Cosmo Gordon Lang
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William Cosmo Gordon Lang, 1st Baron Lang of Lambeth, (31 October 1864 – 5 December 1945) was a Scottish
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, ...
prelate A prelate () is a high-ranking member of the Minister (Christianity), Christian clergy who is an Ordinary (church officer), ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin , the past participle of , which me ...
who served as
Archbishop of York The archbishop of York is a senior bishop in the Church of England, second only to the archbishop of Canterbury. The archbishop is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and the metropolitan bishop of the province of York, which covers the ...
(1908–1928) and
Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally resp ...
(1928–1942). His elevation to Archbishop of York, within 18 years of his
ordination Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity In religious organizations, the laity () consists of all Church membership, members who are not part of the clergy, usually includ ...
, was the most rapid in modern
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church record ...
history. As Archbishop of Canterbury during the abdication crisis of 1936, he took a strong moral stance, his comments in a subsequent broadcast being widely condemned as uncharitable towards the departed king. The son of a Scots
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism that broke from the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland by John Knox, who was a priest at St. Giles Cathedral (Church of Scotland). Presbyterian churches derive their nam ...
minister, Lang abandoned the prospect of a legal and political career to train for the Anglican priesthood. Beginning in 1890, his early ministry was served in slum parishes in
Leeds Leeds () is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: ...
and
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, except for brief service as Vicar of the
University Church of St Mary the Virgin The University Church of St Mary the Virgin (St Mary's or SMV for short) is an Oxford church situated on the north side of the High Street, Oxford, High Street. It is the centre from which the University of Oxford grew and its parish consists alm ...
in Oxford. In 1901 he was appointed
suffragan A suffragan bishop is a type of bishop in some Christian denominations. In the Anglican Communion, a suffragan bishop is a bishop who is subordinate to a metropolitan bishop or diocesan bishop (bishop ordinary) and so is not normally jurisdictiona ...
Bishop of Stepney in London, where he continued his work among the poor. He also served as a
canon Canon or Canons may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Canon (fiction), the conceptual material accepted as official in a fictional universe by its fan base * Literary canon, an accepted body of works considered as high culture ** Western can ...
of
St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglicanism, Anglican cathedral in London and is the seat of the Bishop of London. The cathedral serves as the mother church of the Diocese of London. It is on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London ...
, London. In 1908 Lang was nominated as Archbishop of York, despite his relatively junior status as a suffragan rather than a diocesan bishop. His religious stance was broadly
Anglo-Catholic Anglo-Catholicism comprises beliefs and practices that emphasise the Catholicity, Catholic heritage and identity of the various Anglican churches. The term was coined in the early 19th century, although movements emphasising the Catholic natur ...
, tempered by the
liberal Anglo-Catholicism The terms liberal Anglo-Catholicism, liberal Anglo-Catholic or simply Liberal Catholic, refer to people, beliefs and practices within Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from t ...
advocated in the '' Lux Mundi'' essays. He consequently entered the
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as a Lord Spiritual and caused consternation in traditionalist circles by speaking and voting against the Lords' proposal to reject
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. He was a Liberal Party (United Kingdom), Liberal Party politician from Wales, known for lea ...
's 1909 " People's Budget". This radicalism was not maintained in subsequent years. At the start of the First World War, Lang was heavily criticised for a speech in which he spoke sympathetically of the
German Emperor The German Emperor (german: Deutscher Kaiser, ) was the official title of the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he ...
. This troubled him greatly and may have contributed to the rapid ageing which affected his appearance during the war years. After the war he began to promote church unity and at the 1920
Lambeth Conference The Lambeth Conference is a decennial assembly of bishops of the Anglican Communion The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion after the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Founded in 1867 in Londo ...
was responsible for the Church's Appeal to All Christian People. As Archbishop of York he supported controversial proposals for the 1928 revision of the
Book of Common Prayer The ''Book of Common Prayer'' (BCP) is the name given to a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion and by other Christianity, Christian churches historically related to Anglicanism. The original book, published in 1549 ...
but, after acceding to Canterbury, he took no practical steps to resolve this issue. Lang became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1928. He presided over the 1930 Lambeth Conference, which gave limited church approval to the use of
contraception Birth control, also known as contraception, anticonception, and fertility control, is the use of methods or devices to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Birth control has been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods of birth contr ...
. After denouncing the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 and strongly condemning European antisemitism, Lang later supported the
appeasement Appeasement in an international context is a diplomacy, diplomatic policy of making political, material, or territorial concessions to an aggressive power (international relations), power in order to avoid conflict. The term is most often appli ...
policies of the British government. In May 1937 he presided over the
coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The coronation of the British monarch, coronation of George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Elizabeth, as King of the United Kingdom, King and Queen consort of the United Kingdom, Queen of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth r ...
. On retirement in 1942 Lang was raised to the peerage as Baron Lang of Lambeth and continued to attend and speak in House of Lords debates until his death in 1945. Lang himself believed that he had not lived up to his own high standards. Others have praised his qualities of industry, his efficiency and his commitment to his calling.


Early life


Childhood and family

Cosmo Gordon Lang was born in 1864 at the
manse A manse () is a clergy house A clergy house is the residence, or former residence, of one or more priests or Minister (Christianity), ministers of religion. Residences of this type can have a variety of names, such as manse, parsonage, rec ...
in
Fyvie Fyvie is a village in the Formartine area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Geography Fyvie lies alongside the River Ythan and is on the A947 road. Architecture What in 1990, at least, was a Clydesdale Bank was built in 1866 by James Matthews (archi ...
,
Aberdeenshire Aberdeenshire ( sco, Aiberdeenshire; gd, Siorrachd Obar Dheathain) is one of the 32 Subdivisions of Scotland#council areas of Scotland, council areas of Scotland. It takes its name from the County of Aberdeen which has substantially differe ...
, the third son of the local
Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland ( sco, The Kirk o Scotland; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba) is the national church in Scotland. The Church of Scotland was principally shaped by John Knox, in the Scottish Reformation, Reformation of 1560, when it split from t ...
minister, John Marshall Lang, and his wife Hannah Agnes Lang. ("Early Life" section) Cosmo was baptised at Fyvie church by a neighbouring minister, the name "William" being added inadvertently to his given names, perhaps because the local
laird Laird () is the owner of a large, long-established Scotland, Scottish estate. In the traditional Scottish order of precedence, a laird ranked below a Scottish feudal baron, baron and above a gentleman. This rank was held only by those lairds ho ...
was called William Cosmo Gordon. The additional name was rarely used subsequently.Lockhart, pp. 6–8 In January 1865 the family moved to
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesca or ; gd, Glaschu ) is the most populous city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ' ...
on John Lang's appointment as a minister in the
Anderston Anderston ( sco, Anderstoun, gd, Baile Aindrea) is an area of Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesca or ; gd, Glaschu ) is the most populous city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary ...
district. Subsequent moves followed: in 1868 to Morningside, Edinburgh and, in 1873, back to Glasgow when John Lang was appointed minister to the historic Barony Church. Among Cosmo's brothers were Marshall Buchanan Lang, who followed his father into the Church of Scotland, eventually serving as its Moderator in 1935; and Norman Macleod Lang, who served the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church record ...
as Bishop suffragan of Leicester. In Glasgow, Lang attended the Park School, a day establishment where he won a prize for an essay on English literature and played the occasional game of football; otherwise, he recorded, "I was never greatly interested in he school'sproceedings." Holidays were spent in different parts of Scotland, most notably in
Argyll Argyll (; archaically Argyle, in Scottish Gaelic language, modern Gaelic, ), sometimes called Argyllshire, is a Counties of Scotland, historic county and registration county of western Scotland. Argyll is of ancient origin, and corresponds t ...
to which, later in life, Lang would frequently return. In 1878, at the age of 14, Lang sat and passed his
matriculation Matriculation is the formal process of entering a university A university () is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in sev ...
examinations. Despite his youth, he began his studies at the
University of Glasgow The University of Glasgow (abbreviated as ''Glas.'' in Post-nominal letters, post-nominals; ) is a Public university, public research university in Glasgow, Scotland. Founded by papal bull in , it is the List of oldest universities in continuous ope ...
later that year.


