Now, and for the first time during a Coronation service, as the organ lifted up the melody to the “Old Hundredth” (Psalm 100) the voices of all those in attendance began to sing along,
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice!
Rejoice they did, as Elizabeth made her way with the Bishops to the Altar. She relinquished the Sceptres and her new Crown, and presented an ancient oblation of one altar cloth and a wedge of gold.
The new Duke of Edinburgh joined her there. Elizabeth and Philip were taking communion together at the altar of her crowning.
As they knelt in prayer, the atmosphere changed once more in the Abbey. The cameras were turned off during their sacrament. The glory and splendor of the Coronation bowed deeply before the glory and splendor of this Communion, and Philip and Elizabeth were alone with God.
Then the Queen took up her crown again, and she was the only Monarch in modern times to wear it during the entire service, following the Communion. All those rare and precious gems made it very, very heavy. She returned, crowned and with her Scepters, to her Throne. The service oontinued; it might have been any Sunday morning, and then the Archbishop spoke the words of blessing and dismissal. The “Gloria” was sung, and the beautiful “Te Deum,” and then the trumpet fanfare began afresh … trumpets, organ, choir and orchestra … all rejoicing!
Now the swords began to move beside her, and born again by her ministers, with the Archbishop leading the way, and Elizabeth rose and passed out of the Theater and into the sanctuary of St. Edward’s Chapel. There, at last, she exchanged his crown for the lighter, but no less brilliant and imposing Imperial Crown. She would never wear St. Edward’s Crown again, but no need! She was Queen, she is Queen, she is crowned, she is Majesty. She was divested of all her ceremonial robes and was adorned for the first time with the luxuriant Robe of Purple Velvet with its six-foot train, made just for her and embroidered richly in gold with her own “EIIR” insignia and all the beautiful and symbolic needlework that had taken so many months to complete. She alone would ever wear it. Before it was completed by the master embroiderers at at Ede and Ravenscroft, every employee in the firm, down to the charwomen, had been invited to put in a single stitch, a tiny thread overlaid with gold.
In her right hand the Queen bore the Sceptre with the Cross, and in her left, the Orb. Her Coronation gown was visible again, and as she traversed the length of the Abbey, surrounded by columns of honor, she sparkled like a thousand stars. Even on the black and white film, not yet governed by every degree of precise high definition, her gown and jewels and crown and Sceptre glittered and danced with the play of light.
As she reached her carriage a shout arose as if it would crack the mortar between the Abbey’s ancient stones . . .
A new Elizabethan era had begun, and the rejoicing was tumultuous, deafening, along the route back to the Palace. It was raining again, but her happy subjects would not be denied.
How riotous was the joy in heaven as we were received into the Kingdom of God, to reign and rule with His Majesty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus of Nazareth, Only Begotten of God Almighty? Angels, mighty and splendid, rejoiced for us and for the joy of their Sovereign, who wanted us so much. We were the object of His love and desire unto death by crucifixion. Imagine the ecstatic jubilation of those who revere and worship Him, those that have been faithful to Him in heaven and on earth.
Our time together has come to an end. There was so much more . . . from the Coronation Chicken, a curried specialty by Constance Spry, the recipe for which hit women’s magazines all over the world. There was the admonition that had gone out to all royal and government servants, that they would “abstain” for forty-eight hours before the event, and not from alcohol alone! We smile, but it lets us know, this was for them all a most holy day. And there was Winstone Churchill, her Prime Minister, lingering awhile as others found their places for the recessional, looking about him, taking it in, alive in the history of his nation.
The Regalia was ready to be packed with great care, under guard, and returned to the Tower of London. St. Edward’s Crown would remain there until Elizabeth’s funeral, when it will adorn her casket. Then, after months of planning and preparation, the next royal head will wear it on just such a day.
As Elizabeth had been given a few moments in St. Edward’s chapel before her recessional and the return to Buckingham Palace, we have just a few last moments together. The celebration was just getting underway in London, and it would go on until late into the night, with fireworks and a last appearance on the balcony to mark the close of this magnificent event. Her Majesty would awaken the next morning, the Monarch of her realms, under oath, anointed, and empowered to serve and defend her peoples as long as she lived – in short, to be their Queen.
We may awaken tomorrow to live a royal life, if our understanding is true! In fact, if our understanding is true, we must. While she will never again wear St. Edward’s crown, we may take our diadems, the kindness and compassion of the Lord, from our bedside and put them on, never leaving our chamber without them! We may know that heavenly crowns await us, crowns that we will cast at the feet of our Sovereign. There will be splendors seen by those with eyes to see, deeds of mercy and costly sacrificial gifts of loving kindness and compassion and faith. Her Majesty will never again wear the Colobium Sidonis or the Supertunica or the Imperial Mantle, but we will be filled with joy, abiding in hope, clothed in the beauty of holiness. She, too, as she reigns in the grace and mercy of God. Majesty will be seen in us, and others will know it is a majesty bequeathed, not usurped, humble and grateful, not haughty or selfish or rude. All this in tedium, in trial, in difficulty, in small victories and large challenges, just as the Queen has known, but all the while, we will bear a glory, for as it is written,
“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9, NASB)
The LORD their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people; for they are like jewels in a crown, sparkling over His land. (Zechariah 9:16)