One church, one faith, one Lord 

Throne of St Peter

This afternoon, history was made. Evensong, the iconic expression of Anglican worship, was celebrated in St Peter's Basilica in Rome by an Anglican Archbishop on the anniversary of the election of the Pope.

Archbishop David Moxon, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, led the service using Cranmer's ancient words. Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, one of the most senior Englishmen in the Vatican, preached. The choir of Merton College sang.

DM at Throne

The music was carefully chosen to reflect this historic occasion. The service was framed by motets written by William Byrd (c. 1539/40-1623). Byrd was a Roman Catholic throughout his long life, but worked for the Church of England firstly as organist of Lincoln Cathedral and, in 1572 when he returned to London, at the Chapel Royal. The service opened with Prevent us, O Lord, words from the Book of Common Prayer but ended with Justorum animae,  which comes from the Roman Catholic ‘Propers for The Feast of Saints’, published in the Gradualia 1605.

Merton Choir

The service was held in honour of St Gregory the Great on the nearest day to his old feast day. St Gregory was the Pope who sent St Augustine to England to evangelise the Anglo-Saxons and who has become an unofficial patron of the most recent ecumenical exchanges between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. His crozier-head was sent to Canterbury as a gesture of support during the Primates' Meeting in January 2016 and Pope Francis gave Archbishop Justin Welby a wooden crozier modelled on it during their meeting in October. Archbishop Roche preached on the important ways in which Pope St Gregory, the servant of the servants of God, can guide relations between the two communion today.


The final hymn, during which the procession made its way to the tomb of St Gregory, was the great, rousing, "Thy hand, O God, has guided'. The final verse sums up so much of the feeling in St Peter's today as Anglicans and Catholics praised God together in a way few would have expected even a year ago:

Thy mercy will not fail us,
Nor leave thy work undone;
With thy right hand to help us,
The victory shall be won;
And then, by men and angels,
Thy name shall be adored,
And this shall be their anthem,
One Church, one Faith, one Lord.

One Church. One Faith. One Lord.

Staff Member, 15/03/2017