September 25th is Lancelot Andrewes Day, when the Church remembers one of its greatest preachers and the man whose scholarship and gift for poetic phrasing was so central to the making of the King James version of the Bible. My own Doctoral thesis was on Andrewes and he has exercised a huge influence on me. On the 400th anniverseary of the KJV I gave a lecture for the Society for the Study of Biblical Literature on Andrewes and translation which was published in this book The King James Version at 400. But I have also published a sonnet for Andrewes in my recent book for Canterbury Press The Singing Bowl, so here it is. As usual you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button .
Your mind is fixed upon the sacred page,
A candle lights your study through the night,
The choicest wit, the scholar of the age,
Seeking the light in which we see the light.
Grace concentrates in you, your hand is firm,
Tracing the line of truth in all its ways,
Through you the great translation finds its form,
‘And still there are not tongues enough to praise.’
Your day began with uttering his name
And when you close your eyes you rest in him,
His constant star still draws you to your home,
Our chosen stella praedicantium.
You set us with the Magi on the Way
And shine in Christ unto the rising day.
I also gave a talk about Lancelot Andrewes and the translation of the King James Bible to the Chelmsford Cathedral Theological Society which various people have asked to hear. They have sent me a recording which I am posting here. The talk itself doesn’t start until about three minutes into the recording and last for about 50 minutes with a question and answer session afterwards.
2 responses to “The Word and the words: a sonnet for Lancelot Andrewes”
This talk is magnificent. Will listen more than once.
Glad to hear a good word for the RSV/NRSV. Both are not only in the lineage of the AV/KJV but have somehow managed to hang on to much of the literary power of the 1611 translation. They are “public bibles”–they can be read in churches! Hard to find that in more recent translations. Am amazed at the popularity of the NIV, for instance. Despite its (self-proclaimed) accuracy, it’s absolutely flat. As a former student said to me, “I can’t seem to memorize it.”
I agree with you entirely Charles Scripture translations should be good to read aloud and always memorable