Archbishops of Canterbury have spoken or written about Mary. Our series on Mary in the Anglican Tradition continues with words from three different Archbishops of Canterbury, looking at Mary from three differing perspectives.
First of all Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1883 to 1896. His words are in a hymn – Hark! The Angel greets the maiden – which he wrote and which was subsequently published in the hymn book Songs of Syon.
Secondly, from the writings of Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury 1974 to 1980. Coggan was an evangelical Archbishop which makes his words, from his book The Servant – Son: Jesus Then and Now, particularly noteworthy:
One of the greatest gifts that a mother can give to her children is not only to pray for them but, from their earliest years, to teach them to pray. We may be sure that Mary’s little boy was not very old when he began to pray the prayer which his mother used when first she knew she was pregnant: ‘I am the Lord’s servant; may it be to me as you have said’, or to put it more simply, ‘Your will be done.’ As the boy grew older, she taught him what it meant to think of God as king, to see life lived under his kingship as the only life worth living. She taught him to pray: ‘Your kingdom come,’ Out of her experience of life and prayer, she learned to pray. Out of that same experience she taught her son to pray ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done’, and to do so, not grudgingly but exultingly.
It is not stretching our imagination too far to suggest that we owe to Mary those two basic clauses at the beginning of her son’s prayer ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done.’ What a debt we owe her!
Finally, words of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury 2002 to 2012.
If Jesus is able to live in a way that means that all his dealings are, without obstacle, open to God, this must (in the ordinary processes of human development) be enabled by what is given to him by the first human other he encounters. And that first human other is Mary. At the foundation of Jesus’ historical humanity lie his relationships with his parents but, more particularly, with Mary; hers is the first human face he will in any real sense be aware of. What he sees there is crucial to how he sees God. ( from ed. Warner Yes to God)