“I shall be patient”

William Tyndale (1494–1536) translated the Bible into English, illegal in England since the days of John Wycliffe. After over a year’s imprisonment, he was tried as a heretic by imperial authorities, found guilty of Protestant beliefs, and executed (though the translation, as such, was not on the list of charges). This letter, from winter 1535, addressed to the governor of Vilvoorde Castle where he was jailed, is the only writing in Tyndale’s hand still extant. 

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I BELIEVE, right worshipful, that you are not ignorant of what has been determined concerning me [by the Council of Brabant]; therefore I entreat your Lordship, and that by the Lord Jesus, that if I am to remain here [in Vilvoorde] during the winter, you will request the Procurer to be kind enough to send me from my goods, which he has in his possession, a warmer cap, for I suffer extremely from cold in the head, being afflicted with a perpetual catarrh, which is considerably increased in the cell.

A warmer coat also, for that which I have is very thin; also a piece of cloth to patch my leggings: my overcoat has been worn out; my shirts are also worn out. He has a woolen shirt of mine, if he will be kind enough to send it. I have also with him leggings of thicker cloth for the putting on above; he also has warmer caps for wearing at night. I wish also his permission to have a candle in the evening, for it is wearisome to sit alone in the dark.

But above all, I entreat and beseech your clemency to be urgent with the Procurer that he may kindly permit me to have my Hebrew Bible, Hebrew Grammar, and Hebrew Dictionary, that I may spend my time with that study. And in return, may you obtain your dearest wish, provided always it be consistent with the salvation of your soul. 

But if any other resolutions have been come to concerning me, before the conclusion of the winter, I shall be patient, abiding the will of God to the glory of the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, whose spirit, I pray, may ever direct your heart. Amen.

Translation by Jacob Isidor Mombert, reprinted from CH 16. In our Did you know? (inside front cover), you can view an image of the Latin letter in Tyndale’s own handwriting.

This article is from Christian History magazine #123 Captive Faith. Read it in context here!

By William Tyndale

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #123 in 2017]

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