University of Glasgow

At the university Lang's tutors included some of Scotland's leading academics: the Greek scholar Richard Claverhouse Jebb, the physicist William Thomson (who was later created Lord Kelvin) and the philosopher Edward Caird. Long afterwards Lang commented on the inability of some of these eminent figures to handle "the Scottish boors who formed a large part of their classes". Lang was most strongly influenced by Caird, who gave the boy's mind "its first real awakening". Lang recalled how, in a revelation as he was passing through Kelvingrove Park, he expressed aloud his sudden conviction that: "The Universe is one and its Unity and Ultimate Reality is God!" He acknowledged that his greatest failure at the university was his inability to make any progress in his understanding of mathematics, "to me, then and always, unintelligible".Lockhart, pp. 10–13 In 1881 Lang made his first trip outside Scotland, to London where he heard the theologian and orator Henry Parry Liddon preach in
St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglicanism, Anglican cathedral in London and is the seat of the Bishop of London. The cathedral serves as the mother church of the Diocese of London. It is on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London ...
.Lockhart, pp. 19–23 He also heard
William Ewart Gladstone William Ewart Gladstone ( ; 29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a British statesman and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician. In a career lasting over 60 years, he served for 12 years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, spread ...
and
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then a Liberal Unionist after opposing home rule for Ireland, and eventually served as a leading New Imperialism, i ...
debating in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
. Later that year he travelled to Cambridge to stay with a friend who was studying there. A visit to
King's College Chapel King's College Chapel is the chapel of King's College, Cambridge, King's College in the University of Cambridge. It is considered one of the finest examples of late Perpendicular Gothic English architecture and features the world's largest fan ...
persuaded Lang that he should study at the college; the following January he sat and passed the entrance examination. When he discovered that as part of his degree studies he would be examined in mathematics, his enthusiasm disappeared. Instead, he applied to
Balliol College Balliol College () is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. One of University of Oxford, Oxford's oldest colleges, it was founded around 1263 by John I de Balliol, a landowner from Barnard Castle in County Durh ...
, Oxford, and was accepted. In mid-1882 he ended his studies at Glasgow with a
Master of Arts A Master of Arts ( la, Magister Artium or ''Artium Magister''; abbreviated MA, M.A., AM, or A.M.) is the holder of a master's degree awarded by University, universities in many countries. The degree is usually contrasted with that of Master of ...
degree, and was awarded prizes for essays on politics and church history.


Oxford

Lang started at Balliol in October 1882. In his first term he successfully sat for the Brackenbury Scholarship, described by his biographer John Gilbert Lockhart as "the Blue Ribbon of history scholarship at any University of the British Isles".Lockhart, pp. 28–29 In February 1883 his first speech at the
Oxford Union The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a Debate, debating society in the city of Oxford England, whose membership is drawn primarily from the University of Oxford. Founded in 1823, it is one of Britain's ...
, against the
disestablishment The separation of church and state is a philosophical and jurisprudential concept for defining political distance in the relationship between religious organizations Religious activities generally need some infrastructure to be conduct ...
of the Church of Scotland, was warmly received; the chairman likened his oratory to that of the Ancient Greek statesman,
Demosthenes Demosthenes (; el, Δημοσθένης, translit=Dēmosthénēs; ; 384 – 12 October 322 BC) was a Greeks, Greek statesman and orator in History of Athens, ancient Athens. His Public speaking, orations constitute a significant expression ...
.Lockhart, pp. 33–35 He became the Union's president in the Trinity term of 1883, and the following year was a co-founder of the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS). Although Lang considered himself forward-thinking, he joined and became secretary of the Canning Club, the university's principal
Conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
society. His contemporary Robert Cecil recorded that Lang's "progressive" opinions were somewhat frowned upon by traditional
Tories A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of Traditionalist conservatism, traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English cul ...
, who nevertheless respected his ability. Lang later assisted in the founding of the University settlement of Toynbee Hall, a mission to help the poor in the
East End of London The East End of London, often referred to within the London area simply as the East End, is the historic core of wider East London, east of the Roman and medieval walls of the City of London and north of the River Thames. It does not have univ ...
.Lockhart, pp. 39–41 He had been first drawn to this work in 1883, after listening to a sermon in St Mary's Church, Oxford, by
Samuel Augustus Barnett Samuel Augustus Barnett (8 February 1844 – 17 June 1913) was a Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, Christian church in England and the mother church of t ...
, Vicar of St Jude's, Whitechapel. Barnett became the settlement's first leader, while Lang became one of its first undergraduate secretaries. He spent so much time on these duties that he was chided by the Master of Balliol,
Benjamin Jowett Benjamin Jowett (, modern variant ; 15 April 1817 – 1 October 1893) was an English people, English tutor and administrative reformer in the University of Oxford, a theologian, an Anglican cleric, and a translator of Plato and Thucydides. He wa ...
, for neglecting his studies. In 1886 Lang graduated with
first-class honours The British undergraduate degree classification system is a Grade (education), grading structure for undergraduate degrees or bachelor's degrees and Master's degree#Integrated Masters Degree, integrated master's degrees in the United Kingdom. The ...
in History; in October he failed to secure a Fellowship of
All Souls College All Souls College (official name: College of the Souls of All the Faithful Departed) is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Unique to All Souls, all of its members automatically b ...
, blaming his poor early scholastic training in Glasgow.


Towards ordination

Lang's career ambition from early in life was to practise law, enter politics and then take office in some future Conservative administration. In 1887 he began his studies for the English Bar, working in the London chambers of W.S. Robson, a future
Attorney-General In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general or attorney-general (sometimes abbreviated AG or Atty.-Gen) is the main legal advisor to the government. The plural is attorneys general. In some jurisdictions, attorneys general also have exec ...
, whose "vehement radicalism was an admirable stimulus and corrective to ang'sliberal Conservatism".Lang, quoted in Lockhart, pp. 52–53 During these years Lang was largely aloof from religion, but continued churchgoing out of what he termed "hereditary respect". He attended services at the nonconformist City Temple church and sometimes went to St Paul's Cathedral. Of his life at that time he said: "I must confess that I played sometimes with those external temptations that our Christian London flaunts in the face of its young men." In October 1888 Lang was elected to an All Souls Fellowship, and began to divide his time between London and Oxford. Some of his Oxford friends were training for ordination and Lang was often drawn into their discussions. Eventually the question entered Lang's mind: "Why shouldn't ''you'' be ordained?"Lockhart, pp. 62–66 The thought persisted, and one Sunday evening in early 1889, after a visit to the theological college at Cuddesdon in Oxfordshire, Lang attended evening service at
Cuddesdon Cuddesdon is a mainly rural village in South Oxfordshire centred ESE of Oxford. It has the largest Church of England clergy training centre, Ripon College Cuddesdon. Residents number approximately 430 in Cuddesdon's nucleated village centre a ...
parish church. By his own account, during the sermon he was gripped by "a masterful inward voice" which told him "You are wanted. You are called. You must obey." He immediately severed his connection with the Bar, renounced his political ambitions and applied for a place at Cuddesdon College. With the help of an All Souls contact, the essential step of his
confirmation In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of the covenant (religion), covenant created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. For adults, it is an wikt:affirmation, affirma ...
into the Church of England was supervised by the
Bishop of Lincoln The Bishop of Lincoln is the Ordinary (officer), ordinary (diocesan bishop) of the Church of England Diocese of Lincoln in the Province of Canterbury. The present diocese covers the county of Lincolnshire and the unitary authority areas of North ...
. Lang's decision to become an Anglican and seek ordination disappointed his Presbyterian father, who nevertheless wrote to his son: "What you think, prayerfully and solemnly, you ought to do – you must do – we will accept."


