Credit: Royal Family/Crown Copyright
The death and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II has marked a sombre milestone in British history. The UK's longest-reigning monarch was a beloved and respected figure across the globe, and the hymns, poems and readings that were chosen for her funeral are sure to become more popular as a result.
In this blog post, Funeral Guide will run through all of the hymns, poems, and readings given at both the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth, held in Westminster Abbey, and the Commital Service, held at St George's Chapel.
Hymns from the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
The hymns that were chosen for the State Funeral were a mixture of traditional Christian anthems with some personal touches from the King and late Queen.
"The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
the darkness falls at thy behest;
to thee our morning hymns ascended,
thy praise shall sanctify our rest.
The first hymn to be sung at the State funeral, The Day Thou Gavest is one of the nation’s favourite hymns for funerals, with a message about God’s eternal love and life after death.
"The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want;
he makes me down to lie
in pastures green; he leadeth me
the quiet waters by."
Psalm 23 is one of the best known hymns, and can also be used as a reading for funerals. It has been sung at many important and historic events, including at the Queen's wedding. The version sang at the State Funeral was taken from the Scottish Psalter - the first book of common prayer to be published in Scotland.
My Soul There Is a Country
"My soul, there is a country
Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a wingèd sentry
All skilful in the wars:"
Based on a poem by Henry Vaughan, the melody for this anthem was taken from Songs of Farewell by Hubert Parry, a favourite composer of King Charles III.
"Love Divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven, to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart. "
A traditional Christian funeral hymn , which has proven popular with all denominations. The lyrics are a message about finding salvation and trusting in God - a fitting message that Queen ELizabeth embodied during her reign.
Hymns from the Commital Service of Queen Elizabeth II
Like the State Funeral, the hymns chosen for the Queen's comittal service reflect a life that was lived with a strong and unwavering belief in the Christian faith. The music chosen reflects this, with words of hope, faith and the knowledge of a life lived for a higher purpose.
All My Hope on God is Founded
"All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew.
Me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
calls my heart to be his own."
Based on a German Chorale melody, ‘Meine Hoffnung’ by Joachim Neander, the English version of this hymn was set to music in 1930 by Herbert Howells. The words were translated earlier, in 1899, by future Poet-Laureate Robert Bridges. The hymn speaks of a faith and service that is unchanging and unwavering - an appropriate message for the occasion.
Christ is made the sure foundation
"Christ is made the sure foundation,
And the precious corner-stone,
Who, the two walls underlying,
Bound in each, binds both in one,
Holy Sion's help for ever,
And her confidence alone."
The words to this hymn were originally written in Latin at some point in the 6th or 7th Century. They were translated and put to music in 1843 by J M Neale. The melody for the hymn was borrowed from the Alleluyas in Henry Purcell's 'O God, Thou art my God'
Readings from the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II's funeral readings were almost all taken from bible passagaes, reflecting the traditional and sombre nature of the occasion. Many of the passages are well known bible readings for funerals that you may recognise. The excerpts here are smaller parts of the full verses read at the funeral.
1 Corinthians 15: 20–26, 53–end - Oh death, where is thy sting?
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
John 14: 1–9a - I am the way, the truth and the life
"Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
John Donne - Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening
"Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitation of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen."
Readings from the Commital Service of Queen Elizabeth II
Revelation 21.1–7 - I am Alpha and Omega
"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things;and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."
Psalm: 103. 13–17 - Go forth upon thy journey from this world
"Go forth upon thy journey from this world, O Christian soul; In the name of God the Father Almighty who created thee; In the name of Jesus Christ who suffered for thee; In the name of the Holy Spirit who strengtheneth thee. In communion with the blessèd saints, and aided by Angels and Archangels, and all the armies of the heavenly host, may thy portion this day be in peace, and thy dwelling in the heavenly Jerusalem. Amen."