19 May, Dunstan


19 May

(c. 909 – 19 May 988)

Archbishop of Canterbury

Commemoration (White)

By St Dunstan – Unknown source, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2538550

Today we honour the memory of Dunstan, who was the greatest archbishop of Canterbury in the century before the Norman Conquest.

Born into a powerful family, he entered the royal service as a youth and seemed to be on his way to a career of secular power, when he quite suddenly took the vows of a monk and was ordained priest. He became a hermit in Glastonbury and devoted himself to prayer as well to crafts which beautified the liturgical life of the Church. He eventually became abbot of Glastonbury and over the next twenty years reformed its whole life, reviving a spirit of discipline among its monks and expanding its buildings.

Dunstan served as bishop of Worcester, then as bishop of London, before he was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in the year 960. In this office he extended his reform of monastic life over all of England, enriching the monastic liturgy and giving special prominence to the role of crafts in the life of each monastery. He also set about reforming the administration of the English church at large, to ensure a better standard of discipline among the parish-clergy. Towards the end of his life, he acquired a reputation for visions and miraculous powers. He died on May nineteenth, two days after Ascension Day, in the year 988.[1]

[1] Text by Stephen Reynolds, For All the Saints.


He was honoured in his generation, and was the pride of his time.  Cf. Sirach 44.7


Almighty God,
who by your grace surrounds us
with so great a cloud of witnesses,
may we, encouraged by the example of your servant Dunstan,
persevere and run the race you set before us,
until at last, through your mercy,
we with he attain to your eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
the author and perfecter of our faith,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Sirach 44.1–7

Hymn in Honor of Our Ancestors

44 Let us now sing the praises of famous men,
our ancestors in their generations.
2 The Lord apportioned to them great glory,
his majesty from the beginning.
3 There were those who ruled in their kingdoms,
and made a name for themselves by their valor;
those who gave counsel because they were intelligent;
those who spoke in prophetic oracles;
4 those who led the people by their counsels
and by their knowledge of the people’s lore;
they were wise in their words of instruction;
5 those who composed musical tunes,
or put verses in writing;
6 rich men endowed with resources,
living peacefully in their homes—
7 all these were honored in their generations,
and were the pride of their times.

Psalm 27.5–12

5 One thing have I asked of the Lord;
one thing I seek; *
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days
of my life;

6 To behold the fair beauty of the Lord *
and to seek him in his temple.

7 For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe
in his shelter; *
he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling and set me high
upon a rock.

8 Even now he lifts up my head *
above my enemies round about me.

9 Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation
with sounds of great gladness; *
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

10 Hearken to my voice, O Lord, when I call; *
have mercy on me and answer me.

11 You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.” *
Your face, Lord, will I seek.

12 Hide not your face from me, *
nor turn away your servant in displeasure.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: * 
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Matthew 7.24–29

Hearers and Doers

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

Concluding Collect 

O God,
you raised up your servant Dunstan
to renew the Church of the English
in the manifold beauty of holiness.
Teach us to follow his example
that we, finding our order and beauty in you,
may enrich the life of your people
in their loving worship of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Links for Further Reading

Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunstan

Encyclopaedia Britannica:  https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Dunstan-of-Canterbury

Britain History: https://www.britainexpress.com/History/saxon/dunstan.htm


Unless otherwise noted, all extracted material come from the following publications: 

Anglican Church of Canada. For all the Saints: prayers and readings for Saints’ days: a supplement to the Book of alternative services, revised, compiled by Stephen Reynolds, Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, 2007. 

Anglican Church of Canada. The book of alternative services of the Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, 1985.  

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. The New Revised Standard Version, Anglicized Edition, 1989, 1995. Accessed at http://bible.oremus.org/ 

* Readings & Prayers prepared by Kim Labelle