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Traditional coronation anthem “I Was Glad” to be sung at King Charles’s Coronation

Coronations have a list of traditional songs sung during the service; “I Was Glad” is one such anthem.

It is a traditional anthem, sung in the Church of England, was composed by Sir Hubert Parry and created from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer consisting of verses from Psalms 122 (1-3, 6, 7). The title itself was taken from the opening verse.

The anthem was initially commissioned for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 and has been sung at every coronation of a British monarch since.

Most of the anthem’s content is a prayer, wishing for peace and prosperity of Jerusalem, and the anthem’s place in the coronation shows a clear parallel between the United Kingdom and Jerusalem. Later, in 1916, this was clearly defined in William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem,” which was also set to music by Sir Hubert Parry.

In 1911, Parry revised the anthem, during which he added a more grandeur introduction to incorporate brass fanfares and antiphonal choir effects, along with the Latin central section “Vivat Regina or Vivat Rex,” meaning “Long Live the King/ Queen,” specifically for the coronation of King George V.

This section of the anthem has been rewritten each time a new monarch has been crowned king or queen since. The anthem is also performed at royal weddings and state visits.

On 2 June 1953, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place at Westminster Abbey, and “I Was Glad” was sung by the choir as the Queen entered the abbey via the west door and proceeded through into the church itself.

In keeping with tradition, at the Coronation of King Charles III on Saturday, 6 May 2023, “I Was Glad” will be sung by the choir of Westminster Abbey upon the King’s arrival.

The anthem begins with the full choir singing in unison; the choristers will then divide into two sections for the lyrics “Jerusalem is builded [sic].” Next, the semi-chorus will sing the central section, praying for the peace of Jerusalem, before the whole choir comes together once again as the music builds up to the final crescendo.

Although the re-worked anthem for King Charles III is yet to be revealed, the first verse will remain the same and will begin as follows:

“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
Jerusalem is builded as a city that is at unity in itself. 

“O pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces.”

About author

Susan is an Actress, Vocalist, Voice-over artist and Writer. She graduated from the University of Salford with a BA (HONS) Music Degree and spent some time travelling around Europe with various choirs, during which time she also performed in the opening ceremony of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games before pursuing her acting and writing career.