Early ministry


Leeds

After a year's study at
Cuddesdon Cuddesdon is a mainly rural village in South Oxfordshire centred ESE of Oxford. It has the largest Church of England clergy training centre, Ripon College Cuddesdon. Residents number approximately 430 in Cuddesdon's nucleated village centre a ...
, Lang was ordained as
deacon A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christianity, Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the ...
. He rejected an offer of the chaplaincy of All Souls as he wanted to be "up and doing" in a tough parish.Lockhart, p. 87 Lang identified with the
Anglo-Catholic Anglo-Catholicism comprises beliefs and practices that emphasise the Catholicity, Catholic heritage and identity of the various Anglican churches. The term was coined in the early 19th century, although movements emphasising the Catholic natur ...
tradition of the Church of England, in part, he admitted, as a reaction against his
evangelical Evangelicalism (), also called evangelical Christianity or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide Interdenominationalism, interdenominational movement within Protestantism, Protestant Christianity that affirms the centrality of being "bor ...
upbringing in the Church of Scotland. His sympathies lay with the progressive wing of Anglo-Catholicism represented by the '' Lux Mundi'' essays, published in 1888 by a group of forward-looking Oxford theologians. Among these was
Edward Stuart Talbot Edward Stuart Talbot (19 February 1844 – 30 January 1934) was an Anglican bishop in the Church of England and the first Warden of Keble College, Oxford. He was successively the Bishop of Rochester, the Anglican Bishop of Southwark, Bishop of S ...
, Warden of Keble, who in 1888 had become Vicar of Leeds Parish Church. Talbot had contributed the essay entitled "The Preparation for History in Christ" in ''Lux Mundi''. On ordination Lang eagerly accepted the offer of a
curacy A curate () is a person who is invested with the ''care'' or ''cure'' (''cura'') ''of souls'' of a parish A parish is a territorial entity in many Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese In Ecclesiastical poli ...
under Talbot, and arrived in Leeds in late 1890. Leeds Parish Church, rebuilt and reconsecrated in 1841 after an elaborate ceremony, was of almost cathedral size, the centre of a huge parish ministered by many
curate A curate () is a person who is invested with the Cure of souls, ''care'' or ''cure'' (''cura'') ''of souls'' of a parish. In this sense, "curate" means a parish, parish priest; but in English-speaking countries the term ''curate'' is commonly use ...
s. Lang's district was the Kirkgate, one of the poorest areas, many of whose 2,000 inhabitants were prostitutes. Lang and his fellow curates fashioned a clergy house from a derelict
public house A pub (short for public house) is a kind of drinking establishment which is licensed to serve alcoholic drinks for consumption Licensing laws of the United Kingdom#On-licence, on the premises. The term ''public house'' first appeared in ...
. He later moved next door, into a condemned property which became his home for his remaining service in Leeds. In addition to his normal parish duties, Lang acted temporarily as Principal of the Clergy School, was chaplain to Leeds Infirmary, and took charge of a men's club of around a hundred members. On 24 May 1891 he was ordained to full priesthood.Lockhart, pp. 94–99 Lang continued to visit Oxford when time allowed and on a visit to All Souls in June 1893 he was offered the post of Dean of Divinity at Magdalen College. Other offers were open to him; the Bishop of Newcastle wished to appoint him vicar of the cathedral church in Newcastle and Benjamin Jowett wished him to return to Balliol as a tutor in theology. Lang chose Magdalen; the idea of being in charge of young men who might in the future achieve positions of responsibility was attractive to him and, in October 1893, with many regrets, he left Leeds.Lockhart, pp. 101–04


Magdalen College

As Magdalen's Dean of Divinity (college chaplain), Lang had pastoral duties with the college's undergraduates and responsibility for the chapel and its choir. Lang was delighted with this latter obligation; his concern for the purity of the choir's sound led him to request that visitors "join in the service silently". In 1894 Lang was asked to add to his workload by acting as Vicar of the
University Church of St Mary the Virgin The University Church of St Mary the Virgin (St Mary's or SMV for short) is an Oxford church situated on the north side of the High Street, Oxford, High Street. It is the centre from which the University of Oxford grew and its parish consists alm ...
, where
John Henry Newman John Henry Newman (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890) was an English theologian, academic, intellectual, philosopher, polymath, historian, writer, scholar and poet, first as an Anglican ministry, Anglican priest and later as a Catholi ...
had begun his Oxford ministry in 1828. The church had almost ceased to function when Lang took it over, but he revived regular services, chose preachers with care and slowly rebuilt the congregation. In December 1895 he was offered the post of Vicar of Portsea, a large parish within
Portsmouth Portsmouth ( ) is a port and city status in the United Kingdom, city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire in southern England. The city of Portsmouth has been a Unitary authorities of England, unitary authority since 1 April 1997 and is admi ...
on the south coast, but he was not ready to leave Oxford and refused. Some months later he had further thoughts; the strain of his dual appointment in Oxford was beginning to tell and, he claimed, "the thought of this great parish f Portseaand work going a-begging troubled my conscience." After discovering that the Portsea offer was still open, he decided to accept, though with some misgiving.


Portsea

Portsea, covering much of the town of Portsmouth, was a dockside parish of around 40,000 inhabitants with a mixture of housing ranging from neat terraces to squalid slums.Lockhart, pp. 116–19 The large, recently rebuilt church held more than 2,000 people. Lang arrived in June 1896 to lead a team of more than a dozen curates serving the five districts of the parish. He quickly resumed the kind of urban parish work he had carried out in Leeds; he founded a Sunday afternoon men's conference with 300 men, and supervised the construction of a large conference hall as a centre for parish activities.Lockhart, pp. 122–25 He also pioneered the establishment of parochial church councils long before they were given legal status in 1919. ("Early Ministry" section) Outside his normal parish duties, Lang served as chaplain to the local prison, and became acting chaplain to the 2nd Hampshire
Royal Artillery The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is one of two regiments that make up the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises t ...
Volunteer Corps. Lang's relationship with his curates was generally formal. They were aware of his ambition and felt that he sometimes spent too much time on his outside interests such as his All Souls Fellowship, but were nevertheless impressed by his efficiency and his powers of oratory. The Church historian Adrian Hastings singles out Portsea under Lang as an example of "extremely disciplined pastoral professionalism". Lang may have realised that he was destined for high office; he is reported to have practised the signature "Cosmo Cantuar" during a relaxed discussion with his curates ("Cantuar" is part of the
Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally resp ...
's formal signature). In January 1898 he was invited by
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until Death and state funeral of Queen Victoria, her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 21 ...
to preach at
Osborne House Osborne House is a former royal residence in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. The house was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort, Prince Albert as a summer home and rural retreat. Albert designed ...
, her
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home. Afterwards he talked with the Queen who, Lang records, suggested that he should marry. Lang replied that he could not afford to as his curates cost too much. He added: "If a curate proves unsatisfactory I can get rid of him. A wife is a fixture." He was summoned on several more occasions and in the following January was appointed an
Honorary Chaplain to the Queen An Honorary Chaplain to the King (KHC) is a member of the clergy within the United Kingdom who, through long and distinguished service, is appointed to minister to the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, monarch of the United Kingdom. When the reignin ...
. These visits to Osborne were the start of a close association with the Royal Family which lasted for the rest of Lang's life. As one of the Queen's chaplains, he assisted in the funeral arrangements after her death in January 1901.


