Her Majesty The Queen accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales attended a service of celebration, in association with the King James Bible Trust, to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 16th November at 12 noon.
The place of the King James Bible in our culture and the continuing significance of the Word was celebrated in the service. There have been few more important single publications in the English language and its impact through history has been immense.
Two of the six companies of eminent churchmen worked on this new English translation of the Bible in the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster Abbey led by Lancelot Andrewes, Dean of Westminster 1601-1605.
The King James Bible Trust, which was established in 2007 to mark the 400th anniversary year of the King James Bible, has worked to ensure its literary and linguistic importance continues to be spread throughout the world.
Four historic copies of the King James Bible and the People’s Bible were processed through the Abbey at the start of the service.
The Most Honourable the Marquess of Salisbury PC DL, Trustee, King James Bible Trust, read Exodus 3: 4-5.
In his Bidding, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall and Trustee, King James Bible Trust said: ‘Four hundred years ago this year, the King James Version of the Bible was published, the result of the commitment and foresight of King James I and the scholarly work of six companies of learned divines. Two of the companies met in each of Oxford, Cambridge, and here at Westminster. It is fitting that we gather here to give thanks to almighty God for their work.’
Polly Frame performed an extract from The Crossing, in response to Exodus by Anne Michaels, directed by Christopher Haydon, part of Sixty-Six Books produced by the Bush Theatre.
Riona Kelly, pupil, University Academy, Birkenhead read 2 Corinthians 4: 1-13.
The Archbishop of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, read St John 1: 1-14.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams, gave the Address.
The Choir of Westminster Abbey, directed by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers, sung the anthem Out of the South Cometh the Whirlwind by Zachary Wadsworth, the winning entry in its category of the King James Bible Composition Awards, organised by the King James Bible Trust.
The prayers were led by the Reverend Michael Macey, Minor Canon and Precentor of Westminster, and read by the Right Honourable Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education; the Most Honourable the Marquess of Salisbury PC DL; the Reverend Professor Vernon White, Canon Theologian, Westminster Abbey; Joseph Ewing, pupil, Bacon’s College; and Elaine Duncan, Chief Executive, Scottish Bible Society.
The organ was played by Robert Quinney, Sub Organist, and before the service by James McVinnie, Assistant Organist.
After the service the Westminster Abbey Company of Ringers rang a peal of Stedman Caters comprising 5,400 changes.
The Order of Service (PDF, 217KB)