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Enthronement update

Posted on: February 25, 2003 6:53 PM
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On 27 February 2003, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, will be enthroned in the historic Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, Canterbury Cathedral. The Primates of the Anglican Communion will be led in procession by the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Revd Canon John L. Peterson. During the service the Rt Revd John Paterson, Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, will lead the prayers from the Compass Rose Symbol in the Nave. The blessing of the new Archbishop at the Enthronement Ceremony will be given by the Most Revd Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh, longest standing Primate of the Communion.

Attending the service will be the Diocesan Bishops from the Church of England and Wales as well as Church of England Officials, Civil Leaders, the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness Prince Charles. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy O'Connor, will read a lesson from the Revelation of John the Divine and the Gospel text to be read by the Archbishop comes from Matthew 11. Musicians include the choir of St Woolo's Cathedral, Newport, Wales. The renowned men and boys choir of Canterbury Cathedral will sing various motets and anthems during the two hour service including: Exultate Deo by Francis Poulenc; Beati Quorum Via by Sir Charles Stanford; Plebs Angelica by Michael Tippett; and Tu es Petrus by Palestrina. An African and an Urdu hymn will also be sung.

February 27 is the Feast day of George Herbert, priest and poet, who died in 1633. As part of the service, the Collect for the Feast will be prayed and three texts of George Herbert will be sung including Come my Way by John Sanders. There will also be a special setting by James MacMillan, commissioned for this service, with the words, "If thou chance to find a new house to thy mind, and build without thy cost, be good to the poor, as God gives thee store, and then, my labour is not lost. Alleluia." One of Archbishop William's own poems, I saw him standing, will be part of the pennillion for welsh harp and soprano soloist.

During the ceremony there are actually two enthronements, one by the Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Venerable Patrick Evans, who will seat the Archbishop in the Diocesan throne and then the Very Revd Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury, will enthrone Archbishop Williams in the Chair of St Augustine. The Church's great hymn of praise, Te Deum Laudamus, will be sung to a setting in E major by English composer, Benjamin Britten, and there will be a communal act of commitment following a text from the Methodist Covenant Service to be led by Archbishop Rowan. The Archbishop will take his oath whilst holding the Canterbury Gospels. These Gospels are thought to have been written in Italy in the fifth or sixth century. They are traditionally believed to have been presented by Pope Gregory the Great to St Augustine for his mission to England. On the dissolution of St Augustine's Monastery, the book was rescued by Dean Wootton who gave it to Archbishop Parker. It was later bequeathed to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where it has remained ever since.

The Dean of the Province, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, will also bless the new Archbishop as will the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Steven Venner, who oversees the vast amount of the Episcopal Ministry in the Diocese of Canterbury. The congregation at the Enthronement Service includes personal guests of Archbishop Rowan and Mrs Jane Williams and some members of the Cathedral Congregation as well as Ecumenical and Inter-Faith guests. The diocesan clergy will also be present. Hundreds of enquiries were made by people from around the communion about attending the service; the Cathedral's capacity at its maximum is 2500 persons.

On Sunday 2 March, Archbishop Rowan will preach in Canterbury at the 11am Cathedral Eucharist and again at 3pm at a special Diocesan Eucharist and Celebration of his new ministry. No tickets needed.

The Order of Service for the Enthronement is available online on the Anglican Communion web site. Congregations are encouraged to use hymns and prayers from the service in their own worship services. Some congregations are gathering during the evening of the Enthronement to join in prayer for the ministry of the new Archbishop and will use parts of the service. The text of the Archbishop's sermon will also be available on the Anglican Communion web site shortly following the conclusion of the service. The service is expected to last two hours. It will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 from 2:50pm and from 2:30pm on BCC2 Television.