Festival of Commemoration Evensong
Monday, 17th November 2008
An Evensong to mark the start of the Abbey’s ‘Mary and Elizabeth: Sisters in Hope of Resurrection’ festival took place on Monday 17th November 2008.
This special Evensong was held to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the death on 17 November 1558 of Queen Mary I and the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth I.
The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, opened the service with a Bidding:
450 years ago today, the first woman to rule England in her own right, Queen Mary I, died at St James’s Palace. She was 42 years old and had reigned for little more than five years. The Succession, a matter of dispute in 1553, was not in doubt. King Henry VIII’s surviving daughter became this day 450 years ago Queen Elizabeth I. She was 25 and would reign for 45 years.
It is a pleasure on behalf of the Dean and Chapter to welcome you to this service. We come to give thanks to Almighty God for the two half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, buried together in the north aisle of the Lady Chapel built by their grandfather. On their joint tomb is the Latin inscription that can be translated “Partners in throne and grave, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sister, in hope of the Resurrection.”
Before the blessing, the representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury and of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster will pray with me at the tomb for the unity of the Church and for a deepening of the friendship between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in this land. May our prayers be joined with those of all the martyrs of the two reigns and of all the company of heaven and may the Lord hear and answer our prayer!
Two short addresses were given by the Right Reverend Dom Aidan Bellenger OSB, Abbot of Downside, and the Reverend Dr Stephen Hampton, Dean of Peterhouse. The music for Evensong was that of the two reigns.
At the end of the service, the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative, the Very Reverend Dr John Arnold, and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster's representative, the Reverend Monsignor Christopher Lightbound, said prayers at the tomb of the two half-sisters in the north aisle of the Henry VII Chapel, together with the Dean of Westminster, for the unity of the Church and for a deepening of the friendship between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in this land.