The Queen Mother’s funeral service
JOHN BUNYAN AT THE FUNERAL OF HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH THE QUEEN MOTHER
There could be no greater contrast then the funeral services of the Queen Mother and that of her grand-daughter-in-law, Lady Diana the Princess of Wales. The Order of Service for Tuesday 9 April 2002 at 11.30 in Westminster Abbey has just been published. All the prayers are prayed in the second person singular, Thee, Thou, Thy, Thine. The readings are all from the Authorised Version of the Bible. They are John 11:25,26, Job 19: 25-27, I Timothy 6:7, Job 1:21, Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, and Revelation 7:9-17. Psalm 121 is being chanted. The anthem is Psalm 84: vv.1,2 & 4. The service is redolent with the Word of God. The hymns being sung are “Immortal, invisible, God only wise,” and “Guide me O Thou great Redeemer.”
But the most unusual and pleasing aspect of the service is a reading written by the old tinker from Bedford, John Bunyan. An extract from “Pilgrim’s Progress” is to be read by a non-Anglican minister. It is not the customary reading which one hears in funeral services of Christian crossing the river. Rather it is the words of Mr. Standfast at the conclusion of Pilgrim’s Progress Part II (p.378, Banner of Truth edition):
“I see myself now at the end of my Journey, my toilsome days are ended. I am going now to see that Head that once was crowned with thorns, and that Face that was spit upon me.
“I have formerly lived by hearsay and Faith, but now I go where I shall live by Sight, and shall be with him in whose company I delight myself.
“I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print of his shoe on the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot too.
“His Name to me has been a civet-box; yea sweeter than all perfume. His Voice to me has been most sweet; and his Countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the Sun. His Word I did use to gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. He has held me, and hath kept me from mine iniquities; yea, my steps hath he strengthened in his Way…
“Glorious it was to see how the open Region was filled with Horses and Chariots, with Trumpeters and Pipers, with Singers and Players on stringed instruments, to welcome the PILGRIMS as they went up, and followed one another in at the Beautiful Gate of the City.”
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