The Crown: Baptists and the Coronation of Elizabeth II

By Gordon L. Heath

Viewers of the Netflix series The Crown are familiar with the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, especially the tradition and pageantry surrounding her coronation in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953.1 It was an event celebrated around the British Empire (or “Commonwealth” as it was increasingly being referred to), with representatives coming from all regions of its vast realm.2

One of my recent unexpected discoveries in the Canadian Baptist Archives was a number of references to the Coronation. Since this coming June marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Coronation, it seems fitting to highlight some of those findings.

King George VI, Elizabeth’s father, died on 6 February 1952, and Baptists mourned his passing. They also quickly swore fidelity to the new Queen.

 

The Baptist Federation appointed two representatives to attend the Coronation, and the Rev. W. J. MacDonald and his wife (name not mentioned) attended and reported on the festivities. (To read MacDonald’s report, click here.)

 

For those not fortunate enough to travel to London, England, the Order of Service below was prepared by the Baptist Federation in early 1953 and was intended to be used in all Canadian Baptist churches.3

Order of Service
For use in Baptist Churches in affiliation with
The Baptist Federation of Canada
Sunday, May Thirty-First
Being the Sunday preceding the Coronation of
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II
The National Anthem: Hymnary 508.
Call to Worship: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. The Lord hath been mindful of us: He will bless us. Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the Most High. O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever.”
Hymn: “All People that on Earth Do Dwell” – Hymnary 669.
Scripture: 1 Kings 3:5-14, Romans 12
Prayer: “Almighty God, who reignest over all things in Thy wisdom, power and love; and who hast taught us to make intercession for all men; we beseech Thee to hear the prayers we offer in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Thy servant our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth, that she may be kept in honour and safety throughout the years of her reign, have the needed wisdom and grace to fulfil her high calling, and be preserved in the faith and love of Thy name:
That Thou wouldest enable the Queen to be faithful to her vows, sustain and comfort her in all difficulties, grant her to know that she is surrounded by the love and loyalty of her peoples, and finally bring her to thine everlasting kingdom:
For Thy servant Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, that he may be endued with Thy Spirit and enriched with Thy grace, and may at all times support the Queen as she bears the burden of the Crown:
For Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Charles Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, and all the Royal Family, that Thy continual blessing may rest upon them, and that they may be examples to us of Christian living:
For the welfare of our Nation, and of all the peoples of this Commonwealth; for the Queen’s Ministers, the High Court of Parliament, and all who are called to public service; and for this city (town, village) in which we dwell, that we may seek Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness:
For the peace of the whole world, the welfare of Thy Church, the salvation of mankind, and the coming of Thy kingdom; that in all and by all Thou mayest be forever glorified;
(Then all shall say together)
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. They kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen
Hymn: “The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want” – Hymnary 667.
Sermon
Hymn: “Now Thank We All Our God” – Hymnary 19.
Benediction
G. Fred McNally, President
Waldo C. Machum, Secretary

2 June 2018 is the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Baptists have a long history of fidelity to the Crown,4 but my hunch is that most Canadian Baptist churches will not recognize the event, let alone have an Order of Service specifically created to commemorate it. Nations and denominations evolve, and my surprise finding provides a small glimpse as to how Canadian Baptist conceptions of national and imperial identity have strikingly changed in two generations.5

Gordon L. Heath, PhD, is Professor of Christian History, holds the Centenary Chair in World Christianity, and is Director of the Canadian Baptist Archives, all at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON. He is also Secretary of the CBHS.

Endnotes

1. Seasons 1 & 2 are completed, with more on the way.
2. https://www.royal.uk/50-facts-about-queens-coronation-0.
3. “Attention! Baptist Ministers and Churches of Canada,” Maritime Baptist, 6 May 1953, 5.
4. For Canadian Baptist responses to the death of Queen Victoria, see Gordon L. Heath, “‘Were We in the Habit of Deifying Monarchs’: Canadian English Protestants and the Death of Queen Victoria, 1901,” Canadian Evangelical Review (Fall 2005–Spring 2006): 72-97.
5. For commentary on how the United Kingdom has changed, and how that will impact the next coronation of a British monarch, visit my piece on the McMaster Divinity College Centre for Post-Christendom Studies blog.

**The views of this Blog represent those of the author, and not necessarily the CBHS.**

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