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I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord; “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

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C.S. Lewis Memorialized in Poets’ Corner

November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013

Today, fifty years to the day from the date of C.S. Lewis’s death, Lewis received the ultimate tribute given to a British writer.

He was given a permanent place of honour in Westminster Abbey’s famous Poets’ Corner.

Douglas Gresham, younger stepson of C.S. Lewis, reading from The Last Battle, with Dr. Michael Ward and the Dean of Westminster Dr John Hall to his right. Image courtesy – Andrew Dunsmore/Westminster Abbey.

In an exceptionally beautiful service rich in every component, from the readings of scripture and passages from Lewis’s works, to the hymns and the exquisite anthem composed by Paul Mealor and specially commissioned for this service using Lewis’s own poem ‘Love as Warm as Tears’, to the marvelous address by Rev Rowan Williams, to the placing of the remembrance bouquet on the memorial stone by Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis was given a level of honour that in his lifetime he would never have imagined or sought for himself. With nearly 1,000 people in attendance for this historic event, the formality of Westminster Abbey surprised me with an unexpected kindness in its ancient architecture and gloriously beautiful interior. The deep sense of God’s presence there held a profound sense of welcome into a space that I had expected to be cold and austere. Instead a gracious elegance welcomed every visitor, adult and child, and its high vaulted ceilings gave room to rise high for every voice in song or reading. And no voice raised had a more compelling impact than the voice of C.S. Lewis sounding through the air from the sole surviving recording from his BBC radio broadcasts reading from BEYOND PERSONALITY: THE NEW MEN. I was not alone in experiencing shivers, tears and wonder.

Douglas Gresham

Beautiful voices in such a range spoke and sang within those old, old walls of Westminster Abbey and each voice seemed held mid-air respectfully and with love by those listening and by God Whose presence was everywhere present. I delighted in hearing Douglas Gresham, Lewis’s younger step-son reading from The Last Battle, and equally delighted in hearing Professor Helen Cooper, Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English, ( the Chair held by C.S. Lewis at Cambridge) reading 2 Corinthians 4:5-end.

Walter Hooper, close friend and secretary of C.S. Lewis, places the bouquet of remembrance on the memorial stone. Image courtesy Andrew Dunsmore/Westminster Abbey.

I was not alone in weeping when Walter Hooper placed the flowers on the memorial stone, watching him stand so quiet and dignified, knowing how very emotional and significant this day must be for him. This day must surely be as much a milestone moment for Mr. Hooper in some ways as it is for Lewis himself. Without the life long efforts of Walter Hooper it is possible millions of readers would never have read Lewis at all. He stands as a remarkable example of faithfulness, kindness and quiet courage. 

The memorial stone for C.S. Lewis, Writer, Scholar, Apologist - in Poets's Corner at Westminster Abbey, London. Image courtesy Andrew Dunsmore/Westminster Abbey.

The memorial stone for C.S. Lewis, Writer, Scholar, Apologist in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey, London. Image courtesy Andrew Dunsmore/Westminster Abbey.

By Dr Michael Ward’s account, the beautiful commemorative bouquet was made up of 64 white roses (one for each year of Lewis’s life); 7 sprigs of holly berries (one for each Narnia book); 3 sprigs of rosemary (one for each of the Ransom trilogy); and a single red rose (for the great medieval poem, the Romance of the Rose).

Prayer Huddle - Image copyright Lancia E. Smith - www.lanciaesmith.com

Prayer Huddle – Image (c) Lancia E. Smith

 

At the close of the service with hundreds of attendees streaming quietly out of the great arms of that sanctuary, a small cluster of Lewis friends gathered to pray and in that single, simple act brought something humble and essential into view.

We are on the edge of a great watershed moment in history. It is not just Lewis’s legacy that is now being defined for the days ahead. How will each of us who bear the spiritual “DNA” of Lewis carry the legacy forward? And of all that he has given us in word, image and example, what is now uniquely ours to faithfully and courageously carry on?

My deepest personal thanks to Dr Michael Ward, and all those involved in bringing this event to fruition. It is an honour well-deserved and well-given.



