Broadcast Service of Reflection and Thanksgiving for the Life of Queen Elizabeth II
At 3.00pm on Tuesday 13th September, 2022, Northern Ireland's Service of Reflection for the Life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was broadcast live from Belfast Cathedral in the presence of the King and the Queen Consort.
The Service was conducted by the Bishop of Connor, with the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend John McDowell as preacher. The Archbishop's sermon is available at the foot of this posting.
The cathedral was filled with 800 invited guests who included leaders in public life and people of all ages and experience from across the Province and beyond. Representatives of Faith Communities in Northern Ireland were presented to the King at the start of the service.
The service at Belfast Cathedral was the second of the new King's itinerary, travelling to each of the Nations of the United Kingdom. After the service at St Giles' Cathedral on Monday 12th September, the King and Queen Consort arrived in Northern Ireland to attend functions at Hillsborough Castle before travelling to Belfast Cathedral. On Friday 16th September they will attend a Service of Thanksgiving at Llandaff Cathedral in Wales, before the Queen's state funeral service at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday 19th September.
The cathedral's choir for this historic service at St Anne's Cathedral was The Priory Singers, joined by members of the Chorus of Northern Ireland Opera. The Priory Singers were founded in 1986 by the former Organist and Master of the Choristers at Belfast Cathedral, Dr Harry Grindle. The Priory Singers have maintained a close relationship with St Anne's across the decades and have frequently sung in the cathedral. The Priory Singers will be directed by Mr Philip Bolton, MBE, Head of Music at Belfast Royal Academical Institution. The music department at "Inst" has a deservedly high reputation for musical excellence.
The Organist was Mr Jack Wilson MMus., ARCO. Jack Wilson is very familiar with the great Harrison and Harrison organ at Belfast Cathedral, having been the cathedral's Organ Scholal while an undergraduate at Queen's University, and sometime "Assistant Director of Music" at St Anne's. Jack Wilson is currently Graduate Organ Scholar at Ely Cathedral. We are most appreciative that the Director of Music at Ely, Mr Edmund Aldhouse was able to release Jack from his duties in Ely at such short notice.
After a trumpet fanfare announcing the arrival of the King and the Queen Consort, the choir sang the Introit "Confortare" by Sir George Dyson. This was sung at both the Queen's coronation and at her Golden Jubilee.
The chant for Psalm 96 was by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and the "Collegium Regale" setting for the Nunc Dimittis was composed by Sir Charles Wood. Both composers have strong associations with Northern Ireland.
The anthem, "They are all gone into the world of light" was composed by the twentieth century composer, Sir John Tavener (1944-2013) who was a personal friend of the then Prince of Wales.
The processional hymn was "Christ is made the sure foundation" to the tune Westminster Abbey, with the second hymn "Christ the same through all our story's pages" to the tune "The Londonderry Air".
The readings were given the NI Duke of Edinburgh Youth Ambassador, and by the speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Prayers were led by the Most Reverend Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh, the Rt Revd Andrew Forster, President of the Irish Council of Churches, the Rt Revd Dr John Kirkpatrick, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and the Revd David Nixon, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland. The church leaders gave the final blessing together.
The Order of Service is available below and the whole service can be viewed on BBC i-player. The current Dean made an appearance at 1:40:30 in a recording made some time ago. The former Dean, John Mann, also provided background commentary at 3:19:10. The full service starts at 3:24:30.
Further coverage of the Service is provided by Karen Bushby on the Connor Diocesan Website, including photographs of a number of cathedral members who had roles to play on the day.
As the Queen Elizabeth is remembered with sorrow, affection and profound thanksgiving for her life of devoted service, we pray that the whole of her family may be sustained in these days of grief by the christian faith which was the hallmark of her life.