This month we consider the impact of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes
Most of us associate Bishop Andrewes with the Authorized Version of the Bible. King James I initiated a new translation of the Christian Scriptures arising out of the Hampton Court Conference of 1604 A.D. Andrewes, who served successively as Bishop of Chichester, Ely and Winchester, was chosen to oversee this project, owing to his command of the English language. The Authorized Version of the Bible has since become one of the most influential books of all time.
Whilst Andrewes died one year after the accession of Charles I, his sermons had a profound effect on the monarch. After Andrewes’ death, Charles ordered his sermons to be collected and published. So profound an effect had they in the English-speaking world, that even T.S. Eliot was moved to convert to Anglicanism from Unitarianism after their reading. According to Eliot, “they rank with the finest English prose of their time, of any time.”
Also of interest to the English monarchy, James I asked Andrewes to deliver a sermon after the infamous “Gunpowder Plot” had been exposed, wherein Andrewes addresses the reason to institute its commemoration and to continue its celebration throughout the ages. Preached at Whitehall, one year after the plot had failed, Andrewes states: And the very same day wherin that appointment was disappointed by God, and we all saved, that we might not die but live, and declare the praise of the Lord: the Lord of whose doing, that marvellous deed was, of whose making, this joyfull day is, that we celebrate.
Like James I and Charles I, Andrewes was a strong proponent of episcopal ecclesiology and traveled with James to Scotland in an attempt to dissuade the Scots of their preference of Presbyterianism. In the end, these overtures were soundly rejected.
Andrewes died on 25 September 1626 at Winchester House in Southwark (Southwark having not yet been created as a separate diocese), and was buried beside the high altar at what is now the Southwark Cathedral.