[Anglican Journal] Shortly after noon on June 2, 1953, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, archbishop of Canterbury, placed the ancient St. Edward’s crown on the 27-year-old head of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Now, as a fitting postlude to the jubilee year of 2012, churches and communities across the Anglican Communion are gearing up to commemorate Her Majesty’s coronation at Westminster Abbey six decades ago.
In the U.K., thousands of coronation-themed events are under way, from special services to flower festivals and embroidery exhibits. Anglicans are being encouraged to celebrate the coronation at the Big Lunch, an annual event in which Britons share a midday community meal with as many of their neighbors as possible and which last year coincided with the jubilee celebrations of June 3.
Westminster Abbey has produced special prayers and liturgical material for use in celebratory services, including a prayer of thanksgiving for Elizabeth’s reign in both traditional and modern language.
Dr. Richard Chartres, bishop of London, will give a public lecture reviewing the spiritual significance of the British coronation ceremony, from the anointing of King Edgar the Peaceable in 973 to the crowning of Elizabeth II almost 1,000 years later.
Canadian Anglicans have plans in place as well. At St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Norwood, in Winnipeg, the Sunday morning service will include special prayers for the Queen and, of course, the 18th-century royal anthem “God Save the Queen.”
And the hymn “Jerusalem” (“And did those feet in ancient time”), which pairs William Blake’s 19th-century poem with Sir Hubert Parry’s 20th-century music, will transport the people of this prairie parish to “England’s green and pleasant land.”
According to its deputy warden, Connie Lyon, St. Philip’s has sent out dozens of invitations to frequent and not-so-frequent attenders. “After the service, we’ll be serving little sandwiches and other dainties, and a big cake with the Queen’s image on it,” she says. A video of the coronation—which was the first major international event to be broadcast via the burgeoning new medium of television—will take people back to the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
Parishioners have searched their attics and lent royal memorabilia for a special display. There will also be door prizes, and the church already boasts a fine colour photo portrait of the monarch garbed in her Canadian honors.
On June 2 and June 9, respectively, Christ Church, Deer Park, in Toronto and St. George’s Cathedral in Kingston will host “A Coronation Mass Choir Celebration,” featuring music to celebrate the anniversary. Also taking part will be the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Association.
At St. Luke’s in Annapolis Royal, N.S., rector Canon Kenneth Vaughan will weave elements of the new Westminster Abbey material into the 10 a.m. Holy Communion service. “June 2 happens to coincide with the one Sunday a month we use the Book of Common Prayer, so we’ll use the traditional-language version of the Westminster prayer, and we’ll likely have some acknowledgment during the social gathering after the service,” he says.
At the other end of the country, Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral is planning a special choral evensong with music and readings tailored to the coronation anniversary. Its morning service will feature Vaughan Williams’ “O Taste and See,” the motet he composed for the 1953 coronation.