Etheldreda, queen, virgin, Abbess of Ely, c.678,
foundress of Ely Abbey, patron of the diocese of Ely
23 June

[Etheldreda banner]

Etheldreda (or Æthelthryth or Audrey), was born at Exning in Suffolk around the year 630, a daughter of Anna, king of East Anglia. She was married (c.652) to Tondberht, ealdorman of the South Gyrwas, but she remained a virgin, and he died c.655, following which she came to Ely. She was married again, in 660, to the 15-year old Egfrith, king of Northumbria. After twelve years she remained a virgin and, advised by Wilfred, bishop of Northumbria, she resisted her husband’s advances. In 673 she retired again to her estate on the site of the current cathedral at Ely, where she founded a religious house for both men and women. She died on this day in the year 678 from a tumour on the neck, and was buried in the grounds of the church. Seventeen years later, on 17 October 695, her body was translated to a new tomb in the church.


Eternal God,
who bestowed such grace upon your servant Etheldreda
that she gave herself wholly to the life of prayer
   and to the service of your true religion:
grant that we, like her,
may so live our lives on earth seeking your kingdom
that by your guiding
we may be joined to the glorious fellowship of your saints;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Evening Prayer on the Eve (if required)

Ps 77
Isaiah 61.10 — 62.5
Luke 12.32–37

Holy Communion

Song of Songs 8.6–7
Psalm 34 vv 1–8
Acts 4.32–35
Matthew 25.1–13

Morning Prayer

Psalms 16, 148
Proverbs 10.27–end
Philippians 3.7–end

Evening Prayer

Psalms 61, 63, 131
Proverbs 2.1–11
1 Corinthians 7.25–35

Evening Prayer on the Eve (if required)

Psalm 77

I will cry aloud to God;*
I will cry aloud and he will hear me.

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;*
my hands were stretched out by night and did not tire;
  I refused to be comforted.

I think of God, I am restless,*
I ponder and my spirit faints.

You will not let my eyelids close;*
I am troubled and I cannot speak.

I consider the days of old;*
I remember the years long past;

I commune with my heart in the night;*
I ponder and search my mind.

Will the Lord cast me off for ever?*
will he no more show his favour?

Has his loving-kindness come to an end for ever?*
has his promise failed for evermore?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?*
has he, in his anger, withheld his compassion?

And I said, ‘My grief is this:*
the right hand of the Most High has lost its power.’

I will remember the works of the Lord,*
and call to mind your wonders of old time.

I will meditate on all your acts*
and ponder your mighty deeds.

Your way, O God, is holy;*
who is so great a god as our God?

You are the God who works wonders*
and have declared your power among the peoples.

By your strength you have redeemed your people,*
the children of Jacob and Joseph.

The waters saw you, O God;
  the waters saw you and trembled;*
the very depths were shaken.

The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered;*
your arrows flashed to and fro;

The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
  your lightnings lit up the world;*
the earth trembled and shook.

Your way was in the sea,
  and your paths in the great waters,*
yet your footsteps were not seen.

You led your people like a flock*
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 61.10 — 62.5

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

New Testament Reading: Luke 12.32–37

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.’

Morning Prayer

Psalm 16

Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;*
I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord,
  my good above all other.’

All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land,*
upon those who are noble among the people.

But those who run after other gods*
shall have their troubles multiplied.

Their libations of blood I will not offer,*
nor take the names of their gods upon my lips.

O Lord, you are my portion and my cup;*
it is you who uphold my lot.

My boundaries enclose a pleasant land;*
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;*
my heart teaches me, night after night.

I have set the Lord always before me;*
because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.

My heart, therefore, is glad and my spirit rejoices;*
my body also shall rest in hope.

For you will not abandon me to the grave,*
nor let your holy one see the Pit.

You will show me the path of life;*
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
  and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 148

Praise the Lord from the heavens;*
praise him in the heights.

Praise him, all you angels of his;*
praise him, all his host.

Praise him, sun and moon;*
praise him, all you shining stars.

Praise him, heaven of heavens,*
and you waters above the heavens.

Let them praise the name of the Lord;*
for he commanded and they were created.

