Witnessing the Witness of Queen Elizabeth II

Much has been discussed recently regarding the memorializing, mourning, and burying of Queen Elizabeth II. Most of us were attuned, in varying degrees, through the services of technology, to the unfolding of events since her passing on September 8 . I too followed along. Watching both the state funeral at Westminster Abbey and the committal service at St. George’s Chapel on Monday, September 19, one particular item (among numerous fascinations) caught and maintained my attention.

Each attendee held a copy of the Order of Service and followed along.

The Order of Service.

I listened. I observed. I watched people reading or singing from the substantial bulletin. The speakers read their contributions from the printed liturgy.  Every word appeared scripted. (Even the funeral sermon, not printed in the liturgy, is printed and available online.) But what was the content? What was the focus? What was the meaning? And who may have believed it? Who will believe it?

The state funeral service as well as the committal service focused on a biblical worldview of life and eternity through the singing and reading of Scripture and related texts plus interspersed prayers with continual references to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

From the perspective of the verbal content, Elizabeth II seemed secondary. From the perspective of the visual content, the Queen appeared primary.

Contexts were nested context within context — spiritual, familial, cultural, national, international, political, and social. And these contexts were to be experienced globally.

Listen to the choir sing “The Sentences” which are composed of key verses of Scripture and one prayer from The Book of Common Prayer.  (The biblical references: John 11:25-26; Job 19:25-27; I Tim. 6:7; Job 1:21; Rev. 14:13.)

  1. The following is a PDF of the Westminster Abbey state funeral service. Page 5 presents “The Sentences” for you to read. (I printed the entire 20 pages, but you don’t need to do so.)

Click to access order-of-service-the-state-funeral-of-her-majesty-queen-elizabeth-ii.pdf

2. Click on the video below to listen to the first three of the five passages in “The Sentences” being sung at the beginning of the funeral procession.  By following along on page 5 of the PDF order of service, you can “drink in” the sentences as you listen to the choir sing them.


The following clip presents Sentence #4, which is a prayer from The Book of Common Prayer. (Sentence #5, Revelation 14:13, is not included in these two video segments.)


How do you respond to “The Sentences”? It is good to let them impact us by feeding upon them. How? Stop. Listen. Be still. Reflect upon them, phrase by phrase; then let them mingle together in your thoughts. Pray them back to God.  Affirm them, as God has affirmed them to us.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Reverend Justin Welby, carefully read his concise sermon at the Queen’s funeral. Several parts are worth noting, but since it is brief, I’ll include the entire homily:

“The pattern for many leaders is to be exalted in life and forgotten after death. The pattern for all who serve God – famous or obscure, respected or ignored – is that death is the door to glory.

Her Late Majesty famously declared in a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the Nation and Commonwealth.

Rarely has such a promise been so well kept! Few leaders receive the outpouring of love we have seen.

Jesus – who in our reading does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who – said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed. I know His Majesty shares the same faith and hope in Jesus Christ as his mother; the same sense of service and duty.

In 1953, The Queen began her Coronation with silent prayer, just there at the High Altar. Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her. Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth and the world had its foundation in her following Christ – God himself – who said that he ‘came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (1)

People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are forgotten.

The grief of this day – felt not only by the late Queen’s family but all round the nation, Commonwealth and world – arises from her abundant life and loving service, now gone from us.

She was joyful, present to so many, touching a multitude of lives.

We pray especially for all her family, grieving as every family at a funeral – including so many families round the world who have themselves lost someone recently – but in this family’s case doing so in the brightest spotlight.

May God heal their sorrow, may the gap left in their lives be marked with memories of joy and life.

Her Late Majesty’s broadcast during Covid lockdown ended with: “We will meet again”, words of hope from a song of Vera Lynn. Christian hope means certain expectation of something not yet seen.

Christ rose from the dead and offers life to all, abundant life now and life with God in eternity.

As the Christmas carol says ‘where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.’ 

