A 1973 South Tyneside message of the plague, Venerable Bede and Jarrow
Were you one of the 1,000 who heard a stirring speech in Jarrow in 1973?
That was when the Archbishop of Canterbury came to South Tyneside and sung the praises of the boy who was to become The Venerable Bede.
Dr Michael Ramsey was on a visit to St Paul’s Church in Jarrow 49 years ago when he gave a speech which was relayed by loudspeaker to more than 1,000 people outside.
He spoke of the man who wrote the first history of the English church and people in Anglo-Saxon times.
Dr Ramsey spoke about Bede on the 1,300th anniversary of his birth and how we could do well to follow his example.
He said at the time: “Now, in 1973, we are towards the end of our own century, and we must stir ourselves and do Bede’s work. None of us are likely to have the sort of life Bede did.
“When he was 11, his parents dedicated him to God and placed him into the care of Benedict Biscop, who founded the monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow.”
He told the audience how Bede constantly prayed – but his devotion went further.
Dr Ramsey added: “Bede spent virtually the whole of his life here. It was a time of plague when Jarrow was laid low and only one monk and the boy Bede were left to sing the daily services.
“Bede prayed and prayed and prayed. That came first and ought to be first for us.
“And Bede wrote and wrote and read and read. I know how much education is cared for in County Durham.
“Education we can take for granted, but learning in the North owed more to the monks of Jarrow than words can tell.
“If you have not read Bede’s history of the Church, get and copy and do so. It is full of drama and humility.”
He urged the people of South Tyneside to “shut your eyes and try to see Jarrow of Bede’s day”.
He added: “Open fields, little hamlets, meadows weaving down to the Tyne with people like Bede, the boy, fishing in the river.”
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