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Commemoration of Robert Barnes: Confessor and Martyr

July 30th, 2010
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We pray:
Almighty God, heavenly Father, You gave courage to Your servant Robert Barnes to give up his life for confessing the true faith during the Reformation. May we continue steadfast in our confession of the apostolic faith and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today we commemorate Robert Barnes, Confessor and Martyr. Remembered as a devoted disciple of Martin Luther, Robert Barnes is considered to be among the first Lutheran martyrs. Born in 1495, Barnes became the prior of the Augustinian monastery at Cambridge, England. Converted to Lutheran teaching, he shared his insights with many English scholars through writings and personal contacts. During a time of exile to Germany he became a friend of Luther and later wrote a Latin summary of the main doctrines of the Augsburg Confession titled “Sententiae.” Upon his return to England, Barnes shared his Lutheran doctrines and views in person with King Henry VIII and initially had a positive reception. In 1529 Barnes was named royal chaplain. The changing political and ecclesiastical climate in his native country, however, claimed him as a victim; he was burned at the stake in Smithfield in 1540. His final confession of faith was published by Luther, who called his friend Barnes “our good, pious table companion and guest of our home, this holy martyr, Saint Robertus.”

Despised and scorned, they sojourned here;
But now, how glorious they appear!
Those martyrs stand,
A priestly band,
God’s throne forever near.
On earth they wept through bitte years;
Now God has wiped away their tears,
Transformed their strife
To heav’nly life,
And freed them from their fears.
They now enjoy the Sabbath rest,
The heavenly banquet of the blest;
The Lamb, their Lord,
At festive board,
Himself is host and guest. — LSB 676:2

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  1. Norman Teigen
    July 30th, 2010 at 09:38 | #1

    Thank you for this informative post. Barnes unfortunately was caught up in the treacherous tides of English royal politics and religion. A good read on this subject would be my late uncle Neelak Tjernagel’s book on Barnes as well as Diarmaid McCulloch’s 1996 biography of Thomas Cranmer.

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