by Freddie Sayers
Friday, 9
September 2022
Video
10:00

Church sings ‘God save the King’ for the first time

UnHerd filmed a spontaneous — and historic — service at St Anne's Kew yesterday evening
by Freddie Sayers

It was supposed to be a service of prayers for an ailing Queen, but minutes before the 7pm start last night the news went out.

Giles Fraser, as well as being an UnHerd columnist, is vicar of St Anne’s Church in Kew Green — a church with centuries-long royal connections. Amid the uncertainty of yesterday afternoon, he invited his congregation in for a spontaneous 7pm service, and allowed UnHerd to be there with our cameras to capture the moment. At 6:34pm the BBC News alert reached everyone’s phones that the Queen had died.

Immediately, he began to ring the church bell, still audible across the green despite the traffic and the planes overhead. Members of the congregation began to drift in, some of them tearful.

Giles chose a traditional service from the Book of Common Prayer, known to be preferred by the royal family.

Reference to the monarch is woven throughout the liturgy, but because Charles had ascended instantly to the throne at the moment of the Queen’s death, all references to the Queen had to be replaced by reference to the King:

Almighty God, whose kingdom is everlasting and power infinite, have mercy upon the whole Church, and so rule the heart of thy chosen servant Charles, our King and Governor, that he, knowing whose minister he is, may above all things seek thy honour and glory. That we, and all his subjects, duly considering whose authority he hath, may faithfully serve, honour and obey him, in thee and for thee, according to thy blessed word and ordinance.

He spoke spontaneously to his congregation.

Tonight we’re going to stand, my friends, and we’re going to sing God Save the King. We’ve sung God Save the Queen for the last time. Perhaps we will never sing those words again… The Queen was continuity, as in the hymn we’ve just sung: “change and decay in all around I see. Oh thou who changes not abide with me.” She’s the continuity we’ve had in this country for all of our lifetimes…”

At which point, for the first time — most likely one of the very first times in the whole country — the congregation stood and sang God Save the King.

Thanks to Giles and the congregation of St Anne’s Kew for allowing us to be there at such a historic moment.

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Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
24 days ago

Moving and historic both. May the Lord who sits in heaven bless him and his nation; may He bless all men.

William Jackson
William Jackson
24 days ago

I feel as though the world that I grew up in, the world of my parents of their generation (father b. 1910 – mother b. 1917), and of my youth, finally died yesterday with the death of our Queen. Our Queen, thank all that is holy for her reign, may she now rest in peace, wishes of health and peace to all, William

Last edited 24 days ago by William Jackson
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
23 days ago

My father was born 1909, my mother 1917.
However, I differ, in that I cannot feel that the world of my parents died. After all, they both knew other kings. George V signed my father’s commission, and George VI invested him with the DSO in 1946, after playing an important part in the life of the country during the war.
And, such is the constitution of this country, a head of state continued to exist without pause, as it will do, I pray, into the future. And can we not have confidence that King Charles will be a good one?
The Queen is dead. Long live the King!

Last edited 23 days ago by Colin Elliott
Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
24 days ago

Thankyou to Giles and to Freddie for giving us a beautiful moment of prayer, reflection and thanksgiving for our dear, departed Queen.
God save the King.

Last edited 24 days ago by Michael Whittock
John Hicks
John Hicks
24 days ago

Thank you Rev Giles and your congregation. Great to be included in the moment of togetherness, you have created with Unherd.

Martin Rossol
Martin Rossol
24 days ago

Meaningful. Thank you for sharing that service. We’re Presbyterian but my son-in-law is ordained in the Sydney diocese so we have an appreciation for your services. Agree that The Queen was an “anchor” of sorts, even for us Americans. God rest the Queen. God Save the King.

John Davies
John Davies
24 days ago

She was a blessing. It’s going to be difficult.

JW P
JW P
22 days ago

A beautifully done video on some of the real life practical and emotional changes that follow the passing of your beloved Queen. Kudos to the priest for overcoming his emotions to deliver some fine words that his parishioners were aching to hear. Well done sir. Peace and strength to all of you across the pond as you move through this significant change in your lives.

Jane Hewland
Jane Hewland
22 days ago

Strange and incredibly inspiring (for me at least) to find the national church is more alive than we give it credit. Saint Barts in Smithfield had a similar service at 7pm on Thursday evening. The Lesser church, inside St Barts hospital, was jam packed. And we too sang God Save the King for the first time. The larger church, Great Saint Barts (of Four Weddings fame, 900th anniversary next March), currently has filming going on. It was supposed to be closed for services this weekend, but the film company let us back in. A lot of the lights were obscured and they’d put up fake stone walls as part of their set. But the dim, cramped, candlelit environment turned out to be perfect for this morning’s Requiem. Again every seat was taken. There were young and old, all races and nationalities, even babies and a dog. The service had all the classics. The 121st Psalm, Abide with Me, O God Our Help. The Rector, Marcus Walker, who is a co-founder of the Save the Parish Movement along with Giles Fraser, and clearly a committed monarchist, gave a deeply moving sermon. I wish our nation could understand the benefit of gathering like that once a week and attending to the good of our souls with as much attention as the modern gym bunnies and the triathletes of the previous weekend do to their bodies. I wish our parishes could again become focuses for our communities. Is it too late?

edwardthomasbell
edwardthomasbell
24 days ago

Funny to hear someone describe the National Anthem as a song.

Last edited 24 days ago by edwardthomasbell
Arkadian X
Arkadian X
24 days ago

“Charles is already King of England”
Can I tut-tut?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
24 days ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Why would you want to do that?

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
24 days ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Because factually incorrect. Charles is king of the United Kingdom. England doesn’t have a king, and nor does Scotland (where I reside).

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
24 days ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

I noticed that too. It happens all too often. In a similar type of error I read a comment once, I think that it might have been on here but I’m not sure, in which a writer said that she had a Scottish mother and her father was a Brit, but both her parents are Brits ( a term I actually dislike – it should be British). Did she mean English? Who knows, but eliding English and British whilst allowing Scottish (and Welsh) to stand as separate nationalities insults both the English and the other home countries; it allows some to have their own nation whilst, at the same time, excluding them from being Britsh.

Andrew D
Andrew D
23 days ago

I agree, can we have just one national anthem at sporting fixtures involving UK countries?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
22 days ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Yes, you’re right, of course. James i/vi wanted to be called King of Britain, although I’m not sure what the solution to the name and number would have been.
I’m very careful to use ‘England’, or ‘Scotland’, or ‘United Kingdom’ accurately, and try to use ‘Britain’ and ‘British Isles’ when more appropriate. In the past, ‘England’ was often used inappropriately, but we are much better, these days. (It’s regrettable that Nelson used it when of course there were many sailors from other home nations, but I believe the reason was that a signal flag for ‘Britain’ didn’t exist.)
However, foreigners often get it wrong, and it’s hard to blame them for not knowing better after our poor example in the past.