25 September 2016

Remembering Lancelot Andrewes
and the via media of Anglicanism

Lancelot Andrewes ... editor of the Authorised Version of the Bible, and inspiration for TS Eliot

Patrick Comerford

Later today, I am attending the ordination to the priesthood of the Revd Kevin Conroy and the Revd Nigel Pierpoint in Christ Church Cathedral. Today [25 September 2016] is the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, but in the calendar in Common Worship of the Church of England, this day also commemorates Lancelot Andrewes, who died on this day 390 years ago, 25 September 1626.

Lancelot Andrewes was an Anglican bishop and scholar who played a key role in the translation of the Authorised Version or King James Version of the Bible. Although he worked mainly through the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I successively, he is counted as one of the early Caroline Divines, known for their scholarship and devotional writings.

He is be read alongside Richard Hooker, George Herbert and Jeremy Taylor, and is also one of the literary giants of English literature, exercising a particular influence on the poet TS Eliot, who singled out the 17th century as the high point of Anglican theology.

For Walter Frere, he is the successor to John Jewel in defining the via media position of Anglicanism. For Kenneth Stevenson, he ‘is without doubt along with Hooker one of the two giants of the era in which Anglicanism took shape.’

His appeal to antiquity was characteristic of classical Anglicanism. Andrewes summarises doctrinal authority in memorable form: ‘One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries and the series of fathers in that period – the three centuries, that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.’

Lancelot Andrewes was born in 1555 near All Hallows, Barking, by the Tower of London – originally a dependency of Barking Abbey in Barking, Essex. He was descended from an old Suffolk family that later lived at Chichester Hall, Rawreth. His brother, the scholar and cleric Roger Andrewes, served with him as a translator for the Authorised Version of the Bible.

He may have acquired his flair for languages from his father, Thomas Andrewes, who was a merchant seaman and master of Trinity House. He undertook to master a new language every year, and it is said he was fluent in 15 or 16 languages, ancient and modern, as an adult, and could read 21 languages.

Lancelot Andrewes attended the Coopers’ Free School, Ratcliff, in Saint Dunstan’s Parish, Stepney, and then the Merchant Taylors’ School, then the largest school in England and where Richard Mulcaster (ca 1531-1611) was the first headmaster.

Pembroke College, Cambridge ... Lancelot Andrewes entered Pembroke Hall in 1571, and later became a fellow of Pembroke College in 1576 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

In 1571, Andrewes entered Pembroke Hall, now Pembroke College, Cambridge, and he graduated BA (Bachelor of Arts). His academic reputation spread quickly, and at the foundation of Jesus College, Oxford, in 1571, he was named in the charter as one of the founding scholars ‘without his privity’ However, his connections with Jesus College, Oxford, may have been purely notional.

In 1576, he was elected a Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge. As the catechist at Pembroke College, Cambridge, Andrewes read lectures on the Ten Commandments or the Decalogue, which were later published in 1630. He proceeded MA (Master of Arts) at Cambridge in 1578, and in 1581 he was incorporated MA at Oxford. He was ordained around this time, and he was admitted BD at Cambridge in 1585.

In a sermon during Easter week on 10 April 1588, he stoutly vindicated the reformed character of the Church of England against the claims of Roman Catholicism and praised John Calvin as a new writer.

Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London ... as a Prebendary, Lancelot Andrewes restored the ancient office of confessor (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

After a period as chaplain to Henry Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, Andrewes became the Vicar of Saint Giles’s, Cripplegate, London, through the influence of Sir Francis Walsingham. With that appointment, he also became the Prebendary of Saint Pancras in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, in 1589. That year he also became the Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, and a chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift.

At Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Andrewes restored the ancient office of confessor. There, ‘especially in Lent time,’ he would ‘walk duly at certain hours, in one of the aisles of the Church, that if any came to him for spiritual advice and comfort, as some did, though not many, he might impart it to them.’

On 4 March 1590, he preached an outspoken sermon before Queen Elizabeth I. He was admitted at Gray’s Inn that year, and in October he gave an introductory lecture at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, undertaking to comment on the first four chapters of Genesis. These lectures were later compiled as The Orphan Lectures (1657).

