SONGS OF MAJESTY
by Norman Warwick
Whether she was giving a nod to the band who used her namesake title by tapping along to Queen’s anthemic “We Will Rock You” during her Platinum Jubilee celebration or dancing to a disco classic, if there were a more extended playlist curated by the Queen, it would have revealed that the sovereign’s musical preferences crisscrossed even more genres.
In celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday in 2016, the monarch had a number of special requests on her party-playlist. A longtime fondness for musicals since many made their way from Broadway to the West End of London in the 1940s—everything from Oklahoma! and Annie Get Your Gun—the Queen’s musical tastes also spanned the big bands of the 1930s and ’40s like Lester Lanin and World War II melodies of the era to the 1951 Irving Berlin-penned Fred Astaire hit “Cheek to Cheek” and songs honouring the commonwealth, including created by perhaps Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band’s “Sing,” written for Her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and featuring the Military Wives Choir.
Here’s a collection of songs the late Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed years before her reign and through its end.
1. “Praise, My soul, The King Of Heaven” (1834)
Written by Henry Francis Lyte
The Queen loved and admired the Christian hymn “Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,” originally written by Anglican clergyman Henry Francis Lyte and first published in 1834. Drawing from Psalm 103, the song was first published in Lyte’s publication The Spirit of the Psalms, which was used at his congregation in southern England. Later set to music by John Goss in 1868, the hymn was played during the 1947 royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburg, along with her other favorite hymnal ”The Lord’s My Shepherd.”
2. “Leaning on a Lampost,” George Formby (1937)
Written by Noel Gay
First performed in the 1937 Feather Your Nest by Val Rosing and George Formby, (right) it was the latter performer’s sole recording for Regal Zonophone Records that would make the song popular. The Queen was such a fan of Formby, a British comedian who would knock out more light-hearted tunes in the 1930s and ’40s, that she once entertained the idea of becoming president of the George Formby Appreciation Society, according to Gyles Brandreth, a family friend of the royals. At one point, the Queen even received a letter from the George Formby Society asking her to be its President.
A correspondence secretary told the Queen that “you’re the head of the armed forces, the head of the Church of England, I don’t think you can be president of the George Formby Appreciation Society,” said Brandreth, to which Her Majesty replied, “Well, I do see that, but you see I love George Formby. … I know all his songs and I can sing them.”
Created in 1961 after the death of the popular performer, The George Formby Society has more than 1,200 members worldwide and annual conventions that still continue in Blackpool, England.
3. “The White Cliffs of Dover,” Dame Vera Lynn (1942)
Written by Nat Burton
Only a teenager (before the word had first been coined, perhaps) when World War II first broke out, and still some years shy of taking over the throne in 1952, following the death of her father King George IV, wartime songs always had a special resonance with the Queen. “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover” was one particular song the Queen requested on her 90th birthday. Originally composed by Walter Kent and written by Nat Burton in 1941, the song was made famous as a WWII tune by Vera Lynn in 1942. Burton wrote the song a year after the Royal Air Force and German Luftwaffe aircraft fought over southern England, including the white cliffs in Dover, England in the Battle of Britain. By 1941, Nazi Germany had already occupied much of Europe and was still bombing Great Britain.
In 1969 Lynn, who died in 2020 at the age of 103, would be appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1975.
4. “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better),”
from Annie Get Your Gun (1946) Composed by Irving Berlin
Already a fan of Howard Keel’s production of “Oklahoma!” the namesake of the show that traveled from Broadway to the West End of London in the ’40s, another classic musical always stuck in the Queen’s memory. Composed by Irving Berlin (right) for the 1946 show Anne Get Your Gun, the rousing “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” plays during a sharpshooting contest between the characters of Annie Oakley and Frank Butler. First performed by Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton, it was Dolores Gray and Bill Johnson’s 1947 rendition that made its way to London Coliseum, which was a favorite of the Queen’s.
5. “Sweet Caroline,” Written by Neil Diamond
At the Queen’s 2022 Platinum Jubilee celebration, honouring her 70 years on the throne, Rod Stewart, who the Queen knighted in 2016, was asked to perform a Neil Diamond classic. First singing his 1973 song “Baby Jane,” Stewart then broke into Diamond’s 1969 anthem Sweet Caroline, a song personally requested by the 96-year-old monarch.
“The BBC said, ‘Rod we need you to sing ‘Sweet Caroline,’ it’s the Queen’s favorite you have to sing it,’” revealed Stewart’s wife Penny Lancaster, who also served as a special constable with the City of London Police during the Jubilee, following his performance. ´Rod didn’t have much of a choice.´
Though the Queen sat out Stewart’s live performance during the Platinum Party at The Palace concert, which also featured performances by Queen, Diana Ross, and Ed Sheeran, the Royal Family—Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William, Prince George, The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, and Princess Charlotte—waved their Union Jack flags singing along to the Sweet Caroline chants of so good, so good, and bah bah bah.
