Commemoration Choral Evensong for Thomas Cranmer

A special service of Choral Evensong will be held on Sunday 24th March 2019 at 3.30pm at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, to mark the anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The Right Reverend Humphrey Southern, Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, will give an address, and the University Church Choir will sing a setting by Thomas Tallis and Henry Purcell’s Remember not, Lord, our offences, a setting of a prayer by Cranmer. Scripture readings will be given by representatives of the Prayer Book Society.

Choral Evensong is a form of service that was devised during the Edwardian Reformation by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, as part of his Book of Common Prayer. It draws on the Christian Scriptures and the ancient monastic offices of Vespers and Compline; it offers a simple, elegant framework for reflection and prayer, and has become one of the riches of the Church of England.

Four years after the establishment of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer, within months of the accession of Mary, a Catholic, to the throne, he defended his liturgical reforms and was promptly sent to the Tower of London, and found guilty for treason. Cranmer’s final opportunity for a recantation occurred at the University Church, on 21st March 1556. Unexpectedly, he deviated from the prepared script, reasserting his reformed views, and was promptly taken to Broad Street, where he was burned at the stake.

The Revd James Crockford, Associate Vicar at the University Church, said: ‘It is quite impossible to overestimate the contribution of Thomas Cranmer to our national and religious life. His prayers and forms of service have provided sustenance and beauty for centuries, and continue to inspire, not least in some of the church’s finest music. Here is a chance to celebrate his witness, to mourn the divisions and frictions of our society and church, and to allow his imagination and vision to speak afresh.’


Notes for Press

For further information, including photography, please contact:

Ana-Maria Niculcea, Administrator, University Church of St Mary the Virgin, High St, Oxford OX1 4BJ

t. 01865 279111

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is the official church of the University of Oxford and the spiritual heart of the oldest university in Britain. With dignified liturgy, thoughtful preaching and beautiful music, it has been a place of Christian worship for over a thousand years. Today, we strive to be a community of faithful Christian witness and intelligent debate, unafraid to engage with the modern world.