Westminster Abbey ... Lancelot Andrewes was appointed a prebendary in 1597 and dean in 1601 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

In 1597, he was appointed a prebendary of Westminster Abbey, but a year later, in 1598, he declined nominations as both Bishop of Ely and Bishop of Salisbury because of the conditions attached to each appointment. At Whitehall on 23 November 1600, he preached a controversial sermon on justification.

Although he was the most junior prebendary, he was appointed Dean of Westminster Abbey in 1601.

The Dean’s Yard at Westminster Abbey ... as Dean of Westminster Abbey, Andrewes took a particular interest in the school (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

As Dean of Westminster Abbey, Andrewes gave much attention to the abbey school, and he officiated at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth.

He was closely involved in making arrangements for the coronation of James VI of Scotland as James I of England, bringing him into close contact with the new king. His style of preaching recommended him to the king, and Fuller says James I was in such awe and had such veneration of Andrewes that, in his presence, he refrained from the uncouth and unsavoury jesting he indulged in at other times.

Andrewes rose in great favour at the royal court, where he was known as a pre-eminent preacher. In 1604, he took part in the Hampton Court conference.

In 1605, he was consecrated Bishop of Chichester and was appointed Lord High Almoner.

Following the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, Andrewes was asked to prepare a sermon to be presented to the king in 1606. In this sermon, Andrewes justified the need to commemorate the deliverance and defined the nature of celebrations.

This sermon became the foundation of celebrations that continue more than 400 years later and was used to prop up the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings.

In 1609, he published Tortura Torti, a learned work that grew out of the Gunpowder Plot controversy and that was written in answer to Cardinal Bellarmine’s Matthaeus Tortus, which attacked James I’s book on the oath of allegiance. Andrewes later published a reply to Cardinal Bellarmine in the Responsio ad Apologiam.

Ely Cathedral ... Lancelot Andrewes became Bishop of Ely in 1609 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

In 1609, Andrewes moved from Chichester when he became Bishop of Ely. Meanwhile, he was working on King James’s grand project for a new translation of the Bible into English.

A copy of the King James Version of the Bible, dating from 1611, at an exhibition in Lambeth Palace

His name is the first on the list of divines appointed by King James to translate the Authorised Version or King James Version of the Bible. He directed the First Westminster Company, which took charge of the first books of the Old Testament, from Genesis to II Kings. The other members of his company or group of translators were John Overall, Hadrian à Saravia, Richard Clarke, John Layfield, Robert Tighe, Francis Burleigh, Geoffrey King, Richard Thomson and William Bedwell.

Andrewes also acted as a sort of general editor for the project. He was largely responsible for translating those first books of the Bible, and with the Bishop of Gloucester he had final authority from King James to review and revise the whole translation before it was published in 1611.

A plaque on the north wall of Saint Mary’s Church, Lichfield, recalls that Edward Wightman was burned at the stake in the Market Square in 1612 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

But Andrewes was so averse to controversy that in 1612 he acquiesced in the execution of two heretics in 1612 – Bartholomew Legate, who was burned at the stake in Smithfield, London, on 18 March 1612, and Edward Wightman, who was burned at the stake in Lichfield on 11 April 1612 – the last men to be burned at the stake for heresy in England.

In 1617, Andrewes accompanied James I to Scotland, with a view to persuading the Scots that episcopacy was preferable to Presbyterianism.

Jesus College Cambridge ... as Bishop of Ely and visitor, Andrewes appointed his brother Roger as Master (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

As Bishop of Ely, he was the visitor of Jesus College, Cambridge, and in 1618 he appointed his brother, Roger Andrewes, as Master of the college. But it was a disastrous choice, and the new master was said to be ‘overbearing and quarrelsome.’

In 1618, he was made Dean of the Chapel Royal and Bishop of Winchester in 1618, a diocese that he administered with great success until his death in 1626.

Sacramental and Prayer Life

As Kenneth Stevenson writes, ‘Andrewes’ theology is thoroughly sacramental and eschatological.’ He was typically Anglican, equally removed from the Puritan and the Roman Catholic positions. A good summary of his position is found in his First Answer to Cardinal Perron, who had challenged James I’s use of the title ‘Catholic.’

Andrewes saw himself as standing in the long line of Christian tradition. He told Walsingham that his whole life and teaching were indebted to the Fathers, especially the Eastern Fathers. He drew on the Cappadocian Fathers on the Eucharist, the Trinity and Christology, on Saint Cyprian on prayer, on Saint Anselm on sin and on Saint Bernard on atonement. =

He had a keen sense of the proportion of the faith and maintained a clear distinction between what is fundamental, needing ecclesiastical commands, and what is subsidiary, needing only ecclesiastical guidance and suggestion.

