Progressive Changes in the Coronation Services

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The earliest-known form of the Coronation service is found in a manuscript said to be derived from a Pontifical of Archbishop Egbert of York (732-766), now in the National Library at Paris. It was probably used at the Coronation of his brother Eadbert, King of Northumbria, in 737-8.

The central feature of the Service is the anointing of the King, and this is followed by the delivery of the royal insignia and by the enthronement. It is interesting to note that in this Service the anthem "Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king" was sung during the anointing, and that this anthem, now set to the music which Handel composed for the Coronation of George II., is still sung at this point in the Service.

The Service was revised both before and after the Norman Conquest. The earlier of these revisions, or recensions as they are usually called, is sometimes known, but without much authority, as the Coronation Order of King Ethelred. This revision is interesting partly from the fact that it was probably the Service used at the Coronation of William the Conqueror, the first of these ceremonies to take place in the Abbey, and partly because from England it spread to France and even further afield and became the basis of the Service used at the Coronations of the medieval French Kings. In this group of manuscripts the actual Coronation precedes the Mass, and for the first time the ring and the sword are included in the royal insignia.

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