400th Anniversary of the King James Bible and Hatfield House

The year 2011 marks 400 years since the Bible was translated into the English language in the Authorized Version, aka the King James Bible. After a labor of more than seven years by 47 or more scholars, this third version in English was printed and has, ever since, been one of the most influential books in the English speaking world.

So, friends, eat drink and be merry, for in the fullness of time, you may have to become my brother’s keeper, for he fell flat on his face, though he is clearly the salt of the earth and only occasionally acts holier than thou. He is as old as the hills, but has had his fall from grace due to his feet of clay and his taste for forbidden fruit. In the twinkling of an eye, the powers that be could reach the root of the matter. As we sometimes say, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. So will you cast the first stone? Be a fly in the ointment? Or will you gird your loins, put your house in order and find your heart’s desire? Remember, we reap what we sow.

Okay, so that paragraph is a bit lame, but it illustrates how many familiar phrases — cliches really — come from the KJV.

Numerous celebrations, conferences, services, choral events and exhibitions have been going on all year. For upcoming events and more information, click here for the King James Bible Trust website with further information.  Of special interest is the website’s video on life in 1611.

King James

Images courtesy of King James Bible Online; for more, click here.

Many of the stories about the anniversary mention the coincidence of this Bible being written at roughly the same time Shakespeare’s works were performed and published.  William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the  English language’s most famous poet and playwright, must have known and seen the new bible. I wish I could find out what his reaction was, but so far I haven’t found any comments from Will.

The Chandos Portrait of Shakespeare, National Portrait Gallery
The period of the English Renaissance which brought us both the King James Bible and Shakespeare  was part of great changes in all aspects of life.  But even today, we recognize the timelessness of these great works. And celebrate them!

Another 400th anniversary marked in 2011 is for Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, home of the Marquess of Salisbury.  Here is their website.  And for my blog post on a Hatfield visit in 2010, see 8/13/10. I visited again last June (2011) and took a few more pictures.

Above is a shot I took from the staff and business entrance to the House, which is a big working enterprise. I was there to do some research in the Archive.

From near the same spot, one can gaze across the gardens to the Old Palace, where Elizabeth I lived as a child and young woman.  Just to the left of the Palace roof is the tower of the parish church, St. Etheldreda’s.
Below, the church in 2009. Here is their website.

Below, one of the handsome lamps that grace the park.

And finally, some of Lady Salisbury’s beautiful old roses.

2011 is a good year in many ways — and so apparently was 1611.

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