21 June 2022

A prayer of Lancelot Andrewes
found in Southwark Cathedral

The tomb of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes in Southwark Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Each time I visit Southwark Cathedral, one of the places I find myself stopping at is the tomb of Andrewes Lancelot (1555-1626), Bishop of Winchester.

Lancelot Andrewes was a 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 to 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.’

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.” 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 with a Lesser Festival on 25 September.

Visiting the tomb of Lancelot Andrewes by the high altar in Southwark Cathedral a fortnight ago, I read this prayer:

Thou, O Lord, art the Helper of the helpless,
the Hope of the Hopeless,
the Saviour of them who are tossed with the tempests,
the Haven of them who sail; be thou all to all.
The glorious majesty of the Lord our God be upon us,
prosper thou the work of our hands upon us,
Oh! prosper thou our handiwork
Lord, be thou within us, to strengthen us;
without us to keep us; above us to protect us;
beneath us to uphold us; before us to direct us;
behind us to keep us from straying;
round about us to defend us.

Blessed be Thou, O Lord our Father, for ever and ever.

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
21 June 2022 (Psalm 118)

‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’ (Psalm 118: 22) … a cross cut into a cornerstone in the main church in the Monastery of Vlatádon in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

In the Calendar of the Church, we are in Ordinary Time. Before today begins, I am taking some time this morning to continue my reflections drawing on the Psalms.

In my blog, I am reflecting each morning in this Prayer Diary in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Psalm 118:

Psalm 118 is the sixth of the six psalms (Psalms 113-118) comprising the Hallel (הַלֵּל, ‘Praise’). In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, this is counted as Psalm 117. It is often known by the Latin name it takes from its opening words, Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius.

The Hallel psalms are known as the ‘Egyptian Hallel’ because of the references in Psalm 114 to the Exodus from Egypt. Psalms 113-118 are among the earliest prayers written to be recited in the Temple on days of national celebration. They were sung as accompaniment to the Pesach or Passover sacrifice. Early rabbinic sources suggest that these psalms were said on the pilgrimage festivals – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.

On all days when Hallel is recited, Psalm 118 is recited in its entirety, with the final 10 verses recited twice each.

This psalm includes the first verse of the Bible that I was ever taught to remember by heart, at a youth camp at the Quaker Meeting House at Moyallon, near Portadown, Co Armagh, which dates back to 1685 and a colony of members of the Society of Friends from England:

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118: 24).

Psalm 118 has as its themes thanksgiving to God and reliance on God rather than on human strength. In this psalm, we are called to give thanks to God for his mercy and love, which are everlasting. The one who was rejected is now God’s chosen ruler, and all shall share in the power and blessing of God.

In Jewish tradition, verse 1 (‘O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!’) was first recited by King David when he brought the Ark to Jerusalem (see I Chronicles 16: 34).

The Psalmist expresses his faith that:

I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death (Psalm 118: 17-18).

Now he can enter the Temple (verse 19) to give thanks to God (verse 20). He has suffered greatly, but God has preserved his life:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone (Psalm 118: 22).

In the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Peter speaks after his arrest to the Sanhedrin of the Risen Christ, describing him as ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; [he] has become the cornerstone’ (Acts 4: 11). Saint Paul too refers to Christ as ‘the cornerstone’ (see Ephesians 2: 20).

Verse 26 (‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’) is a blessing pronounced by the priests to those who come to worship in the Temple. One of the tasks of the priests was to bless the people who came in pilgrimage to the Temple to make their offerings.

This verse is sung by the people as Christ enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Liturgically, this verse is sung as the Benedictus immediately after the Sanctus (from Isaiah 6), as praise of Christ in his victory over the grave, and as a sign of his perpetual entry into our lives in the Eucharist.

In many places, this psalm is sung on Palm Sunday as the procession moves from outside into the church.

‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’ (Psalm 118: 26) … the entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday – an image in Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Psalm 118 (NRSVA):

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever!

2 Let Israel say,
‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’
4 Let those who fear the Lord say,
‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’

5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
6 With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put confidence in mortals.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they blazed like a fire of thorns;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
‘The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
16 the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.’
17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures for ever.

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is the Swarupantor programme in the Church of Bangladesh. This theme was introduced on Sunday.

Tuesday 21 June 2022:

The USPG Prayer invites us to pray today in these words:

We pray for the Church of Bangladesh and the dioceses of Barishal, Dhaka and Kushtia. May we support the Church as they seek to be salt and light to the people of Bangladesh.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org