On the Diocesan website of Ely is this article on Lancelot Andrewes. You can find this article here
The name of Andrewes has been immortalised by ecclesiastical outfitters through the floppy ancestor of the mortar-board which is called the Bishop Andrewes Cap, probably because of the portraits and engravings depicting him in that head-dress. (Interestingly, in the Ely portrait, he wears a skull cap.) It is true that he had precise views on how the liturgy should be celebrated, and the chapel at Ely House, London, was a byword for the ideals of the advanced school of Prayer Book worship at the time. But he is remembered for still more important things. The merchant seaman's son, born in 1555, with the natural gift of languages who was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, was a gifted communicator of distilled knowledge and reflection on the human condition. That explains his distinguished ministry both as catechist at Pembroke, and as Vicar of St Giles', Cripplegate, back in London, before becoming Dean of Westminster in 1601 -- which threw him further into the limelight, for among the special services in which he took part were the funeral of Elizabeth I and the coronation of James I. The new monarch and Andrewes struck up an immediate friendship, which made it a matter of time before he was made a bishop; Chichester in 1605, Ely in 1609, and Winchester ten years later; and he died in 1626. There are three aspects of Andrewes' ministry which deserve to be highlighted -- as a preacher, as a man of prayer, and as a controversialist.
First, as preacher. At the beginning of the following reign, Charles I entrusted to William Laud, then bishop of London, and John Buckeridge, then bishop of Rochester, the task of editing a collection of his sermons, the majority of which had been preached at court before King James at the major festivals. Whatever the precise character of their editorial work (and Marianne Dorman's recent Bristol PhD suggests that there may have been some theological censorship in the process), the famous 96 Sermons first published in 1629 were reprinted several times, and were read and re-read as the century progressed. Sermons, however, do not usually bear imitation, and the diarist John Evelyn notes on 4th April 1679 that the Bishop of Gloucester, John Pritchett, preached Andrewes-style with many sub-divisions, and 'with much quickness', in a manner by then out of date. But they were used for other purposes. If you look closely at the 1619 Christmas sermon on Lk 2;14 and compare it with Hark. The herald angels sing, you will see that Charles Wesley must have had it open in front of him when he wrote the original version of that hymn.
The court sermons inevitably have something of the set piece aspect to them, unlike the collection of addresses dating from his time at St Giles', Cripplegate, which were published in 1657, called the Apospasmatia Sacra, which are less polished and may or may not represent what he actually delivered. They are in even greater contrast to the recently discovered sermons acquired by Lambeth Palace Library four years ago on which Dr Dorman is now working. As King James' favourite preacher, Andrewes held a position of pre-eminence. Perhaps Nicholas Lossky, the Russian Orthodox theologian, is correct to single out the Whitsun court sermons as the finest. Most of them were preached at Greenwich, but -- since Windsor Castle is in the news at the moment -- I want to look at the only one of the court sermons delivered there. For some reason, Whitsun was uniquely celebrated at Windsor in 1611; whether or not this was something to do with the publication of the Authorized Version of the Bible, in which And rewes had played a key part in the translation of the Old Testament (Genesis to 2 Kings), we do not know.
Andrewes chose as his text Jn 16:7, it is expedient for you that I go away, from the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday after Easter (he used the epistle for this day as his text at Whitsun in 1621). Immediately, he hurls himself into the task of applying the text in all manner of ways. At the start, he contrasts Ascension with Whitsun: 'there is that mutual reference and reciprocation, that is, between promissio missionis and missio promissionis.' And he unfolds the character of the liturgical year by the way in which Christ is manifested in different ways, at Christmas, Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter Day, Ascension, and Whitsun. It is expedient -- which 'is the true Christian's reason. But there is what he calls 'inconvenience'. 'Stay his Ascension, we fear not Pentecost' -- the revelation of the Spirit brings a fuller and more challenging path of life, which is the Trinity; 'the main principal works of the deity all persons cooperate, and have their concurrence.' Whitsun celebrates the revelation of the Trinity, without which there can be no baptism, no preaching, no sacrament, no prayer, which are the means whereby Christ is made present not in one place, but all over the world, a clear message about worship and mission.
But the coming of the Spirit is personal and inward, so that the tongues of fire are 'for ceremony', whereas the invisible 'is the real matter.' And whereas human beings 'love to be left to ourselves', the work of the Spirit to guide us is not for emergency use, but for the whole Christian life. And he winds his text into the conclusion of the sermon by applying it, again, to preaching, prayer, baptism, and the eucharist. Here, he points out that 'there is spiritual meat, and a spiritual drink...in which kind, there is none so apt to procreate the Spirit in us, as that flesh and blood, which was itself conceived and procreate by the Spirit, and therefore full of spirit and life, to them that partake it.' And he ends -- as he often does -- in heaven: 'as we be his paracleti, his guests, so he will be ours, dwelling with us with his assistance, and being in us by his graces, to life eternal.'
