Commemoration for Admiral Byng

February 23, 2019


Thanks to the Rector of St George’s Church, Reverend Roderick Leece, a Special Commemoration will be included in the Service for the 1st Sunday of Lent. This is to honour both G.F. HANDEL and Admiral the Honourable John BYNG who was executed on 14th March 1757.


What is the connection between HANDEL and BYNG?


Handel staged his oratorio ‘Triumph of Time and Truth’ on 11th March 1757 at Covent Garden, three days before Admiral Byng’s execution. This cannot be a coincidence. The story of Byng’s trial and execution not only echoes Lenten sentiments but also resonates with living Byng descendants and supporters who, this year, seek exoneration for Admiral Byng.


Since 14th March 2007, the 250th anniversary of Byng’s death, a Memorial Service has been held annually at Southill, Bedfordshire where Byng is buried in the family vault. This year, Byng descendants and the ABC are very pleased to commemorate Admiral Byng at St George’s Church at the same time as honouring Handel’s covert support for Byng’s plight. The politics of the time would not have allowed Handel to show explicit support for Byng’s innocence.


Thanks to Mr Simon Williams, Director of Music, the church professional choir will sing, in addition to the Lenten Service music, a symbolic chorus from Handel’s Triumph of Time and Truth; ‘COMFORT THEM O LORD’, taken untransposed from the ‘Foundling Hospital Anthem’ 1749, as well as ‘PEACE, PERFECT PEACE,’ an extract from Piers Maxim’s recent composition The Musket Ball [reworked from Thane Byng’s original libretto which also honoured Handel and Admiral Byng, premiered in March 2016.


Please join us for drinks after the Service at The Windmill, 6/8 Mill Street, around the corner and behind the church.


Thane Byng: Collateral descendant of Admiral John Byng, Founder of ABC, librettist of The Musket Ball. MA Anthropology of Art 1997 UCL, in conjunction with Slade School of Fine Art and SOAS.

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