He was regarded by many as the authority on worship, so that his practice in his chapel became their standard for the liturgy. He was steeped in the teachings of the Fathers and the liturgies of the Eastern and Western Churches., and followed the 1549 Book of Common Prayer more than the 1559 edition.

His practice shaped the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637, which was adopted by the American Episcopal Church in the 1789, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which restored the rubrics for the manual acts at the offertory and the consecration. Since then, most Anglican liturgies are closer to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer which, for Andrewes, reflected the practices and beliefs of the Church for over 1,000 years.

As a bishop, he stressed that the services of the Book of Common Prayer Book were to be taken by a properly ordained minister, the Eucharist was to be celebrated reverently, infants were to be baptised, the Daily Offices were to be said, and spiritual counselling was to be given where needed.

Andrewes’s sermons and his prayers illustrate the centrality of the Eucharist in his life and teaching. For him, the Eucharist was the meeting place for the infinite and finite, the divine and human, heaven and earth. ‘The blessed mysteries ... are from above; the “Bread that came down from Heaven,” the Blood that hath been carried “into the holy place.” And I add, ubi Corpus, ubi sanguis Christi, ibi Christus’ (‘If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth,’ Colossians 3: 1-2).

We here ‘on earth ... are never so near him, nor he us, as then and there.’ Thus it is to the altar we must come for ‘that blessed union [which] is the highest perfection we can in this life aspire unto.’ Unlike his Puritan contemporaries, it was not the pulpit but the altar that was the focal point for worship in his chapel.

His private chapel is said to have been fitted with an altar, candlesticks, two altar cloths, an altar book cushion, silver ciborium, a censer and five copes.

Andrewes placed so much importance on reverence in worship because of his conviction that when we worship God it is with our entire being, both bodily and spiritually. At a time when little emphasis was placed on the old outward forms of piety Andrewes maintained: ‘If he hath framed that body of yours and every member of it, let him have the honour both of head and knee, and every member else.’

He recommends that a preacher ‘raise to [God] a thirsting heart before he speaks of [God] with his tongue...’

Convinced that true theology is based on sound learning, Andrewes is said to have given himself to five hours of prayer daily. He says he prays to ‘our Lord and Master’ to give him ‘the internal and sweeter doctrine of His own inspiration...’ so that he can set forth for his hearers the truth and that ‘from this very truth I desire to be taught the many things I know not ...’

One of his pupils and friends, Henry Isaacson, relates that ‘from the hour he arose, his private devotions finished, to the time he was called to dinner, which, by his own order, was not till 12 at noon at the soonest, he kept close at his book, and would not be interrupted by any that came to speak with him ... Insomuch that he would be so displeased with scholars that attempted to speak with him in a morning, that he would say “he doubted they were no true scholars that came to speak with him before noon”...’

Richard Church, the 19th century Dean of Saint Paul’s, said of him: ‘He ... felt himself, even in private prayer, one of the great body of God’s creation and God’s Church. He reminded himself of it, as he did of the object of his worship, in the profession of his faith. He acted on it in his detailed and minute intercessions.’ Church said Andrewes ‘claimed for the English Church its full interest and membership in the Church universal.’

Death of Andrewes

The tomb of Lancelot Andrewes by the high altar in the Church of Saint Mary Overie, then in the Diocese of Winchester but now Southwark Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

He died at Winchester House, Southwark, on 25 September 1626. On the day he died, Archbishop William Laud wrote in his diary: ‘Monday, about 4 o’clock in the morning, died Lancelot Andrewes, the most worthy bishop of Winchester, the great light of the Christian world.’ John Milton later wrote a beautiful Latin elegy on the death of Bishop Andrewes.

John Buckeridge, Bishop of Rochester, preached at his funeral. He was buried by the high altar in the Church of Saint Mary Overie, then in the Diocese of Winchester but now Southwark Cathedral. In the Church of England, he is commemorated on 25 September with a Lesser Festival.

The legacy of Lancelot Andrewes

Andrewes has been described by Rowan Greer, Professor of Anglican Studies Emeritus at Yale Divinity School, as ‘arguably, the most brilliant scholar the Church of England has ever produced.’

