21st September 2022

What did you found particularly poignant on Monday, among a plethora of poignancy as we wished ‘Godspeed’ to a remarkable Christian soul. The pageantry, military precision, intimacy in immense settings, warmth of emotion, sheer numbers of those wishing to be ‘there’, restraint of a grieving family in full public gaze, the feeling of finality? Or the words of a hymn?

Music figures large on such occasions, especially within worship, Monday’s being much influenced by the Queen herself. Notable was the opening hymn in Westminster Abbey  which we usually expect to sing to close an evening service – ‘The day Thou gavest, Lord, has ended’. The days God had granted to our sister-in-Christ Elizabeth had, indeed, ended; darkness, death’s darkness, had fallen upon her at His behest. The hymns that had ascended in the morning of her life now sanctified her rest, not now the rest of a night’s sleep, but the rest of eternal peace with God.

Meanwhile, the Church of which the Queen was a part, the Church of England of which she was Supreme Governor, the Commonwealth of which she was head, roll onward into light, as o’er each continent and island the dawn leads on another day, and hour by hour fresh lips are making God’s wondrous doings heard on high, in the voice of prayer that is never silent.

And lastly, most poignant of all – in the mind of one who was ruler of so many,  the humble acknowledgement that all earth’s proud empires pass away, but that the Lord’s shall stand, and rule, and grow for ever, till all his creatures own His sway.

David Bell