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On Tuesday 7th June, The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers gathered at St Bride's for the annual Richard Johnson Memorial Service.
Richard Johnson was born in 1756 and died in 1795. He wrote the Paper Maker and Stationer's Assistant in 1794 and inscribed on the flyleaf of the manuscript that he bequeathed the proceeds of the book to the Stationers' Company 'towards the maintenance of the old widows above the age of sixty'.
He died at the age of 38; a sad bachelor and paper merchant, unable to achieve his wish of making his fortune by the age of forty. In his will he left his property to the Company to be divided half-yearly among 'five very poor widows'.
He also asked that the Master and Wardens go to St Mary's Parish Church in Hendon every year on the anniversary of his father's death to inspect his father's grave, in which he himself was buried, and to hear a sermon preached on the text Vita humana bulla est, and afterwards to dine.
Although the Company still sends someone to inspect the grave every year, the Hendon service and dinner were discontinued in 1917. For a number of years the annual service was held in St Martin's within Ludgate but it now takes place at St Bride's Church in Fleet Street. The dinner has been replaced by a lunch; however the theme of the sermon remains unchanged, Vita humana bulla est... Life is a bubble!
Music for the service is provided by the choir and organ of St Bride's and includes what has become known as the Bubble Anthem - I'm forever blowing bubbles - in an arrangement by Andrew Gant.
This year's sermon was preached by the Very Reverend Dr John Hall.
The Very Reverend Dr John Hall was installed as the 38th Dean of Westminster on 2nd December 2006. He is Dean of the Order of the Bath and chairman of governors of Westminster School and the first chairman of governors of Harris Westminster Sixth Form. He was brought up in London and was ordained in 1975, serving in London and Lancashire. From 1998 until 2006, he was the Church of England's Chief Education Officer. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He has three honorary doctorates. He is an honorary liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Educators and a Pro Chancellor of the University of Roehampton.