Next to James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, Andrewes was considered the most learned churchman of his day, and enjoyed a great reputation as an eloquent and impassioned preacher. There are passages of extraordinary beauty and profundity in his writing.

Two generations after his death, Richard Crawshaw summarised popular sentiment, when, in his lines ‘Upon Bishop Andrewes’ Picture before his Sermons,’ he writes:

This reverend shadow cast that setting sun,
Whose glorious course through our horizon run,
Left the dim face of this dull hemisphere,
All one great eye, all drown’d in one great teare.

In his lifetime, his only publication was a short volume of sermons on the Lord’s Prayer, Scala Cæli, published in 1611. But, at the command of King Charles I, 96 of his sermons were collected by William Laud, then Bishop of London, and John Buckeridge, by then Bishop of Ely, and published in 1629, which Chapman regards as the beginning of the ‘myth of Andrewes.’

His most popular work is his Preces Privatæ (Private Prayers or Private Devotions), which was published posthumously and has remained in print since a renewed interest in Andrewes arose in the 19th century.

Hooker, Andrewes and the Caroline divines were rediscovered by the leaders of the Oxford Movement in the 19th century. John Henry Newman translated into English part of his Private Devotions, the book that was still on his prayer desk at the end of his life. Andrewes’s works ran to eight volumes in the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology (1841-1854). His Ninety-Six Sermons have been occasionally reprinted and are considered among the most rhetorically developed and polished sermons of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Andrewes continues to influence religious thinkers to the present day. Modern literary appreciation begins with TS Eliot, who refers to Andrewes as ‘the first great preacher of the English Catholick Church’ who always spoke as ‘a man who had a formed visible Church behind him, who speaks with the old authority and the new culture.’

For Eliot, the sermons of Andrewes ‘rank with the finest English prose of their time, of any time,’ and the work of Hooker and Andrewes make the Church of England more worthy of intellectual assent.

Eliot also borrowed, almost word for word and without his usual acknowledgement, the opening words of Andrewes’s sermon on Christmas Day 1622 for his poem The Journey of the Magi.

In his introduction to the Selected Sermons and Lectures of Andrewes, Peter McCullogh of Lincoln College, Oxford, says the tradition of understanding Andrewes is based on the first collected edition, XCVI Sermons, a commemorative folio edited by Buckeridge and Laud. McCullogh claims Andrewes has since been understood as a court preacher and a Caroline Divine, to the neglect of his earlier critique of the English Reformation and the English Calvinists orthodoxy.

Andrewes in his own words:

He who prays for others, labours for himself. If thou prayest for thyself alone, thou alone wilt pray for thyself. If thou prayest for all, all will pray for thee. (Private Devotions)

As to the Real Presence we are agreed; our controversy is as to the mode of it. As to the mode we define nothing rashly, nor anxiously investigate, any more than in the Incarnation of Christ we ask how the human is united to the divine nature in One Person. There is a real change in the elements – we allow ut panis iam consecratus non sit panis quem natura formavit; sed, quem benedictio consecravit, et consecrando etiam immutavit. (Responsio).

Adoration is permitted, and the use of the terms ‘sacrifice’ and ‘altar’ maintained as being consonant with scripture and antiquity. Christ is “a sacrifice – so to be slain; a propitiatory sacrifice – so to be eaten. (Sermons).

By the same rules that the Passover was, by the same may ours be termed a sacrifice. In rigour of speech, neither of them; for to speak after the exact manner of divinity, there is but one only sacrifice, veri nominis, that is Christ’s death. And that sacrifice but once actually performed at His death, but ever before represented in figure, from the beginning; and ever since repeated in memory to the world’s end. That only absolute, all else relative to it, representative of it, operative by it ... Hence it is that what names theirs carried, ours do the like, and the Fathers make no scruple at it – no more need we. (Sermons).

He spells out a formula that would stand anyone who publicly unfolds the Scriptures for others in good stead: ‘Let the preacher labour to be heard intelligently, willingly, obediently. And let him not doubt that he will accomplish this rather by the piety of his prayers than by the eloquence of his speech. By praying for himself, and those whom he is to address, let him be their beadsman [intercessor] before he becomes their teacher...’

