Diocese of Portsmouth

    Worshippers thank God for the life of Queen Elizabeth II

    18 Sept. 2022

    WORSHIPPERS from across our diocese have thanked God for the life and Christian faith of HM Queen Elizabeth at a series of services.

    Our cathedral and churches across south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight held services over the weekend of September 17-18, ahead of the State Funeral of our much-loved monarch. It was a chance for us to remember her lifetime of service to our nation, and to recall the faith that inspired her.

    Several of our churches hosted civic services at which dignitaries including Lords Lieutenant, MPs, councillors, military, community and ecumenical representatives joined together to commemorate the life of our nation's longest-reigning Sovereign. They included Her Late Majesty's favourite hymns, inspiring readings, the chance to light candles in her memory, and prayers for our new King, the Royal Family and our nation.

    Before the service at Portsmouth Cathedral, the tenor bell had tolled for an hour, as part of its tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth. The worshippers included Deputy Lieutenant Col Charles Ackroyd, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, MP Stephen Morgan, council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, and Naval Base commander Commodore John Voyce. 

    The inspiring music included 'We wait for thy loving-kindness, O God', originally written for the then HRH Princess Elizabeth's wedding in 1947 to Lt Philip Mountbatten, a setting of Psalm 138 that was sung when HM the Queen presented Maundy money at our cathedral in 1998, as well as some of her favourite hymns. 

    Choristers Noah Hemmings, 11, and Evelyn Cowhig, 13, were the soloists for 'Pie Jesu'. Evelyn, whose father and grandfather were also church choristers, only heard she was singing the solo a few days beforehand. 

    A series of church and community representatives, including the Lady Mayoress Marie Costa, police superintendent Clare Jenkins, and cathedral choristers Fraser Ndihiro, aged 12, and Sky Reader, 17, lit candles as they each thanked God for a different aspect of HM Queen Elizabeth's character. 

    And, in his sermon, Bishop Jonathan spoke about HM Queen Elizabeth's Christian faith, drawing it together with Portsmouth's motto to conclude that: 'Heaven's light was her guide'. He paid tribute to her decades of service to our nation and her compassion, emphasising that the source of these virtues was her deep faith in Jesus Christ - a faith that is only a prayer away for us all. 

    "Much has been spoken of Queen Elizabeth's constancy of service, her commitment to duty," he said. "So it is surely right and wise to enquire of the source of the virtues we have seen: her wisdom, compassion, sense of duty and service. We find a clue and a signpost in our very own City's motto: a clue and a signpost pointing to the same Source emblazoned on our City's crest - 'Heaven's Light, Our Guide'

    "For without reckoning on Queen Elizabeth's life of prayer, we miss or exclude the key to her lifetime of service, her unswerving duty, wisdom and compassion. All these enduring things flowed from her Christian faith and prayerful devotion to the way of Jesus Christ: a way open to each one of us and only ever a prayer away.

    "In our great loss, we do give thanks and praise to God that for our late, beloved Queen, our sister in Christ: Heaven's light was her guide." 

    Deputy Lieutenant Col Charles Ackroyd reads from Romans 12 in our cathedral's service - the reading used for Royal Maundy services each year
    University chaplain the Rev Connie Sherman was one of several people to light candles as they each remembered different aspects of HM Queen Elizabeth's life
    Thirteen-year-old Evelyn Cowhig was one of the two soloists for Pie Jesu in the cathedral service

    You can watch the entire service of commemoration and thanksgiving from Portsmouth Cathedral below, via our Youtube channel:

    Dignitaries including MP Suella Braverman and the Lord Mayor of Fareham, Cllr Mike Ford, gathered for a civic service on Sunday afternoon at St Peter and St Paul, Fareham. Twelve-year-old Sea Scout Grace Flatman was among those invited as Fareham Young Citizen of Honour.

