The Word and the words: a sonnet for Lancelot Andrewes

Lancelot Andrewes preacher and translator

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 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 .

Lancelot Andrewes

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.


Filed under christianity, literature

6 responses to “The Word and the words: a sonnet for Lancelot Andrewes

  1. Although my father was not the poet that Andrews was, he was a translator and lover of languages, the chair of the original NIV translation committee. He shared Andrew’s love of the Word. His devotion to the living Word also filled his days. Your poem brought my father’s face to mind as he pored over his books. He opened and ended every day with prayer.

  2. Pingback: The Word and the words: a sonnet for Lancelot Andrewes — Malcolm Guite – „Ingerii sunt spirite inaripate, prietene cu spiritul tau inaripat.“

  3. Priscilla Kew

    Reminds me to pray for all my friends translating scriptures even today, into some of the lesser known languages of the world, grappling with meaning and cultural equivalents and just the right word or phrase to ‘trace the line of truth in all its ways’.

  4. Beautiful, illuminating the power of this work when done with care & love. My own little recent reflection…:
    A simple scripture, gospel, psalm
    Encountered fresh, with humble heart
    Is to venture on virgin landscape calm
    Rich trail of inner discovery start.

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