He asks that God ‘correct me wherein I am in error; confirm me wherein I waver; preserve me from false and noxious things; and make that to proceed from my mouth which, as it shall be chiefly pleasing to the truth itself, so it may be accepted by all the faithful...’

From the ‘Private Devotions,’ edited by John Henry Newman:

From an order for Morning Prayer:

Glory be to thee, O Lord, glory to thee. Glory to thee who givest me sleep to recruit my weakness, and to remit the toils of this fretful flesh. To this day and all days, a perfect, holy, peaceful, healthy, sinless course, vouchsafe O Lord.

The Angel of Peace, a faithful guide, guardian of souls and bodies, to encamp around me, and ever to prompt what is salutary, vouchsafe O Lord. Pardon and remission of all sins and of all offences vouchsafe O Lord.

To our souls what is good and convenient, and peace to the world, repentance and strictness for the residue of our life, and health and peace to the end, vouchsafe O Lord.

Whatever is true, w’hatever is honest, whatever just, whatever pure, whatever lovely, whatever of good report, if there be any virtue, if any praise, such thoughts, such deeds, vouchsafe O Lord.

A Christian close, without sin, without shame, and, should it please thee, without pain, and a good answer at the dreadful and fearful judgment-seat of Jesus Christ our Lord, vouchsafe O Lord.


Essence beyond essence, nature increate, framer of the world, I set thee, Lord, before my face, and I lift up my soul unto thee. I worship thee on my knees, and humble myself under thy mighty hand. I stretch forth my hands unto thee, my soul gaspeth unto thee as a thirsty land. I smite on my breast and say with the Publican, God be merciful to me a sinner, the chief of sinners; to the sinner above the Publican, be merciful as to the Publican.

Father of mercies, I beseech thy fatherly affection, despise me not an unclean worm, a dead dog, a putrid corpse, despise not thou the work of thine own hands, despise not thine own image though branded by sin.

Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean, Lord, only say the word, and I shall be cleansed. And thou, my Saviour Christ, Christ my Saviour, Saviour of sinners, of whom I am chief, despise me not, despise me not, O Lord, despise not the cost of thy blood, who am called by thy name; but look on me with those eyes with which thou didst look upon Magdalene at the feast, Peter in the hall, the thief on the wood; that with the thief I may entreat thee humbly.

Remember me, Lord, in thy kingdom; that with Peter I may bitterly weep and say, O that mine eyes were a fountain of tears that I might weep day and night; that with Magdalene I may hear thee say, thy sins be forgiven thee, and with her may love much, for many sins yea manifold have been forgiven me.

And thou, all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, despise me not, thy breath, despise not thine own holy things; but turn thee again, O Lord, at the last, and be gracious unto thy servant.


Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God, the God of our fathers; who turnest the shadow of death into the morning; and lightenest the face of the earth; who separatest darkness from the face of the light; and banishest night and bringest back the day; who lightenest mine eyes, that I sleep not in death; who deliverest me from the terror by night, from the pestilence that walketh in darkness; who drivest sleep from mine eyes, and slumber from mine eyelids; who makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to praise thee; because I laid me down and slept and rose up again, for the Lord sustained me; because I waked and beheld, and my sleep was sweet unto me.

Blot out as a thick cloud my transgressions, and as a cloud my sins; grant me to be a child of light, a child of the day, to walk soberly, holily, honestly, as in the day, vouchsafe to keep me this day without sin. Thou who upholdest the falling and liftest the fallen, let me not harden my heart in provocation, or temptation or deceitfulness of any sin.

Moreover, deliver me today from the snare of the hunter and from the noisome pestilence; from the arrow that flieth by day, from the sickness that destroyeth in the noon day. Defend this day against my evil, against the evil of this day defend thou me.

Let not my days be spent in vanity, nor my years in sorrow. One day teileth another, and one night certifieth another. O let me hear thy loving-kindness betimes in the morning, for in thee is my trust; hew thou me the way that I should walk in, for I lift up my soul unto thee. Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies, for I flee unto thee.

Teach me to do the thing that pleaseth thee, for thou art my God: let thy loving Spirit lead me forth into the land of righteousness. Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name’s sake, and for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble: remove from me foolish imaginations, inspire those which are good and pleasing in thy sight. Turn away mine eyes lest they behold vanity: let mine eyes look right on, and let mine eyelids look straight before me.

