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Prominent Welsh theme emerges in Coronation planning

19 April 2023

Julia Skupny

The King hallmarks the silver Cross of Wales with the King’s Mark

The King hallmarks the silver Cross of Wales with the King’s Mark

THE history, music, and heritage of Wales will feature prominently in the Coronation on 6 May.

On Wednesday, the Church in Wales announced that a new processional cross — presented by the King as a gift to the Church on its centenary in 2020 (when he was Prince of Wales) — will lead the Coronation procession down the nave.

“In a significant ecumenical gesture, the Cross of Wales will incorporate a relic of the True Cross, the personal gift of Pope Francis to the King to mark the Coronation,” the Church said in a statement.

The cross, designed and produced by a master silversmith, Michael Lloyd, of the Goldsmiths’ Company, was due to be blessed by the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, at Holy Trinity, Llandudno, at the start of the Church’s Governing Body meeting on Wednesday.

Words from St David’s last sermon are chased on the back of the cross in Welsh: “Byddwch lawen. Cadwch y ffydd. Gwnewch y Pethau Bychain,” which translates as: “Be joyful. Keep the faith. Do the little things.”

The cross will be officially received by the Church in Wales at a service after the Coronation, and in future will be shared between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches in Wales.

Archbishop John said: “We are honoured that His Majesty has chosen to mark our centenary with a cross that is both beautiful and symbolic. Its design speaks to our Christian faith, our heritage, our resources, and our commitment to sustainability. We are delighted too that its first use will be to guide Their Majesties into Westminster Abbey.”

The RC Archbishop of Cardiff, the Rt Revd Mark O’Toole, said: “It is not only a sign of the deep Christian roots of our nation, but will, I am sure, encourage us all to model our lives on the love given by our Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

On Sunday, Buckingham Palace announced further details of the 12 new compositions commissioned for the Coronation service in Westminster Abbey, including some by Welsh composers. The King, the Palace said, had “overseen, influenced, and been personally involved in the commissioning process and the detail of the music programme”.

Six have been composed for orchestra, and will be played before the service begins by the new Coronation Orchestra, whose membership is drawn from eight orchestras in the UK and Canada, including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Welsh National Orchestra.

The pieces are: a short overture, Brighter Visions Shine Afar, by the Master of the King’s Music, Judith Weir; Tros y Garreg (Crossing the Stone), by the Welsh multi-instrumentalist and composer Sir Karl Jenkins, played by the Royal Harpist, Alis Huws; Sacred Fire, by Sarah Class, performed by the South African soprano Pretty Yende; a contemporary interpretation of a well-known hymn tune, Be Thou my Vision — Triptych for Orchestra, by three composers: Nigel Hess, Roderick Williams, and Shirley J. Thompson; Iain Farrington’s organ commission Voices of the World, in honour of Commonwealth diversity; and, finally, the King Charles III Coronation March, by the film composer Patrick Doyle.

Five new commissions that are to be included in the service under the direction of the Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, Andrew Nethsingha. They will be sung by the choir of Westminster Abbey and of the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace; girl choristers from Truro Cathedral and Methodist College, Belfast; and singers from the Monteverdi Choir.

These commissions include Paul Mealor’s Coronation Kyrie, which is to be the first Welsh-language performance at a Coronation; a two-part composition, Alleluia (O Clap your Hands) and Alleluia (O Sing Praises) from the TV and film composer Debbie Wiseman; and the anthem Make a Joyful Noise by Lord Lloyd-Webber.

A series of fanfares marking ceremonial moments in the service have also been specially written for the occasion by Christopher Robinson, to be performed by the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force.

Palace sources confirmed over the weekend that, as in the televising of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, cameras will not show the King being anointed with holy oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Earlier media reports had suggested that he could be anointed in public view with the use of a specially commissioned transparent canopy.

The source told The Times: “Precedent has never been for it to be a publicly viewable moment, given its sanctity. A way has been found to ensure that remains the case this time.”

