THE HISTORY OF THE CORONATION
The Somerset Guardian, 3rd May 2023
In many people's minds, the Nation's history, our island story, begins in 1066. It is from that that we number our kings and believe it is when our institutions originated. However, the Coronation is a reminder of a much greater antiquity, a remarkable longevity matched by few others and with a continuity that is astounding.
The service 'Missa pro regibus in die benedictionis ejus' or 'Mass for the King on the day of his blessing' appears in a 10th Century copy of the Pontifical of Egbert of York, Archbishop from 732 to 766. The service has changed remarkably little over the ensuing centuries, it is the basis of St. Dunstan's coronation of Edgar in Bath Abbey in 973 as the first King of England and, other than being translated for James I into English, it survived the Reformation, the Civil War and modernity mainly intact and this stability underlies its importance.
The King, through his coronation, is not a merely temporal figure as a minister may be. His Majesty is part of a sacred order as well. As with a bishop, he is consecrated and anointed with oil. In the Middle Ages, it was debated whether coronation was, in fact, an eighth sacrament. It is clearly an outward sign of an inward grace given by God for 'Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brethren'. It traces its origins back to King David and likewise King Charles will be anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the midst of his barons.
The Coronation links us to our history, is founded on our Christian faith and has served the Nation well by aiding stability for well over a thousand years.
God save the King.
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