September 26: Lancelot Andrewes Bishop of Winchester, 1626

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, and then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

About this commemoration

Lancelot Andrewes was the favorite preacher of King James I. He was the author of a great number of eloquent sermons, particularly on the Nativity and the Resurrection. They are “witty,” grounded in the Scriptures, and characterized by the kind of massive learning that the King loved. This makes them difficult reading for modern people, but they repay careful study. T. S. Eliot used the opening of one of Andrewes’ Epiphany sermons as the inspiration for his poem, “The journey of the Magi: ”

A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For a Journey, and such a long journey:

The way deep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter.

Andrewes was also a distinguished biblical scholar, proficient in Hebrew and Greek, and was one of the translators of the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible. He was Dean of Westminster and headmaster of the school there before he became a bishop, and was influential in the education of a number of noted Churchmen of his time, in particular, the poet George Herbert.

Andrewes was a very devout man, and one of his most admired works is his Preces Privatae (“Private Devotions”), an anthology from the Scriptures and the ancient liturgies, compiled for his own use. It illustrates his piety and throws light on the sources of his theology. He vigorously defended the catholicity of the Church of England against Roman Catholic critics. He was respected by many as the very model of a bishop at a time when bishops were held in low esteem. As his student, John Hacket, later Bishop of Lichfield, wrote about him: “Indeed he was the most Apostolical and Primitive-like Divine, in my Opinion, that wore a Rochet in his Age; of a most venerable Gravity, and yet most sweet in all Commerce; the most Devout that I ever saw, when he appeared before God; of such a Growth in all kind of Learning that very able Clerks were of a low Stature to him.”

COLLECT

Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty God, you gave your servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of your Holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of your people: Perfect in us what is lacking in your gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of your grace and glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 11:1–5

1 Timothy 2:1–7a

Luke 11:1–4

Psalm 63:1–8

Preface of a Saint (1)

Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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7 Responses to September 26: Lancelot Andrewes Bishop of Winchester, 1626

  1. Michael Hartney says:

    New Collect: IMO, this is a much improved and strenghened collect from Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006.

    Bio: He needs a birth date, and the usual ‘He died in 1626’ sentence.

  2. Steve Lusk says:

    Once again, HWHM has yoked “saints” who have little in common (except holiness!), each of whom deserve more attention than either will get sharing a date.
    In Andrewes’ biography, the Eliot quote speaks well for Eliot’s erudition and proves that someone on the committee has an annotated edition of Eliot’s poetry, but it doesn’t add much to our understanding of Andrewes’ life and ministry. I’ve always thought Andrewes himself provided the best one paragraph summary of the Anglican approach to theology in his Responsio ad Apologiam Bellarmini on the presence of Christ in the Eucharist:

    “Christ said ‘This is My Body.’ He did not say, ‘This is My Body in this way.’ We are in agreement with you [Rome] as to the end; the whole controversy is as to the method. As to the ‘This is,’ we hold with firm faith that it is. As to the ‘This is in this way’ (namely, by the Transubstantiation of the bread into the Body), as to the method whereby it happens that it is, by means of In or With or Under or By transition, there is no word expressed. And because there is no word, we rightly make it not of faith; we place it perhaps among the theories of the school, but not among the articles of the faith.”

    Quote that, instead!

  3. Leonel L. Mitchell says:

    I agree that the new collect is an improvement. The old one in LLM tried to imitate Andrewes’ prose and sounds pretentious to us., Andrewes was important in so many way that it is hard to choose a few things to say about him, but he is the godfather of the Caroline Divines, and his liturgical and theological influence is hart to overestimate.

  4. John LaVoe says:

    (“…the very model of a bishop at a time when bishops were held in low esteem.”)
    Am I just weird, or does this say he was a model of someone who deserved to be held in low esteem?

    Another possibility — I’m weird, AND he was a model of someone who deserved to be held in low esteem.
    Regardless, can we send this back to “rewrite”?

  5. Philip Wainwright says:

    ‘His reluctance to force his views on others won him a degree of admiration from those opposed to them that was unusual in the early Stuart church’—ODNB. A quality even more unsual in today’s church, and one that it would be great to celebrate and encourage our bishops to imitate.

  6. Nigel Renton says:

    We should be shown his date of birth, if known; if not, at least the year of his birth.

    As a fellow lover of the works of T.S. Eliot, I nevertheless believe that printing one of his poems in a biographical sketch of Lancelot Andrewes is inappropriate.

    If it is decided to retain the poem, note that the “J” in “Journey” should be capitalized.

    The date of his death should be shown in the text.

    In line 6 of the third paragraph, add “priest and” before “poet”.

  7. John Leech says:

    Quadricentennial of the Authorized (King James) Version is 2011 – what are _your_ plans for celebration?

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