Duke of Edinburgh funeral: all the music and hymns sung by the choir at St George’s Chapel

17 April 2021, 10:06 | Updated: 17 April 2021, 10:20

The Duke of Edinburgh will be laid to rest at Windsor Castle
The Duke of Edinburgh will be laid to rest at Windsor Castle. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

On Saturday, The Duke of Edinburgh will be memorialised and laid to rest at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Here’s the order of service, and all the music and hymns we’ll hear at Prince Philip’s funeral.

As funeral arrangements are set in place for Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, it appears many of the usual traditions, from hymn-singing to bugle-playing, will be a little different this year.

At his own request, the funeral will be a pared-down affair at the beautiful St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, the chosen place for many royal services.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, there will be no congregational hymn-singing. However, Buckingham Palace has revealed there will be plenty of beautiful music for reflection and thanksgiving, performed by a small choir and organist.

Here’s what to expect from Prince Philip’s funeral, from the music and performers, to how to watch.

Read more: Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh: a life in pictures >

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has died aged 99
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has died aged 99. Picture: Getty

What time is Prince Philip’s funeral?

A Royal ceremonial funeral, rather than a state funeral, will take place for the Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday 17 April at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

The coffin will leave Windsor Castle at 2.40pm, and the procession will begin at 2.45pm. Buckingham Palace has said the funeral will begin with a national minute’s silence at 3pm, as the coffin is brought into St George’s Chapel.

Guests will be limited to 30, with only family members and close friends expected to attend.

Members of the public will not be able to pay their respects in person, but the funeral will be televised.

At the Duke’s request, the memorial service will focus on remembering his military ties and charity patronages. His body will lie in a closed chapel throughout the service.

Read more: How many monarchs are buried at St George’s Chapel Windsor, and who lies in the Royal Vault? >

What music will be played before the service?

Before the service, we will hear the following melodies for reflection and remembrance.

  • Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Adagio espressivo (Sonata in A minor) - Sir William Harris
  • Salix (The Plymouth Suite) - Percy Whitlock
  • Berceuse - Louis Vierne
  • Rhosymedre (Three Preludes founded on Welsh Hymn Tunes) - Ralph Vaughan Williams

What music will be played during the service?

During the service, an SATB choir comprising three lay clarks from St George’s Chapel choir and a soprano will sing a selection of hymns and choral arrangements, conducted by James Vivian and with organist Luke Bond.

Here’s all the music we’ll hear, as the nation pays its respects to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

  • The Sentences, arr. William Croft
  • Eternal Father, Strong to Save’ (Melita) – J. B. Dykes, William Whiting, arr. James Vivian
  • Jubilate in C – Benjamin Britten
  • Psalm 104 – William Lovelady, Sam Dyer, arr. James Vivian
  • The Lesser Litany, William Smith, arr. Roger Judd, MVO
  • The Lord’s Prayer, Music by Robert Stone from John Day’s Certaine Notes
  • Russian Kontakion of the Departed, translated by William John Birkbeck. Kiev Melody, arr. Sir Walter Parratt, KCVO
  • The National Anthem, sung before the guests leave

The Buglers of the Royal Marines will then sound A Lament and The Last Post. After a moment of silence the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry will sound Reveille, before The Buglers of the Royal Marines sound The National Anthem.

After the service, organist Luke Bond, Assistant Director of Music at St George’s Chapel, will play Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C minor.

Read more: What are the lyrics to Britain’s national anthem, ‘God save the Queen’? >

Why has the music been chosen?

The Royal Family has confirmed that for the memorial, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh had handpicked all the music himself. The Duke’s choices are imbued with his long, proud legacy with the Royal Navy, and a deep love of Britain’s musical heritage.

‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save’, known as the naval hymn, was one deeply beloved by the Duke, who had a long and cherished relationship with the military. As a young man in 1940, he entered Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and was commissioned the following year as a sub-lieutenant, before becoming Lieutenant and serving at sea in the Second World War.

The less familiar-sounding Russian Kontakion of the Departed, which the choir will perform towards the end of the service, is an ancient chant with origins in the Russian Orthodox liturgy. It expresses the sorrow of loss, but with a reminder of the Christian hope of everlasting life.

Read more: Soprano sings Royal Navy hymn in empty Portsmouth Cathedral, in moving Duke of Edinburgh tribute >

How can I watch Prince Philip’s funeral?

The funeral for the Duke of Edinburgh will be televised on national TV, at 3pm on Saturday 17 April.

Read more: 10 beautiful pieces of classical music for funerals >