6. “Dancing Queen,” ABBA (1976)
Written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Stig Anderson
This was a most fitting title for a lady who was indeed a “dancing queen,” following many a dinner party at Windsor Castle. The playing of the song always prompted Her Majesty to smile and make her way to the dance floor and dance to the 1976 ABBA hit.
“I always try to dance when this song comes on,” the Queen reportedly said, “because I am the Queen and I like to dance.”
7. “We Will Rock You,” Queen (1977) Written by Brian May
Apparently, Queen Elizabeth II liked Queen’s 1977 classic more than anyone expected. Kicking off the Platinum Jubilee, the Queen recorded a skit featuring the British fictional children’s character Paddington Bear and closed the sketch with the two tapping their tea cups to the opening drum thumps of “We Will Rock You.”
“Of course, it was wonderful because our bit was preceded by The Queen herself talking to Paddington Bear and then doing the little We Will Rock You [clink clink] on her tea cup,” said Queen drummer Roger Taylor of the Queen’s nod to Queen. “It was fantastic.”
Queen guitarist Brian May, who pitched the idea, added, “I asked for that. I said, ‘Would The Queen tap it’ and they wouldn’t give us an answer. And we didn’t know until the day before. They said, ‘Oh we might get somebody Royal to do it for you.’
So, there we have an inside view of a British Monarch´s most loved music given by a magazine written primarily by and for American Songwriter. Writer Tina Eves Benitez is a music journalist I trust because she do often includes some empirical evidence to support her opinions and turn them into arguments. She has certain made a good case for the selection she has offered us of music fit for a Queen.
The music may well be fit for a fun-loving monarch in what could only have been fleeting off-duty moments, but such music, of course, would not be appropriate for a state-funeral. What the, can we expect two hear on that occasion (later today,
Classic fm have reminded us, on their on-line site, that Her Majesty was a champion of classical music, so it’s expected that her funeral will feature music special to the late Queen’s life.
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin has lain in state at Westminster Hall and thousands of people queud across London to enter the Hall and pay their respects.
Today, Monday 19th September, will see the first State Funeral in the United Kingdom for over 50 years, the last being for former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in January 1965.
After the historic ceremony, due to take place Her Majesty’s coffin will travel to Windsor Castle, where she will be buried with her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh.
But what music will accompany Her Majesty as she makes the last two journeys to her final resting place? Here’s everything we know about the music chosen to celebrate the late Queen Her Majesty’s coffin was transported from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on 14 September 2022, accompanied by music performed by the bands of the Scots Guards and Grenadier Guards.
The following five funeral marches were performed as our late Queen was taken was taken on a horse-drawn gun carriage in a slow and sombre procession.
The arrival of Her Majesty’s coffin at Westminster Hall was marked by a performance of James O’Donnell’s setting of Psalm 139, sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal.
Members of the public have since been able to enter Westminster Hall to pay their respects, with the queue to enter drawing thousands and stretching over four miles in length. Westminster allowed members of the public to enter the Hall until 6.30am on the day of the funeral.
The Royal Family has confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will take place on 19 September 2022 at 11am at Westminster Abbey.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Royal Family said: “Elements of the State Funeral Service and the associated ceremonial arrangements will pay tribute to The Queen’s extraordinary reign, and Her Majesty’s remarkable life of service as Head of State, Nation and Commonwealth.”
On Monday, the late Queen’s coffin will be transported on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy, drawn by 142 sailors, from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey. (see our cover image)
The procession will be led by 200 musicians, made up of the pipes and drums of Scottish and Irish regiments, the Brigade of Gurkhas and the Royal Air Force.
The King and other members of the royal family will walk behind on the short journey to the Gothic abbey church, arriving for 11am.
The Royal Family’s statement confirmed that the service will be conducted by the Dean of Westminster.
“During the Service, the Prime Minister and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth will read Lessons,” the statement read. “The Archbishop of York, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the Free Churches Moderator will say Prayers.
“The Sermon will be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will also give the Commendation. The Dean of Westminster will then pronounce the Blessing.”
Towards the end of the one-hour service, the ceremony will draw to a close with the sounding of the Last Post, originally composed by a bugler called Arthur Lane (left), This will be followed by a national two-minute silence to be held shortly before midday for Her Majesty.
While the music for the late Queen’s funeral is yet to be confirmed, Classic fm identify on line some some of Her Majesty’s favourite hymns, and choral works central to her reign, likely to be played during the service.
In a 2016 radio documentary, Queen Elizabeth II’s top ten favourite songs were revealed, and among them were two Christian hymns.
The first was, ‘Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven’, which comes from Psalm 103 in the Bible’s Book of Psalms.
It was one of the pieces of music chosen for the Queen’s wedding to the late Prince Philip on 20 November 1947.
The second anthem featured on the curated list was ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’, a hymn based on Psalm 23 from the Bible’s Book of Psalms.
In the hymn, God is the named ‘shepherd’ and the text describes us as his ‘flock’ whom he is protecting.
The music was also played at Her Majesty’s wedding, and most recently, was performed at a thanksgiving service honouring the late Queen’s 70-year reign at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.
photo 10 The Choir of Westminster Abbey, led by musical director, James O’Donnell, will sing during the Queen’s service.