Hedge up mine ears with thorns lest they incline to undisciplined words. Give me early the ear to hear, and open mine ears to the instruction of thy oracles. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and keep the door of my lips. Let my word be seasoned with salt, that it may minister grace to the hearers. Let no deed be grief unto me nor offence of heart.

Let me do some work for which Thou wilt remember me, Lord, for good, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy. Into thine hands I commend mv spirit, soul, and body, which thou hast created, redeemed, regenerated, O Lord, thou God of truth: and together with me all mine and all that belongs to me.

Thou hast vouchsafed them to me, Lord, in thy goodness. Guard us from all evil, guard our souls, I beseech thee, O Lord.

Guard us without falling, and place us immaculate in the presence of thy glory in that day.

Guard my going out and my coming in henceforth and for ever.

Prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of those who meet him. O God, make speed to save me, O Lord, make haste to help me. O turn thee then unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and help the son of thine handmaid. Show some token upon me for good, that they who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because thou, Lord, hast holpen me and comforted me.

Evening Prayer

The day is gone, and I give thee thanks, O Lord. Evening is at hand, make it bright unto us. As day has its evening so also has life; the even of life is age, age has overtaken me, make it bright unto us. Cast me not away in the time of age; forsake me not when my strength faileth me.

Even to my old age be thou he, and even to hoar hairs carry me; do thou make, do thou bear, do thou carry and deliver me.

Abide with me, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent of this fretful life. Let thy strength be made perfect in my weakness.

Day is fled and gone, life too is going, this lifeless life. Night cometh, and cometh death, the deathless death. Near as is the end of day, so too the end of life. We then, also remembering it, beseech of thee for the close of our life, that thou wouldest direct it in peace, Christian, acceptable, sinless, shameless, and, if it please thee, painless, Lord, O Lord, gathering us together under the feet of thine elect, when thou wilt, and as thou wilt, only without shame and sins.

Remember we the days of darkness, for they shall be many, lest we be cast into outer darkness. Remember me to outstrip the night doing some good thing.

Near is judgment; a good and acceptable answer at the dreadful and fearful judgment-seat of Jesus Christ vouchsafe to us, O Lord.

By night I lift up my hands in the sanctuary, and praise the Lord. The Lord hath granted His loving-kindness in the day time; and in the night season did I sing of him, and made my prayer unto the God of my life. As long as I live will I magnify thee on this manner, and lift up my hands in thy name.

Let my prayer be set forth in thy sight as the incense, and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice. Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God, the God of our fathers, who hast created the changes of days and nights, who givest songs in the night, who hast delivered us from the evil of this day who hast not cut off like a weaver my life, nor from day even to night made an end of me.


Lord, as we add day to day, so sin to sin. The just falleth seven times a day; and I, an exceeding sinner, seventy times seven; a wonderful, a horrible thing, O Lord. But I turn with groans from my evil ways, and I return into my heart, and with all my heart I turn to thee, O God of penitents and Saviour of sinners; and evening by evening I will return in the innermost marrow of my soul; and my soul out of the deep crieth unto thee.

I have sinned, O Lord, against thee, heavily against Thee; alas, alas, woe is me! for my misery. I repent, O me! I repent, spare me, O Lord, I repent, O me, I repent, help thou my impenitence. Be appeased, spare me, O Lord; be appeased, have mercy on me; I said, Lord, have mercy upon me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.

Have mercy upon me, O Lord, after thy great goodness, according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offences. Remit the guilt, heal the wound, blot out the stains, clear away the shame, rescue from the tyranny, and make me not a public example. O bring thou me out of my trouble, cleanse thou me from secret faults, keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins. My wanderings of mind and idle talking lay not to my charge. Remove the dark and muddy flood of foul and wicked thoughts.

O Lord, I have destroyed myself; whatever I have done amiss, pardon mercifully. Deal not with us after our sins, neither reward us after our iniquities. Look mercifully upon our infirmities; and for the glory of thy all-holy name, turn from us all those ills and miseries, which by our sins, and by us through them, are most righteously and worthily deserved.


To my weariness, O Lord, vouchsafe thou rest, to my exhaustion, renew thou strength. Lighten mine eyes that I sleep not in death. Deliver me from the terror by night, the pestilence that walketh in darkness. Supply me with healthy sleep, and to pass through this night without fear.

