Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath & Wells

8 June -- Lesser Festival -- Bishop -- White

Thomas Ken was born at Berkhampstead in 1637 and educated at New College Oxford. He was ordained priest in 1662 and worked first in a poor parish in the diocese of Winchester and then at Winchester College for ten years. He served as chaplain to King Charles II for two years and was then consecrated Bishop of Bath and Wells. After the king's death and the accession of the Roman Catholic James II, the new king proposed to rescind the Restoration penal laws, but Thomas and six of his fellow bishops refused to comply with this and were imprisoned on this day in 1688. But such was the integrity of Thomas that, when the king abandoned his throne and fled and the king's Protestant daughter Mary was offered the throne, together with her husband William of Orange, Thomas felt unable in good conscience to foreswear his still-living, anointed monarch. He was deprived of his See, along with many other non-jurors, as they became known, and for a time there was schism in the Anglican fold. But Thomas spent his final twenty years in quiet retirement, anxious not to make trouble, and renounced his rights to his bishopric. He wrote many hymns, still much used, and died on 19 March 1711.


O God, from whom all blessings flow,
by whose providence we are kept
and by whose grace we are directed:
help us, through the example of your servant Thomas Ken,
faithfully to keep your word,
humbly to accept adversity
and steadfastly to worship you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the prophecy of Jeremiah.

Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.

This is the word of the Lord.         Jeremiah 9. 23-24

Responsorial Psalm

RThe Lord acts with steadfast love;
[and in justice does he delight].
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle?
who may abide upon your holy hill?
Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right,
who speaks the truth from his heart. R

There is no guile upon his tongue;
he does no evil to his friend;
he does not heap contempt upon his neighbour. R

In his sight the wicked are rejected,
but he honours those who fear the Lord.
He has sworn to do no wrong
and does not take back his word. R

He does not give his money in hope of gain,
nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
shall never be overthrown. R          Psalm 15

A reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

Since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God's word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.

This is the word of the Lord.         2 Corinthians 4. 1-10

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.

Jesus said to his disciples: "Keep awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other servants their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessèd is that servant whom his master will find at work when he arrives."

This is the gospel of Christ.         Matthew 24. 42-46

Post Communion

God, shepherd of your people,
whose servant Thomas Ken revealed the loving service of Christ
   in his ministry as a pastor of your people:
by this eucharist in which we share
awaken within us the love of Christ
and keep us faithful to our Christian calling;
through him who laid down his life for us,
but is alive and reigns with you, now and for ever.