The Magna Carta Anthem Arrives on Two Wheels in St Albans

Wed, 6 August 2014

A special anthem composed to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta was delivered by bicycle to St Albans Cathedral on Monday 4th August.

The piece was hand delivered by Steve Brown, who has cycled all the way from Hampshire on a route taking in all five of the ‘charter towns’ where the original copies of the Magna Carta were taken. The anthem is composed by Malcolm Archer, Director of Chapel Music at Winchester College, and is based on a prayer written by Archbishop Langton, who was Archbishop at the time of Magna Carta in 1215, and one of the principal signatories. It has been delivered ahead of the main Magna Carta 800th Festival celebration next year.

In August 1213, St Albans Cathedral was the venue for the very first meeting between barons and clergy to discuss their grievances against King John. This historic meeting ultimately led to the articles that became Magna Carta, sealed at Runnymede two years later.

The bike ride is a fundraising mission for Steve’s own parish church of All Saints in Odiham, in Hampshire, where his wife Alison is the vicar. Odiham played an important role in the sealing of the original charter and the creation of English democracy.

Steve Brown commented, “It’s great to be in St Albans - 900 miles exactly since I started my trail. It has been a challenge, an adventure and a pilgrimage. Many others will be following the Magna Carta trail to St Albans and beyond in the build up to 2015. I hope they will enjoy it as much as I have.”

Tom Winpenny, Assistant Master of the Music at St Albans Cathedral, said, “I am looking forward to studying the anthem which is written by my former boss, Malcolm Archer, when I was at St Paul’s Cathedral. Knowing him, it will be an excellent, thought provoking piece”.

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