The Coronation Service - Order of Service
Published 06 May 2023
The Coronation Service of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla will take place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6th May 2023 at 1100hrs.
For almost a thousand years, Coronations have been held at Westminster Abbey, and the Order of Service draws on this long tradition, centred around the liturgical theme of “Called to Serve” and The King’s solemn vow and commitment to serve God, and the people of the nations and the realms.
The Service will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby. The Choirs of Westminster Abbey and His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, with choristers from Methodist College, Belfast, and Truro Cathedral Choir, and an octet from the Monteverdi Choir, will sing. The music during the Service is directed by Andrew Nethsingha, Organist and Master of the Choristers, Westminster Abbey.
Faith leaders and representatives of faith communities will process through Westminster Abbey ahead of the Service, followed by representatives of the Commonwealth Realms.
Their Majesties will enter Westminster Abbey through the Great West Door, upon which the choir will sing Hubert Parry’s ‘I was glad’, which was composed for the Coronation of King Edward VII. Their Majesties will arrive at the Chairs of Estate in the Coronation Theatre, where The King will be greeted by the longest serving chorister of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal. The history of this greeting is rooted in the ordination and consecration of members of the clergy, where the inclusion of a young person symbolises looking towards the future. The King will then have a personal moment of silent prayer, as Queen Elizabeth II did in 1953.
Following this, the Archbishop of Canterbury will give a greeting from the High Altar, welcoming the congregation to the Service. The choir, joined by Sir Bryn Terfel, will sing the ‘Kyrie’, which will be sung in Welsh for the first time.
The Recognition follows; an ancient element of the Coronation Service, in which The King will be recognised as the true Monarch. His Majesty will turn to each of the four points of the compass to be recognised; to the East, by the Archbishop of Canterbury; to the South, by Lady Eilish Angiolini, a Lady of the Order of the Thistle; to the West, by Christopher Finney, a holder of the George Cross, and to the North, by Baroness Amos, a Lady of the Order of the Garter. Each recognition will be marked with a fanfare.
The King will be presented with the Holy Bible by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The new Bible was commissioned for the Service by Lambeth Palace. His Majesty will then take The Oath, and will sign copies presented by the Lord Chamberlain, as the choir sings an Anthem by William Byrd. Having taken The Oath, The King will kneel before the High Altar and pray aloud. The words of His Majesty’s prayer have been inspired by the hymn, ‘I vow to thee, my country’, in a continuation of the theme of service. The choir will then sing a ‘Gloria’, also by William Bryd, framing His Majesty’s prayer.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will say the Collect, which has been specially written for the Coronation Service, before the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Rishi Sunak MP, gives the first reading from the Epistle to the Colossians. The choir will sing the ‘Alleluia’, newly commissioned by Debbie Wiseman, while the St Augustine’s Gospel Book, dating back to the sixth century, will be carried into the Nave. The Gospel will then be read by the Bishop of London and Dean of His Majesty’s Chapels Royal, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, marking the first active participation of female Church of England Bishops in a Coronation Service. The Ascension gospel choir will sing a second Alleluia, by Debbie Wiseman, and the Archbishop of Canterbury will preach the Sermon. Their Majesties will then kneel at the Chairs of Estate as the choir sings the Veni, Creator Spiritus, sung in English, Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Irish.
The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, who was present during the consecration of the Chrism oil earlier this year, will receive the Ampulla containing the oil at the High Altar, which will be blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Their Majesties will remove their Robes of State, and The King will sit in the Coronation Chair, on the Cosmati pavement. The Anointing Screen, newly made for the Service and inspired by the window of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, will be brought into position around the Chair by Guardsmen of the Household Division. The Anointing, the most solemn and sacred part of the Service, takes place as the choir sings Handel’s ‘Zadok the priest’, which was composed for the Coronation of King George II in 1727 and has become synonymous with such occasions. The Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the Dean of Westminster and the Archbishop of York, will anoint The King’s hands, chest and head. Afterwards, The King will approach the High Altar and kneel, and the Archbishop of Canterbury will pray.
For The Investiture, The King will be vested with the Colobium Sidonis, a white linen shift-like tunic; the Supertunica, a full-length, sleeved gold coat; and the Coronation Sword Belt. His Majesty will sit in the Coronation Chair as items of Regalia are presented; first, the Spurs, carried by the Lord Great Chamberlain.
