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Church Times Quiz 2023

22 December 2023

Test yourself and others on a variety of topics and events of 2023. Answers can be found here

This is one of eight pictures, all illustrations by Donald Maxwell for his “Adventures with Pen and Pencil” series, from 1928 and 1929. Can you identify them all in the gallery here? To see more, visit the Church Times digital archive, which is available free to subscribers

This is one of eight pictures, all illustrations by Donald Maxwell for his “Adventures with Pen and Pencil” series, from 1928 and 1929. Can you identi...


1. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Who had which god?
(a) Molech (b) Marduk (c) Baal (d) Chemosh (e) Dagon (f) Diana

2. Reuben, Gabriel, Bathsheba, Jude, Joshua, and an Angel all appear in the Bible and in the works of which novelist?

3. English translations of the Bible render four Hebrew words — tappuah, ishon, babah, bath — as one word, a fruit that might not even have grown in Israel at the time. What fruit is it?

4. How many (a) digits in a handbreath (b) handbreaths in a span (c) spans in a cubit (d) cubits in an ark?

5. When Dr Margaret Gibson and Dr Agnes Lewis travelled to St Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt in the early 20th century, what did they discover that ancient manuscripts were used as?
(a) doorstop (b) wallpaper (c) butter dish (d) lavatory paper (e) draught-excluder

6. On St Paul’s three missionary journeys recorded in Acts, which of the following places did he not visit?
(a) Ephesus (b) Athens (c) Caesarea (d) Damascus (e) Tarsus

7. In which two books of the Bible is the most Aramaic found?

8. When was the Pontifical Biblical Commission set up?
(a) 1563 (b) 1870 (c) 1902 (d) 1965


1. Which well-travelled sailor was given new life thanks to a Wiltshire priest?

2. Which English cathedral began wagging its tail at visiting dogs for the first time this year?

3. Who was identified as the culprit responsible for cutting through the ropes in a locked bell-tower in south-west London?

4. In which cathedral would you find what is alleged to be the oldest cat-flap in the world? Who is its current user?

5. Why did a Polish Cardinal come in for criticism when he arranged an outing for homeless persons and refugees?

6. How is one Scottish church doing its bit for animal-lovers, the environment, and the cost-of-living crisis?

7. Which living creature are you most likely to find in an English churchyard?

8. How did a passion for wildlife conservation propel one priest into the final of an international competition?


1. What is the prequel to James Runcie’s Grantchester Mysteries series?

2. Which book series is “The African Cornish Noel” an anagram of?

3. Which is the title of the book whose subtitle is Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprisingly emotional sense?

4. In the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton, what is the children’s surname? Is it the same name as the island and cottage?

5. Name the two 20th-century authors of the five novels contained in these lines: “What I like best in my life among the English is their excellent women. It is one of my personal pleasures. They are less than angels, but they do know everything about keeping up appearances.”

6. What is the French title of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo?

7. What is the title of the thriller by John le Carré which was published posthumously in 2021?

8. The Age of Illusion by Ronald Blythe and The Long Week-end by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge have the same subject. What is it?


1. Which comedian asked, “More tea, Archbishop?”, and why?

2. Who was forced to issue an apology for a rainbow flag?

3. Which Christian group said “Thanks, but no thanks” to a delivery of Bibles?

4. Which archdeacon experienced an outbreak of nominative determinism?

5. Who took legal action against Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris?

6. Who is working to ensure that “Blessed are the cheesemakers” becomes a reality?

7. Where and why was the Revd Geraldine Granger seen again this year?

8. How did a deputy churchwarden with a passion for foraging make it on to Channel 4?


1. How old was John Rutter when he wrote his first (now published) Christmas carol? What was it?

2. Who originally sang the treble solo “Walking in the air” in The Snowman?

3. Thomas Trotter this year celebrated 40 years as Organist of Birmingham Town Hall. Where else does he serve as Organist, and for how many years has he been in post there?

4. Which Hungarian-Austrian composer was born in Transylvania in 1923 and died in Vienna in 2006?

5. Donald Swann, of Flanders and Swann, who was born on 30 September 1923, wrote a song-cycle in 1967. Which scholar’s poems did he set, and what was the song-cycle called?

6. What British singer-songwriter’s First Symphony was premièred in 2023?

7. Which band this year broke the record for duration between their first and last number 1 songs?

8. Which song released in January was the fastest song in Spotify history to surpass one billion streams?


1. Whose “detestable enormities” were mentioned in the Litany, as printed in the Prayer Books of Edward VI?

2. In the Thirty-Nine Articles, which significant adjective is not translated from the Latin in the English version of Article XXXVII, Of the Civil Magistrates?

3. In the Church of England’s Canons of 1603, which of these were the clergy explicitly forbidden to wear?
(a) nightcap with needlepoint decoration (b) light-coloured stockings (c) the cope (d) a codpiece

4. Which of the following contributed an incendiary essay to the 1860 book Essays and Reviews?
(a) John Keble (b) Thomas Arnold (c) Benjamin Jowett (d) F. D. Maurice

5. Who was canonised first, St Joan of Arc or St Thérèse of Lisieux? In which decade?

6. Which orders of friars did the following belong to?
(a) Duns Scotus (b) Martin Luther (c) St Thomas Aquinas (d) St John of the Cross

7. Two events in church history are known as the Great Schism. In which century did each of them begin?

8. Of which sees were the following Bishop?
(a) St Polycarp (b) St Ignatius (c) St John Chrysostom (d) St Fulbert (e) Thomas Ken (f) Frank Weston OBE


1. Which well-known hymn was first published in the Church Times on 15 October 1864?

2. The above-mentioned hymn is sung by a congregation in the 1942 film Mrs. Miniver. How many hymns are credited to Mrs Miniver’s original creator in Percy Dearmer’s hymn book Songs of Praise (Enlarged Edition)? Is it:
(a) one (b) three (c) six (d) 12?

3. A former Principal of Pusey House, Oxford, is the author of a communion hymn in both Hymns Ancient and Modern and The English Hymnal. The first verse is the same in each, but the other verses are entirely different. Who was the author, and what is its first line?

4. Which invalid was inspired to write a hymn when she was unable to help her Evangelical family with a bazaar in aid of building a college for impoverished clergymen’s daughters? What is the hymn? Which member of the Clapham Sect was her grandfather?

5. In which hymn did an English cardinal, during the era of telegraphy, allude to “the sparks of unseen fire, That speak along the magic wire”? Which English cardinal?

6. In The English Hymnal, a hymn appears without music and numbered as 656A at the end of the Appendix. Which is it? To whose music is it usually sung?

7. Many hymns were written originally in other languages than English. Identify the English versions. Clues given.
(a) Caelestis aulae principes (“Sin and error”, “spear and sword”) (b) Salve caput cruentatum (“O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden”) (c) Yesu Bin Mariamu (written in Swahili for the requiem of a UMCA missionary) (d) Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch (William Williams)

8. What was the name of the group who offered a booklet of 30 new tunes for well-known hymns “in the belief that not only the great and lasting music of the past but also the ordinary and transient music of today — which is the background to the lives of so many — has a rightful place in our worship”? Which year was it?


1. Which meeting with a religious leader left Prince Harry with a sense of “bottomless self-loathing”, according to his autobiography, Spare, published in January?

2. What meant that a memorial to the late Duke of Edinburgh was no longer smelling of roses?

3. What right royal muddle meant that a new edition of the Book of Common Prayer had to be withdrawn from sale?

4. What duty was given to 14-year-old Samuel Strachan at the Coronation?

5. The chrism oil used for the King’s anointing at the Coronation was consecrated by whom, and where?

6. The words of which mystic were embroidered on the screen behind which the King was anointed?

7. Which bishops acted as bishops assistant to the Queen at the Coronation?

8. Which cathedral marked the Coronation with a floral replica of the Queen’s coronation robes? The replica was made out of pampas grass, gilded dried foliage, and ferns.


1. Which roast dish formed the centrepiece of the Cratchit family’s Christmas dinner?

2. What, historically, was a pittance?

3. What was the traditional shape of mince pies before the Reformation?

4. Which wine did Peter the Great insist should be used as communion wine throughout the Russian Orthodox Church?

5. When and where did the first recorded death by chocolate take place?

6. What is the only claret named in Samuel Pepys’s Diary?

7. What is a sugar plum?

8. What is the derivation of the word “Wassail”?


1. Who was elected Speaker of the House in the United States after 15 rounds of voting — the most since 1860?

2. Which region endured a blockade by Azerbaijan in 2023, which finally ended in September?

3. Which two ministers have held the post of Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs this year?

4. Which Large Language model was launched by OpenAI this year?

5. In which country did nuclear power end after 50 years this year?

6. Whom did England lose to in the women’s football World Cup final?

7.When Robert Jenrick MP resigned as Immigration Minister, how many previous ministerial posts had he held, and what were they?

8. Who was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year?


1. Which film won the Oscar for Best Picture?

2. Who is playing Queen Elizabeth II in the final series of The Crown?

3. Which saint was the subject of an exhibition at the National Gallery?

4. Which British band released the critically acclaimed “Hackey Diamonds”?

5. Which film featured Margot Robbie, uttering the line “Do you guys ever think about dying?”

6. Which country won the Eurovision Song Contest this year?

7. Who is the current Poet Laureate?

8. Which Irish actor, knighted in 1998 for services to drama, died in September?


1. All but two monarchs have been crowned in Westminster Abbey since 1066. Who are they?

2. Who was the last person to walk on the moon?

3. Which is the longest nerve in the human body?

4. The Olympic Games were held in honour of Zeus. At Delphi, in whose honour were the Pythian games held?

5. Which UK city’s underground system has just 15 stations and runs in a circle?

6. The first woman to be executed by the US government was Mary Surratt, in 1865. What crime was she hanged for?

7. In 1696, Sir Issac Newton moved from Cambridge to London to become warden of which organisation?

8. Which one of the Russian revolutionaries did not have a reader’s pass for the British Library:
(a) Trotsky (b) Lenin (c) Stalin (d) Marx


1. It’s actually quite expensive to go to Mars. You can buy measles vaccines and save lives for $1000 (£814) per life saved. And so [that] just kind of grounds you, as in — Don’t go to Mars

2. Jailing vicars for trying to save humanity. That’s quite a look

3. He [Rowan Williams] wanted to talk about poetry and I wanted to talk about religion. He wanted to get off religion and get on to poetry

4. I have to say it hasn’t always been easy in the House of Bishops or College of Bishops to talk about sex, you know, and it wasn’t minuted how we did it

5. Newcastle need another miracle, Arsenal need Jesus

6. I’m . . . learning that prayer is just shutting up for 20 minutes

7. Stop interfering in politics. Perhaps we could ask the Church of England to return to their day job and marry people for free

8. I’m not that woke. I’m really very conservative in lots of things. And better to be woke than asleep

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