Music at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral inspired by her ‘unwavering Christian faith’

After 10 days of national mourning across the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II will finally be honored in a state funeral at Westminster Abbey Monday in a carefully crafted service with songs that not only reflect the late queen’s musical tastes, but also echo the long history of the royal family.

“The Service will pay tribute to The Queen’s remarkable reign and lifetime of service as Head of State, Nation and Commonwealth,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement Sunday night.

The funeral, which will be led by the dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr. David Hoyle, will feature the choirs of Westminster Abbey and His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, under the direction of James O’Donnell.

The Choir of Westminster Abbey will first sing the five Sentences as the queen’s coffin is carried into Westminster Abbey at the start of the service. The Sentences, which are lines of scripture set to music, have been used at every state funeral since the early 18th century, the palace said.

PHOTO: The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II lies in State in Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster, in London on Sept. 16, 2022.

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II lies in State in Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster, in London on Sept. 16, 2022.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“The Choir of Westminster Abbey will be joined by the Choir of the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, for the final two Sentences,” officials confirmed. “The Dean of Westminster will give The Bidding, before the first hymn.”

The first hymn that will be sung is a specially commissioned choral piece titled “Like as the Hart” — composed for the service by the master of the king’s music, Judith Weir — and will be sung by the choir.

“The piece, inspired by Her Majesty’s unwavering Christian faith, is a setting of Psalm 42 to music and will be sung unaccompanied,” Buckingham Palace said.

A reading will then be given by British Prime Minster Liz Truss followed by the second hymn of the service, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” a notable selection because it was sung at the queen’s wedding to then-Lt. Philip Mountbatten in 1947. It has long been rumored to be one of the queen’s favorite pieces of music and was featured as one of her top 10 songs in a BBC Radio 2 documentary called “Our Queen: 90 Musical Years,” which was released in 2016 to celebrate her 90th birthday, though the queen never confirmed this herself.

The sermon will then be given by the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. It will be followed by “an anthem of great hope” called “My Soul, There is a Country,” set by Hubert Parry, the palace said.

Following the anthem, a series of prayers will be said from the high altar before a song that was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the queen’s coronation in 1953 — “O Taste and See” — will be sung by the choir.

Toward the end of the service, two minutes of silence will be observed inside Westminster Abbey and across the United Kingdom before the “Reveille” is sounded by the State Trumpeters, followed by the congregation singing the national anthem, “God Save the King.”

“At the conclusion of the State Funeral, The Sovereign’s Piper of the Royal Regiment of Scotland will play the traditional Lament, ‘Sleep, dearie, sleep,'” Buckingham Palace said.

Following the service, the queen’s coffin will ultimately travel to Windsor Castle for the committal service at St. George’s Chapel, the queen’s final resting place, and the bells of Westminster Abbey will be rung, fully muffled — a tradition that is carried out following the funeral of a British monarch.

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