On Monday, September 19, a short memorial service to honour the passing of Queen Elizabeth II was held in our Chapel, as was fitting for a school whose history and life is grounded in the principles of constitutional monarchy which she so graciously embodied. That sensibility is captured in the School’s mottoes: Deo Legi Regi Gregi and Fideliter, For God, for the Law, for the King, for the People, and, Faithfulness, the latter being the motto brought to King’s-Edgehill School by Edgehill at the time of the amalgamation of the Schools in 1976. Faithfulness to her Office as Sovereign was one of the outstanding features of Elizabeth’s life and reign.
The service drew upon the spiritual riches of the Book of Common Prayer, especially from the Burial Office, used at the official services held at Westminster Abbey in London and at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, England. Her long reign of seventy years was distinguished by her strong commitment to the Office of Sovereign and never about herself, by her Christian faith and devotion to duty and service in the divided and tumultuous times in which she reigned, and by the way in which she was a symbol of unity not only for England and for the nations of the Commonwealth but for the world.
One of the prayers, which is perhaps better known in England than in Canada, is taken from A Sermon Preached at White-hall, February 29, 1628 by the poet-preacher John Donne (1572-1631) as revised and edited by Dean Eric Milner-White (1884-1964). Milner-White was also largely responsible for the shaping and promotion of the great Advent Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge in December 1918 which offered hope and peace to a world devastated by the First World War. Donne’s words as shaped into prayer speak to the deeper spiritual truths of the human condition and to our prayers for Queen Elizabeth II.
Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening
Into the house and gate of heaven.
To enter that gate and dwell in that house,
Where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
No noise nor silence, but one equal music;
No fears nor hopes, but one equal possession;
No ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity;
In the habitation of thy glory and dominion,
World without end, Amen.
Governments come and go but the Sovereign as Head of State remains now with her son, Charles III, our King and Governor. Long live the King.
(Rev’d) David Curry
School Chaplain, Head of English, ToK Teacher