A Godly Letter

About this text

Introductory notes

John Knox (c.1514-1572), ordained deacon and priest in the late 1530s, is a well-known Protestant reformer. Godly Letter is one of his private letters written during the first months of Mary's reign to his congregations; the latter were published in Dieppe once he had reached safety. Like other Protestant exiles, Knox wanted to counter the accusation that he had deserted his congregation and draw parallels between contemporary political events and the apocalyptic struggle against Antichrist and the imminent arrival of the plagues sent to punish sin. Using the Old Testament covenant model in the Godly Letter, Knox made an extended comparison between England and Judah, casting himself in the role of Jeremiah. Plague, famine, and excesses of consumption are used to deter people from participating in Roman Catholic worship, and call for national repentance.

A godly let-
ter sent too the fayethfull in Lon
don / Newcastell / Barwyke / and to all
other within the realme off Eng
lande / that love the comminge
of oure LORDE Jesus
by Jhon Knox
Math. 10.
He that continueth unto the ende /
shall be saved.

Imprinted in Rome, before the
Castel of s. Aungel / at the signe of sainct
Peter. In the moneth of July / in
the yeare of our Lord. 1554.


1. A godly prayer.

AH Lorde
moste stronge and mightye God
which destroyest the counsayles of the ungodly
and ryddest await the tyrauntes of thys worlde
out of the earth at thy pleasures
so that no counsaill or force can tesiste thyne eternal counsaill and everlasting determination
we thyne pooren creatures and humble servauntes
do moste instantly desyre the for the love that thou hast to thyne welbe loved
and onely begotten soune oure Lorde and saviour Jesus Christ
that thou wilt loke upon thyne cause
for it is tyme o Lorde
and bringe to naught all those thinges that are or shalbe apoynted
determined and fully agreed agaynste the and thy holy woorde
let not the enemyes of thy trueth to miserablye oppresse thy word & thy servauntes
which seke thy glorie
tender the advancement of thy pure religion
& above all thinges wishe in their hartes that thy holy name may onely be glorefied a monge all nations. Geve unto thy servauntes the mouth of thy truthe & wysedom
whiche no man maye resiste: And althoughe we have moste justly deserved thys plague and famyn of thyne worde
yet upon our trew repentance
graunte we beseke the
we maye be thereof released
and here we promise before thy devyne majestie
better to use thy gyftes then we have done
and more strayghtlye to ordre oure lyves
accordinge to thy holye will and pleasure
and we will synge perpetuall prayses too thy moste blessed name
worldes with oute ende
throughe Jesus Christe oure Lorde. Amen

2. A plague threatned too Englande.

A plague threatened to Englande.
O Englande
let thy intestive batteries & domesticall murther
provoke the to purety of lyfe
according to the worde
whiche openly hath bene proclaymed in the
other wise the cuppe of the Lordes wrathe
thou shalt shortly drinke of. The multitude shall not escape
but shall drynke the dregges
and have the cuppe broken upon their heades
The godlye punisshed.
for judgement beginninge in the house of the Lorde
commonly the least offendor is fyrst punished
to provoke the more weked too repentaunce. But O Lorde
infinite mercye
If thou shalt punishe
make not consumacion
but cut awaye the provde & luxuriant braunches
which beare no fruyte
and preserve the common wealths
of suche as geve succour & herber
to thy contempned messengers
which longe have suffred exile in deserte
so be it.


This is a selection from the original text


drink, famine, plague, suffering

Source text

Title: A Godly Letter

Author: John Knox

Publisher: J. Lambrecht

Publication date: 1554

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: Rome

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 15059.5 Physical description: [28]; xviij, [1] leaves Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Reel position: STC / 254:01

Digital edition

Original author(s): John Knox

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) tp, images: 28 (a godly prayer), 45


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > pamphlets

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.