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Wednesdays with the Saints Evening Prayer
March 20 @ 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM
Wednesdays with the Saints
Evening Prayer Service
Daily prayers are said on a regular schedule at Saint James. On Wednesday evenings, we invite you to explore and celebrate the inspiring lives of the saints at our Evening Prayer service.
This week we celebrate the life of Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Thomas Ken was born in 1637. Throughout his life he was both rewarded and punished for his integrity. His close relationship with the royal family began when he became chaplain to Princess Mary of Orange at The Hague. Ken was appalled at the Prince of Orange’s treatment of his wife, and rebuked him publicly.
In 1683, Ken returned to England and became chaplain to Charles II. His integrity stirred him to rebuke Charles for lax behavior. When Ken was notified that the King’s mistress, the actress Nell Gwyn, was to be lodged at his house, he refused, saying, “a woman of ill repute ought not to be endured in the house of a clergyman, and especially the King’s chaplain.” The King took no offense, but in the next year made Ken the Bishop of Bath and Wells, declaring that none should have the position except “the little fellow that refused his lodging to poor Nelly.”
In 1688, when Charles’ successor, James II, tried to undermine the authority of the Church of England, Ken was one of seven bishops who refused to read the King’s Declaration of Indulgence, which offered tolerance to Protestant non-conformists and to Roman Catholics. The seven bishops were sent to the Tower, but were acquitted in the courts, and became popular heroes. After the resolution of 1688, however, Ken’s conscience did not permit him to swear allegiance to William of Orange, who became King William III.
As a Non-Juror, Ken was deprived of his see. Ken’s conscience would not let him rest and his disagreement with others of the “Non-Juring” party over various matters troubled him for the rest of his life.
He deplored the Non-Juror schism, and after the accession of Queen Anne, he made his peace with the Church of England. A man of deep piety, Ken was the author of several religious works which were immensely popular in the eighteenth century. He is best known as a writer of hymns, particularly the well-known evening hymn, “All praise to thee, my God, this night,” which concludes with his doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”