Founded in the late 14th century, the world-renowned, all-male choir is made up of 30 boys, who all attend the Abbey’s Choir School, and 12 professional adult singers, known as Lay Vicars.
The choir will be joined by The Choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, who previously sang alongside the Abbey’s singers when the Queen’s coffin was brought to lie in state at Westminster Hall on Wednesday 14 September .
The Choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal is based at St James’ Palace and its history can be traced back to the 15th century.
As the British Monarch is the head of the Church of England, it is likely music from the Anglican musical tradition will play a large role in Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral programme.
At King George VI’s funeral, the hymns ‘The Strife is O’er, the Battle Done’, and Sir Henry Walford Davies’ anthem ‘God Be in My Head’, were performed.
Queen Elizabeth II also requested Hubert Parry’s ‘Ye Boundless Realms of Joy’ be performed as the final voluntary at her father’s funeral. The final line reads, ‘O therefore raise your grateful voice, and still rejoice the Lord to praise’ which brought the ceremony to a more joyful conclusion.
The Royal Family has confirmed that after the service, “Her Majesty’s Coffin will be borne through the Abbey, returning to the State Gun Carriage for the Procession to Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, arriving at 1pm.
“At Wellington Arch, the Coffin will be transferred to the State Hearse to travel to St George’s Chapel, Windsor for the Committal Service.”
The committal service is a Christian ritual which can include poems, prayers, and music, as a way for loved ones to say goodbye before the deceased is buried.
The Royal Family has confirmed that the Choir of St George’s Chapel will sing during the service, and when the late Queen’s coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault, the Sovereign’s Piper – a musician who plays the bagpipes at the Sovereign’s request – will play a Lament.
Later that evening, a Private Burial will take place in The King George VI Memorial Chapel conducted by the Dean of Windsor for members of Her Majesty’s family.
The queen’s funeral begins today, on Monday, September 19, at 11 am in the UK, 6 am on the East Coast of the US. It will take place at Westminster Abbey, where the queen married Prince Philip in 1947, and where she was crowned in 1953.
The funeral will be over come this evening and,…how awesome is this! On her 5th anniversary at Monster Radio AJ the DJ Hendry welcomes the fabulous songwriter/musician and UFO band member Neil Carter. He will be joining AJ at 5-00 pm tonight, Monday 19th September. The pair will be chewing the fat and playing Neil’s favourite songs. The subtitle of tonight´s Show is ‘Tracks That Stopped Me In My Tracks’. I´m sure AJ is already looking forward to hearing the stories that go with this playlist so do tune in at Monster Radio Lanzarote 99.9 fm or listen via the web monster radio.es or the radio garden app.
When the funeral is over, of course, continuity has already been assured and we will all step into a new Carolean age, stepping gently into Autumn. So, if you find yourself in the area next weekend, why not take in the closing event in the 2022 Sunday afternoon series Jazz at Oaken Grove Vineyard
The Vineyard is located at Benhams Lane, Fawley, Henley-on-Thames RG9 6JG.
Gates open at 1pm and guests are welcome to enjoy drinks and food on the wine terrace before the jazz starts. See food and wine details below. Tables for 2 – 6 people are available.
Each table of 6 booked will receive a complimentary bottle of wine.
Sunday 25 September 1pm – 6pm
LATIN WAVE: jazz and lunch club
Denny Ilett guitar
Art Themen tenor sax (right)
Andy Crowdy bass
1pm onwards, food from 1:30pm, music at 3pm
£20 per person. Tables for up to 6 people
Food £22.50 per person (see Latin Wave Menu below)
Full information and tickets
This could be a fabulous way to drop the curtain on summer and set off picking up and kicking up those autumn leaves…
Antonio Carlos Jobim is widely regarded as one of the most important song writers of the 20th Century and as the inventor of Bossa Nova. If you don’t recognise his name, you will definitely recognise his tunes! His most famous song The Girl from Ipanema has been sung by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Amy Winehouse. Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Toots Thielemans have all used his tunes and many have become ‘jazz standards’ played by jazz bands all over the world.
Latin Wave Menu
Accompanying the music will be latin-inspired food from Marlow’s Little Urban Chef. Available to pre-order, the food is prepared in its characteristic one-pan, open-air style and you can choose from a meat or vegetarian option.
Cuban Ropa Vieja
Whole beef brisket slow cooked in a sauce with onions, peppers, garlic, jalapenos and spices.
Cuban Black Beans (v)
Slow cooked in a light stock with chilli, cumin and garlic finished with sour cream, sliced avocado and coriander.
Both served with:
Rice, Sliced tomatoes Crusty bread and Lime wedges
Each table of 6 booked in advance will receive a complimentary bottle of wine. Wines from our own vineyard as well as guest wines, local beers and soft drinks will be served at the bar.
But even before the weekend arrives, you might like to hear some of your favourite music as you reflect on the changing times, so why not tune into the latest edition of Hot Biscuits, presented by our friend Steve Bewick? You can find him at mix cloud.
Look out for his occasional You Tube recommendations, too.