    The service was led by the Rev Roger Jackson, vicar of St Peter and St Paul, and the final blessing given by the Revs Nicky-Sue and Mike Terry, vicars of St Mary's, Warsash - Mike is also Mayor's chaplain. And the area dean of Fareham, the Rev Ian Meredith, gave the sermon.

    He said: "The death of the Queen has had a huge impact on us. We knew the day would come and we braced ourselves for it. There was shock and disbelief when she died. Her face is on every stamp, every bank note. 

    "I have heard countless tributes to her service and duty. She was really exceptional. Queen Elizabeth was such a unifying influence - a peacemaker. She was humble and took a genuine interest in people."

    There was also a civic service at Holy Trinity Church, Gosport, led by the Revs Ray Driscoll and Godfrey Chigumira in the evening. The sermon there was delivered by the Ven Peter Sutton, former Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight and former vicar of St Faith's, Lee-on-Solent. He's currently vicar of Greatham, Empshott and Hawkley with Priors Dean. The Mayor of Gosport, Cllr Jamie Hutchinson, gave one of the Bible readings, and councillors, and a representative of the Royal Navy attended.

    The Ven Peter Sutton said: "Thank you, people of Gosport, for taking time to come together as a civic community, giving time to give thanks for Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth. This evening Gosport - God's Port - takes time to be still in the busyness of life to express our gratitude, our loyalty, our love on the of the Queen's funeral at the end of a remarkable reign. And we give our time, our thoughts, our prayers, this evening because Queen Elizabeth has given so much four our country, our Commonwealth, our world."

    The service of thanksgiving was followed by a vigil and the observing of the national one-minute silence at 8pm.

    The Rev Allie Kerr, acting Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight leads the service in Newport Minster

    The Rev Allie Kerr, acting Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight, led and preached at a service on Sunday evening at Newport Minster. Civic dignitaries from across the island, including the Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Susie Sheldon, and the High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight, Kay Marriott, attended the service of commemoration and thanksgiving. 

    A litany of thanksgiving was led by the area dean, the Rev Steve Daughtery, which was followed by readings by the Lord Lieutenant and the chairman of the Isle of Wight Council, Cllr Claire Critchison. Sung worship was led by the choirs of the parish of Newport and Carisbrooke and the Isle of Wight Cantata Choir. The service concluded with the National Anthem and was followed by an observation of the one-minute silence in memory of HM Queen Elizabeth.

    Worshippers gathered at St Peter's Church, Petersfield, for a service of thanksgiving for HM Queen Elizabeth, which included prayers for the Royal Family and our nation. The acting Archdeacon of the Meon, Canon Will Hughes, led the service and preached.

    This service was also followed by the one-minute silence that was observed across the whole country. It was also followed by a public Proclamation of the new King and a packed church for Compline.

    And the Ven Jenny Rowley, Archdeacon of Portsdown, preached at a civic service at St Faith's Church, Havant, on the evening before the Queen's State Funeral. The service of commemoration and thanksgiving was followed by an observation of the one-minute National Silence in the churchyard. Worshippers held candles as they paused to remember the life and service of HM Queen Elizabeth.

    Naval representatives at the service in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth
    Bishop Jonathan gives the final blessing at the ecumenical service in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth

    Earlier, civic and community representatives had gathered in Portsmouth's Guildhall Square for an ecumenical and multi-faith memorial service for HM Queen Elizabeth. The Dean of Portsmouth, the Very Rev Anthony Cane, led the opening prayers, and Bishop Jonathan gave the final blessing for the crowds who had gathered in the Sunday lunchtime sunshine.

    Among others who took part were Tony Cooper from Portsmouth and Southsea synagogue; Vice-Admiral John McAnally, former navigating officer on the Royal Yacht Britannia; Mr L Ali from Portsmouth Muslim Academy; the Rt Rev Philip Egan, Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth; Jaswant Singh Digpal, from Portsmouth's Sikh Temple; and the Rev Tracey Ansell, minister at North End Baptist Church.

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