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The Venerable Bede - Commemoration

St. Bede the Venerable (673-735) translating the Gospel of St. John.

St. Bede the Venerable (673-735) translating the Gospel of St. John.

Bede the Venerable, Theologian

Bede (673-735AD) was the last of the Early Church Fathers and the first to compile the history of the English church.  Born in Northumbria, Bede's parents placed him in a monastery in northern England at the age of seven.  He rarely left the monastery and devoted the rest of his life to teaching and writing.  The most learned man of his time, he was a prolific writer of history, whose careful use of sources provided a model for historians in the Middle Ages.  Known best for his book The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, he was also a profound interpreter of Scripture; his commentaries are still fresh today.  His most famous disciple, Cuthbert, reported that Bede was working on a translation of John's Gospel into English when death came and that he died with the words of the Gloria Patri on his lips.  He received the title "Venerable" within two generations of his death and is buried in Durham Cathedral as one of England's greatest saints.

He is probably best know in our congregation for writing the ascension hymn, A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing (LSB 493).  Here is the hymn (a writing from the Augsburg Confession follows the hymn):

1. A hymn of glory let us sing!  New hymns throughout the world shall ring: Alleluia, alleluia! Christ, by a road before untrod, ascends unto the throne of God.  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

2. The holy apostolic band upon the Mount of Olives stand.  Alleluia, alleluia!   And with His faithful foll'wers see their Lord ascendi in majesty.  Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!  

3. To them the shining angels cry, "Why stand and gaze upon the sky?" Alleluia, alleluia!   "This is the Savior," thus they say; "This is His glorious triumph day!"  Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!  

4. "You see Him now, ascending high up to the portals of the sky."  Alleluia, alleluia!   "Hereafter Jesus you shall see returning in great majesty." Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!   

5. Be now our joy on earth, O Lord, And be our future great reward.  Alleluia, alleluia!   Then, throned with You forever, we shall praise Your name eternally.  Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!  

6. O risen Christ, ascended Lord, all praise to You let earth accord:  Alleluia, alleluia!  You are, while endless ages run, with Father and with Spirit one.  Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!   

Writing from the Augsburg Confession 28:44-50,56-59:

Nor can it be denied, indeed, that the monks have taught that, by their vows and observances, they were justified, and merited forgiveness of sins, yea, they invented still greater absurdities, saying 45] that they could give others a share in their works. If any one should be inclined to enlarge on these things with evil intent, how many things could he bring together whereof even the monks are now ashamed! 46] Over and above this, they persuaded men that services of man's making were a state of Christian perfection. 47] And is not this assigning justification to works? 48] It is no light offense in the Church to set forth to the people a service devised by men, without the commandment of God, and to teach that such service justifies men. For the righteousness of faith, which chiefly ought to be taught in the Church, is obscured when these wonderful angelic forms of worship, with their show of poverty, humility, and celibacy, are cast before the eyes of men.

49] Furthermore, the precepts of God and the true service of God are obscured when men hear that only monks are in a state of perfection. For Christian perfection is to fear God from the heart, and yet to conceive great faith, and to trust that for Christ's sake we have a God who has been reconciled, to ask of God, and assuredly to expect His aid in all things that, according to our calling, are to be done; and meanwhile, to be diligent in outward good works, 50] and to serve our calling. In these things consist the true perfection and the true service of God. It does not consist in celibacy, or in begging, or in vile apparel. ... There are on record examples of men who, forsaking marriage and the administration of the Commonwealth, have hid themselves in monasteries. This 57] they called fleeing from the world, and seeking a kind of life which would be more pleasing to God. Neither did they see that God ought to be served in those commandments which He Himself has given and not in commandments 58] devised by men. A good and perfect kind of life is that which has for it the commandment of God. 59] It is necessary to admonish men of these things.