Unique Service at the cathedral for The Royal School

Tuesday the 9th May was a unique evening in the history of our school as two very special events were brought together into one special service.

At the kind invitation of the Dean and Chapter of St Patrick’s Cathedral, the school held a special service of thanksgiving for the coronation of their majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla.  In attendance was His Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenant for County Armagh, Mr Simon Cassells, QVRM.  The sermon was delivered by the Chairman of the Board of Governors, The Most Rev’d John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of All Ireland.  The Archbishop had just returned from the coronation where he had made history as the first Irish Bishop to participate in a coronation ceremony.

The service provided an opportunity for all members of the wider school community to come together in a joyous service in the beautiful surroundings of the cathedral.  A special feature of the service was the laying up of the colours of the Combined Cadet Force contingent and the dedication of new colours.

The service was led by the Dean of Armagh, The Very Rev’d Shane Forster who is also a member of our Board of Governors.  It began with the processional of choirs and clergy to the stirring words and music of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of ‘The Old Hundredth’, All people that on earth do dwell.

The Old Testament reading from Proverbs chapter 8 was given by the Head Boy, James McClung while the New Testament reading from Romans chapter 13 was by the Head Girl Sarah Johnston.

Prayers at the service took as their inspiration items central to the coronation ceremony: the Bible for faith, oil for anointing, the orb and the sceptre and rod. The prayers were led by first-year pupils Jack Finch and Suzanna Kingston, Cadet Corporal Naomi Bennet, who is the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet, and the headmaster.

A particular feature of the service was beautiful music, provided not only by the cathedral organist, The venerable Dr Peter Thompson but by the school pupils.  The Senior Chamber Choir sang Exsultate Jubilate by Kyle Pederson and the Senior Choir sang All things new by Elaine Hagenberg.  The Junior Choir sang Cristi Cary Miller’s Cantate Domino.  We are really grateful to Mr Boyd and Mrs Philips for their work for this event.

Following the singing of the ancient Irish hymn, Be thou my vision, the Standard of the Royal School, Armagh Combined Cadet Force and the Union Flag were slowly marched to the chancel steps where the Contingent Commander, Major R.S.J. McDowell committed them to the care of the Dean.  The standard and flag were then marched to the Military Chapel.

A new Standard and Union Flag were then marched to the chancel steps where they were unfurled and dedicated by The Archbishop. Following dedication, the standard and flag were paraded to the east end of the Cathedral where they remained until the end of the service.

After the singing of the hymn, Lord for the years, a thoughtful sermon on the nature of the ‘Royal question’ of whose will should be done, ours or God’s was preached by the Archbishop.  The Archbishop reflected on the characteristics of Kingship and the character of Jesus the King who obeyed his father’s will.

During the singing of, Now thank we all our God, there was a special collection for the work of Reach Mentoring which raised almost £700 for this valuable service which works with young people in schools across the ABC council area.

The Board of Governors is deeply thankful to the Dean and Chapter for the use of the cathedral, to the Archbishop for conducting the dedication and preaching the sermon and to the organist for his excellent accompaniment throughout the service.