Bishop and canon

In March 1901 Lang was appointed
suffragan A suffragan bishop is a type of bishop in some Christian denominations. In the Anglican Communion, a suffragan bishop is a bishop who is subordinate to a metropolitan bishop or diocesan bishop (bishop ordinary) and so is not normally jurisdictiona ...
Bishop of Stepney and a
canon Canon or Canons may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Canon (fiction), the conceptual material accepted as official in a fictional universe by its fan base * Literary canon, an accepted body of works considered as high culture ** Western can ...
of St Paul's Cathedral. These appointments reflected his growing reputation and recognised his successful ministry in working-class parishes. He was
consecrated Consecration is the ritual, solemn dedication to a special purpose or service. The word ''consecration'' literally means "association with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by differe ...
bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury,
Frederick Temple Frederick Temple (30 November 1821 – 23 December 1902) was an English academic, teacher and churchman, who served as Bishop of Exeter (1869–1885), Bishop of London A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a positi ...
, in St Paul's Cathedral, on 1 May;Lockhart, p. 147 his time would subsequently be divided between his work in the Stepney region and his duties at St Paul's. The
University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the List of oldest universit ...
honoured him with the degree of
Doctor of Divinity A Doctor of Divinity (D.D. or DDiv; la, Doctor Divinitatis) is the holder of an advanced academic degree in divinity (academic discipline), divinity. In the United Kingdom, it is considered an advanced doctoral degree. At the University of Oxf ...
in late May 1901.


Stepney

Lang's region of Stepney within the Diocese of London extended over the whole area generally known as London's East End, with two million people in more than 200 parishes. Almost all were poor, and housed in overcrowded and insanitary conditions. Lang knew something of the area from his undergraduate activities at Toynbee Hall, and his conscience was troubled by the squalor that he saw as he travelled around the district, usually by bus and tram. Lang's liberal conservatism enabled him to associate easily with Socialist leaders such as Will Crooks and
George Lansbury George Lansbury (22 February 1859 – 7 May 1940) was a British politician and social reformer who led the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party from 1932 to 1935. Apart from a brief period of ministerial office during the Labour government of 1 ...
, successive mayors of Poplar; he was responsible for bringing the latter back to regular communion in the Church. In 1905 he and Lansbury joined the Central London Unemployed Body, set up by the government to tackle the region's unemployment problems. That same year Lang took as his personal assistant a young Cambridge graduate and clergyman's son, Dick Sheppard, who became a close friend and confidante. Sheppard was eventually ordained, becoming a radical clergyman and founder of the
Peace Pledge Union The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) is a non-governmental organisation A non-governmental organization (NGO) or non-governmental organisation (see American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), spelling differen ...
. Lang believed that socialism was a growing force in British life, and at a Church Congress in
Great Yarmouth Great Yarmouth (), often called Yarmouth, is a seaside resort, seaside town and unparished area in, and the main administrative centre of, the Borough of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England; it straddles the River Yare and is located east of ...
in 1907 he speculated on how the Church should respond to this. His remarks reached ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'', which warned that modern socialism was often equated with unrest, that "the cry of the demagogue is in the air" and that the Church should not heed this cry. Much of the work in the district was supported by the East London Church Fund, established in 1880 to provide for additional clergy and lay workers in the poorest districts. Lang preached in wealthier parishes throughout Southern England, and urged his listeners to contribute to the Fund.Lockhart, pp. 161–64 He resumed his ministry to the army when, in 1907, he was appointed Honorary Chaplain to the City of London Imperial Yeomanry (Rough Riders). He became chairman of the Church of England Men's Society (CEMS), which had been founded in 1899 by the merger of numerous organisations doing the same work. Initially he found it "a very sickly infant", but under his leadership it expanded rapidly, and soon had over 20,000 members in 600 branches. Later he became critical of the Church's failure to use this movement effectively, calling it one of the Church's lost opportunities.


St Paul's Cathedral

Lang's appointment as a canon of St Paul's Cathedral required him to spend three months annually as the canon in residence, with administrative and preaching duties.Lockhart, pp. 149–50 Following his appointment as canon, he was also appointed treasurer of the cathedral. His preaching on Sunday afternoons caught the attention of William Temple, Lang's future successor at both York and Canterbury, who was then an undergraduate at Oxford. Temple observed that, in contrast to the Bishop of London's sermons, listening to Lang brought on an intellectual rather than emotional pleasure: "I can remember all his points, just because their connexion is inevitable.... And for me, there is no doubt that this is the more edifying by far." Lang was a member of the cathedral's governing body, the Dean and Chapter, and was responsible for the organisation of special occasions, such as the service of thanksgiving for King
Edward VII Edward VII (Albert Edward; 9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India, from 22 January 1901 until Death and state funeral of Edward VII, his death in 1910. The second chil ...
's recovery from
appendicitis Appendicitis is inflammation of the Appendix (anatomy), appendix. Symptoms commonly include right lower abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and anorexia (symptom), decreased appetite. However, approximately 40% of people do not have these typical ...
in July 1902.


Archbishop of York


Appointment

In late 1908 Lang was informed of his election as Bishop of Montreal. Letters from the
Governor General of Canada The governor general of Canada (french: gouverneure générale du Canada) is the federal viceregal representative of the . The is head of state of Canada and the 14 other Commonwealth realms, but resides in oldest and most populous realm ...
and the Canadian High Commissioner urged him to accept, but the Archbishop of Canterbury asked him to refuse.Lockhart, pp. 178–80 A few weeks later a letter from H. H. Asquith, the prime minister, informed Lang that he had been nominated
Archbishop of York The archbishop of York is a senior bishop in the Church of England, second only to the archbishop of Canterbury. The archbishop is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and the metropolitan bishop of the province of York, which covers the ...
. Lang was only 44 years old, and had no experience as a diocesan bishop. On the issue of age, the ''
Church Times The ''Church Times'' is an independent Anglican weekly newspaper based in London and published in the United Kingdom on Fridays. History The ''Church Times'' was founded on 7 February 1863 by George Josiah Palmer, a printer. It fought for the ...
'' believed that Asquith deliberately recommended the youngest bishop available, after strong political lobbying for the appointment of the elderly
Bishop of Hereford The Bishop of Hereford is the Ordinary (officer), ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Hereford in the Province of Canterbury. The episcopal see is centred in the Hereford, City of Hereford where the bishop's seat (''cathedra'') is in t ...
,
John Percival John Percival (3 April 1779 – 7 September 1862), known as Mad Jack Percival, was a celebrated officer in the United States Navy during the Quasi-War with France, the War of 1812, the campaign against West Indies pirates, and the Mexican–Amer ...
. Such a promotion for a suffragan, and within so short a period after ordination, was without recent precedent in the Church of England. Lang's friend Hensley Henson, a future
Bishop of Durham The Bishop of Durham is the Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, esta ...
, wrote: "I am, of course, surprised that you go ''straight'' to an archbishopric ... But you are too meteoric for precedent." The appointment was generally well received, although the Protestant Truth Society sought in vain to prevent its confirmation. Strong opponents of Anglo-Catholic practices, they maintained that as Bishop of Stepney Lang had "connived at and encouraged flagrant breaking of the law relating to church ritual".


