British Queen celebrates


The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has paid tribute to the "extraordinary" and "abiding importance" of the King James Bible at a service to mark the 400th anniversary of the translation.

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales led around 2,000 worshippers at the service in Westminster Abbey where early editions of the Bible were presented at the altar.

Dr Williams told the congregation that the translators would have been "baffled and embarrassed" by the idea of a perfect translation but had sought instead to convey the "almost unbearable weight of divine intelligence and love" into the English language.

"The temptation is always there for the modern translator to look for strategies that make the text more accessible - and when that temptation comes, it doesn't hurt to turn for a moment - for some long moments indeed - to this extraordinary text," he said.

The service was attended by senior clerics including the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, the Bishop of London Dr Richard Chartres and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, former head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.



A version of the People's Bible, hand-written by more than 22,000 people, formed part of the procession of Bibles to the altar.

Organisers said the contributions came from a five-month tour of Britain with visits to the Orkney Islands, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Devon, Whitby, Glasgow, Swansea, Wrexham and London, including verses written by protesters at the Occupy London camp outside St Paul's Cathedral.

Celebrities who hand wrote verses included the Prince of Wales, who is patron of the King James Bible Trust, David Cameron and Dr Williams.

Other backers included comedian and broadcaster Frank Skinner and the actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales.

The congregation also heard a new composition by one of the winners of the King James Bible Trust composition awards, US composer Zachary Wadsworth.


Press Association