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BEDE


384


BEDE


five decades, as opposed to the whole rosary of fifteen. Again, to "bid beads" originally meant only to say prayers, but the phrase "bidding the beads", by a series of misconceptions explained in the "Historical English Dictionary", came to be attached to certain public devotions analogous to the prayers which precede the kissing of the Cross in the Good Friday Ser\-ice. The prayers referred to used to be recited in the vernaciilar at the Sunday Mass in medieval England, and the distinctive feature of tliem was that the suljject of each was announced in a fonmda read to the congregation beforehand. This was called "bidding the bcdes". From this the idea was derived that the word "bidding" meant commanding or giving out, and hence a certain sur\-ival of these prayers, still retained in the Anglican "Book of Canons", and recited before the sermon, is known as the "bidding prayer".

The words bedesman and bedeswoman, which date back to Anglo-Saxon times, also recall the original meaning of the word. Bedexman was at first the term applied to one whose duty it was to pray for others, and thus it sometimes denoted the chaplain of a guild. But in later English a bedesman is simply the recipient of any form of bounty; for ex- ample, a poor man who obtains free quarters in an almshouse, and who is supposed to be bound in grati- tude to pray for his benefactors. Similarly, bede- hoitsc, which" originally meant a place of prayer or an oratory, came at a later date to be used of any chari- table "institution like an alnisliouse. It has now practically disappeared from literary English, but survives provincially and in a number of Welsh place-names in the form bettn-s, e. g. Bettws y Coed. Finally, bede-roU, as its etjTnology suggests, meant the roll of those to be prayed for, and in some sense corresponded to the diptychs of the early Church. The word is of tolerably frequent occurrence in con- nexion with the early Englisli guilds. In these associations a list was invariably kept of departed members who had a claim on their prayers. This was the bede-roU.

For beads in the sense of rosary, see Ros.\ry.

Murray and Bradley, eds., The Ejiglish Historical Dic- tionary (Oxford, ISSi). I; Rock, Church of our Fathers (I'd ed.. London, 1904), II, 330; III. 107; Simmo-ns, The Lay Folks' Mass-Book (Early Eng. Text Sec, London. 1879) 315. 345. Herbert Thurstox.

Bede, The Venbr.\ble, liistorian and Doctor of the Church, b. 672 or 673; d. 735. In the last chapter of his great work on the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" Bede has told us something of his o-mi hfe, and it is, practically speaking, all that we know. His words, wTitten in 731, when deatli was not far off, not only show a simplicity and piety characteristic of the man, but they throw a hght upon the composition of the work through which he is best remembered by the world at large.

"Thus much", he says, "concerning the ecclesias- tical history of Britain, and especially of the race of the English, I, B;rda. a servant of Clirist and priest of the monasterj- of the blessed apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, which is at Wearmouth and at Jarrow (in Northumberland), have with the Lord's help com- posed so far as I could gatlier it either from ancient docimients or from the traditions of the elders, or from my own knowledge. I was born in the territory of the said monastery, and at the age of seven I was, by the care of my relations, given to the most rev- erend Abbot Benedict [St. Benedict Biscop], and afterwards to Ccolfrid, to be educated. From that time I have spent the whole of my life within that monastery, devoting all my pains to the study of the Scriptures, and amid the observance of monastic dis- cipline and the daily cliarge of singing in the Church, it has been ever my delight to learn or teach or write. In my nineteenth year I was admitted to the diac-


onate, m my thirtieth to the priesthood, both by the hands of the most reverend Bishop John [St. John of Beverley], and at the bidding of Abbot Ceolfrid. From the time of my admission to the priesthood to my present fifty-ninth year, I have endeavoured for my own use and that of my brethren, to make brief notes upon the holy Scripture, either out of the works of the venerable Fathers or in conformity with their meaning and interpretation." After this Bede in- serts a list or hidicuhts, of his pre\-ious WTitings and finally concludes his great work with the following words: "And I pray thee, lo\-ing Jesus, that as Thou hast graciously given me to drink in with delight the words of Tliy knowledge, so Thou wouldst mercifully grant me to attain one day to Thee, the fountain of all wisdom and to appear for ever before Thy face." It is plain from Bede's letter to Bishop Egbert that the historian occasionally visited his friends for a few days, away from his own monastery of Jarrow, but with such rare exceptions his life seems to have been one peaceful round of study and praj'er passed in the midst of his own community. How much he was beloved by them is made manifest by the touch-


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(VIII Century 1

ing account of the saint's last sickness and death left us by Cuthbert, one of his disciples. Their studious pursuits were not given up on account of his illness and they read aloud by his bedside, but con- stantly the reading was interrupted by their tears. "I can with truth declare", WTites Cuthbert of his beloved master, "that I never saw with my eyes or heard with my ears anyone return thanks so un- ceasingly to the h\ing God." Even on the day of his deatli (the vigil of the Ascension, 735) the saint was still busy dictating a translation of the Gospel of St. John. In the evening the boy Wilbert, who was writing it, said to him: "There is still one sen- tence, dear master, w hich is not written down. " And when this had been supplied, and the boy had told him it was finished , " ' Thou hast spoken truth ' , Bede