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Readings and hymns for the Queen Mother

LONDON, England -- The funeral service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at Westminster Abbey in London included readings from "Pilgrim's Progress" and a poem by an unknown author, in addition to traditional hymns and readings. (Full story)

"I see myself now at the end of my journey, my toilsome days are ended. I am going now to see that head that was crowned with thorns, and that face that was spit upon for me," the Rev. Anthony Burnham, Moderator of The Free Churches Group, read from John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress." (Amanpour, Quest: Britain's lament)

Here are some of the elements of the service, in addition to the sermon:

Poem by Anonymous

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she's gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.


Queen Mother


I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

-- John 11: 25-26

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.

-- Job 19: 25-27

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we shall carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

-- I Timothy 6: 7; Job 1: 21

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears unto our prayer; but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, thou most worthy Judge eternal. Suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee. Amen.

-- Book of Common Prayer

I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, "Write, From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours."

-- Revelation 14: 13

The Bidding

In gratitude we bid farewell to a greatly loved Queen.

For her grace, humanity and sympathy, for her courage in adversity, for the happiness she brought to so many, for her steadfast pilgrimage of faith, for her example of service, and for the duty which she rendered unflinchingly to her country, we thank and praise Almighty God.

As we commend Elizabeth, his servant, to God's mercy, let us especially pray for her family in their loss.

We give them back to Thee, dear Lord, who gavest them to us; yet as Thou dost not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their return.

Not as the world giveth, givest Thou, O Lover of Souls.

What Thou gavest, Thou takest not away, for what is Thine is ours always if we are Thine.

And Life is eternal and Love is immortal, and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

-- read by the Very Rev. Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster

The First Lesson

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low.

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

-- Ecclesiastes 12: 1-7; read by the Most Rev. David Hope, Lord Archbishop of York

Psalm 121

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills:
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh even from the Lord:
who hath made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
and he that keepeth thee will not sleep.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel:
shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord himself is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand;
So that the sun shall not burn thee by day:
neither the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out,
and thy coming in: from this time forth, for evermore.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.

-- sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey

The Second Lesson

After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.

And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; either shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

-- Revelation 7: 9-17; read by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster

Hymn: Immortal Invisible God Only Wise

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest - to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish - but nought changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
'Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

-- words by W. Chalmers Smith (1824-1908)

The Anthem

How lovely are thy dwellings fair: O Lord of Hosts. My soul ever longeth and fainteth sore for the blest courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh do cry to the living God. O blest are they that in thy house are dwelling: they ever praise thee, O Lord, for evermore.

-- Psalm 84: 1-2, 4


O Eternal God, our Heavenly Father, we bless thy holy name for all that thou hast given us in and through the life of thy daughter Elizabeth.

We give thee thanks: for her love of family and her gift of friendship; for her grace, dignity and courtesy; for her humour, generosity and sheer love of life.

And we praise thee for: the courage that she showed in times of hardship; the depth and reality of her Christian faith; the good example that she set for us to follow.

We offer thee our heartfelt thanks for the deep affection she drew out of everyone she met, and we pray that thou wilt grant her peace; let light perpetual shine upon her; and in thy loving wisdom and almighty power work in her the good purpose of thy perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- read by the Very Rev. Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster

Hymn: Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fiery cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer,
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell's Destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side:
Songs and praises I will ever give to thee.

-- words by Peter Willkims (1726-94)

Pilgrim's Progress

I see myself now at the end of my journey, my toilsome days are ended. I am going now to see that head that was crowned with thorns, and that face that was spit upon for me.

I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with him in whose company I delight myself.

I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print of his shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot to.

His name to me has been as a civet-box; yea, sweeter than all perfume. His voice to me has been most sweet; and his countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the sun. His word I did use to gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. 'He has held me, and hath kept me from mine iniquities; yea, my steps hath he strengthened in his way.'

Glorious it was to see how the open region was filled with horses and chariots, with trumpeters and pipers, with singers and players on stringed instruments, to welcome the Pilgrims as they went up, and followed one another in at the beautiful gate of the city.

-- John Bunyan (1628-88); read by the Rev. Anthony Burnham, Moderator, The Free Churches Group

The Commendation

Let us commend our sister, Elizabeth, to the mercy of God, our Maker and Redeemer.

O Heavenly Father, who by thy mighty power hast given us life, and in thy love hast given us new life in thy beloved Son: we entrust our sister, Elizabeth, to thy merciful keeping, in the faith of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who died and rose again to save us and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

-- said by The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey

The Blessing

May God in his infinite love and mercy bring the whole Church, living and departed in the Lord Jesus, to a joyful resurrection and the fulfilment of his eternal kingdom; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always.

-- said by The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey




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