Evensong to celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of Westminster Abbey was held in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Westminster and the Mayors of the London Boroughs, together with members of the Greater London Lieutenancy, on Sunday 15th October 2023.
About the service
The London Mayors' Association was welcomed to the Abbey by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle.
The Right Reverend Dr Joanne Grenfell, Bishop of Stepney, gave the sermon.
His Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir Kenneth Olisa, gave a reading from Wisdom 1; and the Right Worshipful The Lord Mayor of Westminster and Deputy High Steward, Councillor Patricia McAllister, read from Luke 19.
The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey, conducted by Andrew Nethsingha, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Matthew Jorysz, Assistant Organist.
The Dedication of Westminster Abbey
St Edward the Confessor, King of England from 1042 to 1066, re-endowed the Benedictine monastery of Westminster and built a large Romanesque church for the monastic community. That building was dedicated on 28th December 1065. St Edward died shortly after the dedication. He was canonised in 1161 and on 13th October 1163 his body was moved, or ‘translated’, to a new tomb in the church which he had built.
St Edward’s Romanesque church survived until the 13th century, when it was replaced by a new church in the Gothic style built by Henry III: the building in which we now worship. A new shrine was constructed for the body of St Edward, and the translation of his relics to this shrine was an integral part of the liturgy of the dedication of this new church on 13th October 1269. The October date was chosen for the dedication because it was already established as the Feast of the Translation of St Edward. St Edward’s relics remain in that same shrine, which is behind the High Altar.
The Feast of the Translation of St Edward is kept at the Abbey on 13th October, a celebration which focuses on the life of the saint. The Feast of the Dedication of Westminster Abbey, focusing on the building as a sacred space, is kept on the following Sunday.
Order of service