Form, Order of Service and Music for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II; 1953. Front Cover.

June 20, 2012, by Kathryn Steenson

Celebrating the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

The recent visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Nottingham as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations reminded us of an unusual item from the records of the Castle Gate Congregational Church.

Form, Order of Service and Music for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953 (Ref CU/V/5/20)

This extract comes from The Music with the Form and Order of the Service to be performed at the Coronation of Her Most Excellent Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (CU/V5/20). The Coronation ceremony took place on the 2nd June 1952. It began at 11.15am and lasted almost three hours. It has been the duty of the Archbishop of Canterbury to take the service since the Conquest in 1066, although Elizabeth II’s Coronation was the first at which the Moderator of the Church of Scotland was also included. The ceremony was divided into six separate parts: the recognition; the oath; the anointing; the investiture (which includes the crowning); the enthronement; and the homage.

This volume includes the entire service from beginning to end in minute detail, including the congregation’s responses and musical notation for the hymns and anthems. The music performed at Coronations is often different every time, with the exception of Zadok the Priest, which is sung during the Anointing. It is one of the four Coronation Anthems that George Frideric Handel composed for the coronation of George II of Great Britain in 1727, and has since been performed at every Coronation since. Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry’s I was glad has been sung at four successive coronations since its composition in 1902.

For Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953, 7,500 guests were seated in Westminster Abbey, including the nobility, all members of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, and the Governors, Governors General and Heads of State of the Commonwealth realms and what were then known as the Crown Colonies (British Overseas Territories).

Extract from the Order of Service and Music for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953 (Ref CU/V5/20)

An estimated three million people gathered in London to watch the procession. Over 20 million people watched it on television, and the event is widely reported to have prompted a surge in the number of purchases of TV sets. The Queen agreed that the Coronation be televised so that as many people as possible could see the ceremony.

The volume is taken from the Records of Castle Gate Congregational Church and various daughter churches. They cover its whole history from the building of the first meeting house in Castle Gate in 1689 to the closure of Castle Gate in 1975. This Order of Service is one of 22 Bibles and Hymnals dating from between 1837 and 1953 in the collection. Other papers in the collection include administrative papers, deeds relating to property in Castle Gate and Houndsgate, personal papers of ministers and printed works on religious doctrine dating from the early 18th century.

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