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William Tyndale, priest, 1536

October 6, 2015
Not messing around.

Not messing around.

WILLIAM TYNDALE was born about 1495 at Slymbridge near the Welsh border. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Magdalen College, Oxford, and also spent some time in study at Cambridge. After his ordination, about 1521, he entered the service of Sir John Walsh at Little Sodbury, Gloucestershire, as domestic chaplain and tutor. In 1523 he went to London and obtained a similar position with a rich cloth merchant, Humphrey Monmouth.

Tyndale was determined to translate the Scriptures into English, but, despairing of official support, he left for Germany in 1524. From this point on, his life reads like a cloak-and-dagger story, as King Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, and others, sought to destroy his work of translation and put him to death. He was finally betrayed by one whom he had befriended, and in Brussels, on October 6, 1536, he was strangled at the stake, and his body was burned.

William Tyndale was a man of a single passion, to translate the Bible into English; so that, as he said to a prominent churchman, “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more scripture than thou dost.” His accomplished work is his glory. Before his betrayal and death, he had finished and revised his translation of the New Testament, and had completed a translation of the Pentateuch and of Jonah and, though he did not live to see them published, of the historical books from Joshua through 2 Chronicles. His work has been called “a well of English undefiled.” Some eighty per cent of his version has survived in the language of later and more familiar versions, such as the Authorized (King James) Version of 1611.

After the fashion of his time, Tyndale could be a bitter controversialist, and his translations sometimes had a polemical purpose. He was a lonely and desperate man, constantly hunted and hounded. In his personal life he was amiable and self-denying. His last words were prophetic: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”1

ACCEPT, O Lord, our thanksgiving this day for thy servant William Tyndale; and grant unto us in like manner such constancy and zeal in thy service, that we may obtain with him and thy servants everywhere a good confession and the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.2

Almighty God, who didst plant in the heart of thy servant William Tyndale a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue, and didst endow him with the gift of powerful and graceful expression and with strength to persevere against all obstacles: Reveal to us, we pray thee, thy saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures, and hear them calling us to repentance and life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.3


1. Lesser Feasts & Fasts, 2006.
1. Lesser Feasts & Fasts, 1963.
1. Lesser Feasts & Fasts, 2006.

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