020

saxon cross

On the suspension of worship services

In 7th Century Northumbria, a terrible epidemic swept through the countryside. The double monastery of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow was hard hit. Only two monks survived the pestilence: the elderly abbot and a young novice. Though it broke the abbot's heart, he said the two would have to cut short the daily hours; the two of them were not enough to sing all the psalms and so on for all the monastic offices. The boy protested. He said that they should sing them all.

And so they did. The young novice had, remarkably, already learned the entire sequence of offices the whole monastic community held in memory. He and the abbot fulfilled the mission of the abbey while they waited for new brothers to be sent or feel the call and join. So capable was the young novice -- and so prodigious his memory and so wide-ranging his thought -- that he was ordained deacon several years in advance of the usual canonical age. He was eventually ordained a priest, and went on to become the leading scholar of all Europe.

His name was Bæda. We know him as the Venerable Bede.

A lesson from the Gospels

And the Pharisees and the Sadducees cam, and in a twafauld way, speir't at him, "Gin he wadna shaw them a token frae Heeven?"

He answer't, and quo' he, "Whan it is e'enin ye say, "Fair wather; for the sky is reid!" And i' the mornin, "Broken wather the day, for the sky is reid and lowerin'! Ye ken hoo to judge the scaum o' the sky; -- can ye no the signs o' the times? An ill-deedie and adulterous race seek eftir some sign; and nae sign sall be gi'en till't but the sign o' Jonah." And he gaed aff frae them.

And the disciples cam to the ither side, and forgat to tak breid. And Jesus said to them, "Tak tent, and troke ye-na w' the barm o' the Pharisees and Sadducees!" And they spak ane to anither, sayin, "We took nae breid!"

And Jesus, kennin it, said, "O ye o' the sma' faith, why sould ye reason amang yersels for that he hae nae breid? Dae ye no ken, dae ye no mind, the fyve bannocks o' the fyve thoosan': and hoo mony baskets ye gaither't? Naither the seeven bannocks o' the fowr thoosan', and hoo mony creels ye gaither't? Hoo is't ye dinna ken I spak to-ye-na anent breid; but to tak tent and beware o' the teachins o' the Pharisees and the Sadducees!"

Than saw they hoo he bad them no beware o' the barm o' the breid, but o' the doctrines o' the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

-- Matthew 16:1-12
The New Testament in Braid Scots
Rendered by Rev. William Wye Smith