Picturing history: Lancelot Andrewes

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 2 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Lancelot Andrewes, perhaps the most remarkable and best known translator of the King James Bible, served the Church of England as the Bishop of Chichester.

Kenneth Mays

Perhaps the most remarkable and best known translator of the King James Bible was Lancelot Andrewes. Brilliant from birth, he was so studious as a boy that people thought it unnatural. Later in life he was described as being "dauntingly learned." Service in the Church of England included being Bishop of Chichester and Bishop of Ely. For the KJB, he was director of the First Westminster Company, which translated the first books of the Old Testament. Lancelot Andrewes had command of 15 different languages. Author Gordon Campbell writes that Lancelot Andrewes "was by some measure the most powerful figure among all the translators, partly because he exercised very considerable powers of patronage, but also because he was one of the most learned men in England, and he offered intellectual as well as spiritual leadership." He served as Royal Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth and King James. It has been noted that King James slept with Andrewes' sermons under his pillow.

According to T. S. Eliot, Lancelot Andrewes could "derive the world from a word, squeezing it, stretching it, crushing and contorting it, so that every conceivable facet of its meaning could be made apparent."

A service titled "Choral Evensong and Commemoration of Lancelot Andrewes" was held on Monday, Sept. 26, at Southwark Cathedral, London.

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