Everyone’s family life has rites of passage – rituals or events that mark a major life change. For most of us this might be landmark birthdays, weddings, births, and passing on. Nearly all of us use music as part of our ceremonies and celebrations, using both well-known standards (e.g. the Wedding March) and our personal favourites.

Very few of us mark these occasions with music written especially for them, though Elizabeth II’s life was regularly marked with new music. To mark her passing, here is a very small selection, because there are almost too many to count; for birthdays, for her children, as a memorial to her relatives, in addition to the ceremonial.

Edward Elgar (then Master of the Queen’s Music) wrote his Nursery Suite for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, near the end of his life:

For her Coronation in 1953, there were new works by Arnold Bax, William Walton (two!), William Harris, George Dyson, Ernest Bullock (seven fanfares), and the one we’ve plumped for, Herbert Howells’ Anthem, Behold O God our Defender:

When he was Master of the Queen’s Music (2004-2014), Peter Maxwell Davies wrote a Christmas Carol for Elizabeth each year, and in 2006 set Andrew Motion’s ‘The Golden Rule’ to music for her 80th Birthday, with a second setting ‘A Little Birthday Music’ for children to sing, first performed at the Queen’s Birthday Prom in 2006. Sadly, we can’t find any links to these at all!

The current holder of what is now the Master of the King’s Music is Dame Judith Weir and by the time you read this, the music written by her for the Queen’s State Funeral has been broadcast. We have shared the anthem ‘By Wisdom’ written for the Platinum Jubilee thanksgiving service before – but it is lovely, and worth another outing.

Here’s the whole service; the Anthem begins at 2:50 (that’s two hours 50 minutes in, not two minutes and 50 seconds!):

BBC iPlayer - The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee - A Service of Thanksgiving

In remembrance of the Queen: