On May 6th there will be a ritual, liturgical, cultural, political, beloved, controversial event that will be of great interest to many and of no interest to some: the coronation of an English King according to the rites of the Church of England. While the interest in the readership of PrayTellBlog may be limited to English readers (who already know most of this) and Commonwealth readers who may be responsible for the addition of prayers and liturgies over the next few weeks, there may also be a general interest in accessing the extensive online materials available.
First – the daily prayer services, the collects, the intercessions, the different liturgies prepared for the Coronation are primarily intended for use from Easter Day through the 6th of May, a 28 day stretch of time. The online resources are extensive (only one, the “Book of Daily Prayers” is being sold through Church Publishing, chpublishing.co.uk/Coronation) and the nature of the booklet is such that it is clearly functioning as a memento of the Coronation.
Second, what is particularly striking (aside from the unbelievable amount of work that has gone into the ritual, liturgical and community materials) is how this the Coronation is seen as a “missional opportunity”: “As we prepare for The King’s Coronation, may we seek to serve others, connect with our neighbours, and give thanks to God for the wonderful unity we find in the great diversity of our nation.” To that end, the resources of reflections and prayers also include community celebrations and volunteering, programs for schools, young people, and families.
Lastly, most of the materials are available on the Church of England website churchofengland.org/coronation/prayer-worship
Of the several primary collects (the collect to be used at the coronation itself is not yet available), the first reads in a very traditional style, while other prayers are composed through the ear of more contemporary concerns:
Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, bless our Sovereign Lord, King Charles, and all who are in authority under him; that they may order all things in wisdom and equity, righteousness and peace, to the honour of your name, and the good of your church and people, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen
Gracious God, in company with our King, we rededicate ourselves to your service. Take our minds and think through then, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire with hope for you and your kingdom; that here we may have your peace, and in the world to come may see you face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen
I find it hard to get my head around the idea that we are staging the Coronation of King Charles III right now. This piece of medieval pseudo-sacramental pageantry surely belongs in the British Museum (or perhaps the V&A might be more appropriate).
Do other European royalties do this? Contributors to this blog, please enlighten me.
At this moment, no form of service has been issued. With only a month to go, this must be surprising. Does it suggest that there is some unease about this in the C. of E. too? The King has said he wants representatives of all faiths to play a part in the ceremony. That’s a problem, since the anointing and crowning take place within a celebration of Holy Communion according to the rite (BCP? Common Worship?) of the C. of E.
I am not a republican (in the UK sense) and as we must have a Head of State I am happy with the British Monarchy, despite the pitfalls into which it has fallen. But then it is just like every other human institution. I just find the idea of ‘divinising’ it by a coronation faintly ridiculous.
Personally, I wish King Charles III well. He has been a prophetic voice in matters relating to the environment and is a man of evident Christian spirit. I applaud his championing of research into the Dynasty’s co-operation with the Slave Trade in the 17th and 18th century as well. It is brave, if reckless.
Charles’ leanings toward Orthodoxy are well known. It seems that he requested the (?)Greek Patriarchate in Jerusalem to hallow the oil used in the ceremony of his anointing. I would love to have been a fly on the wall of Lambeth Palace when they received that news.
‘Pray Tell’ readers may smile at my discomfort with all this, but no one I have heard or read seems to have raised the issue of the appropriateness of such a ceremony in our time, and, not to forget, in a Christian Communion that does not officially admit any kind of ritual anointing as a real sacrament (cf. the 39 articles n.25).
If memory serves: the sovereign of Norway has a consecration service; the sovereigns of Sweden and Spain have an enthronement without coronation; the sovereigns of Denmark and the Netherlands do not, though the latter is inaugurated. The retention of royal rituals in the UK is distinctive, but then again the inherently very latent nature of ritual is that it’s never fully “up to date”.
“At this moment, no form of service has been issued. With only a month to go, this must be surprising. Does it suggest that there is some unease about this in the C. of E. too? The King has said he wants representatives of all faiths to play a part in the ceremony. That’s a problem, since the anointing and crowning take place within a celebration of Holy Communion according to the rite (BCP? Common Worship?) of the C. of E.”
Ritual geeks will be keenly interested in a redline of the order of service against the 1953/37 services (the latter being the last time a queen consort was crowned – it’s optional, and I had been assuming that it would be omitted for Camilla, but my assumption was wrong).
One big – huge – change that appears to have been agreed is to drastically reduce the Homage to only that by the Prince of Wales. Given the drastic cut in seating (by about 75% from 1953, something that has allowed this ritual to occur much more quickly because aisle and gallery risers don’t need to be constructed, a process that historically has taken months), I imagine not all peers are even being invited to the Abbey service.
(A minor change appears to be that the ritual of the Sovereign’s gifts to the Abbey is being eliminated; media accounts of that change almost all appear to have misunderstood them as gifts *to* the Sovereign, but they are gifts from him to the Abbey. )
For that matter, Charles’ previously understood preference/idea to style himself as Defender of Faith(s) might not be as well received as he conceives, because in making any change he’d easily be considered as arrogating something to himself that was not given/handed down to him without anyone else agreeing to it. I am pretty sure the Government would be in charge ultimately, not Charles.
PS: Anyone interested in the minutiae of ritual development of English coronation rituals until the 20th century can download at the link below a PDF of this public domain book, English Coronation Records, by L.G.W. Legg, published in 1901 in anticipation of the coronation of Edward VII:
A link to the order of service for the 1937 coronation:
I have read Wickham Legg with interest and seen the Coronation of George VI.
Edward VII’s Coronation was, like that of Charles III will be, the first in nearly seventy years. Queen Victoria wrote humorously about her Coronation, which appears to have been a somewhat haphazard event, as were some of the coronations of the Georges before her.
By 1900, however, the ritualist party were in the ascendant in the C. of E., and their influence is evident on Edward VII’s Coronation and on the three subsequent ones. Vestments for more of the bishops were in evidence (I think that Watts and Co. designed the elaborate red copes and altar hangings used) for instance.
George IV’s was the most splendid/lavish in material terms (though not musical) – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_of_George_IV –
including the final coronation banquet in Westminster Hall complete with the final appearance of the King’s Champion in his full roll (a close friend of mine who is a relation of the Dymoke family, the hereditary Champions, has concluded the Champion isn’t even being invited to the Abbey this time round), the most memorable counterpoint for which was the drama of the barring of the exceptionally estranged Queen Caroline from entering the Abbey.
The governments of William IV and Victoria at the time of their coronations were much more fiscally abstemious than George IV would have tolerated – after all, G4 had waited a long and particularly vexing (to all) time…. Another reason W4 and VR are more fondly remembered than G4, perhaps?
And the ritual and praxis landscape in the C of E certainly upheaved between 1837 and 1902.
Thanks for that, very enlightening. I think I caught something on the internet some time ago about the Norwegian ceremony.
In 1953 the Homage was reduced, but still you can see the Abbey filled with the great and the good in their ermine robes and coronets.
The Abbey was messed up by the huge amount of galleries installed in 1953. They would not want that again I am sure. And there are now safety limits on numbers which were not in place in 1953.
I watched the Coronation of Elizabeth II on our new Television, together with all the other inhabitants of our street. My father worked for the BBC so he had a set. We had a party while we watched. My recollection was that it was all rather jolly.
Watching it again as an adult, I couldn’t help wondering how some of those elderly peers and the many other people of advanced years present would have managed their personal comfort through the several hours they were in place in the Abbey. I wondered what they did about what you in the US call ‘restroom’ facilities and we in the UK call lavatories.
I’m sure there is an answer to that in somebody’s file!
In 1954, the Ministry of Works produced a report on the logistics of the Coronation which included a review of the lavatory arrangements in Westminster Abbey. They installed 154 chemical lavatories for the 1953 Coronation, staffed by 20 male and 23 female attendants, each supplied with copious bottles and sprays of deodorant (“supplied gratis by Messrs Airwick”). Women attendants were dressed in white overalls with the EIIR cipher on each lapel, which they were invited to buy afterwards for £1 each. But all was not well, as the ministry report noted with dismay: “It was found, early on Coronation Day, that much of the lavatory paper had been removed, and in future it will be necessary to take special steps to prevent this.”
I trust that measures have been put into place to prevent a repetition of this shocking crime.
In Lizette’s homeland, a convenience of this sort is neither a lavatory nor a restroom, but a washroom.
Some admirers of Ralph Vaughan Williams may have read about his experience with one of these at the 1953 coronation. He was struck by an urgent need and was eighty years old, so he ducked into the most convenient temporary lavatory/restroom/washroom, one marked Peers. On coming out, he reported that it was an exceedingly utilitarian facility, not decorated all over with strawberry leaves, as he might have expected.
Father Allan Barton, an historian, a sometime C of E minister, and now an Orthodox deacon (his family converted together as one to Orthodoxy a few years back) has a YouTube channel wherein he has walked through (and will continue to do so through the event itself, Like and Subscribe!) various aspects of the coronation past and present from historical, cultural, and liturgical/religious viewpoints. The link below is to “The Coronation in Focus” playlist on his channel. He also visits and films in C of E churches covering their histories and treasures. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnF29aG_oVnAL0qKh7Vw00VPW08jeD5o5
To Fr. Richard Duncan,
I knew it! That there would, somewhere, be a record of the lavatory (sorry, restroom) accommodation at Westminster Abbey for the 1953 Coronation.
Thank you. It was all so very british. I wonder if anyone possesses still, no doubt as a valued family heirloom, one of the rolls of paper so treacherously purloined from the facilities?
A parishioner who remembers the 1953 coronation told me today that the theft of the lavatory paper probably had less to do with a desire to get a precious souvenir and more to do with the fact that the wartime rationing of, amongst other things, paper did not come to an end until 1954. Again, very British. One hopes it will not be a problem on Saturday, but with inflation at 10% and the nation in the grip of a cost of living crisis, I would not be too sure.
Clearly the anointing is not a sacrament instituted by Christ during or after his earthly lifetime. However the anointing of Saul, David, Solomon are pretty direct manifestations of Gods power. It is evident in the account of the coronation of Richard I, which refers to him as Duke Richard prior to the anointing and King Richard thereafter.. And it was evident at the coronation of Elizabeth II when the anointing was described as too holy to be televised, not only was the ceremony concealed by a canopy and a cluster of functionaries, but IIRC the cameras were switched off, certainly the feed was disconnected. And, yes, I realise there was also an issue of decorum.
Coronation in Christian ritual goes back to 457 and the accession of Leo I in Constantinople.
Anointing as a mark of Christian royal ritual goes back to the late 7th century Visigothic kingdom in Iberia (King Wamba), if memory serves.
Coronations certainly have a quasi-sacramental aspect. There are prayers, an anointing and special clothes which include a stole which is put on after the anointing. This obviously had a profound effect on the young Elizabeth.
While the coronation rite for next month is apparently ’embargoed’ at the moment, in an older article by Paul Bradshaw (“Coronations from the 18th to the 20th century”, 1997) he has an interesting chart of the structure of the 1953 rite at the end of the chapter…it’s a very handy chart and will be interesting to see how this rite changes structurally. And following on a couple of the strands of conversation above, while there have been differences in the last couple centuries, it seems, in spite of the ascendency of evangelical concerns in CofE powers, there is also the growing manifestation of pre-Reformation English traditions (or at least shadows of those), such as the anointing of kings in a longer history and some choices of music – it will be interesting!
Based on the list of new compositions put out on the Royals website, from the surface at least, it appears that the coronation will take place in the context of an Anglican Communion Service since a Kyrie (in Welsh), a Sanctus, and an Agnus Dei (“…for a reflective moment during the Coronation Service.”) were commissioned. https://www.royal.uk/coronation-music-commissions
Also interesting is that a Prince of the Royal Blood and future king is put into a position of service as a page, carrying the king’s train. This promises to be something to see for sure.
Pope Francis has given Charles “relics of the true cross” as a coronation gift. These have been incorporated into a processional cross that will be used at the coronation. Charles has given it to the Anglican Church in Wales to be shared with the Catholic Church in Wales.
An excellent ecumenical gesture from both the pope and the king.
I wonder if the reason for the delay in publishing the order of service for the coronation is the King Charles’ objection to the distinctively anti-catholic elements which were evident in the oaths which he took immediately after the queen’s death. A repeat of such elements in the coronation would be offensive not just to Roman Catholics but to the other Christian traditions in the UK as well as being anomalous given improved ecumenical relations eg the gift from Pope Francis.
LM Scotland UK
Charles (as with his mother and his successor) doesn’t get to change those oaths on his own – they are embedded in legislation that Parliament would have to agree to change, and they are baked into the laws of succession/accession. Just changing from male-preference to absolute primogeniture (by which change Princess Charlotte of Wales is not outranked in succession by her younger brother Prince Louis of Wales in the way Princess Anne is by both of her younger brothers Andrew and Edward) took years of work and collaboration with governments that shared the Crown as head of state in personal union.
These were the Oaths Queen Elizabeth II took at her coronation in 1953. While a clear commitment to maintain the Church and the historical religious settlement, established by Parliament, I would hardly describe it as particularly offensive to Catholics.
Madam, is your Majesty willing to take the Oath?
I am willing.
Archbishop. Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and the other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?
Queen. I solemnly promise so to do.
Archbishop. Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgements?
Queen. I will.
Archbishop. Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?
Queen. All this I promise to do.
Yes, in that last oath, the Crown promises in substance to *be bound by, and be under, law*. The oaths don’t create law and they don’t change law.
The Queen’s oaths in 1953: I’m reminded of Yeats’ poem, Easter 1916, where he twice repeats the phrase “polite, meaningless words”. One might add, ‘ineffectual and inconsequential’.
Why are so many fascinated by the ritual of Charles’ coronation? It truly escapes me. Whereas another thread dealing with the Russian Orthodox Church’s full throated approval of the invasion of Ukraine met with near silence. Despite the fact that the ROC’s words DO have an effect and are consequential, in a terrible way.
Are we sure we’re serious?
I guess this is a site dealing with ritual. I’m about to watch game 5 in the NBA finals between the Warriors and Kings. There’s a ritual the NBA follows before every game. Every one. Maybe Charles’ coronation is akin to that, and folks are just interested in ritual per se. Fair enough.
“I guess this is a site dealing with ritual.”
Yes. It’s that simple. It doesn’t mean that’s all participants are interested in, but it’s the warp and weft of discussion here, that’s all. What the ROC has done and is doing is beyond words other than concise condemnation (and agreement tends to produce less discussion than disagreement), so it does not lend itself to garnering lots of other discussion. Ritual gets technical, like sports stats, which is the kind of thing on which mussels and barnacles of discussion grow – possibly because the reasons for disagreement or analysis are just more voluminous*. The volume of discussion is not a sign of relative importance. And rituals are a very human thing. Even Jesus and Mary participated in them.
* To go a bit meta here: people who oppose the conciliar reforms have more grist to discuss than people who don’t – and they do. And for that reason, someone newly interested in Catholic liturgy is much more likely to find *those* discussions than discussions supporting the conciliar reforms. And that might have an outsize influence on trends. Thus, having these discussions here should not be assumed to be trivial in eventual importance. Unfortunately for people who do not oppose the conciliar reforms, there are very few online sites having these discussions compared to the ones that oppose them.
And let’s face it, there are a lot of people who regularly post on here who are subjects of the King, including Lizette. Of course there is interest. And secondly, very few do these rituals with the dignity and gravitas of the British. We’ve seen that in Royal weddings, funerals, and I’m sure now at the first coronation in 70 years. The world watches.
the global media coverage is as obsessed with this Coronation as any scholar of liturgy/ritual could be; global media just focusses on other elements of the Coronation, and — I predict — will get some of the traditional ritual awfully wrong.
“We’ve seen that in Royal weddings, funerals, and I’m sure now at the first coronation in 70 years. The world watches.”
True. Maybe I was too grumpy in my post.
I have to admit that I watched and enjoyed Michael Curry’s homily at the Royal wedding. And watched the President at that time and his wife refuse to recite the Nicene creed…or perhaps they just didn’t understand what was happening.
I guess I’m struck by the oaths anachronistic elements, such as swearing to govern the peoples of a no longer existing realm. but never mind.
But those oaths are embedded in law – law that is hard-wired because of bloody civil wars – even more than ritual. If they are going to be changed in substance, the workings of parliamentary democracy and its voters are required. It’s rather different than changing ritual in the One, Holy, Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church(TM) . . . .
It was great to see the Accession Council in progress, live, and not be physically present in the room. Something that was not possible before. It was like watching a shareholder meeting: the scripts carefully prepared – a good shareholder meeting is like a smoothly run train. But it’s not something merely formal: rather, the form is the scaffolding for considerable substance that is typically treated as wallpaper but is not. A favorite moment in that Council of many ritual geeks was . . . the Surrender and Sovereign Grant*. It seems like wallpaper, except it’s the condensed symbol and distilled resolution of centuries of sometimes bloody conflict. Societal rituals embody the cumulative resolution of conflicts – it’s one of the reasons they can be fascinating. The alternative approach – a Carthaginian Peace – leaves nothing; when was the last time anyone felt connected to the *culture* of once-mighty Carthaginian Empire? Rome ensured only specialist scholars do today. What happened to Carthaginian culture is what happened to a lot of Indigenous cultures. If history feels like baggage, that kind of amnesia is inhumane by comparison.
* I.e., “I take this opportunity to confirm my willingness and intention to continue the tradition of surrendering the hereditary revenues, including the Crown estate, to my Government for the benefit of all, in return for the sovereign grant, which supports my official duties as head of state and head of nation.”
“And let’s face it, there are a lot of people who regularly post on here who are subjects of the King, including Lizette.”
I’ve had the privilege of hearing Lizette preach many times, and have spoken with her a bit. She’s remarkable and has a great sense of humor that springs from her joyful intelligence. I can’t imagine that being a subject of Charles plays much of a part in her sense of self. But she may chime in and say otherwise! I’m merely conjecturing. More to the point…what does being a ‘subject of the King’ (Charles) mean, anyway, in today’s world? Again, anachronism rules.
Still, it may well be that the fascination with all of this reflects, in part, secular society’s being starved for ritual. The solemn and stately nature of the coronation in particular goes missing in our lives outside of the Church. It says something that folks are willing to suspend judgement and disbelief to indulge in a royal coronation. Would folks might find real solace in Mass.
I think that last sentence has been my wish all along.
“indulge a royal coronation”
Keenly being observed among many church musicians will be the commissioned works and what eminent works from the very rich treasury of English/British coronation music will be retained in the service:
The eminent music of coronation services, typically directly or indirectly drawn from psalms and scriptural canticles, often becomes part of the choral music repertoire, not only in concerts but very much within liturgies, including Catholic Masses. At the last coronation, Vaughan Williams famously provided a setting of the Old Hundredth* that would be sung by choir and congregation, and infamously caused aural collision in the stands in the Abbey between congregants who did and did NOT get what VW did; yet his setting has since become firmly entrenched as beloved and widely used in other pews around the world.
More to the point…what does being a ‘subject of the King’ (Charles) mean, anyway, in today’s world?
In the dictionary (COD) I see “Person subject to political rule, any member of a State except the Sovereign.” I expect that indicates those subject to the laws of the land who belong there: they owe loyalty to the country/Sovereign that may be assumed to protect them. They may not be citizens with the vote, a distinction relevant before universal voting.
There is a distinction between those who are from the UK and the various overseas territories so Hong Kong people ceased to be subjects once the territory reverted to Chinese rule. This sort of thing can be complicated and enthusiasts may like to look here: https://www.gov.uk/types-of-british-nationality
To illustrate the complexity I point out that Channel Islanders with no UK born grandparent did not benefit from the EU freedom of movement rules.
Karl, forgive me for not being wowed that the Royals condescend to spend taxpayer money every once in a while to commission new music that celebrates themselves. Rather than merely using it for their own purposes, as is usual. I suppose a yacht might have gone without cleaning for several months somewhere or other. What suffering on our behalf!
I admit that the royals and all their drama and spectacle leave me a bit cold. Not Vaughn Williams! Glad he got something out of it all. And I respect everyone here for their interest–seriously. I’m just giving another perspective.
I just postde a video interview I did with two scholars who know quite about about the Coronation in Westminster Abbey, on Pray Tell in the “News” section::
This is an enlightening discussion. Thank you, Teresa.
I’m reserving judgment about the music for the coronation (until I hear it). It’s been composed, according to royal.uk, by “some of the most esteemed living artists from across the Classical, Sacred, Film, Television, and Musical Theatre fields.” So Sacred comes after Classical. Grrrrr. At least it comes before Film, Television, and Musical Theatre.
I assume “Musical Theatre” means Andrew Lloyd Webber, who has written decent sacred music like “Pie Jesu.” But Film and Television?? I suppose some people are eager to witness a coronation that sounds like a movie, but I would hope the planners of this event would spare us that.
And where’s John Rutter, who has done so much for English church music for nearly half a century? Has he been deliberately shut out of the favored composers? I hope not.
I can stop reserving judgment about the music now. I thought it was thoughtfully programmed and well executed. I found the Andrew Lloyd Webber anthem decent if not thrilling, and not distractingly showbizzy. And John Rutter was not shut out after all: he arranged much of the music, including Parry’s “I Was Glad” and Walton’s Te Deum. If he didn’t get to hear any of his own compositions, well, Benjamin Britten was treated the same way. (Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Greensleeves” and “Rhosymedre” were done preludially, but nothing of his was heard during the ceremony itself.) These stalwarts of the English church music tradition were casualties of the coronation’s multicultural emphasis—there was room for only so much music—and I think the tradeoff was wise. The troubles of Anglicanism will only get worse if it stays stuck in old ways. Or so I think.
A multiculturality comparison between the 1953 and 2023 coronations could find a parallel in a comparison between the auras of BBC Radio in those two years. In 1953, if somebody asked “What group of English speakers best exemplifies Received Pronunciation? Is it the royals?” the answer would be “No, it’s the BBC news readers.” Today’s Beeb is an aviary of dialects ranging not just all over England but also through Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Africa, south Asia, east Asia, Australasia, Canada, and more. If the message of Jesus is going to take new root in a blasé/surly UK and Commonwealth, this diversity has to be recognized and put to use.
More recently, Neil Nunes, a British-Jamaican BBC newsreader with a splendidly deep voice, caught criticism from some listeners for sounding too…dig this…American. I think he’s affecting a more British sound now, but gosh. I don’t hear an outcry about Lise Doucette’s distinctly (and beautifully) Canadian sound (I know, Canada’s OK). But overall, thank God for the diverse accents and voices on BBC World Service these days. And those heard in liturgies broadcast to the world.
1. One possible answer to Jeff Armbruster’s question of why anybody’s interested: Apart from its being a Christian ceremony, the coronation expresses that Britain’s nationhood is deeper than its current constitution. It was Britain when the king or queen ruled, and it still is when the king or queen just reigns.
2. Who else remembers the petition in the Litany of Saints “That thou wouldst vouchsafe to grant peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes: We beseech thee, hear us”? Charles’s status as supreme governor of the Church of England has limited relevance (or none) to just about everybody—including, I dare say, most of the Church of England. But he has become, in effect, the chief layperson of the Anglican Communion, and the coronation ritual makes us think of him as a “Christian king.” We can hope that he’ll rise to that expectation; I thought his mother did.
(On the other hand, I remember thinking at the wedding of Charles and Diana that they could now serve as an inspiration for other young Christian couples. That didn’t happen.)
Some more details about modulations in the order of service:
The complete liturgy is at the URL below
The explanations in purple text help considerably
It is clear that while the essence of the coronation oaths has remained, the involvement of other Christian church leaders including the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and other faith leaders, and the preface by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Oath have addressed some of the criticisms of the succession Oaths which the King used immediately after the death of the Queen.
The commentary version provides more detail (for example, the famous Parry setting of “I Was Glad” from the 1902 coronation will be sung for the procession; that’s not indicated in the simpler file). This time ‘round, there will be not one but two congregational hymns (Christ is Made The Sure Foundation & Praise My Soul The King of Heaven); Vaughan Williams’ setting of the Old Hundredth for Communion that was such an innovation in 1953 just for having the congregation sing anything is not included. The inclusion of the Byrd Gloria from the Mass for Four Voices appears, from the commentary version, to be a deliberate nod to the legacy of recusant British Catholics in the realm during the Reformation.
The parallels with ordination are striking. The Holy Spirit is invoked, promises are made, prayers are said, he is anointed and then vested and crowned. All during a celebration of the Eucharist.
Well, if memory serves, the service of coronation for the Holy Roman Emperor was ordered as a deacon (reading the Gospel), and that for the King of France was ordered as a subdeacon (reading the Epistle).
Except that there are fewer parallels with the specifically Church of England Ordinal as contained in the BCP of 1662. Absolutely no anointing, for instance, and little in the way of ‘vesting.’
And neither anointing of any kind nor ordination is officially a sacrament in the C. of E.
I think the model for this coronation liturgy is pre-reformation. It goes back to King Edgar in the 10th century. It would seem to have varied according to the churchmanship of the time after the reformation.
I found an interesting page here which has parallel texts of coronations going back to William and Mary. They all contain the anointing.
Thank you for that link.
I don’t think anyone will confuse the office of current King of England with the Holy Roman Emperor.
Here’s me, once more the contrarian, the skunk at the picnic:
I certainly understand the dictionary definition of the words, ‘subjects of the King of England’. It’s just, today, if Charles were to say “off with Sunak’s head!” people would simply think he’d gone mad. Nothing would happen. The office is entirely ceremonial in the bad sense. There’s some risk in associating it with the Mass, I think. Something too much out of the past that’s merely spectacle now. A bit Warholian, if that’s a term. Kitsch.
What we celebrate at Mass is real and at work in the world and our lives. We all know this from our own experience. It’s hard to pin down! I suppose there will be some fine feeling and nostalgia generated by the upcoming ceremony. Are we sure this is how we want the Church portrayed?
Something more significant may well occur that will make me take all of this back. I hope so! I mentioned Michael Curry’s homily at the royal wedding. Wonderful! I hope for something similar now.
The UK House of Commons Library* has prepared an extraordinarily detailed and comprehensive research briefing on the coronation, here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9412.
In 98 pages, it covers much of the history, law, ceremonial, even topics that might be seen as controversial, such as the cost of the event and who covers it.
* “The House of Commons Library is a research and information service based in the UK Parliament.
Our impartial analysis, statistical research and resources help MPs and their staff scrutinise legislation, develop policy, and support constituents.”
Thank you for that link, Jonathan!
Hearty congratulations to King Charles III. Ad multos annos. God bless.