With the congregation barred from singing during Prince Philip’s funeral due to coronavirus restrictions, a four-strong, socially distanced choir performed the music inside St George’s Chapel.
The quartet of singers – Tom Liliburn, Nick Madden and Simon Whiteley (who are lay clerks of St George's Chapel choir) and Miriam Allan (a soprano) – all live in nearby Horseshoe Cloister, forming part of what was an intimate and community-focused affair.
The Duke of Edinburgh is understood to have taken a personal interest in the music chosen for both his funeral procession and service.
Music played by the tri-service band in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle before the arrival of the coffin included I Vow to Thee My Country, Supreme Sacrifice, Jerusalem, Isle of Beauty and Nimrod.
As the procession stepped off, the Band of the Grenadier Guards played Beethoven Funeral March Nos 1 and 3.
The national anthem was played by military musicians after the Queen, joined by a Lady-in-Waiting, left the Sovereign’s entrance of Windsor Castle to attend the funeral. The Rifles Guard of Honour, positioned in Horseshoe Cloister, gave a royal salute.
Before the service began, the following music was performed: Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele BWV 654 by Johann Sebastian Bach; Adagio espressivo (Sonata in A minor) by Sir William Harris; Salix (The Plymouth Suite) by Percy Whitlock; Berceuse (Op 31 No. 19) by Louis Vierne; and Rhosymedre (Three Preludes founded on Welsh Hymn Tunes) by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
During the service, a single hymn, William Whiting’s Eternal Father, Strong to Save, was performed by the choir, who were conducted by James Vivian, the chapel’s director of music. The organ was played by Luke Bond.
The hymn, traditionally associated with the maritime armed services, reflected the Duke of Edinburgh’s love of the sea and Royal Navy connections. The stirring lyrics and music were written by two English ministers – William Whiting providing the words and John B Dykes composing the music.
Three songs were also performed, two of which were adapted according to the Duke’s wishes.
The first, The Jubilate in C by Benjamin Britten, was written at the Duke’s request for the choir at St George’s Chapel around 1961. It was also played during his 80th and 90th birthday services.
The choir also sang a version of Psalm 104 set to music by William Lovelady, the guitarist and composer, at the Duke’s request. Originally composed as a cantata in three movements, it was first sung in honour of the Duke’s 75th birthday in 1996.
In a nod to his Russian forebears, the Duke also included a traditional Russian Orthodox anthem, the Russian Kontakion of the Departed. It was translated by William John Birkbeck and arranged by Sir Walter Parratt. The melody expresses the sorrow of grief and has origins in Russian Orthodox liturgy. It also symbolises Christian devotion to God in life and death.
After the Duke’s coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault, a Lament was played by a Pipe Major from the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Duke was Royal Colonel of the Highlanders, 4th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland.