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Today the church remembers Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1711.Most Americans are familiar with the doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” (The Hymnal 1982, number 43), but few will recognize the name of its author, Thomas Ken. He was one of those rare souls who steered a straight course through the troubled waters of seventeenth-century England. Defending the “Via Media,” he boldly defied three kings: Charles II, whose marital infidelity he condemned; James II, whose edicts Ken refused to read in church; and William of Orange, whose legal right to the throne he denied. This last protestation cost Ken his diocese. After more than ten years of wandering about jobless and homeless, he was finally reconciled to the Church of England under Queen Anne. He was then too old and infirm to resume the work of a bishop. Thomas Ken was a masterful teacher, hymn writer, and pastor. He always lived very simply and he never married. The words of his will are a classic statement of his faith. “I die in the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith, professed by the whole Church, before the disunion of East and West: more particularly I die in the communion of the Church of England, as it stands distinguished from all Papal and Puritan Innovations.” O God, we give you thanks for the purity and strength with which you did endow your servant Thomas Ken. Amen.
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Almighty God, you gave your servant Thomas Ken grace and courage to bear witness to the truth before rulers and kings: Give us strength also that, following his example, we may constantly defend what is right, boldly reprove what is evil, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.