“It is finished.” The first vernacular translation of a portion of God’s word in England.

The Last Chapter

“It is finished.”

–John 19:30

In the year 735 there stood on the south bank of the Tyne…

…near the retired hamlet of Jarrow, a small monastery. On the evening of the 26th of May a stillness, unusual even in that peaceful sanctuary, reigned throughout the building. The monks moved along the corridors with silent tread and solemn faces, ever and anon addressing each other in low, anxious whispers.

On a humble pallet in one of the little cells lay an aged monk. His body was wasted almost to a skeleton. The sunken eyes and hollow cheeks, and quick-drawn, gasping breath told but too plainly that death was near. Beside the bed sat a scribe. A book was before him, and a pen in his hand. He had just raised the pen from the page, and as he held it ready, he looked with an expression of deepest anxiety, mingled with grief, on the face of the dying man.

“Now, father,” he said, “there remains only one chapter; but you speak with difficulty, the exertion is too great.” “It is easy,” replied the monk, in feeble accents. “Take your pen; write—write as fast as you can.” Sentence after sentence flowed from the tremulous lips, and was committed to writing. There was a pause. Nature seemed exhausted. “Father,” said the scribe, with anxious tenderness, “only one sentence is now wanting,—only one.” In faltering accents that sentence too was repeated.

“It is finished,” said the scribe. “It is finished,” repeated the dying saint. “Lift up my head; higher yet; let me sit in my cell. Let me sit in the spot where I have been accustomed to pray.

And now, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.” Thus died the Venerable Bede; and thus was completed the first vernacular translation of a portion of God’s word in England.

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Meet this early Christian and part of your wonderful Christian heritage: Bede (beed; Old English: Bǣda or Bēda; 672/673 – 26 May 735), also referred to as the Venerable Bede, was an English monk at the monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth and its companion monastery, Saint Paul’s, in modern Jarrow, Northeast England, both of which were located in the Kingdom of Northumbria. He is well known as an author and scholar, and his most famous work, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) gained him the title “The Father of English History”.

Bede died on Thursday, 26 May 735 (Ascension Day) and was buried at Jarrow. Cuthbert, a disciple of Bede’s, wrote a letter describing Bede’s last days and his death. According to Cuthbert, Bede fell ill, “with frequent attacks of breathlessness but almost without pain”, before Easter. On the Tuesday, two days before Bede died, his breathing became worse and his feet swelled. He continued to dictate to a scribe, however, and despite spending the night awake in prayer he dictated again the following day. At three o’clock, according to Cuthbert, he asked for a box of his to be brought, and distributed among the priests of the monastery “a few treasures” of his: “some pepper, and napkins, and some incense”. That night he dictated a final sentence to the scribe, a boy named Wilberht, and died soon afterwards.

The brief biographical sketch taken from Wikipedia

Story taken and adapted from Anecdotes Illustrative of New Testament Texts, Author Unknown