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The full list of songs being played at King Charles III’s ceremony at Westminster Abbey

Millions are expected to tune in to watch the display of pomp and celebration that is King Charles III and Queen Camilla’s coronation.

Around 2,000 people including family and friends of the King and Queen, foreign monarchs, politicians, world leaders, celebrities and everyday heroes will attend the service, and they will be treated to a mix of newly composed music and historic hymns.

Here’s everything we know about the music in the ceremony.

Which hymns will feature?

Music plays a pivotal role in nearly all royal events and ceremonies – and the King’s coronation will be no different.

From the procession to the service at Westminster Abbey, proceedings will feature a soundtrack tailored to the occasion.

Music has been composed for the event and will be intertwined with traditional hymns and historically significant pieces.

Andrew Nethsingha, organist and master of the choristers at the historic Abbey, is taking charge of the musical arrangements and will be directing the music during the main service.

A handpicked gospel choir called The Ascension Choir; the Choir of Westminster Abbey; and the Choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, will perform.

The Palace confirmed: “His Majesty has overseen, influenced and been personally involved in the commissioning process and the detail of the music programme, which will showcase and celebrate musical talent from across the United Kingdom and further afield.”

FILE - A general view inside Westminster Abbey in London, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, ahead of the King's coronation. The crowning of Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, will feature many of the elements of coronations past, the hymns, the prayers, the anointing with scented oils ??? all of which are designed to remind the world of the history, tradition and mystery embodied by the monarchy. (Dan Kitwood/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Inside Westminster Abbey last month (Photo: Getty)

The order of service for the coronation including music:

  • Procession into Westminster Abbey
  • Procession of the King and Queen: Parry’s “I Was Glad”

The Church of England writes: “The anthem ‘I was Glad’ is a version of Psalm 122. It has been used at the entrance of the monarch since at least 1626. The celebrated setting by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918) composed for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 includes the cry ‘Vivat Rex!’ (Long Live The King!) which is, by tradition, loudly proclaimed by scholars from Westminster School.

“Throughout the service you will hear the familiar cries of ‘God save King Charles’, ‘God save The King’ or ‘Long Live The King’. These are in themselves a form of prayer calling upon God to protect The King.”

  • Greeting the King; a moment of silent prayer; coronation greeting and introduction
  • Paul Mealor’s “Coronation Kyrie”

This has been commissioned specially for the occasion.

Mealor said: “It is a meditative, introspective piece based on a blend between Gregorian chant and ‘Cerdd Dant’ (Welsh Penillion singing – an important part of eisteddfodau). I was inspired by the great Welsh tunes– Aberystwyth, Cwm Rhondda, Ar Lan Y Môr – and the composition is coloured by the harmonies of these songs. It is a cry from the deep soul of the hills and valleys of Wales for hope, peace, love and friendship.”

  • The Recognition and Presentation of the Bible

William Byrd’s “Prevent Us, O Lord”, written in the 16th century for the Book of Common Prayer will be sung during the Oath.

The Church of England said: “This is possibly the first time in our history that such a personal prayer has been voiced so publicly by the sovereign.”

Byrd’s “Mass for Four Voices” was composed around 1592 during the reign of Elizabeth I, and is an intimate four-part piece.

The Archbishop will read The Collect before Rishi Sunak reads The Epistle.

  • Debbie Wiseman’s Sung Alleluia; The Gospel

We will hear “Alleluia, Alleluia!” written by Classic FM’s composer in residence Debbie Wiseman

  • The Sermon; “Veni Creator Spiritus”; The Coronation Oil

Therewill be a performance of the Christian hymn “Veni Creator Spiritus” (Come Creator Spirit), which has been part of the ceremony since the 14th century.

  • Handel’s “Zadok the Priest”; The Anointing

Handel’s “Zadok the Priest” has always been a part of coronations in England and it was set to music by Handel

  • The Presentation of Regalia; The Spurs, Exchange of Swords; The Sword; The Armills; The Robe and Stole Royal; The Orb, The Ring; The Glove; The Sceptre and Rod

The Archbishop will declare “God Save the King”.

We will hear Strauss’ “Fanfare for the Vienna Philharmonic”, and the bells of Westminster Abbey will ring for two minutes.

Then a setting of verses from Psalm 61, beginning “O Lord, grant the king a long life” to music by Thomas Weelkes.

  • Enthroning The King; giving homage

”Confortare” was written for the coronation of King George V in 1911.

  • The Coronation of The Queen
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber Coronation Anthem

Another original piece. This is a setting of verses from Psalm 98 to music.

Webber said “I had the good fortune to discuss the text with His Majesty The King. We discussed the writings of Solomon and I suggested adapting Psalm 98 with its message of “Make A Joyful Noise unto the Lord, the King”. It seems so appropriate to the moment in the coronation service. I played, and tried to sing, my early score for The King a few weeks ago. I have composed a short opening and closing fanfare, which will be played by the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force. The anthem is scored for the wonderful choir of Westminster Abbey and the Coronation Orchestra.”

  • Offertory HymnChrist Is Made The Sure Foundation

This will be sung buy choristers, and the words are well over 1,000 years old.

