I don't know how many outside of the British Empire watched the Coronation of King Charles III.
As a citizen of the United States I can hardly be called a Royalist. The Country I was born into did everything in it's power to break free from the Monarchy which was achieved in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1773).
But I decided to watch the coronation on television. I figured I have honestly never seen a coronation and I may never have another chance to witness it - I didn't want to miss out. I was curious and I guess have always been intrigued. Since my youth I remember hearing and reading stories in the Bible of the coronation of Israel's Kings; but I honestly, being American, had no way to really understand, let alone conceive of such an act.
I have very mixed feelings about what I witnessed today. I did find the Coronation of King Charles fascinating, informative, interesting, at times inspiring but also a little boring, repugnant and repulsive (maybe due to my "revolutionary" spirit).
First, I want to get the negative aspects out of the way. I've never seen so much gold, frills, accoutrements, Also all the dedications, pledges etc to one person. I found it completely contradictory that it should be paired with Christianity and seems to go against all that Jesus Christ taught. It seemed more showy than life or leadership should be. Religion "worn on the sleeve" put on public display to create an illusion of and allusions to faith. You may disagree and that's okay. It's simply my opinion. And that's all the time I want to spend on that.
It was interesting to witness the lineages of future kings and queens of the British Empire present. It really was a reflection of royal history of the past, present and future. Also interesting was to recognize how old the new King, and his Queen Consort, are. He really seemed a little frail at points as I saw his hands shaking a little and he seemed to walk much more carefully but he is 74, and for his age is in remarkable health. So we should not be surprised. But again it was interesting to see it.
I was moved to tears a couple of times. And I want to point out that these emotional reactions were all related to sound and sight.
To work my way back from the end; The jet fighters that flew over Buckingham palace trailing red, white and blue smoke. To hear the thunder of the planes and seeing the red, white and blue smoke as it trailed and slowly dissipated in waves like a flag waving in the wind.
Before that there was the parade with the bands and various guard units. The bands with their horns and drums and the calling out of the parade masters, the marching of feet and horses hoofs with the sound of chariot wheels on pavement. Those are sounds that are not normal everyday sounds in our age and something about it just made me feel that this was something special.
Now the next two things both are tied for most inspirational moment (for me). Because they include my favorite scripture from the Christian Bible and arguably one of the greatest classical pieces of choral music. The scripture was taken from the new testament book of Luke. It was the first time Jesus participated in a temple service where he took up the scroll of Isaiah and read the following:
"The spirit of the lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the lords favor." (Isaiah 61:1,2 and Luke 4:18,19)
The verses above have, for decades, been for me, the cornerstone of the Christian faith and also the greatest source of failing of the Christian faith - Especially here in the divided states of America where belief is transactional, not practical. But I still believe in them and think these words provide for us the guidance to act and behave as Jesus Christ would have wanted. Yet they are so often ignored these days. In fact I have a printout that I made on a work copier 40+ years ago that I have had placed on my refrigerator door ever since. It has of course become yellowed and brittle with age but I still keep it to inspire me.
So to hear these words uttered as part of the coronation ceremony was very moving for me and gave me a little bit of hope that things may change, even if too slowly for my liking.
Lastly there was so much great music. High points for me were the gospel Ascension Choir singing Alleluia (O Sing Praises) as the commentator pointed out at the end that this was the first time ever in a British Coronation that "we've heard the joyful sounds of gospel music."
Finally. I've written previously on this blog about G.F. Handel's music. This coronation included one of my all-time favorite compositions by Handel. Back in the 1980's I purchased a CD that was titled Handel's Coronation Anthems + Dixit Dominus, more out of curiosity than anything else - because at that time I was was only familiar with his masterwork titled THE MESSIAH. That disc, bought on a whim contained two works that I have loved much more than THE MESSIAH, The DIXIT DOMINUS and the anthem that was used in today's coronation called ZADOK THE PRIEST.
ZADOK THE PRIEST was composed in 1727 (only a few years before the American Revolutionary War) specifically for the coronation of King George II and has been used in every British coronation since. Handel who was german born had, by that point, become a British citizen. The source material, directed by the Anglican Bishops would come from the Bible and while the Bishops attempted to select the material Handle reportedly said, "I have read my Bible very well, and shall choose for myself”. Now that must've been a little discomfiting for the Bishops (LOL). Maybe I like that because of the rebel in me and my belief that anyone who reads the scripture has access and can understand for themselves the most holy of books in the Christian religion.
What inspired Handel was the coronation of King Solomon from the old testament and the text he used as follows:
"Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king.
And all the people rejoiced and said:
God save the King! Long live the King! God save the King!
May the King live for ever. Amen. Hallelujah.”
The text is a distillation of the Old Testament book 1 Kings 1:34-45. The music is grand beyond measure and humbling - it makes me fall to my knees every time. I present for you one of the finest examples of this piece below performed by the period performers The English Concert & Händelfestspielorchester Halle, I hope you enjoy. I'll be curious to know your thoughts. Feel free to comment.
With the coronation out of the way I want to present as a bonus my other absolute favorite of Handels works the Dixit Dominus (not used in the coronation). Dixit Dominus simply translates as "The lord said". The entire text of the piece is the Latin version of Psalm 110. In my opinion it totally "rocks!!!!" Enjoy and be inspired by this recording from the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloist's conducted by legendary John Eliot Gardiner.
4 thoughts on “A Coronation”
I enjoyed reading your thoughts.. I observed all of the people. So many so enthusiastic about being their and happy for their children to have the experience. The jet fly over was neat. 🤗 since I only watched a portion I missed out on some that you have shared. The verses are wonderful. Unfortunately we have heard about contention and I feel for the family. I felt a heaviness. I am 72 and not so sure I would have the energy. What a huge responsibility. 😯 And yes, a lot of focus on one person. My heart and prayers are for them, as well as all of humanity.
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Absolutely wonderful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Mother Hen. 🙂
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