The sacred ceremonies in which new monarchs are crowned kings and queens in the United Kingdom have significant parallels to the LDS Mormon endowment. These traditions stem from ancient times in English history, and have remained relatively unchanged in form throughout ages. The most recent coronation ceremony was on June 2, 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. This ceremony took place in Westminster Abbey, a well-known ancient church in London, England, signifying that this was a religious ritual.
The reason for the parallels to the temple ordinances is clear. The LDS endowment is, likewise, a coronation ceremony in which members of the House of Israel (Church members) are promised to become kings and queens, priests and priestesses, and are given all the rights, privileges, knowledge, and wisdom necessary in order to make that promise a reality. By doing so, members of the House of Israel become one with Christ (John 17), and therefore receive all that Christ has been given, including a crown, a robe of righteousness, and a throne (Rev. 1:6; Rev. 2:10; Rev. 3:21). The endowment is ancient, being given to our first parents, Adam and Eve. Since that time it has gone through many stages of apostasy, corruption, assimilation, and adoption into many different forms and by many different people. But glimpses of the temple ordinances can still be seen in these practices.
There are several points of interest to take note of in the ceremony, summarized and listed below, when Queen Elizabeth II was initiated, anointed, and consecrated as the sovereign of the United Kingdom: ((The full ceremony can be read at http://www.oremus.org/liturgy/coronation/cor1953b.html))
- A preparation of consecrated oil for the anointing, and a spoon, to be laid upon the altar of the church
- Archbishops already dressed in their Copes [a liturgical vestment or type of robe] and Mitres [ceremonial headdress or cap]
- When the Queen enters the west door of the Church, a Psalm is sung including Ps. 122:1-2, “I was glad when they said unto me: We will go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand in thy gates: O Jerusalem.”
- Administration of an oath, including several questions and affirmative responses after each one by the queen such as “I am willing,” “I solemnly promise so to do,” “I will,” “All this I promise to do.”
- This oath is finalized by the queen going to the altar, kneeling on the steps, and in the sight of all the people as witnesses, laying her right hand on the Bible and saying the words, “The things which I have here promised, I will perform, and keep. So help me God.”
- A communion portion follows including quoting from the Bible. The leading clergy says some words including petitions to cleanse our hearts, grant wisdom to the queen, endure to the end, coming into thy kingdom through Christ, submitting to ordinances, and prayers of incense and uplifted hands as a sacrifice.
- The Archbishop says the following, “O Lord and heavenly Father, the exalter of the humble and the strength of thy chosen, who by anointing with Oil didst of old make and consecrate kings, priests, and prophets, to teach and govern thy people Israel: Bless and sanctify thy chosen servant ELIZABETH, who by our office and ministry is now to be anointed with this Oil, and consecrated Queen: Strengthen her, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost the Comforter; Confirm and stablish her with thy free and princely Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and government, the Spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the Spirit of knowledge and true godliness, and fill her, O Lord, with the Spirit of thy holy fear, now and for ever; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
- The Queen disrobes of the crimson robe, and being thus “uncovered” approaches the altar where she will be anointed. [Other accounts talk about an anointing garment being used during the coronation, but I’m unsure if this was used for Queen Elizabeth II. It is described as a “plain white garment, put on like a coat, but fastened at the back” ((http://www.geocities.com/noelcox/Sovereigns_Coronation_Robes.htm))] The Dean of Westminster and the Archbishop anoint the Queen with oil with the spoon, and do so on various parts of her body including her hands, breast, and crown of her head. Blessings are pronounced upon each part as anointed, including “and after a long and glorious course of ruling a temporal kingdom wisely, justly, and religiously, you may at last be made partaker of an eternal kingdom, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
- The Queen is then clothed with Majesty the Colobium Sindonis [a simple sleeveless white linen shift, also described as a loose undergarment, edged with a lace border] and the Supertunica [long flowing robe woven with national symbols and fastened by a sword belt] or Close Pall of cloth of gold, and a Girdle. ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_of_the_British_monarch))
- Various tokens are brought forth for the Queen to handle, hold in specific hands, or wear while blessings are pronounced, including:
- Spurs – “Hear our prayers, O Lord, we beseech thee, and so direct and support thy servant Queen ELIZABETH,”
- Sword – “With this sword do justice, stop the growth of iniquity, protect the holy Church of God, help and defend widows and orphans, restore the things that are gone to decay, maintain the things that are restored, punish and reform what is amiss, and confirm what is in good order: that doing these things you may be glorious in all virtue; and so faithfully serve our Lord Jesus Christ in this life, that you may reign for ever with him in the life which is to come. Amen.”
- Armills – “Receive the Bracelets of sincerity and wisdom, both for tokens of the Lord’s protection embracing you on every side; and also for symbols and pledges…”
- Robe Royal & Stole Royal – “Receive this Imperial Robe, and the Lord God endue [endow] you with knowledge and wisdom, with majesty and power from on high; the Lord clothe you with the robe of righteousness, and with the garments of salvation. Amen.”
