THE Coronation service has changed in essentials very little in the last twelve hundred years. There has been a tendency in the past, notably at the Coronation of George IV., and even perhaps at the present day, to regard the Service as a mere piece of splendid pageantry, an outworn survival from an earlier age, a kind of glorified Lord Mayor's Show. Yet Royalists would say that it is the supreme Service of the English Church.
At that Service the Sovereign is solemnly consecrated to the service of his people and becomes the crowned and anointed head of Church, State, and Empire. So far, then, from decreasing in importance, the "hallowing" of the Sovereign, as our forefathers called it, has come to have a significance which has steadily grown with the passage of the centuries.
No service could be too solemn and no symbolism and surrounding pageantry could be too splendid for such a consecration. It is not surprising, therefore, that even in its earliest form, as the late Dr. Armitage Robinson pointed out, it should have been "consciously moulded on the form for the consecration of a Bishop."
And so much is this the case that, although in the Coronation service as we know it today the anointing with the sacred oil takes the place of the imposition of hands, there is some evidence to show that in the most remote times the latter did, in fact, form part of the Service. Even at the present day, both the consecration of a Bishop and the Coronation of a King form part of the Communion Service.