The poignant meaning behind the Queen’s choice of funeral hymns

·2-min read
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

Three specially-chosen hymns will be sung at the funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on Monday (19 September).

Alongside various songs and readings played during the one hour service at Westminster Abbey, guests will sing “The Lord’s My Shepherd”, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended”, and “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”.

“The Lord’s My Shepherd” is a particularly poignant choice because it was sung at the Queen’s wedding to her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the same location in 1947.

A version of the same hymn was also played at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, which was held in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in 1952.

Meanwhile, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” has long been a popular choice for royal weddings: it was featured at the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 2011, at King Charles III’s wedding to Camilla, the Queen Consort, in 2005, and at Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank in 2018.

The third hymn, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended” is a 19th century Anglican tune with lyrics focussing on the worldwide fellowship of the church. Written in 1870, it was selected to be played at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897.

The state funeral will start at 11am and takes place with a congregation of around 2,000 guests. Alongside the service hymns, various readings and prayers will be given by prominent figures.

At the end of the service, “The Last Post” will be played by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry, led by Trumpet Major Julian Sandford. A national two-minute silence will follow, concluding with a sounding of “The Reville” by the State Trumpeters and the national anthem, God Save the King.

Finally, the Queen’s Piper, Warrant Officer Paul Burns, will play a traditional Scottish song on the bagpipes called “Sleep Dearie, Sleep”.

Later in the day the Queen's coffin will travel to Windsor Castle for a committal service in St George’s Chapel at 4pm. There, a series of classical songs will be played on the organ, including pieces by Bach, Elgar and the English composer Herbert Howells.

You Might Also Like