First years

Lang's
election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative ...
to York was confirmed on 20 January and he was enthroned at
York Minster The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, is the cathedral of York, North Yorkshire, England, and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The minster is the seat of the Archbis ...
on 25 January 1909. In 18 years since ordination he had risen to the second-highest position in the Church of England. In addition to his diocesan responsibilities for York itself, he became head of the entire Northern Province, and a member of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
. Believing that the
Diocese of York The Diocese of York is an administrative division of the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, Christian church in England and the mother church of the intern ...
was too large, he proposed reducing it by forming a new Diocese of Sheffield, which after several years' work was inaugurated in 1914. In the years following his appointment, Lang spoke out on a range of social and economic issues, and in support of improved working conditions. After taking his seat in the House of Lords in February 1909, he made his maiden speech in November in the debate on the controversial People's Budget, advising the Lords against their intention to reject this measure. He cast his first Lords vote against rejection, because he was "deeply convinced of the unwisdom of the course the Lords proposed to take". Although his speech was received with respect, Lang's stance was politely reproved by the leading Conservative peer
Lord Curzon George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, (11 January 1859 – 20 March 1925), styled Lord Curzon of Kedleston between 1898 and 1911 and then Earl Curzon of Kedleston between 1911 and 1921, was a British Conservative Party (UK) ...
. Despite this socially progressive stance, Lang's political instincts remained conservative. He voted against the 1914 Irish Home Rule Bill and opposed liberalisation of the divorce laws.McLeod, p. 232 After playing a prominent role in King George V's coronation in 1911, Lang became increasingly close to the Royal Family, an association which drew the comment that he was "more courtier than cleric". His love of ceremony, and concern for how an archbishop should look and live, began to obscure other aspects of his ministry; rather than assuming the role of the people's prelate he began, in the words of his biographer Alan Wilkinson, to act as a "prince of the church".


First World War

When war broke out in August 1914, Lang concluded that the conflict was righteous, and that younger clergy should be encouraged to serve as military chaplains, although it was not their duty to fight. He thereafter was active in recruiting campaigns throughout his province. At a meeting in York in November 1914 he caused offence when he spoke out against excessive anti-German propaganda, and recalled a "sacred memory" of the
Kaiser ''Kaiser'' is the German word for "emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, ...
kneeling with King Edward VII at the bier of Queen Victoria. ("First World War" section) These remarks, perceived as pro-German, produced what Lang termed "a perfect hail of denunciation".Lockhart, pp. 249–51 The strain of this period, coupled with the onset of
alopecia Hair loss, also known as alopecia or baldness, refers to a loss of hair from part of the head or body. Typically at least the head is involved. The severity of hair loss can vary from a small area to the entire body. Inflammation or scarrin ...
, drastically altered Lang's relatively youthful appearance to that of a bald and elderly-looking man. His friends were shocked; the king, meeting him on the Royal train, apparently burst into guffaws of laughter. Public hostility against Lang was slow to subside, re-emerging from time to time throughout the war. Lang continued his contribution to the war effort, paying visits to the
Grand Fleet The Grand Fleet was the main Naval fleet, battlefleet of the Royal Navy during the First World War. It was established in August 1914 and disbanded in April 1919. Its main base was Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. History Formed in August 191 ...
and to the Western Front. He applied all his organisational skills to the Archbishop of Canterbury's National Mission of Repentance and Hope, an initiative designed to renew Christian faith nationwide, but it failed to make a significant impact. As a result of the Battle of Jerusalem of December 1917, the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
's
Egyptian Expeditionary Force The Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) was a British Empire military formation, formed on 10 March 1916 under the command of General Archibald Murray from the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and the Force in Egypt (1914–15), at the beginnin ...
captured the
Holy City A holy city is a city important to the history or faith of a specific religion. Such cities may also contain at least one headquarters complex (often containing a religious edifice, seminary, shrine, residence of the leading cleric of the religi ...
, bringing it under Christian control for the first time since the
Crusades The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The best known of these Crusades are those to the Holy Land in the period between 1095 and 1291 that were in ...
. As Prelate of the
Venerable Order of Saint John The Order of St John, short for Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (french: l'ordre très vénérable de l'Hôpital de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem) and also known as St John International, is a British British monarchy ...
, Lang led a service of celebration on 11 January 1918 at the Order's Grand Priory Church,
Clerkenwell Clerkenwell () is an area of central London, England. Clerkenwell was an Civil Parish#Ancient parishes, ancient parish from the mediaeval period onwards, and now forms the south-western part of the London Borough of Islington. The well after ...
. He explained that it was 917 years since the Order's hospital had been founded in
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusałēm. i ...
, and 730 years since they were driven out by
Saladin Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Shadi () ( – 4 March 1193), commonly known by the epithet Saladin,, ; ku, سه‌لاحه‌دین, ; was the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Hailing from an ethnic Kurds, Kurdish family, he was the first of both Egy ...
. "London is the city of the Empire's commerce, but Jerusalem is the city of the soul, and it is particularly fitting that British Armies should have delivered it out of the hands of the
infidel An infidel (literally "unfaithful") is a person accused of disbelief in the central tenets of one's own religion, such as members of another religion, or the irreligious Irreligion or nonreligion is the absence or rejection of religion, o ...
." Early in 1918, at the invitation of the Episcopal Church of the United States, he made a goodwill visit to America, praising the extent and willingness of America's participation in the war. The '' Westminster Gazette'' called this "one of the most moving and memorable visits ever paid by an Englishman 'sic''to the United States".


Post-war years

After the war, Lang's primary cause was that of church unity. In 1920, as chairman of the Reunion Committee at the Sixth
Lambeth Conference The Lambeth Conference is a decennial assembly of bishops of the Anglican Communion The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion after the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Founded in 1867 in Londo ...
, he promoted an "Appeal to all Christian People", described by Hastings as "one of the rare historical documents that does not get forgotten with the years". It was unanimously adopted as the Conference's Resolution 9, and ended: "We ... ask that all should unite in a new and great endeavour to recover and to manifest to the world the unity of the Body of Christ for which He prayed." Despite initial warmth from the English Free Churches, little could be achieved in terms of practical union between episcopal and non-episcopal churches, and the initiative was allowed to lapse. Historically, the Appeal is considered the starting-point for the more successful
ecumenical Ecumenism (), also spelled oecumenism, is the concept and principle that Christians who belong to different Christian denominations should work together to develop closer relationships among their churches and promote Christian unity. The adjec ...
efforts of later generations. Lang was supportive of the Malines Conversations of 1921–26, though not directly involved. These were informal meetings between leading British Anglo-Catholics and reform-minded European Roman Catholics, exploring the possibility of reuniting the Anglican and Roman communions. Although the discussions had the blessing of
Randall Davidson Randall Thomas Davidson, 1st Baron Davidson of Lambeth, (7 April 1848 – 25 May 1930) was an Anglican priest who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1903 to 1928. He was the longest-serving holder of the office since the English Reformation, Re ...
, the Archbishop of Canterbury, many Anglican evangelicals were alarmed by them. Ultimately, the talks foundered on the entrenched opposition of the Catholic
ultramontanes Ultramontanism is a clerical political conception within the Catholic Church that places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the Pope. It contrasts with Gallicanism, the belief that popular civil authority—often represented by th ...
. A by-product of these conversations may have been the awakening of opposition to the revision of the Anglican
Prayer Book A prayer book is a book containing prayers and perhaps devotional readings, for private or communal use, or in some cases, outlining the liturgy of religious services. Books containing mainly orders of religious services, or readings for them are ...
. The focus of this revision, which Lang supported, was to make concessions to Anglo-Catholic rituals and practices in the Anglican service. The new Prayer Book was overwhelmingly approved by the Church's main legislative body, the
Church Assembly The General Synod is the tricameral deliberative and legislative organ of the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, Christian church in England and the mother c ...
, and by the House of Lords. Partly through the advocacy of the fervently evangelical
Home Secretary The secretary of state for the Home Department, otherwise known as the home secretary, is a senior minister of the Crown in the Government of the United Kingdom. The home secretary leads the Home Office, and is responsible for all national s ...
, Sir William Joynson-Hicks, the revision was twice defeated in the House of Commons, in December 1927 by 238 votes to 205 and, in June 1928, by 266 to 220. Lang was deeply disappointed, writing that "the gusts of Protestant convictions, suspicions, fears ndprejudices swept through the House, and ultimately prevailed." On 26 April 1923,
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Born during the reign of his grandmother Q ...
awarded Lang the
Royal Victorian Chain The Royal Victorian Chain is a Award, decoration instituted in 1902 by King Edward VII as a personal award of the monarch (i.e. not an award made on the advice of any Commonwealth realm government). It ranks above the Royal Victorian Order, with wh ...
, an honour in the personal gift of the Sovereign After the marriage of Prince Albert, Duke of York (later
George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a poli ...
) in 1923, Lang formed a friendship with his Duchess (later
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002) was List of British royal consorts, Queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 to 6 February 1952 as the wife of Ki ...
) which lasted for the rest of Lang's life. In 1926, he baptised Princess Elizabeth (later
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until Death and state funeral of Elizabeth II, her death in 2022. She was queen ...
) in the private chapel of
Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace () is a London royal official residence, residence and the administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and roya ...
. In January 1927, Lang took centre-stage in the elaborate ceremonies which marked the 1,300th anniversary of the founding of York Minster.