He made them stand fast for ever and ever;*
he gave them a law which shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,*
you sea-monsters and all deeps;

Fire and hail, snow and fog,*
tempestuous wind, doing his will;

Mountains and all hills,*
fruit trees and all cedars;

Wild beasts and all cattle,*
creeping things and winged birds;

Kings of the earth and all peoples,*
princes and all rulers of the world;

Young men and maidens,*
old and young together.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,*
for his name only is exalted,
  his splendour is over earth and heaven.

He has raised up strength for his people
  and praise for all his loyal servants,*
the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

Old Testament Reading: Proverbs 10.27–end

The fear of the Lord prolongs life,
but the years of the wicked will be short.

The hope of the righteous ends in gladness,
but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing.

The way of the Lord is a stronghold for the upright,
but destruction for evildoers.

The righteous will never be removed,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.

The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
but the perverse tongue will be cut off.

The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
but the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.

New Testament Reading: Philippians 3.7–end

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

Evening Prayer

Psalm 61

Hear my cry, O God,*
and listen to my prayer.

I call upon you from the ends of the earth
  with heaviness in my heart;*
set me upon the rock that is higher than I.

For you have been my refuge,*
a strong tower against the enemy.

I will dwell in your house for ever;*
I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.

For you, O God, have heard my vows;*
you have granted me the heritage
  of those who fear your name.

Add length of days to the king’s life;*
let his years extend over many generations.

Let him sit enthroned before God for ever;*
bid love and faithfulness watch over him.

So will I always sing the praise of your name,*
and day by day I will fulfil my vows.

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you;*
my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you,
  as in a barren and dry land where there is no water;

Therefore I have gazed upon you in your holy place,*
that I might behold your power and your glory.

For your loving-kindness is better than life itself;*
my lips shall give you praise.

So will I bless you as long as I live*
and lift up my hands in your name.

My soul is content, as with marrow and fatness,*
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips,

When I remember you upon my bed,*
and meditate on you in the night watches.

For you have been my helper,*
and under the shadow of your wings I will rejoice.

My soul clings to you;*
your right hand holds me fast.

May those who seek my life to destroy it*
go down into the depths of the earth;

Let them fall upon the edge of the sword,*
and let them be food for jackals.

But the king will rejoice in God;
  all those who swear by him will be glad,*
for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

Psalm 131

O Lord, I am not proud;*
I have no haughty looks.

I do not occupy myself with great matters,*
or with things that are too hard for me.

But I still my soul and make it quiet,
  like a child upon its mother’s breast;*
my soul is quieted within me.

O Israel, wait upon the Lord,*
from this time forth for evermore.

Old Testament Reading: Proverbs 2.1–11

My child, if you accept my words
and treasure up my commandments within you,

making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;

if you indeed cry out for insight,
and raise your voice for understanding;

if you seek it like silver,
and search for it as for hidden treasures—

then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly,

guarding the paths of justice
and preserving the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;

for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

prudence will watch over you;
and understanding will guard you.

New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 7.25–35

Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

Holy Communion

Old Testament Reading: Song of Songs 8.6–7

A reading from the Song of Songs.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.

This is the word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34 vv 1–8

R Look upon God and be radiant;
[happy are they who trust in him].

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the humble hear and rejoice. R

Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me
and delivered me out of all my terror. R

Look upon him and be radiant,
and let not your faces be ashamed.
I called in my affliction and the Lord heard me
and saved me from all my troubles. R

The angel of the Lord encompasses those who fear him,
and he will deliver them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are they who trust in him. R

New Testament Reading: Acts 4.32–35

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

This is the word of the Lord.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 25.1–13

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.

Jesus said: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.’

This is the gospel of the Lord.

Post Communion

Merciful God,
who gave such grace to your servant Etheldreda
that she served you with singleness of heart
and loved you above all things:
help us, whose communion with you
   has been renewed in this sacrament,
to forsake all that holds us back from following Christ
and to grow into his likeness from glory to glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If a feast of a sister or other relative of Etheldreda is kept as a Lesser Festival rather than a Commemoration, then the Collect and Post Communion prayer above may be suitably modified, and a selection made from these readings.

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