The Daily Telegraph

Order of Service Prayers and reading gave air of dignified calm

- Christophe­r Howse

The service of the reception of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminste­r Hall used the same prayer said on the death of the Queen Mother back in 2002.

“O God, the maker and redeemer of all mankind,” the prayer began, “grant us, with thy servant Queen Elizabeth, and all the faithful departed, the sure benefits of thy Son’s saving passion and glorious resurrecti­on.”

It is the nearest that the Church of England gets to praying formally for the dead.

The prayer is in the form of a collect that can be used in the service of Holy Communion. It has been recited in the days since the death of Queen Elizabeth among prayers sent out by the Church of England.

The prayer is in a more traditiona­l form of language, like the psalm that preceded it in the service (number 139), which follows the wording of the Book of Common Prayer, 1662.

Similarly the reading, from the Gospel according to St John, was taken from the traditiona­l 1611 Authorised Version of the Bible.

The Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father”) was in a form familiar to the widest spectrum of British people. It did not use more archaic forms such as “which art in heaven” or “in earth”, as used at the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh.

The motet, “Jesu, the very thought of thee / With sweetness fills my breast; / But sweeter far thy face to see, / And in thy presence rest”, was sung to a setting composed by Sir Edward Bairstow (18741946), whose music was chosen as part of the Diamond Jubilee service of thanksgivi­ng for Queen Elizabeth in 2012.

The words of the motet are attributed to the great medieval monastic reformer St Bernard, and the translatio­n was made by Edward Caswall.

Caswall’s translatio­n was published in 1853, six years after he became a Catholic and went to live (in 1850) at the Oratory in Birmingham, the community founded by John Henry Newman (who was declared a saint in 2019).

The order of service at Westminste­r Hall gave the short introducti­on to the lying-in-state an air that was spare, dignified and calm.

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