Archbishop of Canterbury


In office

Archbishop Davidson resigned in July 1928, believed to have been the first Archbishop of Canterbury ever to retire voluntarily. On 26 July Lang was notified by the Prime Minister,
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician who dominated the government of the Interwar Britain, United Kingdom between the world wars, serv ...
, that he would be the successor; William Temple would succeed Lang at York. Lang was enthroned as the new Archbishop of Canterbury on 4 December 1928, the first bachelor to hold the appointment in 150 years. A contemporary ''
Time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...
'' magazine article described Lang as "forthright and voluble" and as looking "like George Washington". Lang's first three years at Canterbury were marked by intermittent illnesses, which required periods of convalescence away from his duties. After 1932, he enjoyed good health for the rest of his life. Lang avoided continuation of the Prayer Book controversy of 1928 by allowing the parliamentary process to lapse. He then authorised a statement permitting use of the rejected Book locally if the parochial church council gave approval. The issue remained dormant for the rest of Lang's tenure at Canterbury. He led the 1930 Lambeth Conference, where further progress was made in improving relations with the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a Communion (Christ ...
es and the
Old Catholics The terms Old Catholic Church, Old Catholics, Old-Catholic churches or Old Catholic movement designate "any of the groups of Western Christians who believe themselves to maintain in complete loyalty the doctrine and traditions of the Great Chu ...
, ("Archbishop of Canterbury" section) although again no agreement could be reached with the non-episcopal Free Churches. On an issue of greater concern to ordinary people, the Conference gave limited approval, for the first time, to the use of contraceptive devices, an issue in which Lang had no interest. Through the 1930s Lang continued to work for Church unity. In 1933 the Church of England assembly formed a Council on Foreign Relations and, in the following years, numerous exchange visits with Orthodox delegations took place, a process only halted by the outbreak of war. Lang's 1939 visit to the
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople The ecumenical patriarch ( el, Οἰκουμενικός Πατριάρχης, translit=Oikoumenikós Patriárchēs) is the archbishop of Constantinople (Istanbul Istanbul ( , ; tr, İstanbul ), formerly known as Constantinople ( grc-gre, ...
is regarded as the high point of his ecumenical record. George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, maintained that no one in the Anglican Communion did more than Lang to promote the unity movement. In 1937 the Oxford Conference on Church and Society, which later gave birth to the
World Council of Churches The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a worldwide Christianity , Christian inter-church organization founded in 1948 to work for the cause of ecumenism. Its full members today include the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox Chur ...
, produced what was according to the church historian Adrian Hastings "the most serious approach to the problems of society that the Church had yet managed", but without Lang's close involvement. By this time Lang's identification with the poor had largely vanished, as had his interest in social reform.Buchanan, p. 170 In the Church Assembly his closest ally was the aristocratic Lord Hugh Cecil; Hastings maintains that the Church of England in the 1930s was controlled "less by Lang and Temple in tandem than by Lang and Hugh Cecil". Lang got on well with Hewlett Johnson, the pro-communist priest who was appointed Dean of Canterbury in 1931.


International and domestic politics

Lang often spoke in the House of Lords about the treatment of Russian Christians in the Soviet Union. He also denounced the anti-semitic policies of the German government, and he took private steps to help European Jews. ("International Affairs" section)Lockhart, pp. 381–83 In 1938 he was instrumental in saving 60 rabbis from Burgenland, who would have been murdered by the Nazis had the archbishop not obtained them entry visas to England. In 1933, having commented on the "noble task" of assisting India towards independence, he was appointed to the Joint Committee on the Indian Constitution. He condemned the Italian invasion of
Abyssinia The Ethiopian Empire (), also formerly known by the exonym Abyssinia, or just simply known as Ethiopia (; Amharic and Tigrinya language, Tigrinya: ኢትዮጵያ , , Oromo language, Oromo: Itoophiyaa, Somali language, Somali: Itoobiya, Afar l ...
in 1935, appealing for medical supplies to be sent to the Abyssinian troops. As the threat of war increased later in the decade, Lang became a strong supporter of the government's policy of appeasing the European dictators, declaring the Sunday after the
Munich Agreement The Munich Agreement ( cs, Mnichovská dohoda; sk, Mníchovská dohoda; german: Münchner Abkommen) was an agreement concluded at Munich on 30 September 1938, by Nazi Germany, Germany, the United Kingdom, French Third Republic, France, and Fa ...
of September 1938 to be a day of thanksgivings for the "sudden lifting of this cloud". Earlier that year, contrary to his former stance, he had supported the Anglo-Italian agreement to recognise the conquest of Abyssinia, because he believed that "an increase of appeasement" was necessary to avoid the threat of war. Lang also backed the government's non-intervention policy in regard to the
Spanish Civil War The Spanish Civil War ( es, Guerra Civil Española)) or The Revolution ( es, La Revolución, link=no) among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War ( es, Cuarta Guerra Carlista, link=no) among Carlism, Carlists, and The Rebellion ( es, La Rebeli ...
, saying that there were no clear issues that required the taking of sides. He described the
bombing of Guernica On 26 April 1937, the Basque Country (greater region), Basque town of Guernica (''Gernika'' in Basque language, Basque) was Aerial bombing of cities, aerial bombed during the Spanish Civil War. It was carried out at the behest of Francisco Fran ...
by the Germans and the Italians, on 26 April 1937, as "deplorable and shocking". In October 1937 Lang's condemnation of Imperial Japanese Army actions in China provoked hostile scrutiny by the Japanese authorities of the Anglican Church in Japan, and caused some in that church's leadership to publicly disassociate themselves from the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church record ...
. On the domestic front, Lang supported campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty. He upheld the right of the Church to refuse the remarriage of divorced persons within its buildings,Lockhart, p. 378 but he did not directly oppose A.P. Herbert's Matrimonial Causes Bill of 1937, which liberalised the divorce laws – Lang believed "it was no longer possible to impose the full Christian standard by law on a largely non-Christian population." He drew criticism for his opposition to the reform of the ancient
tithe A tithe (; from Old English: ''teogoþa'' "tenth") is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in money, cash or cheques or ...
system, whereby many farmers paid a proportion of their income to the Church; in the subsequent "Tithe Wars", demonstrators at
Ashford, Kent Ashford is a town in the county of Kent, England. It lies on the River Stour, Kent, River Great Stour at the southern or Escarpment, scarp edge of the North Downs, about southeast of central London and northwest of Folkestone by road. In the ...
ceremonially burned his effigy. Near the end of his term in office Lang led a deputation from several church groups to the
Ministry of Education An education ministry is a national or subnational government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversi ...
, to present a five-point plan for the teaching of religion in state schools. These points were eventually embodied in the
1944 Education Act Events Below, the events of World War II have the "WWII" prefix. January * January 2 – WWII: ** Free France, Free French General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny is appointed to command First Army (France), French Army B, part of the Six ...
.


