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Crown and nation, the St Paul’s service, and Jubilee moralising

14 June 2012


From the Revd Kenneth Crawford

Sir, — Once again, the Diamond Jubilee Weekend showed that, if one wants to see ceremonial and pageantry at its very best, Britain is the place to see it. The service at St Paul’s Cathedral was outstanding in terms of its dignity and offering of praise to God for the gift of the Queen’s 60 years of devotion and service.

My one concern in the service at St Paul’s was the use of Vaughan Williams’s wonderful Te Deum — or any anthem — as music for the entry of the processions. This seems to be a confusion between Church and state and which of the two is of more importance. Her Majesty would not want to have over­shadowed the praise of God for one moment, and yet the effect of the singing of the Te Deum during the entrance of clergy and monarch was to appear to relegate the praise of God to the role of background music. During the singing of this great hymn of praise, the congrega­tion were bowing to the Queen rather than participating in the praise of God. This was emphasised in the Dean and Chapter’s standing in an arc around the Queen once Her Majesty had taken her seat, while the praise of God was taking place behind them.

Is it not possible to have the pro­cessions entering to some stately music befitting the occasion, and include the Te Deum as part of the worship per se, where the emphasis is on the heavenly King? I have no problem with the singing of Parry’s “I was glad” as processions enter, as that wonderful psalm isn’t actually praise to God, but an exultation of the joy of going into the house of the Lord, in which we pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

There have been other instances of this apparent confusion of Church and state. The service for the Queen’s Golden Wedding at West­minster Abbey showed the congrega­tion singing “Praise, my soul, the King of heaven” as the Queen and Prince Philip processed through the nave. The television cameras showed the congregation with mouths shut and much bowing and smiling as the procession passed them. This ap­peared to be an instance of praising the King of heaven while acknow­ledging the Queen of earth at the same time. The Queen was receiving all the attention, and again the praise of God appeared to be background music with much of the singing coming from the choir.

I don’t blame the Queen for any of this for one moment — I don’t blame the Church, either. My concern is that there are times when the earthly emphasis seems to take precedence over the heavenly em­phasis when in the church it should be to God, first; maybe this is over­looked unintentionally. I hope that, in future, the praise of the heavenly monarch will begin once the earthly monarch has taken her seat.

The Abbey Vicarage
Church Street, Pershore
Worcestershire WR10 1DT

From Mr James Little

Sir, — Given the criticism of several broadcasters, comedians, and pop stars for performing at a level less than that expected at Jubilee events on Sunday and Monday of last week, it was pleasing to note the contrast with the part played by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

His sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral was excellent in every way. Indeed, this was the unanimous view of everyone from various walks of life to whom I have spoken in the days since the service.

2 Demesne Close, Holywood
Co. Down BT18 9SF

From the Revd David van Krieken Vannerley

Sir, — I do not want to comment on the content of Dr Pridmore’s article (Diamond Jubilee Special, 1 June), as others have done (Letters, 8 June), but on its central and serious omission.

Elizabeth Windsor became fully the monarch of this land and others when she made her oaths and was anointed, encoronated, and enthroned by the Archbishop of Canterbury: while the Archbishop can delegate these actions, the prerogative belongs to him alone.

There are other evidences of establishment — Lords Spiritual, chaplaincies being led by Anglicans, my title as Curate at St Laurence-in-Thanet — but those all flow from the present constitutional fact that the monarch is legitimated by an Anglican bishop during an Anglican service of holy communion.

Parliament could, of course, change that arrangement, and may do so in the future, but let us be clear that Crown and mitre are bound together. We could, I suppose, change to the kind of arrangement that the United States have, the lacklustre swearing in of their fixed-term elected monarch; or indeed that of the Kingdom of the Netherlands — effectively a heritable presidency, where the monarch is sworn in standing beside a table on which sits a crown that has never been worn.

Frankly, I prefer the present arrangements.

David van Krieken Vannerley
34 Cherrry Gardens, Herne Bay
Kent CT6 5QZ

From Mr Roger Gibbard

Sir, — Where does it say that I must put God first, my neighbour second, and myself last, as referred to by the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu (“The Queen ‘sets example’ as she celebrates Jubilee”, News, 1 June)? Isn’t this the erroneous Sunday-school teaching that has screwed most of us up who heard it?

No. Jesus was much wiser. First of all, I discover my own infinite worth to God, as I am loved, so being enabled to love in return with all my heart. Then, and only then, can this love overflow in me towards my neighbour.

Duty and responsibility may then become a joy, an expression of the love that is being poured upon me. God teaches me to cherish myself and sets me free to care for my neighbour.

97 Barnsley Street, Wigan WN6 7HB

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