Lancelot Andrewes (1568-1626) was Master of Pembrooke Hall, Cambridge, chaplain to Queen Elizabeth, Dean of Westminster Abbey, bishop of Chichester (from 1605) and bishop of Ely (from 1609). A “formidable scholar,” he was the master of 15 languages. “Scholars of the greatest eminence, such as Casaubon, Grotius, and Vossius, have eulogised his extensive attainments.” Of Andrewes, it was said that “such was his skill in all languages, especially the Oriental, that, had he been present at the confusion of tongues at Babel, he might have served as Interpreter-General.”
“Once a year, at Easter, he used to pass a month with his parents. During this vacation, he would find a master from whom he learned some language to which he was before a stranger. In this way after a few years, he acquired most of the modern languages of Europe” (McClure, Translators Revived). Further, “Young Andrewes eschewed ‘games or ordinary recreations’ and preferred walking by himself or with a selected companion ‘with whom he might confer and argue and recount their studies'” (Opfell, The King James Bible Translators, p. 28).
Is this how the average contemporary Bible scholar spends his teenage years? Is it not, rather, wasted on rock & roll, video games, television, Hollywood movies, dating, and other carnal activities, perhaps glossed over with a veneer of churchianity?
Andrewes’ friends included many famous men of literature, including Francis Bacon, Isaac Casaubon, and John Chamberlain.
On trips to northern England, sponsored by the Earl of Huntingdon, Andrewes saw many converted to the Word of God through his preaching. McClure says Andrewes was called the “star of preachers.” Thomas Fuller says that he was “an inimitable preacher in his way.” There was music in his preaching and doubtless some of Andrewes’ lyrical music passed into the King James Bible. Here is an excerpt from a sermon on Christmas 1609:
“Men may talk what they will, but sure there is no joy in the world to the joy of a man saved: no joy so great, no news so welcome, as to one ready to perish, in case of a lost man, to hear of one that will save him. In danger of perishing by sickness, to hear of one will make him well again; by sentence of the law, of one with a pardon to save his life; by enemies, of one that will rescue and set him in safety. Tell any of these, assure them but of a Saviour. It is the best news he ever heard in his life.”
Andrewes spent many hours each day in private prayer and devotion and family worship and was “given to hospitality.”
In 1610 Andrewes, apparently at the urging of King James, published Responsio ad Apologiam Cardinalis Bellarmine, which was a reply to the Roman Catholic Jesuit apologist.