Abdication crisis

Lang was responsible for drafting King George V's silver jubilee broadcast message in 1935, and the King's last two Christmas messages. This closeness to the throne was not maintained when the king died in January 1936 and was succeeded by his son,
Edward VIII Edward VIII (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David; 23 June 1894 – 28 May 1972), later known as the Duke of Windsor, was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire and Emperor of India from 20 January ...
. The new king was wary of Lang, whom he had once admired. ("Monarchy" section)Lockhart, pp. 396–401 Edward now found Lang to be "rather ... accustomed to the company of princes and statesmen, more interested in the pursuit of prestige and power than the abstractions of the human soul". Lang believed that, as
Prince of Wales Prince of Wales ( cy, Tywysog Cymru, ; la, Princeps Cambriae/Walliae) is a title traditionally given to the heir apparent An heir apparent, often shortened to heir, is a person who is first in an order of succession and cannot be displaced ...
, Edward had not always been wise in his choice of friends and acquaintances, whose standards Lang was later to condemn as "alien to all the best instincts and traditions of his people". The archbishop had been aware for some time of the King's relationship with the American
Wallis Simpson Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (born Bessie Wallis Warfield, later Simpson; June 19, 1896 – April 24, 1986), was an American Socialite#United_States, socialite and wife of the former King Edward VIII. Their intention to marry and her status ...
, then married to her second husband
Ernest Simpson Ernest Aldrich Simpson (6 May 1897 – 30 November 1958) was an United States, American-born British people, British Freight transport, shipbroker, best known as the second husband of Wallis Simpson, later wife of the former King Edward VIII. ...
. In mid-1936 it became clear that the King intended to marry Simpson either before or shortly after his impending coronation, depending on the timing of her divorce from her husband. Lang agonised over whether he could, with good conscience, administer the Coronation Oath to the king in such circumstances, bearing in mind the Church's teaching on marriage. He confided to his diary his hopes that circumstances might change, or that he might be able to persuade the King to reconsider his actions, but the King refused to meet him. Lang kept close contact with Queen Mary (the queen mother),
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician who dominated the government of the Interwar Britain, United Kingdom between the world wars, serv ...
(the Prime Minister) and Alec Hardinge (the King's Private Secretary). The king believed that Lang's influence was strong, later recalling how from beginning to end he felt the archbishop's "shadowy, hovering presence" in the background. The matter became public knowledge on 2 December 1936 when Alfred Blunt, Bishop of Bradford, made an indirect comment on the King's "need for Divine Grace". By then the king had unalterably decided that he would abdicate rather than give up Wallis Simpson. All attempts to dissuade him failed, and on 11 December he gave up his throne in favour of his brother,
George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a poli ...
. Two days later Lang broadcast a speech, in which he said: "From God he received a high and sacred trust. Yet by his own will he has ... surrendered the trust." The king's motive had been "a craving for private happiness" that he had sought "in a manner inconsistent with the Christian principles of marriage". The speech was widely condemned for its lack of charity towards the departed king and provoked the writer Gerald Bullett to publish a satirical punning rhyme: According to the writer Compton Mackenzie, Lang's broadcast "dealt a disastrous blow to religious feeling throughout the country". Lang did not disguise his relief that the crisis was over. He wrote of George VI: "I was now sure that to the solemn words of the Coronation there would now be a sincere response." On 12 May 1937, Lang crowned George VI with full pomp in
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is an historic, mainly Gothic architecture, Gothic Church (building), church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of ...
. It was the first coronation to be broadcast. ''Time'' magazine recorded: "All through the three-hour ceremony, the most important person there was not the King, his nobles or his ministers, but a hawk-nosed old gentleman with a cream-&-gold cope who stood on a dais as King George approached: The Rt. Hon. and Most Reverend Cosmo Gordon Lang, D.D.. Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England." Supposedly the archbishop fumbled with the Crown but Lang himself was fully satisfied: "I can only be thankful to God's over-ruling Providence and trust that the Coronation may not be a mere dream of the past, but that its memories and lessons will not be forgotten." He also said of the Coronation: "It was in a sense the culminating day of my official life. Once I saw it was going well, I enjoyed every minute." "Thank God that is over!" said his chaplain, as they got into the car to leave. "Lumley, how can you say such a thing!" cried the archbishop. "I only wish it was beginning over again."


War

When the Second World War began in September 1939, Lang saw his main duty as the preservation of spiritual values during what he deemed to be an honourable conflict.Lockhart, pp. 435–42 He opposed strategies such as indiscriminate bombing, and on 21 December 1940, in a letter to ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' signed jointly with Temple and Cardinal Hinsley, Lang expressed support for the pope's Five Peace Points initiative.Hastings, pp. 392–95 Lang was sympathetic to the Sword of the Spirit campaign, founded by Cardinal Hinsley in 1940 to combat anti-democratic tendencies among Catholics. In May 1941
Lambeth Palace Lambeth Palace is the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is situated in north Lambeth, London, on the south bank of the River Thames, south-east of the Palace of Westminster, which houses Parliament, on the opposite ...
, Lang's London home, was hit by bombs and made uninhabitable. ("The Second World War" section) After Germany's attack on Russia in June 1941, Lang said that the Russians must now be regarded as allies, without forgetting or condoning the excesses of the past. His relations with
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
, prime minister since May 1940, were difficult because "he hurchillknows nothing about the Church, its life, its needs or its personnel". There was therefore "uncertainty as to what motives or how much knowledge may determine his decisions n Church matters.


Retirement and death

During 1941 Lang considered retirement. His main concern was that a Lambeth Conference – "perhaps the most fateful Lambeth Conference ever held" – would need to be called soon after the war. Lang felt that he would be too old to lead it and that he should make way for a younger man, preferably William Temple. On 27 November he informed the prime minister, Winston Churchill, of his decision to retire on 31 March 1942. His last official act in office, on 28 March, was the confirmation of Princess Elizabeth. On his retirement Lang was raised to the
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles (and sometimes Life peer, non-hereditary titles) in a number of countries, and composed of assorted Imperial, royal and noble ranks, noble ranks. Peerages include: Aus ...
as Baron Lang of Lambeth, of
Lambeth Lambeth () is a district in South London, England, in the London Borough of Lambeth, historically in the County of Surrey. It is situated south of Charing Cross. The population of the London Borough of Lambeth was 303,086 in 2011. The area expe ...
in the
County of Surrey Surrey () is a ceremonial A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritualistic event with a purpose, usually consisting of a number of artistic components, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan language, Etruscan origin, via the ...
. He thus remained in the House of Lords, where he attended regularly and contributed to debates. He worried about money, despite a pension, a large
grace and favour ''Grace & Favour'' (American title: ''Are You Being Served? Again!'') is a British sitcom A British sitcom or a Britcom is a situational comedy programme produced for Television in the United Kingdom, British television. Most British sitcom ...
house at Kew, and some generous cash gifts from well-wishers. In 1943 he spoke in the House of Lords in support of the
Beveridge Report The Beveridge Report, officially entitled ''Social Insurance and Allied Services'' ( Cmd. 6404), is a government report, published in November 1942, influential in the founding of the welfare state A welfare state is a form of government in w ...
on social insurance, and on 9 February 1944 he reiterated his earlier opposition to obliteration bombing. In October 1944 Lang was greatly distressed by the sudden death of William Temple, his successor at Canterbury, writing: "I don't like to think of the loss to the Church and Nation... But 'God knows and God reigns'."Lockhart, pp. 451–54. On 5 December 1945 Lang was due to speak in a Lords debate on conditions in Central Europe. On his way to Kew Gardens station to catch the London train, he collapsed and was taken to hospital, but was found to be dead on arrival. A post-mortem attributed the death to heart failure. In paying tribute the following day, Lord Addison said that Lang was "not only a great cleric but a great man... we have lost in him a Father in God." His body was cremated and the ashes taken to the Chapel of St Stephen Martyr, a side chapel at
Canterbury Cathedral Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. It forms part of a World Heritage Site. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, currently Justin Welby, leader of the ...
. The
probate Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is "proved" in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased, or whereby the estate is settled according to the laws of intestacy in the sta ...
value of Lang's estate was £29 541 (approximately £ in ).