O keeper of Israel, who neither slumberest nor sleepest, guard me this night from all evil, guard my soul, O Lord. Visit me with the visitation of thine own, reveal to me wisdom in the visions of the night. If not, for I am not worthy, not worthy, at least, O loving Lord, let sleep be to me a breathing time as from toil, so from sin. Yea, O Lord, nor let me in my dreams imagine what may anger thee, what may defile me. Let not my loins be filled with illusions, yea, let my reins chasten me in the night season, yet without grievous terror.

Preserve me from the black sleep of sin; all earthly and evil thoughts put to sleep within me. Grant to me light sleep, rid of all imaginations fleshly and satanical.

Lord, thou knowest how sleepless are mine unseen foes, and how feeble my wretched flesh, who madest me; shelter me with the wing of thy pity; awaken me at the fitting time, the time of prayer; and give me to seek thee early, for thy glory and for thy service.

Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend myself, my spirit, soul, and body: thou didst make, and didst redeem them; and together with me, all my friends and all that belongs to me. Thou hast vouchsafed them to me, Lord, in thy goodness. Guard my lying down and my rising up, from henceforth and for ever. Let me remember thee on my bed, and search out my spirit; let me wake up and be present with thee; let me lay me down in peace, and take my rest: for it is thou, Lord, only that makest me dwell in safety.


O Lord, as days unto days, so withal do we add sins to sin.

The just man stumbleth seven times a day, but I, a singular great sinner, seventy times seven. Nay but I return unto thee, O Lord, O Lord thou lover of man, thou hast a golden censer; add me thine incense unto this prayer for a sweet-smelling savour before thy throne, and let the lifting up of hands be set forth for an evening sacrifice.

Lord, the Almighty, all our works thou hast wrought in us; if we have gotten any good success, receive it favourably, O Lord abundant in goodness and very pitiful: but so many things as we have done amiss, pardon graciously, for our destruction cometh of ourselves.

Another form of Evening Prayer

Deliver me, O Lord, from the terror by night, from the pestilence that walketh in darkness. Give me to seek thee early, even for thy praise and service. Preserve my lying down and my uprising from this time forth even for evermore.

Discover me my mind for meditation by night, so as to remember thee upon my bed; in the night to commune with mine own heart and to search out my spirit: and to keep my spirit: but if not this (for I am not worthy, I am not worthy, O Lord) yet at leastwise, O Lord thou lover of man, let my sleep be to me a respite, as from toiling, so from sinning withal.

Yea, O Lord, I beseech thee, look upon me, and put to sleep in me every earthly and evil thought.

The sleeplessness of mine unseen foes, Thou wottest, O Lord: the slackness of my wretched flesh thou knowest, which didst form me. Let the wing of thy goodness shelter me: lighten mine eyes that I never sleep in death. Give me, O Lord, a good life, a good death, and deathlessness: for I know not, I know not, O Lord, how soon is the putting off of my tabernacle. Wherein grant me, O Lord, that the end of life be Christian, sinless, shameless, and, if it like thee, painless; and a good defence at the appalling and fearful judgment-seat of Jesus Christ; that I may hear the most sweet voice.

Come ye blessed, and that I may enter into thy joy and get fruition of the vision of our Father which is in heaven. Grant me sleep, O Lord, for repose of weakness and for relief of the toils of this travailing flesh. Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend myself and all things mine: preserve me, o Lord, thou that art the keeper of Israel, that didst neither slumber nor sleep ever yet.

Blessing, thanksgiving and doxology:

Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers, that didst create changes of days and nights, that hast delivered us from the evil of this day, that hast bestowed on us occasions of songs in the evening and to get us through the night fearlessly in hope: for thou art our light, salvation and strength of life, of whom then shall we be afraid?

Glory be to thee, O Lord, glory be to thee, for all thy divine perfections, for thine inexpressible and unimaginable goodness and mercy, unto sinners and unworthy, and to me a sinner, of all most unworthy yea, O Lord, glory and praise and blessing and thanksgiving by the voices and concert of voices as well of angels as of men and of all thy saints in heaven and of all thy creation withal on earth, and under their feet of me the sinner unworthy and wretched, world without end.

On going to bed

Let me think upon thy name in the night season, and keep thy law; let the evening prayer go up unto thee, and thy pity come down unto us, O thou which givest songs in the night, which makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to praise thee, which givest thy beloved wholesome sleep.

