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The Queen leaving St Andrew's Nairobi (the Scots Kirk) five days before her Accession to the Throne. Credit: A H Firmin
The Queen leaving St Andrew's Nairobi (the Scots Kirk) five days before her Accession to the Throne. Credit: A H Firmin

Tribute to King George VI and Prayer for Queen Elizabeth II From 1952

Monday September 19

 

By the Rev John Lamb CBE, Domestic Chaplain to the King in Scotland

 

BY the death of King George the Sixth the Church of Scotland has lost a great lover and a true friend. As one who shared our worship and was deeply interested in the life and affairs of our Church it is fitting that we should pay our tribute and, with all his people, acknowledge the debt we owe to one who by the nobility and devotion of his life has meant more in these perplexing times than sometimes we are apt to remember.

As his Domestic chaplain through all his reign it has been my honour to try to maintain the old Scots link between the Kirk and the Crown; and mine has been the rare privilege of being allowed to share in the friendship of a great King and a good man.

To meet the King was to meet a personality, His knowledge of men and affairs left one wondering at how little one knew. With his wide interests and a retentive memory, conversation with him demanded that the mind be alert; and to sit apart, talking of the deeper things of life, or perhaps some person in the parish or in his employment, was to learn the humanity, the understanding and the kindness of his heart.

 

Balmoral always seemed to be home to him. There, where the burden and cares of his high office could be partially  laid aside, his beloved hills were around him, and the beauty of the world.

There, too, one learnt the beauty and the charm of the life of the Royal Family, so happy and so homely, where, with the Queen and the Princesses, the King had brought consideration for others to so fine an art that it was almost too simple to feel at ease – the home-life which inspired the Christmas Messages we shall not soon forget, messages which could never have been spoken had they not first been lived.

It is but natural that here we should specially remember his love for the Church of Scotland. And that love was genuine and true. As Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly the King often told me how much he enjoyed his duties; how interested he was in the debates and the debaters; and how much pleasure it gave him to meet the ministers and elders of the Church.

St Giles and Crathie were real shrines of worship to him. So often he has told me how he admired the simplicity of the Scottish service – and in simplicity he always implied sincerity. Congregational singing was a joy to him. The metrical Psalms and Paraphrases – the 23rd Psalm, the second version of the 124th Psalm, the 60th Paraphrase – were especial favourites. And Do No Sinful Action seemed to him the perfect children’s hymn. He always followed the Lessons carefully and was an intent listener to the sermon. The repeating, rather than intoning of the Lord’s Prayer helped one, he said, to realise its meaning.

Many of our ministers have shared the friendly hospitality of the Royal Family; and both the King and Queen never failed to tell me what delightful visitors they were. For to remember King George is instinctively to think of Queen Elizabeth, to whom his whole life seemed to pay a tribute of comradeship and love.

So he has passed, a good man and a great man; one who in difficult days, more often than we remember, inspired us by his courage and his devotion to duty; who bore his burdens with a smile and a brave heart; who taught us by his example to live for others and never break faith; and of whom it may be said, and of none more truly, that he give his life for his people who were his friends.

Yet most of all I shall remember him a humble worshipper, one with his people, calling us back to find our help and hope in God.

 

PRAYER FOR THE NEW QUEEN

 

O God our Father, Whose blessed Son lived and died in the public ways of men so that He might call forth their faith in Thee, we pray for all who in humbler ways are called to stand forth before the people and to become for them a means of learning their common life and of offering their loyalty to a common purpose. Especially do we commend unto Thee Elizabeth, our Queen, now set in our midst as a living symbol of this nation’s life, that in her we may be kept mindful that we are one people, and members one of another. May she made a daily offering of herself unto Thee as we would that this nation would do also; and may she keep before herself such true purposes as would be worthy of being the purposes of this whole people.

We commend also unto Thee Philip, her Consort, and their family; that in the high places of an earthly kingdom, their home may have at its heart the simplicity and love which is of the Heavenly Kingdom When voices around them speak vain things, keep their hearts in the knowledge and love of Thee. When they are tempted by weariness keep them true to their high calling in Christ Jesus. And accept of their sacrifice for the sake of this land and the lands of our brethren across the seas, and for Christ Jesus’ sake, our Lord. Amen.