Lambeth Palace has published the Liturgy for the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III at Westminster Abbey on 6th May. The theme of the Liturgy is “Called to Serve”. This reflects the commitment that His Majesty will make to serve God and the people, and the decades of public service of The King and The Queen.
The Liturgy will be a Christian act of worship that honours the ancient tradition of anointing and crowning Monarchs. It will also reflect the Monarch’s role, while celebrating the character of Britain as it is today and looking forward to the future with hope.
By longstanding tradition, the Archbishop of Canterbury authorises a new Liturgy for every Coronation. Commissioned by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, the new Liturgy is based on ancient texts and ceremonial elements that draw on many centuries of tradition. The Liturgy is focussed on the theme of loving service to others, which is central to Christian teaching, and to the character of contemporary Monarchy. The Liturgy is accompanied by a Commentary commissioned by the Archbishop, which explains the Christian meaning and symbolism of the key elements of the service.
The Coronation Liturgy has been produced in close consultation with His Majesty The King, and with His Majesty’s Government in particular on the constitutional elements of the service.
The service will include several new elements that reflect this theme of serving others, as well as recognising and celebrating the contribution of diverse communities to our nation today. For the first time, members of other faith traditions will play an active role in the service.
The five elements of the historic English Coronation Rite will take place in their traditional order:
- The Recognition
- The Oath
- The Anointing
- The Investiture and Crowning
- The Enthronement and Homage
These elements will take place within the traditional structure of a service of Holy Communion, including prayers and Bible readings. Their Majesties The King and Queen will receive Holy Communion during the service.
The Coronation Liturgy will use traditional language and texts from the King James Bible, beloved by millions of Anglicans and other Christians around the world.
The service will also reflect the changes in the UK since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953, the character of Britain as it is today, and the Church of England’s role in contemporary society.
These new elements have been chosen to express the theme of loving service that lies at the heart of the Christian faith and contemporary Monarchy, and to represent and celebrate the diversity of our nation today. They include:
- At the opening of the service, The King will be greeted by one of the youngest members of the congregation – a Chapel Royal chorister – to whom The King will say the words: “In His name and after His example, I come not to be served but to serve.” This new element underscores the importance of young people in our society.
- In another unique moment in the history of Coronations, The King will pray aloud in the Abbey using words specially written for the occasion that reflect the duty and privilege of the Sovereign to serve all communities.
- The Archbishop of Canterbury has selected a new Epistle for this Coronation, which will be Colossians 1:9-17. This passage has been chosen to reflect the theme of service to others, and the loving rule of Christ over all people and all things, which runs through this Coronation Liturgy. Following recent tradition of British Prime Ministers giving readings at State occasions – as Head of the host Nation’s Government – this will be read by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
- Before The King takes the Coronation Oath, in newly-written wording the Archbishop of Canterbury will explain that the Church of England will seek to foster an environment where “people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely.”
- For the first time, the Coronation service will include other languages associated with the British Isles – with a prayer in Welsh and a hymn (Veni Creator) sung in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic.
- The homage of peers has been replaced by a Homage of the People: those watching and listening at home and elsewhere will be invited to make their homage by sharing in the same words – a chorus of millions of voices enabled for the first time in history to participate in this solemn and joyful moment.
- Female bishops will participate in the Coronation for the first time. The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, Bishop of London; The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover and the Bishop in Canterbury; and The Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford, will all play a role in the Coronation Service.
- To reflect the global Anglican Communion, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem will take part in the Anointing by presenting the Coronation Chrism Oil to the Archbishop of Canterbury, thus completing its journey from where it was consecrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
- The Presentation of the Regalia will be made by Members of the House of Lords, as well as Senior Bishops in the Church of England. For the first time, some of these items – those which have no Christian meaning or symbolism – will be presented by Peers who belong to different faith traditions: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.
- At the end of the procession at the close of the service, before His Majesty proceeds to the Gold State Coach, The King will receive and acknowledge a spoken greeting delivered in unison by Representatives from Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Buddhist communities.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said today:
“The Coronation is first and foremost an act of Christian worship. The signs, symbols and language we use remind us that our God is the Servant King. By his anointing in this service, His Majesty King Charles III is set apart to fulfil his vocation of service and duty to us all. This is the character of kingship today. In this weighty responsibility, The King will be supported by the loyal service of his wife, Queen Camilla.
“I am delighted that the service will recognise and celebrate tradition, speaking to the great history of our nation, our customs, and those who came before us. At the same time, the service contains new elements that reflect the diversity of our contemporary society. It is my prayer that all who share in this service, whether they are of faith or no faith, will find ancient wisdom and new hope that brings inspiration and joy.”