Prayer upon entering a Church

As for me, I will come into thy house, even upon the multitude of thy mercy; and in thy fear will I worship towards thy holy temple.

O Lord, hear the voice of my humble petitions, when I cry unto thee; when I hold up my hands toward the mercy-seat of thy holy temple. We wait for thy loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.

Be mindful of the brethren who are present, and join together in prayer with us now: remember their devotion and their zeal. Be mindful of them also who upon good cause are absent: and have mercy upon them and us, according to the multitude of thy mercies, O Lord.

We bless thee for our godly princes, orthodox prelates, and for the founders of this thy holy habitation.

Glory be to thee, O Lord, glory be to thee; glory be to thee, because thou hast glorified them; for and with whom we all glorify thee.

Let thine eyes be open, and thine ears graciously attend, to hear the prayer which thy servant prayeth in this place, wherein thy name is called upon.

Woe is me, I have sinned against thee, O Lord, I have sinned against thee; O how evilly have I done; and yet thou hast not requited me, according to my sins.

But I am ashamed, and turn from my wicked ways, and return to my own heart, and with all my heart I return to thee, and seek thy face; and pray unto thee: saying, I have sinned, I have done perversely, I have committed wickedness; Lord, I know the plague of my own heart, and, behold, I return unto thee with all my heart, and with all my might.

And now, O Lord, in thy dwelling place, the glorious throne of thy kingdom in heaven, hear the prayer and supplication of thy servant. And be merciful unto thy servant, and heal his soul. I dare not so much as lift up mine eyes unto heaven, but standing afar off, I smite upon my breast, and say with the publican, God be merciful to me a sinner. To me, a greater sinner than the publican, be merciful as to the publican. The earnest desire of man shall be to thy praise, and the continuance of that desire shall hold a festival to thee.


Almighty God, you gave your servant Lancelot Andrewes many gifts of your Holy Spirit,
making him a man of prayer and a pastor of your people:
perfect in us that which 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 is alive and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A footnote (of sorts):

Lancelot Andrewes in the academic hat to which he has given his name

Andrewes has an academic cap named after him, known as the Bishop Andrewes cap, which is like a mortarboard but made of velvet, floppy and has a tump or tuff instead of a tassel. This was in fact the ancient version of the mortarboard before the top square was stiffened and the tump replaced by a tassel and button. This cap is still used by Doctors of Divinity at Cambridge University and at some other academic institutions as part of their academic dress.

Select bibliography:

AM Allchin, ‘’Lancelot Andrewes,’ pp 145-164 in Geoffrey Rowell (ed), The English Religious Tradition and the Genius of Anglicanism (Oxford: Keble College, 1992).
Lancelot Andrewes, XCVI Sermons, (London,1635, 3rd ed).
MD Chapman, Anglican Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2012).
TS Eliot, For Lancelot Andrewes: Essays on Style and Order (London: Faber & Gwyer, 1928).
Walter H. Frere, ‘Lancelot Andrewes as a Representative of Anglican Principles: A Lecture Delivered at Holy Trinity, Chelsea, February 28, 1897’ Church Historical Society, 44 (London: SPCK, 1898).
Florence Higham, Lancelot Andrewes (London: SCM Press, 1952).
Henry Isaacson, An Exact Narration of the Life and Death of the Late reverend and learned Prelate, and painfull Divine Lancelot Andrewes, Late Bishop of Winchester. Which may serve as a pattern of Piety and Charity to All Godly Disposed Christians (London: John Stafford, 1650).
Peter McCullough (ed), Lancelot Andrewes: Selected Sermons and Lectures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Alister McGrath (ed), The SPCK Handbook of Anglican Theologians (London: SPCK, 1998).
William Marshall, Scripture, Tradition and Reason (Dublin: Columba, 2010). RL Ottley, Lancelot Andrewes (London: Methuen, 1894).
AT Russell, Memoirs of the Life and Works of Lancelot Andrewes, Lord Bishop of Winchester (Cambridge: J. Palmer, 1863).
PA Welsby, Lancelot Andrewes 1555-1626 (London: SPCK, 1958).
JP Wilson and J. Bliss (eds), The Works of Lancelot Andrewes (11 vols, Oxford: Parker Society, 1841-1854).

This is based on an essay first posted on the site Dead Anglican Theologians Society on 20 September 2012.