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Abbey Honours the Life and Work of Nelson Mandela

Monday, 3rd March 2014

Abbey Honours the Life and Work of Nelson Mandela

His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales represented Her Majesty The Queen at a Service to Celebrate the Life and Work of Nelson Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa, at Westminster Abbey on Monday 3rd March 2014.

The service was also attended by the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable David Cameron MP, and the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding:

A service of thanksgiving for South Africa was held here in Westminster Abbey twenty years ago to celebrate the first democratic elections which brought black majority rule to South Africa, and the return of the country to membership of the Commonwealth. At that time, all who were here, and people throughout the world thanked God for the triumph of a spirit of reconciliation, and for peaceful transition.
It is hard to imagine that any of this would have been possible without the grace and generosity shown by Nelson Mandela. Today we join together, representing the people of South Africa, of the United Kingdom, and of the Commonwealth, to give thanks to almighty God for a truly great man.
As we recall the life and work of Nelson Mandela, we shall give heartfelt thanks, and we shall pray for the people of South Africa, and for peace and justice in God’s world.

During the service a recording of part of the 1994 Presidential Inauguration Speech by Nelson Mandela was played.

Tributes were paid by the Deputy President of South Africa and the Right Honourable Peter Hain MP.

His Excellency Obed Mlaba, High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa, read Joshua 4: 1-7, 19-end and the Prime Minister read St John 10: 10-16.

The Address was given by the Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town.

Prayers were led by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan; and the Most Reverend Dr John Sentamu, Lord Archbishop of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan and said by Karen Mackenzie; the Reverend Dr Jongikaya Zihle, Minister Shern Hall Methodist Church; Katherine Gouws; Vassi Naidoo; Phindiswa Kennedy; the Venerable Dr Jane Hedges, Canon-in-Residence, Westminster Abbey; and the Reverend Dr James Hawkey, Minor Canon and Precentor of Westminster.

Jonty Driver, former President, National Union of South African Students, read from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, taken from the Robben Island Bible*

The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by the Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O’Donnell. The organ was played by Daniel Cook, Sub-Organist and before the service by Martin Ford, Assistant Organist, and Peter Holder, Organ Scholar.

The Soweto Gospel Choir also sang at the service.

See also:

The Order of Service (PDF, 467 KB)

The Address given by the Most Reverend Desmond Tutu

A Tribute given by the Right Honourable Peter Hain MP (PDF, 23 KB)

* A copy of Shakespeare’s Complete Works circulated among prisoners on Robben Island the island prison near Cape Town where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. The former South African President signed alongside the text of this extract on December 16, 1977.

‘Cowards die many times before their deaths:
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.’

Nelson Mandela joins a select group of non-Britons who have been honoured by a Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey which includes Archbishop Luwum of Uganda, Sir Alexander Bustamente Prime Minister of Jamaica, Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia and Sir Seretse Khama, President of Botswana.

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