Billions of people around the world have heard the Gospel preached as they tuned in to watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
That’s just the way Her late Majesty wanted it.
She meticulously planned her own farewell to ensure her devout Christian faith resonated on a day of solemn, but spectacular ceremonies conducted with military precision.
The state funeral was attended by 2,000 guests at Westminster Abbey including King Charles III, members of the British royal family, European royalty, the Emperor and Empress of Japan and scores of world leaders as well as British and Commonwealth dignitaries.
An estimated two million people then lined the route of the slow procession taking the Queen’s coffin from the abbey to St George’s Chapel inside Windsor Castle.
A private burial inside the Chapel was marked by an intimate service of prayers and hymns attended just by members of the royal family.
Earlier, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend David Hoyle, opened the funeral service with words of gratitude for the Queen’s “long life of selfless service” and her “unswerving commitment to a high calling over so many years as Queen and head of the Commonwealth”.
“Praise God for her constant example of Christian faith and devotion,” he added.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, said the Queen had touched “a multitude of lives”.
“Her late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition but through whom she followed.”
“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.”
The Archbishop’s six minute sermon was evangelistic in tone:
“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,” he proclaimed.
“As the Christmas carol says: “where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
“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.’
King Charles III, he added, “shares the same faith and hope in Jesus Christ as his mother, the same sense of service and duty.”
The following Scriptures were read at the funeral:
John 11: 25–26
“I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
Job 19: 25–27
“I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.”
1 Timothy 6: 7; Job 1: 21
“We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15: 20–26, 53–58 (Abridged)
“Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. …. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. “
Psalm 42: 1–7 (Abridged)
“Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks : so longeth my soul after thee, O God. My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God: when shall I come to appear before the presence of God? … Put thy trust in God: for I will yet give him thanks for the help of his countenance.”
John 14: 1–9a (Abridged)
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Romans 8: 35a, 38b–39
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Hymns included ‘The Day Thou Gavest’, ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’ and Charles Wesley’s ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’.
Every word and song of the funeral had been precisely planned by Queen Elizabeth before her death. And it resonated.
The Bishop of Horsham tweeted: “Our Late Queen knew what she was doing when she chose the Bible readings for her funeral. An evangelist to the nation, even still. Thank you, Ma’am.”
The Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley remarked: “In 2022, an age of atheism and the suppression of faith, perhaps the largest TV audience in history went to an unafraid statement of Christian belief. The Queen’s gift.”