We will all face the merciful judgement of God: we can all share the Queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership.

Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen’s example, and inspiration of trust and faith in God, can with her say: ‘We will meet again.’ 

It is good at this point to pause, reflect, and pray.

My daughter, Amanda, bought this dessert stand and a tea set from the Royal Collection Trust at the Buckingham Palace Gift Shop to give to her mother on her 65th birthday! Appropriately, we recently employed the lovelies in honor of the Queen.

While many Christians might prefer a more pointed articulation of the gospel here (although I doubt we expected it), we do find important elements. Add all the Scripture offered at the two services, and we find rich presentations of beautiful, biblical food displayed for all the world.

If the Spirit of God is within us, we will resonate with the biblical themes and words declared.

If the Spirit of God is not within us, much of the two services though stunningly beautiful will feel like ornate, ancient, high-brow blathering. Yet, the living Word was heard. If we did not hear it, we can ask for spiritual ears to hear.

I Corinthians 4: 14-16 explains:

 The person without the Spirit [the natural person] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

We all gathered — most of us around our TV or tech devices — many others in London — to witness the funeral and committal services of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, September 19, 2022. While the attention was upon her, through the content of her carefully planned orders of service, she continually drew the center of attention away from herself. She did so even at the final point at which everyone’s attention was upon her.

As her casket slowly descends to the floor below the sanctuary in St. George’s Chapel, all eyes, moist and grieving, are upon her vessel. King Charles III, crestfallen and alone within himself amid the world-wide throng, stands sorrowfully motionless except for one fluctuation of his lips.

As the casket is lowered, the Dean of Windsor humbly yet decisively speaks the committal prayer, borrowing from Psalm 103: 13-17:

Like as a father pitieth his own children:
even so is the Lord merciful unto them that fear him.
For he knoweth whereof we are made:
he remembereth that we are but dust.
The days of man are but as grass:
for he flourisheth as a flower of the field.
For as soon as the wind goeth over it, it is gone:
and the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the merciful goodness of the Lord endureth for ever and ever
upon them that fear him:
and his righteousness upon children’s children

Go forth upon thy journey from this world,
O Christian soul;
In the name of God the Father Almighty who created thee;
In the name of Jesus Christ who suffered for thee;
In the name of the Holy Spirit who strengtheneth thee.
In communion with the blessèd saints,
and aided by Angels and Archangels,
and all the armies of the heavenly host,
may thy portion this day be in peace,
and thy dwelling in the heavenly Jerusalem.

A royal, valuable, material treasure. But the Queen’s order of service focused on eternal treasures: the Lord and His Word.

What we witnessed is her witness of what she wisely treasures. She invites us to turn our attention to these enduring treasures.

She treasures the Father who “pittieth his own children.”

She treasures the Son who suffered for her and you and me.

She treasures the Word of God which she had proclaimed as her last message to the world.

However historical, ritual, and traditional her services were, she chose the themes on which her audience could feed.

After all, Jesus told us, “It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3).  Jesus also said, “I AM the bread of life.” (John 6:35).

Like a scrupulously designed state dinner, the Queen and her team meticulously crafted the orders of service for her funeral and her committal to God. In so doing, she faithfully served us spiritual bread. Gratefully, I will continue to feed upon such food.

Millions witnessed her witness. Who heard? Who thirsted? Who hungered?

“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me.”

                    John 14:1.

“I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

             John 11:25-26


For reference:




Categories: Biography, Christian Reader, The Roaming Reader | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Witnessing the Witness of Queen Elizabeth II

  1. marysville2

    Hi Karen: Enjoyed the blog about Queen Elizabeth. I didn’t see the funeral but loved reading your comments. You might also be interested in reading the comments about her from, Dr. Peter Masters, the current pastor at Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. I can send you that.
    Thank you! Love💕💕 Brenda

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Good to hear from you, Brenda! I would love to receive a link to Dr. Masters’ comments!

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