The Byzantine Chant Ensemble will sing in Greek, in recognition of His Majesty’s father Prince Philip, The late Duke of Edinburgh, while the Sword of State is exchanged for the Sword of Offering by the Lord President of the Council, The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP. The Sword of Offering, which symbolises the protection of good and the punishment of evil, will be delivered to the Archbishop of Canterbury and will be placed in The King’s right hand. The King will rise, and the Sword will be fastened at the His Majesty’s waist using the Sword Belt. The King will offer the Sword at the Altar, where it will be received the Dean. The Sword will then be redeemed with the offering of 100 newly minted 50ps, by the Lord President of the Council, who will carry it before The King for the remainder of the Service. Traditionally, the Sword is offered to Westminster Abbey in payment for hosting a Coronation Service, and redeemed by offering a symbolic payment.
The King will be presented with the Armills, traditionally referred to as ‘the bracelets of sincerity and wisdom’, by Lord Kamall, the Robe Royal, brought by Baroness Merron, and the Stole Royal, presented by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. His Majesty will then be invested and will sit inthe Coronation Chair again. The Orb, symbolising the Christian world, will be placed in The King’s right hand by the Archbishop of Canterbury, before being returned to the Altar and the Sovereign’s Ring will be presented by Lord Patel. The Coronation Glove will be presented by Lord Singh, and The King will place it on His Majesty’s right hand. The Sceptre with Cross, a symbol of power and justice, and the Sceptre with Dove, a symbol of equity and mercy, will be brought from the Altar by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Wales, and placed in The King’s right and left hands, by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
For The Crowning, The Dean of Westminster will deliver St Edward’s Crown to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will offer a blessing before His Majesty The King is crowned. The Archbishop will lead the congregation of Westminster Abbey in saying, ‘God save The King’. The bells of the Abbey will ring as gun salutes are fired in celebration on Horse Guards Parade, at His Majesty’s Fortress the Tower of London, and at Saluting Stations throughout the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Bermuda, and His Majesty’s ships at sea. In Westminster Abbey, the Wiener Philharmoniker Fanfare will be played by the Coronation Brass Ensemble, as requested by The King. His Majesty will then be blessed by ecumenical leaders.
The choir will sing an Anthem by Thomas Weekles, followed by The Enthroning. The King, escorted by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and assisted by the Bishops of Bath and Wells, and Durham, will be enthroned. The Great Officers of State assemble behind His Majesty’s Throne Chair.
The Homage will be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and The Prince of Wales. The People’s Homage will follow, an opportunity for those who wish to be given voice within the Service, and for those at home to have a chance to be an extension of the Westminster Abbey congregation, should they wish to take it, whether with a moment of quiet reflection, by saying “God save King Charles” at the end, or following the words of the liturgy. A fanfare will sound, and the choir will sing an Anthem arranged by John Rutter for the Coronation of King George VI.
The Homage is followed by the Coronation of The Queen. Her Majesty will kneel at her Chair of Estate to be anointed on the head by The Archbishop of Canterbury. The Queen’s Ring will be presented to Her Majesty by the Keeper of the Jewel House, and Her Majesty will be crowned by the Archbishop with Queen Mary’s Crown. The former Bishop of London, Lord Chartres, and the Bishop of Dover, The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, will present Her Majesty with The Queen’s Sceptre with Cross and The Queen’s Rod with Dove. Escorted by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops of Hereford and Norwich, and The Queen’s Companions, Her Majesty will be enthroned. A new Anthem, ‘Make a joyful noise’, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, will be sung by the choir.
Their Majesties will proceed into the Shrine and will remove St Edward’s Crown and Queen Mary’s Crown, before returning to the Chairs of Estate for Communion. The King will be presented with bread and wine, which will be used for the Holy Sacrament. The hymn ‘Christ is made the sure foundation’ will be sung by the congregation, to the Westminster Abbey tune. Reflecting The King’s devotion to the traditional liturgy of the Church of England, the communion bread and wine will be consecrated according to the Book of Common Prayer, the wording of which was also used at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The ‘Sanctus’ will be sung, composed for the Service by Roxanna Panufnik.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will lead The Lord’s Prayer, which the congregation is welcome to say in the language of their choice, for their own act of worship. The choir will then sing a newly commissioned ‘Agnus Dei’; a reflective moment in the Service, during which Their Majesties will receive Holy Communion. The Amen will be sung by the choir, to the Orlando Gibbons tune which was also sung at the Coronation in 1953.
While the hymn, ‘Praise, my soul, the King of heaven’ is sung by the congregation, Their Majesties will enter the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor before the conclusion of the Service. The choir will sing an Anthem by William Boyce, composed for the Coronation of King George III in 1761, and the Te Deum, written for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
A fanfare will sound as The King, wearing the Imperial State Crown, followed by The Queen, wearing Queen Mary’s Crown, emerge from the Shrine and join the Coronation Procession out of Westminster Abbey as the National Anthem is sung.
After the Coronation Service, at the Great West Door, The King will be greeted by five faith leaders, and Governors-General from the Realms. Their Majesties will then depart Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach for Buckingham Palace
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