The First Sunday of Advent – What Anne Boleyn would have read

Posted By on November 30, 2014

Anne Boleyn NPG Anne Boleyn owned an illuminated manuscript of French Reformer Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples’ “Epistres et Evangiles pour les cinquante et deux semaines de l’an”, or “Epistles and Gospels for the 52 Weeks of the Year”. It was something that was precious to her, having been a gift from her brother George, something that he had actually translated for her (he had left the scriptural text in French but translated the accompanying German commentary by theologian Johannes Brenz into English).

Now, I own a copy of “Epistres et Evangiles”, so I thought it would be good to share the readings that Anne would have been reading and thinking about on the first Sunday of Advent. Here they are, in English from the New International Version of the Bible:

Romans 13:11-14

“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Matthew 21: 1-9

“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!””

The verses were accompanied by an exhortation in French by Lefèvre, which is too much to copy here, and Anne’s version also had a commentary by Brenz, but I thought you’d be interested in knowing what Anne was reading on this day in the 1530s.

10 thoughts on “The First Sunday of Advent – What Anne Boleyn would have read”

  1. catherine says:

    And where might we get a copy of this for ourselves. …?

    1. Claire says:

      I got mine from Abe books but I’ve seen copies on Amazon.

  2. Caro says:

    Thank you for posting this. I love the fact that we are able to read what Anne did on the same date

  3. Lisa says:

    What exactly is advent? I am Jewish and I only heard of this recently. Thanks for a great site Claire!

    1. It’s a Christian season of preparation, usually four weeks long, that anticipates the birth of Christ on December 25th. The Sundays fall four weeks before Christmas, so the time varies, depending on when Christmas falls during the week.

  4. Idalis says:

    Thank you for posting that. It’s a kind of time travel. Anne reading, in the morning prayer, first day of advent, in English none the less.

  5. Oh, I love this! Thank you so much! It is really lovely to be able to read what she would have been reading….and it’s so apropos to her situation…wow! I’ll be she was moved by this. Thanks!

  6. BanditQueen says:

    George Boleyn was obviously a very clever young man; translation of such excellent works must have been a real achievment. I found an English biograthy which has some of the works in England, thanks. Thank you for sharing the verses from the time that would have been read at Advent at this time and for sharing this time of preparation for the coming of the Lord with us on the site.

  7. Claire Summers says:

    And, almost five hundred years later, exactly what we read at Mass today.

    1. Claire says:

      Yay! That’s so lovely to have that link with the past.

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