In many ways a typical Andrewes sermon, we can see certain characteristics. He bounces the text through the doctrine of the Trinity, the Church Year, human experience (at one point he even says that Christ had to depart 'that we may grow humble', and so be ready for the Spirit), and the life and worship of the Church, including the sacraments; and he manages to throw in two quotations from Augustine, from whom he derives his own emphasis on the distinction between the outward and the inward. This is a style of preaching that is exegetical, doctrinal, devotional, and liturgical -- all at once. And there is an energy and freshness that carries the reader along, with those jerky contrasts and lilting sentences.
Opinions always vary about sermons! One Scottish laird, hearing Andrewes preach at Whitsun in Holyrood in 1617, complained to King James that Andrewes did not preach upon his text, but played with it, giving the impression of not sticking to the point. There is, however, a longer verdict which history has given both to the atmosphere and the theological method of these sermons. T.S. Eliot did much to draw attention to Andrewes in an essay published in 1928, in which he says that 'Andrewes' emotion is purely contemplative' -- indicating that the sermons are the result of deep and lengthy thought and prayer, in which the preacher is always in control of his material, but is at the same time ready to offer the entirety to God alone, confident that there will always be more to say next time, and even more to enjoy.
We turn, secondly, to Andrewes as man of prayer. During the last days of his life, the only book he looked at was his own collection of private prayers, composed by him from a multitude of sources -- as diverse as the Greek liturgies and John Knox's Book of Common Order of 1564 -- and written in Latin ,or where appropriate to the source in Greek or Hebrew. They were his own private prayers -- the Preces Privatae -- and were not intended for publication. But they were copiesd and have been translated into English several times, most notably by F.E.Brightman in 1903, an edition which is annotated with the suggested sources, and -- most important of all -- with numerous parallels from his sermons. This last point is worth pondering, for it suggests a man whose preaching and praying had reached an unusually high point of integration. Like the sermons, they are works of art which bear contemplation and re-translation as the years go by; and they bear witness, too, to a man who stands, astonishingly, as an ecumenical figure, who is indeed the possession of his own age, but also of every age. Here is part of the prayer he used immediately after the Consecration in the eucharist, in a translation recently made by David Scott:
We pray to you, Lord, with the witness of our conscience clean, we may receive our share of your holiness, and we may be united with the holy body and blood of your Christ, and receive them not unworthily; and that we may have Christ dwelling in our hearts; and let us become temples of your Holy Spirit, say YES, our God. And make none of us unworthy of these terrifying and heavenly mysteries, nor weaken our bodies and souls by receiving them unworthily.
In many respects such prayers typify Andrewes' piety. They breathe the scriptures ('our conscience clean'), the Greek liturgies ('our share of your holiness...'), and Andrewes' own sense of the realness of God's mercy and our own unworthiness to receive it. In the sermons, we observe him tackling tricky theological issues, and in the prayers, we glimpse his multi-sourced, quasi-ecumenical vision. We must now turn to an important aspect of his work, namely the controversialist.
In 1610, Andrewes published his Responsio ad Apologiam Cardinalis Bellarmine, largely at the King's suggestion. It was part of the monarch's defence of his position in the face of the Catholic royalty of Europe, and of the Church of England as then constituted. This particular work was aimed at Robert Bellarmine, the Jesuit theologian. It was written in Latin and it is interesting to note that the temperature of the two opponents is remarkably cool, that is, by the standards of the time. Of the eucharistic presence, Andrewes asserts:
We believe no less than you that the presence is real. Concerning the method of the presence, we define nothing rashly, and, I add, we do not anxiously enquire, any more than how the blood of Christ washes in our Baptism, any more than how the human and divine natures are united in one Person in the Incarnation of Christ.
And of the eucharistic sacrifice, he is even more direct:
Do you take away from the Mass your transubstantiation; and there will not long be any strife with us about the sacrifice. Willingly we allow that a memory of the sacrifice is made there. That your Christ made of bread is sacrificed there we will never allow.
The first quotation offers a rather high interpretation of Article XXVIII, whereas the second demonstrates a shrewd knowledge of the liturgical theology of Catholicism at the time; the words of Christ in the eucharistic prayer are taken to consecrate the bread and wine, and they are followed immediately by the offering of the sacrifice. His knowledge of the gentler approach to presence and sacrifice in the Eastern liturgies and theologians doubtless assisted him here, and confirmed him in a more nuanced approach than many Roman Catholics, or other Protestants were ready to accept.
Lancelot Andrewes is, arguably, one of the greatest of the seventeenth century divines. A few years ago, I came back from lecturing in Liverpool with a book token and discovered that Philip Lund, the Cambridge bookseller, was offering a battered copy of one of the early editions of the 96 Sermons -- without the title page -- for £35. I am proud to have it in my study, rebound by Guildford College in such a way that nothing seems able to destroy it. But alongside it is Nicholas Lossky's magisterial study of these sermons. I can hardly think of how Andrewes himself would have reacted to this simple fact, that nearly 370 years after his death, a Russian orthodox lay theologian would write a definitive work on the theology of his preaching, and so re-awaken Anglicans to their own tradition!