John Tiller, Joan Williams - The Hereford Celebrations

So prompt and effective was the work of the Quincentenary Trust that no cathedral could have been unaware of the significance of 1994 in ample time to plan suitable commemorations. Tyndale is an obvious subject to interest cathedral librarians, and many of those with historic libraries put on exhibitions during this year.

At our Library we have a new conservator-designed showcase specifically for temporary exhibitions. As always in a small library, resources are limited - sadly we do not possess any contemporary Tyndale editions - and a degree of ingenuity was required. By expanding the theme to 'Making the English Bible' we were able to incorporate our fine Wycliffite Bible, and also Hereford's link with the Authorised version of 1611 through Bishop Miles Smith, then a canon of Hereford, a translator and principal editor, who happily left many of the books used in his Bible translation to our Library. An edition of Tyndale's Whole Works, edited by Foxe, 1573, formed the centrepiece, flanked by early editions of the Latin Vulgate and Erasmus' New Testament, together with editions of the Geneva and AV versions.

We were quite proud of one sentence from the exhibition, summing up Tyndale's genius as a translator: 'Though he could speak with the tongues of men and angels, he could always hear with the ear of the ploughboy'.

Sunday 9 October was naturally the day chosen to commemorate Tyndale liturgically in the Cathedral, and Evensong on that day was built around a presentation of From Heretic to Hero: 500 Years Ago. William Tyndale, a dramatic narration of his life and work for four voices, composed by Mrs B. Baber and the Revd. R.P. Heaps. Tyndale's own words were read by Mr Baber in a fine Gloucestershire accent. The Bible readings were of course from Tyndale's translations, and some contemporary music was also included.

The culmination of our Tyndale events was the annual Autumn Lecture of the Friends of Hereford Cathedral, on 11 November, when Canon John Tiller gave an illustrated talk on 'William Tyndale and the making of the English Bible'. This developed the theme of the Exhibition, and included a number of slides made by the Cathedral's photographer, Gordon Taylor, of items from the Library and elsewhere. Canon Tiller quoted a passage from Miles Smith's funeral oration which almost claimed a place for Smith alongside Tyndale himself: 'One monument to his learning have we, for which the age now doth, and the children unborn shall bless his memory, that he began with others but finished alone and set forth the new and most exact translation of the Bible.'

The lecture was received with great enthusiasm by a large audience, which reflects the national extent of the extraordinary interest which Tyndale still invokes in his modern beneficiaries. The Quincentenary events obviously fulfilled a real popular need to celebrate this man, and it has been a pleasure and a privilege for both of us to have spent so much time in 1994 in his company.

(We hope to include further items in this series - Ed.)

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