  • Prayers; Panufnik’s “Sanctus”; O’Regan’s “Agnus Dei”

There will be a performance of new composition, “Sanctus” by British composer Roxanna Panufnik.

The Eucharistic Prayer will then take plae, as well as The Lord’s Prayer, and a new “Agnus Dei” by British-American composer Tarik O’Regan.

  • Amen; prayer after communion; final blessing

A sung Amen will follow.

  • Boyce’s “Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven”

This is the only hymn that is to be sung by the whole congregation. It was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth and was sung at her wedding. It was originally composed for the coronation of George III in 1761.

“Te Deum” from William Walton was originally composed for the late Queen’s coronation.

The congregation will sing the 250-year-old national anthem.

The outward procession will be to Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 4, arranged by Iain Farrington, and Parry’s March from The Birds arranged by John Rutter.

  • The King receives greetings

What happens on coronation day?

Here is the full timetable of events:

  • 6am – viewing areas open along the procession route
  • 7.15-8.30am – guests to Westminster Abbey begin to arrive at security checkpoints in Victoria Tower Gardens
  • 9am – congregation to be seated inside the Abbey
  • 9.30-10.45am – heads of state, overseas government representatives, Government ministers, First Ministers, former PMs, foreign royals and members of the Royal Family arrive
  • 9.45am – the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry begin to gather ready for the procession from Buckingham Palace
  • 10.20am – the King and Queen’s procession sets off from the Palace
  • 10.53am – the King and Queen arrive at Westminster Abbey
  • 11am – Charles and Camilla enter the Abbey through the Great West Door and the service begins
  • 12pm – the King is crowned. The Archbishop of Canterbury places the St Edward’s Crown on Charles’s head. Trumpets will sound and gun salutes will be fired across the UK
  • 1pm – the service ends and the newly crowned King and Queen begin their coronation procession back to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach
  • 1.33pm – Charles and Camilla are expected to enter Buckingham Palace through the Centre Arch
  • 1.45pm – the King and Queen receive a royal salute from the military in the Palace gardens
  • Around 2.15pm – the King, Queen and members of the Royal Family appear on the Palace balcony to watch the flypast

What about before the service?

Music will be played before the King and Queen arrive at the Abbey.

  • Judith Weir: “Brighter Visions Shine Afar

Speaking about the significance of the composition, Weir said: “The opening passage highlights the horns, an instrument historically associated in music and art with nobility. The title borrowed from the Christmas hymn ‘Angels from the Realms of Glory’ and the optimistic rising scales of the music suggest renewal and hope for the future.”

  • Sir Karl Jenkins: “Tros y Garreg

The Royal website reads: “Reflecting The King’s abiding affection for and support of Welsh culture, the piece is a new arrangement of Jenkins’ beloved and emotional setting of a Welsh folk song, a luxuriant combination of harp and strings, commissioned by the then Prince of Wales over two decades ago. As Prince of Wales, The King revived the traditional role of the Royal Harpist in 2000.”

  • Sarah Class: “Sacred Fire

Class said: “It is a vision of the freedom and protection of all beings, and of the abundance and beauty of our natural world. Above all, the song is a celebration of love, faith and unity, both lyrics and music reflecting the sacred flame of the soul, ever present within all beings and all things.”

  • Nigel Hess, Roderick Williams, Shirley J Thompson: “Be Thou my Vision – Triptych for Orchestra”

The website reads: “Nigel Hess begins the piece with an opening horn call inspired by the acoustics of Westminster Abbey which introduces a stirring rendition for the full orchestra. This gently subsides into a slow rhapsody by Roderick Williams based on the iconic shapes of the Slane melody of the hymn, concealing a musical cryptogram of His Majesty’s name. A sparkling fanfare launches the final section, by Shirley J Thompson, with undulating triplets supporting variations of the melody that are intricately woven throughout, leading to a triumphant and celebratory ending.”

  • Iain Farrington: “Voices of the World

“‘Voices of the World’ is a celebratory, joyful musical offering which combines traditional tunes from across the family of nations. The music is “all mixed together in a joyful, jazzy and dance-like character”. Farrington hopes “it will get people’s toes tapping!”

  • Patrick Doyle: “King Charles III Coronation March

Doyle said: “The composition can be described as an overture march in that it tells a story, and at times reflects aspects of His Majesty’s own character. Overall, the piece is jubilant and uplifting. It is written to embrace the excitement and celebration of the historic day.”

The coronation of King Charles III

Here’s a full timetable of the coronation, including when Charles will actually be crowned, and details of the concert.

The ceremony has taken an astonishing amount of preparation, with Operation Golden Orb – decades in the planning – bringing in snipers and police officers from across the country to aid security. The coronation will also feature the biggest military procession in 70 years, no small feat of logistics, but still intends to be the most sustainable ever.

But the event has not been without controversy. The option for the public to pledge allegiance to the new monarch sparked resistance, including from i‘s own Stefano Hatfield, and the new King’s relationship with his second son will be under fierce scrutiny, with Jennie Bond blaming his emotional illiteracy for the breakdown of their relationship.

This week, The i Podcast looks at whether King Charles III could be the last monarch of a Commonwealth realm which was born from the British Empire and funded by the proceeds of slavery. Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Acast | Wherever you listen

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