In an 84-page souvenir programme for the Coronation, which went on sale for £20 on Monday, Archbishop Welby writes that the King will also swap “robes of status and honour” for a simple white shirt during the anointing ceremony.

He described it as a “private moment between a new King and the King of Kings”, and said that King Charles would come before God “in the full knowledge that, even as a King, he is one of the people, and that even if he has a particular role to fulfil, he shares in our human frailties and vulnerabilities”.

 

WIDER preparations for the Coronation weekend are under way, with churches preparing to mark the occasion by live-streaming the service, commemorative services, celebratory cream teas and lunches, and a volunteering drive.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have already endorsed the national Big Help Out on the Bank Holiday Monday (News, 31 March). Organised by the Together Coalition and a wide range of partners, including faith groups, people are being asked to volunteer for the day to “highlight the positive impact [that] volunteering” has on communities in the UK.

On Wednesday, Archbishop Welby joined the Chief Rabbi, Sir Ephraim Mirvis, and other faith and community leaders on a visit to the homelessness charity The Passage, in Victoria, in London, to encourage people to volunteer on the Big Help Out. The group sorted donated clothing, and served food.

Richard WattThe Chaplain General to His Majesty’s Land Forces, the Revd Michael Parker, blesses the two new Colours laid upon drums, at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, on Friday, watched by the King. The event happened during the tri-annual Sovereign’s Parade, as more than 170 Senior Officer Cadets were commissioned into the British Army. The King’s Colour and the Regiment Colour are the first two Colours of the British Armed Forces to bear the King’s cypher, CR III. To the right of the Chaplain General is Mgr Robert Corrigan CF (RC), RMAS Chaplain

The Archbishop said: “During the Coronation, His Majesty the King will be anointed to serve others, and we’ll be giving thanks for the King’s example of service. That’s why helping others is a key theme of the Coronation weekend — and why I’m so delighted to support the Big Help Out.

“As we celebrate the Coronation, I joyfully encourage everyone to help out in all kinds of creative ways. I pray we take this opportunity to come together, support those around us, and unite our communities. Let’s build a legacy of love for one another.”

The Chief Rabbi said: “By taking part in the Big Help Out campaign, volunteering our time and energy, we can make a positive impact on our communities, help those in need, and promote social cohesion. I urge everyone, regardless of their faith or background, to embrace this opportunity and take part in this day of national volunteering.”

The co-founder of the Together Coalition, Brendan Cox, said: “The support from over 30 leaders of faith and belief groups, representing millions of people all over the UK, reflects the huge backing for the Big Help Out. The UK’s faith communities excel at volunteering and bringing people together. That’s why are excited about what they can contribute to the Big Help Out.”

On Tuesday, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd Dr David Hoyle, and Archbishop Welby welcomed other faith leaders, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Dame Prue Leith, among others, to a special Coronation lunch at the Abbey.

Victoria Dawe/The Big LunchThe Duke of Edinburgh enjoys the Coronation lunch with invited guests

It was organised as part of the Big Lunch initiative, which seeks to bring communities together to share a meal over the Coronation weekend. Big Lunch, for which Dame Prue is an ambassador, is also an annual event founded by the Eden Project, and usually held in the first week in June. Founded in 2009, it has been supported by the Queen Consort since 2013.

Prince Edward arrived at the Abbey lunch with a spinach, broad-bean, and tarragon “Coronation quiche” baked in the Buckingham Palace kitchen. The quiche is a recipe personally recommended by the King and Queen Consort for sharing tables at Coronation Big Lunches across the UK over the weekend.

Dr Hoyle said: “The Coronation is a moment when nations and Commonwealth can celebrate a shared history and imagine what renewed loyalties might achieve . . . but it is also a time to focus on the bonds of affection that bridge all difference. With Their Majesties the King and the Queen Consort we know that difference in diversity makes us stronger.”

Archbishop Welby agreed. He said: “When we share a meal, we see how much we have in common with others. Food is a major part of all faith traditions — it brings people together. For Christians, we remember that Jesus shared meals with so many different people because he knew it was a way of breaking down barriers.”

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