St Giles’ minister honoured to speak for nation at Royal Thanksgiving service
Published on 13 September 2022 4 minutes read
Rev Calum MacLeod, the minister of St Giles' Cathedral said it had been nerve-wracking, but also a great honour to be able to recognise The Queen's service on behalf of the nation.
Mr Macleod delivered the call to worship and opening prayer at the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Her Majesty The Queen in St Giles' Cathedral on Monday afternoon.
He began with a brief reference to the role which the High Kirk of Edinburgh had played in Scotland over its almost 900-year history.
"I welcome you all to the High Kirk, this ancient parish church of Edinburgh. Welcome to all around the world who are watching this broadcast.
"Here at St Giles', John Knox confronted Mary Queen of Scots. Here, James VI argued about liturgy. Here, Oliver Cromwell preached. Here, Parliament sometimes met. Here, our late Queen received the honours of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny rested on its return to Scotland.
"We are graced by the presence of The King and members of the Royal Family.
"Present here are representatives of our nation's life. Present here are people whose lives were touched by The Queen in so many unforgettable ways.
"We gather here to bid Scotland's farewell to our late monarch, whose life of service to the nation and the world we celebrate, and whose love for Scotland was legendary.
"Let us worship God."
After the choir sang the Preces, "O Lord open thou our lips", Rev MacLeod offered these prayers:
"Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth
The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.
"Eternal and ever-blessed God, receive us in Your mercy, and grant us the comfort
and peace of your Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
"Almighty and everlasting God,
You send forth Your Spirit and we are created.
You richly endow us each with gifts
to bring blessing to ourselves and to others.
You enrich the life of our communities and our world
and at life's completion You rejoice to welcome us
into your nearer presence.
"We gather at this time a sorrowing nation,
yet remembering with gratitude
the long life and reign of your servant Elizabeth, our Queen,
and for the many gifts and graces
with which You endowed her,
for her faithfulness to the trust committed to her,
and for all the benefits which through her
You have conferred upon this people.
"High King of heaven,
help us, by the faith in which she lived and died,
to cherish those virtues which were dear to her heart and mind,
and bring us with her
when our days on earth are ended
into Your heavenly presence and glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."
Service's Scottish flavour
Speaking after the Service of Thanksgiving, Rev Calum MacLeod said: "It was poignant, meaningful and a great honour to be the person who gets this chance to say a few words on behalf of the nation with thanksgiving for The Queen's life and service."
Mr MacLeod, who has been minister at St Giles' since 2014, added that he had worked very closely with the Dean of the Chapel Royal, Professor David Fergusson, The Queen's chief chaplain in Scotland, to mark the Scottish nature of the service, such as including the Gaelic psalm sung by Karen Matheson, best known as the lead singer of the folk group Capercaillie.
"It was very much our sense that we wanted to reflect the tradition of the Church of Scotland in the service because we all know The Queen loved Scotland so much and was a member of the Church of Scotland," he added.
Mr MacLeod, who has met The Queen on a number of occasions and preached in her presence both at St Giles' and Crathie Kirk near Balmoral, said the public response had taken people's breath away with crowds eight deep on the Royal Mile prior to the Service of Thanksgiving.
"The people of Scotland have come out to pay their respects and that has been a lovely thing to be a part of," he continued.
"It is a great honour for us to host the vigil for The Queen and welcome so many people from around the world into the Cathedral. We are pleased with how the Cathedral looks and we are happy for people to come in and experience the transcendent beauty of a great, medieval house of prayer."
Rev Calum MacLeod also stressed that the response of the Church of Scotland to The Queen's loss had very much been a team effort and highlighted the continuing work of the Royal Chaplains who were providing a vigil for The Queen's coffin while it remained at rest in St Giles' Cathedral, and offering pastoral care to any of the thousands of visiting mourners who might be in need.