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Unless the Lord builds the house...

by Michael Ford last modified 07 May, 2020 03:30 PM

The Bishop of Salisbury, The Right Revd Nicholas Holtam marked the 800th anniversary of Salisbury Cathedral and its move from Old Sarum on national radio on Sunday morning.

BBC Radio 4's Sunday Service celebrated the laying of the first foundation stone at the "new" cathedral in 1220.

During the service Bishop Nicholas and the Cathedral's Canon Precentor, Anna Macham, reflected on what this very special building means for the people of God in the city and Diocese, and the vision, faith and human ingenuity that not only saw this building raised, but 8 centuries on ensure it remains open, if only virtually.

The original Salisbury Cathedral was completed at Old Sarum in 1092 under Osmund, the first Bishop of Salisbury. In 1220 the foundations were laid for this Cathedral on the 'New Sarum' site and within 38 years the main body of the building was completed.

Bishop Nicholas's sermon is available here.

You can listen again to the service here.

The service began with a poem, written by Henry d’Avranches at the time the Cathedral was being built, read by Sir Simon Russell Beale:

"A second Eden this, where beasts forget
Their enmities, and birds unite in song;
The soil is fertile where this church is set,
Where flowers bloom, where fish the clear streams throng.

No spot in all the world such favour found;
And so the craftsmen on their work commence,
The edifice upraising from that blessèd ground,
Enriched by art, secured by diligence.

Beside a spring the new cathedral stands,
Where bubbling water issues nectar-sweet;
One day a city fair will grace these lands
Where flourish herbs, and nuts abound to eat.

Though exiled to this place, the clerks confess
Experience has made them love this ground;
Exceeding Paradise in blessedness,
Where Bishop Richard chose God’s house to found.”

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