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Fountains and fires – Lancelot Andrewes

Lancelot Andrewes (1555 – 25 September 1626 ) has been called the author of fountains and fires.

When Andrewes was bishop, and gave sermons in Winchester Cathedral, his listeners called him the “angel in the pulpit”. They liked his paradoxes, erudition and colloquialism, brevity and word play (Oxford DNB).

His students liked him. They said he was kind to everyone he met, stopped to talk with anyone who stopped him, and was never too important or too busy to listen.

Translating from Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, Lancelot Andrewes and fellow scholars created the King James Version of the Bible. With them he is responsible for language which runs like “fountains of living water” through centuries of Anglo-American poetry and prose. The KJV has influenced the words and cadences of African-American spirituals, the Gettysburg Address, Churchill, Hemingway and the speeches of JFK ("Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country"), to name just a few.

In 1606 Andrewes recommended celebrating the deliverance of King and Parliament from the Gunpowder Plot of the 5th of November 1605. We are not sure he had Guy Fawkes Day bonfires in mind, but his suggestion struck a spark.