- Orb – “Receive this Orb set under the Cross, and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.”
- Queen’s Ring – “Receive the Ring of kingly dignity, and the seal of Catholic Faith: and as you are this day consecrated to be our Head and Prince, so may you continue stedfastly as the Defender of Christ’s Religion; that being rich in faith and blessed in all good works, you may reign with him who is the King of Kings, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
- Rod with the Dove
- “The Princes and Princesses, the Peers and Peeresses shall put on their coronets and caps, and the Kings of Arms their crowns; and the trumpets shall sound, and by a signal given, the great guns at the Tower shall be shot off.”
- Archbishop says, “God crown you with a crown of glory and righteousness, that having a right faith and manifold fruit of good works, you may obtain the crown of an everlasting kingdom by the gift of him whose kingdom endureth forever. Amen.”
- “And now the Queen having been thus anointed and crowned, and having received all the ensigns of Royalty, the Archbishop shall solemnly bless her: and the Archbishop of York and all the Bishops, with the rest of the Peers and all the people, shall follow every part of the Benediction with a loud and hearty Amen.”
- “And the Lord God Almighty, whose ministers we are, and the stewards of his mysteries, establish your Throne in righteousness, that it may stand fast for evermore. Amen.”
- The Archbishop approaches the queen, kneels, places his hands between the Queen’s, and with everyone else repeating and audibly replacing his name with their own, says “I, Geoffrey, Archbishop of Canterbury will be faithful and true, and faith and truth will bear unto you, our Sovereign Lady, Queen of this Realm and Defender of the Faith, and unto your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.” This same pattern follows with many of the clergy.
- Communion is offered, with many associated prayers and blessings.
The full coronation ceremony can be read here, as I’m sure there are many things I missed. The parallels to the LDS temple endowment and other ordinances are stunning. If our learned critics desire to mock the Prophet Joseph Smith and the ordinances of the temple which were revealed and restored by the Lord Jesus Christ, I wonder if they would, at the same time, be prepared to point fingers at these solemn ceremonies of the coronation rites of one of our world’s most respected sovereigns and nations. I doubt the British people, the royal family, the Church of England, or Queen Elizabeth II would be amused at such defamations, not to mention those that are friendly to and honor such persons and establishments. Neither are members of the LDS Church pleased with the disparagement that often follows exposés of the temple. There exists nothing of sacredness in the mindset of such revilers. Fortunately, the temple practices are in good company.
There are a few Youtube videos that show snippets of the Queen’s coronation ceremony, here, here, and here.
[via Jeff Lindsay]
Forgive me for my continual self serving. But you may like a post I did on a related topic a while back: Stone of Israel.
When I went to England I was sure to see the chair and stone in Westminster Abbey. It has since been moved back to Scotland.
Old Testament scholar Margaret Barker talks about how the Israelite kings were coronated with a very similar ceremony. Its amazing how purely this tradition was passed on. She talks about this in a few of her books, and I recommend looking at her most recent book, “Temple Themes in Christian Worship.” She talks about how the coronation ceremony passed (in modified form) into later Christian practices.
Great article! Thanks!
Anthony E. Larson
The British aren’t alone. Coronation rites the world over and down through time, as Nibley wrote, are nothing more or less than borrowed temple rituals, as is the marriage ceremony. The modern LDS endowment shares this in common with many ancient traditions, including those from Egypt, the Middle East and classical cultures–even Oriental traditions. They all resemble one another because they share a common heritage. That commonality is indicated in our temples, as in all ancient sacred precincts where we universally see depicted astral bodies–suns, stars, planets and moons. They adorn the exterior walls of all our temples for a very good and valid reason. It’s why Joseph Smith read and explained the Egyptian facsimiles, relating the Egyptian gods, goddesses and icons to planets and stars. It’s the reason Abraham was taught, in vision, the basics of ancient astronomy. Understanding the roles that planets or stars (the ancients used both terms for the same astral bodies) played in antiquity is the key to understanding all rituals and rites from whatever culture, including the LDS tradition. Thus, in our temple rites, Joseph Smith attempted to connect us with a cultural tradition that had been lost to modern Christianity. It’s only visible remnants were in myths, cultural traditions such as coronation rites, holy days (holidays) and the scriptures. Now, thanks to Joseph’s visionary insight, we have access to that same temple tradition as our forefathers enjoyed. He connected us to our past–a past that had been denied us since the days of the primitive church and the early Apostles. The temple legacy he left us is the most powerful, physical witness we have of his calling as a prophet of God.
John Pratt wrote for Meridian on this subject in 2003 and has it reprinted on his page with great photos here http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2003/throne.html.