Legacy

Although Lang was a bishop in England for longer than anyone else in the twentieth century, Hastings says that "of no other is it so hard to address his true significance". His biographer George Moyser said, "His lasting significance is questionable. He was immensely industrious, an exceptional administrator, and was well-connected to leading politicians and aristocrats. But his accomplishments as Archbishop of Canterbury were modest." According to Lockhart he was a complex character in whom "a jangle of warring personalities... never reached agreement among themselves."Lockhart, pp. 455–59. Lockhart writes that while Lang's many years of high office saw progress in the cause of Christian reunion, the mark he left on the Church was relatively small; many believed it could have been larger and deeper.Lockhart, p. 377. While Lang's oratorical and administrative gifts were beyond doubt, Hastings nevertheless claims that as Archbishop of Canterbury, Lang displayed no effective leadership or guidance, turning away from reform and content to be the "final sentinel to the ''ancien régime''". Wilkinson says that Lang dealt conscientiously with problems as they arose, but without any overall strategy. ("Estimate" section) In Hastings's view, Lang was probably more sympathetic to Rome than any other Church of England archbishop of modern times, responsible for a discreet catholicisation of the Church of England's practices. A small outward indication of this was his decision to use a
cassock The cassock or soutane is a Christianity, Christian clerical clothing coat used by the clergy and Consecrated life, male religious of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, in addition to some clergy ...
as everyday dress and to wear a
mitre The mitre (Commonwealth English) (; Greek: μίτρα, "headband" or "turban") or miter (American English; American and British English spelling differences#-re, -er, see spelling differences), is a type of headgear now known as the tradition ...
on formal occasions, the first archbishop since the
English Reformation The English Reformation took place in 16th-century England when the Church of England broke away from the authority of the pope and the Catholic Church. These events were part of the wider European Protestant Reformation, a religious and poli ...
to do so. Lang believed that in relation to the supreme truths of the church, rituals and dress were of small account, but that if people's worship was assisted by such customs they should be allowed. Despite Lang's long involvement with the poorest of society, after becoming Archbishop of York he increasingly detached himself from everyday life. The historian Tom Buchanan wrote that Lang's sympathy with ordinary people was replaced by "an upper class affectation and a delight in the high society in which his office allowed him to move". No archbishop has been as close as Lang to the Royal Family; a
Channel Four Channel 4 is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network operated by the state-owned enterprise, state-owned Channel Four Television Corporation. It began its transmission on 2 November 1982 and was established to provide a four ...
television history of the British monarchy maintained that Lang "held a view of Christianity in which the monarchy, rather than the cross, stood centre stage as the symbol of the nation's faith". Successive generations of the Royal Family considered him their friend and honoured him. King George V appointed him to the largely ceremonial post of Lord High Almoner, and after the 1937 Coronation George VI created him a
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order The Royal Victorian Order (french: Ordre royal de Victoria) is a dynastic order of knighthood established in 1896 by Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of G ...
(GCVO), a rare honour which, like the Royal Victorian Chain, lay in the private gift of the Sovereign. A friend, commenting on the transformation of Lang's perspective, said of him: "He might have been
Cardinal Wolsey Thomas Wolsey ( – 29 November 1530) was an English statesman and Catholic bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Chris ...
or St Francis of Assisi, and he chose to be Cardinal Wolsey." Lang also received numerous
honorary doctorates An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding institution) has waived all of the usual requirements. It is also known by the Latin phrases ''honoris causa'' ("for the sake of the honour") or ''ad hono ...
from British universities. His portrait was painted many times; after sitting for Sir
William Orpen Major (United Kingdom), Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, (27 November 1878 – 29 September 1931) was an Irish artist who worked mainly in London. Orpen was a fine draughtsman and a popular, commercially successful painter of portrai ...
in 1924, Lang reportedly remarked to Bishop Hensley Henson of Durham that the portrait showed him as "proud, prelatical and pompous". Henson's recorded reply was "To which of these epithets does Your Grace take exception?" At an early stage in his priesthood Lang decided to lead a celibate life. He had no objection to the institution of marriage, but felt that his own work would be hindered by domesticity. However, he enjoyed the company of women and confessed in 1928, after a visit to the
Rowntree's Rowntree's is a British confectionery brand and former business based in York, England. Rowntree developed the Kit Kat (introduced in 1935), Aero (chocolate bar), Aero (introduced in 1935), Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Pastilles (introduce ...
chocolate factory, that the sight of the girls there had "stirred up all the instincts of my youth... very little subdued by the passage of years". George Bell, the
Bishop of Chichester The Bishop of Chichester is the Ordinary (officer), ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Chichester in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese covers the counties of East Sussex, East and West Sussex. The Episcopal see, see is based in t ...
who had earlier praised Lang's work for church unity, said that Lang's failure to take a lead after the Prayer Book rejection of 1928 meant that the Church of England had been unable to revise its forms of worship or take any effective control of its own affairs. Others have argued that Lang's ''laissez-faire'' approach to the Prayer Book controversy helped to defuse a potentially explosive situation and contributed to an eventual solution. Lang himself was gloomy about his legacy; he believed that since he had not led his country back into an Age of Faith, or marked his primacy with a great historical act, he had failed to live up to his own high standard. Others have judged him more charitably, praising his industry, his administrative ability and his devotion to duty.


Bibliography

Lang wrote several books, including a novel of the
Jacobite rising of 1745 The Jacobite rising of 1745, also known as the Forty-five Rebellion or simply the '45 ( gd, Bliadhna Theàrlaich, , ), was an attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the Monarchy of Great Britain, British throne for his father, James Franci ...
. This had its origins in stories told by Lang to the Magdalen College choirboys during his tenure as Magdalen's Dean of Divinity.Lockhart, p. 108 * (novel) * * * * * * * (based on a speech to the House of Lords)


References


Citations


Sources


Books

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External links

*
Bibliographic directory
from
Project Canterbury Project Canterbury (sometimes abbreviated as PC) is an online archive of material related to the history of Anglicanism. It was founded by Richard Mammana, Jr. in 1999 with a grant from Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, and is hos ...

Archives of Cosmo Gordon Lang at Lambeth Palace Library
* , - {{DEFAULTSORT:Lang, Cosmo Alumni of Ripon College Cuddesdon 1864 births 1945 deaths 19th-century English Anglican priests 20th-century Anglican archbishops Archbishops of Canterbury Archbishops of York Bishops of Stepney Anglo-Scots Bailiffs Grand Cross of the Order of St John Lang of Lambeth, Cosmo Lang, 1st Baron People from Banff and Buchan Alumni of Balliol College, Oxford Alumni of the University of Glasgow Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom People from Formartine Burials at Canterbury Cathedral Anglo-Catholic bishops British Anglo-Catholics Presidents of the Oxford Union City of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders) officers Barons created by George VI 19th-century Anglican theologians 20th-century Anglican theologians