 

Related posts to explore:

C.S. Lewis’s 50th – a fireside view – Part 1

C.S. Lewis’s 50th – a fireside view – Part 2

C.S. Lewis’s 50th – a fireside view – Part 3

C.S. Lewis’s 50th – a fireside view – Part 4

 



Vintage-rose-etching2

C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner contains a brilliant collection of essays 

about this event’s significance and Lewis’s legacy.  

I highly commend it to you! 

C.S. Lewis at Poets' Corner

Many blessings to you and yours!

Lancia-Signature-for-blog



 

 

Lancia E. Smith

comments

  1. Mary Mueller

    November 23rd, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Beautiful, Lancia. I am eagerly awaiting more of your images from this historic event. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here.
    By the way, who is the woman praying w Jerry and Stan and Andrew?

  2. Dianne Mosley

    November 23rd, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Lovely, Lancia. (I could have omitted the comma and it still would be true.) As close to being there while staying home as it can get. I have devoured every post on the occasion that I have received. So grateful to have friends in high places!

  3. Amy Cook

    November 23rd, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Beautiful post & photos-have recently discovered your blog through Melanie Jeschke. I had the great privilege of attending the service yesterday, and I too was very moved by it. Blessings to you!

  4. Beth Mosior

    November 23rd, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    This surely does my heart great good. What joy I feel knowing that this great man is honored at last. Thanx ever soooooo much. Love all the great photos, too.

  5. Lancia E. Smith

    November 23rd, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Dianne, you are too kind, dear heart! You have the Best Friend of ALL High Places! Thank you for your ever-kind words and gracious support. Blessings to you always and every grace be yours!

  6. Sheila Longman

    November 24th, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Thank you for these great photos, moving and so full of the atmosphere of that great service. It was a privilege to be there and at the Symposium.

  7. Jill Fort

    November 24th, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Truly glorious, Lancia. Many, many thanks for your faithful personal recounting of what surely was a momentous occasion.

  8. Lancia E. Smith

    November 24th, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Beth, you are so very welcome. It is my honour and privilege to provide the images and the story! Thank you for reading and checking in!

  9. Lancia E. Smith

    November 24th, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Amy, thank you so much for your kind comments. I am so glad to know that you attended the service and were moved by it! Wasn’t it something remarkable to hear Lewis’s voice sounding through the air and to be there with so many who care so deeply about this? Blessings to you and yours!

  10. Lancia E. Smith

    November 24th, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Sheila, thank you so much. And how wonderful that you were also there at the Symposium! Blessings to you!

  11. Lancia E. Smith

    November 24th, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Mary, thank you truly from my heart. You are such a dear one to me and I so wish we lived in the same place so we could spend more time together. I guess that will be one of our great treats in Heaven! The woman praying with Jerry, Stan and Andrew, is our lovely Katie Hornell. And though you cannot see her in the image, Diana Glyer is praying with them behind Katie. Good eyes to tell that is a woman praying!

  12. Lancia E. Smith

    November 24th, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Jill, thank you! I so wish you had been there. I know you would have enjoyed it and had such a fun time with everyone, especially if you didn’t have to work the event! 🙂 Blessing to you!

  13. Martha Linder

    December 8th, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Lancia, your photos are so incredibly beautiful! Your text is as well, and I’m in awe of all of your talents. What memories I will keep stored away forever of this once in a lifetime event, which you have chronicled so amazingly. Am eager to share them with my grandchildren, whom I’ve trained to become Anglophiles.

    Have a blessed Christmas, dear friend,

    Love,

    Martha

  14. Lancia E. Smith

    December 8th, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Martha, thank you! You are one of my favourite elements of the entire experience. Thank you for being the blessing that you are to both Peter and to me, especially outside the Abbey right after the event. I am deeply grateful to you and rejoice that we share so much of the same love. Blessings to you and yours – always!

  15. Summary of Lewis in Poets’ Corner | Essential C.S. Lewis

    October 1st, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    […] C.S. Lewis Memorialized in Poets’ Corner – blog post by Lancia E. Smith […]

  16. Jim Fraser

    November 22nd, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    A student of all things of C. S. Lewis

    Faith seeking understanding (Augustine)

  17. Lancia E. Smith

    December 6th, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks, Jim. You are among kindred here – Faith seeking understanding! 🙂

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