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Pageantry for Prince Philip

The majesty of music at Prince Philip’s funeral

Prince Philip planned every element of his funeral, from the specially modified Land Rover hearse which he helped design to the music performed during the ceremony.

As the coffin entered St George’s Chapel, four choir members performed William Whiting’s ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save’. This was the only hymn of the ceremony.

The hymn is particularly poignant for sailors who have served in the military – it is regarded as the perennial hymn for the Royal Navy.

Written in 1860, it is said to be inspired by the dangers of the sea described in Psalm 107 and is known by many as ‘For Those in Peril on the Sea’.

Prince Philip, who served in the Navy during the Second World War and reached the rank of Commander while on active duty, once described the sea as “an extraordinary master or mistress.”

Composed at the request of Prince Philip

The duke also commissioned two pieces of music from celebrated composers to be performed during the 50-minute-long service.

The Jubilate was written by Benjamin Britten at the duke’s request in 1961 for St George’s Chapel. The meaning of The Jubilate is ‘song of joy’.

Funeral guests also heard the choir sing Psalm 104 which was set to music by guitarist and composer William Lovelady. It was first sung in honour of the duke’s 75th birthday in 1996.

What else was performed?

  • The Sentences, set to music by English composer William Croft
  • The Lesser Litany, William Smith, adapted by Roger Judd
  • The Lord’s Prayer, music by Robert Stone
  • Russian Kontakion of the Departed, translated by William John Birkbeck.

Featured image credit: Victor Allan, Flickr

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