When that last piece of soil was removed to reveal a leg bone in a trench in a car park who could have imagined what was to follow. Two and a half years later and a King is to be reburied a hundred steps from that spot and Leicester has witnessed one of the most extraordinary weeks in it’s history.

On Sunday, many thousands lined the streets of villages, towns and the city to witness the King’s final journey and over three days of Repose over twenty thousand people have quietly, patiently and reverently visited the cathedral in dignified silence to pay their respects to the King.

Today we lay the King to rest and we will be guiding you through the service as it happens.

The Dean David Monteith posted this to the Cathedral Facebook page
We lay the remains of King Richard to their final rest in a service at 1130am with 700 invited guests. Many more will fill Jubilee Square and gather at the Clock Tower to watch the processions and service on large screens. May he and all who died in the Wars of the Roses rest in peace and rise in glory.

Introducing the background to the service is John Florance.

It is important to reiterate that the funeral of Richard III has already happened over 500 years ago in the church of the Grey Friars just south of the church which is now Leicester Cathedral. The service taking place today is a solemn service for the reinterment of human remains. (Actually, only of the King’s remains because, as is well known, his feet are missing.) What is happening during this service is distinct from a funeral. It is a service during which the mortal remains of a king are reburied with dignity and honour to make up for the lack of dignity and honour with which his corpse was originally treated.

There is no liturgical precedent for the reburial of a king. But there exists the record of a medieval service for the reburial of the human remains of a noble person. This was discovered and researched by Dr. Alexandra Buckle, from St Anne’s and St Hilda’s Colleges in the University of Oxford. Dr Buckle, an expert in medieval music and liturgical adviser to the Liturgy Committee, found the only known surviving description of the prayers and music used for reburying medieval nobles. She has ascertained that reburial was a major event in the 15th Century and it was surprisingly widespread.

Her research has shown that reburials had their own separate service (which was, of course, in Latin and had features in common with Morning Prayer) quite distinct from an ordinary funeral. In some cases reburial was a practical matter. If an aristocrat was killed in battle he was likely to be buried quickly in the nearest available graveyard and then later moved to somewhere grander. Richard III would have attended such reburials in his own lifetime, including that for his own father. Dr Buckle’s research has found that such reburial services were carried out from the 14th Century through to the early part of the 16th Century.

The service Dr Buckle discovered has been used as the basis for the service of reinterment for Richard III. Richard was a devout man; his devotional books have survived with his own notes in the margin. Dr Buckle believes he would have expected such a religious service.

In revising the 15th century service the Liturgy Committee have borne in mind a number of principles which can be outlined as follows:

  • The burial of the king’s bones cannot simply be a re-enactment of how things may have happened in the 15th Rather, it needs to be real and credible to the contemporary Christian church.
  • Minimal changes to be made to Dr Buckle’s literal translation of the Latin prayers. But the language has been updated to conform to modern practice.
  • The prayer for the soul of the King has been made to conform to the current practice of the liturgy of the Church of England. In other words, the context is of all faithful departed and prayer for our own selves beyond the grave. (This is dealt with in more detail in the commentary below)
  • The service vitally incorporates the drama of the journey of the bones from the west end of the church (where the font is located) to the east end where he is reburied in the newly created Chapel of Christ the King. The bones are carried by prayer and the music of the choir.

To put it simply, the Liturgy Committee has used the research of Dr. Buckle as a basis to devise a contemporary service deeply rooted in history. There are elements in the liturgy that Richard would have recognised and also elements in the music he would have known, including plainsong. But the service, emphatically, is neither pastiche nor an ‘authentic’ recreation of a medieval service.

Dr Buckle has summed up the significance of the re-interment like this:

“We know Richard III had a very meagre night-time burial, probably just a basic requiem. He was covered in wounds, probably not embalmed. There may have been a shroud, but there is no trace of it, or he may have been buried naked, as it shows how rushed this was.”

She concludes:

“This will give him the funeral he never had.”


Crowds are being to build. The media are gathering and hopefully the rain is easing

Relive Sundays events and take a look through our gallery



In his day King Richard III styled himself

“By the Grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland”

and in these Services for his reinterment we have followed that same ascription.

Click the image for full copy of the service book so you can follow along with the service.

Orders of Service.JPG



The Queen’s Division Band, augmented by musicians from the Royal Signals Band, leads the Path Liners, comprising Regular and Reserve troops from No. 2 Company 3rd Battalion Royal Anglian (Territorial) Regiment, march from the Leicester City Centre Clock Tower to the Cathedral. These troops reflect Richard as a ‘warrior king’, the last King of England to die in battle.

On arrival at the Cathedral, the band continues to play outside as the Path Flankers flank the porch.

Inside the Cathedral the organists plays

The Queene’s Alman from The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book  –  William Byrd (c.1540-1623)

Voluntary in D minor Op. 5      –     John Stanley (1712-1786)
Allegro – Adagio – Allegro

Benedictus from Sonata Britannica Op. 152    –    Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)

Maestoso from Sonata in E flat       –      Edward Bairstow (1874-1946)

Hymn Prelude on King’s Lynn    –  Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)

Solemn Prelude ‘In Memoriam’ from For the Fallen Op. 80iii   –     Edward Elgar (1857-1934) arr. Harvey Grace (1874-1944)

Representatives from groups with special connections to the story of King Richard III enter the Cathedral, each group led by a pair of cadets, and process to their seats:

Representatives from the Looking for Richard Project team, who, along with the University of Leicester, led the search for King Richard III’s grave

Representatives from the team led by the University of Leicester who worked on the discovery and identification of King Richard III

Representatives from the Richard III Society, who, since 1924, have been promoting research into the life and times of King Richard III

The direct all-female-line and all-male-line descendants of King Richard III who donated DNA to aid the identification of his remains

Present-day representatives of noble families from the Wars of the Roses (listed over with name the historic person from 1485 or the Wars of the Roses with whom they are connected.) *

Clergy and Parish Councils representing the Bosworth villages and parishes that have had the King Richard III story as an integral part of their local heritage for over 500 years

Descendants of soldiers and personnel present at the Battle of Bosworth

A group of young people, including pupils from schools in Bosworth, representing the future of Leicester and Leicestershire

Civic leaders and senior figures from the Leicester Cathedral Quarter Partnership Board, the group of organisations that came together to plan and organise the events of this week of Reinterment.


* The representatives are


Supporters of the House of York

Edward Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk Sir John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk **
David Manners, 11th Duke of Rutland Sir Robert Manners of Etal *
Christopher Nevill, 6th Marquess of Abergavenny Lady Anne Neville
James Stourton, on behalf of 27th Baron Mowbray Anne Mowbray, 11th Baroness Mowbray
David Herbert, 19th Baron Herbert William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Robin Devereux, 19th Viscount Hereford Sir Walter Devereux, Baron Ferrers of Chartley **
James Frankland, 18th Baron Zouche John la Zouche, 7th Baron Zouche *
Richard Cornwall-Legh, 6th Baron Grey of Codnor Henry Grey, 4th Baron Grey of Codnor
Harry Orde-Powlett, 8th Baron Bolton John Scrope, 5th Baron Scrope of Bolton
Harry Scrope, Scrope of Danby John Scrope, 5th Baron Scrope of Bolton
Ralph Assheton, 2nd Baron Clitheroe Sir Ralph Assheton of Middleton
John Wake, on behalf of Sir Hereward Wake, 14th Baronet Roger Wake of Blisworth, Northamptonshire *



Supporters of the House of Lancaster

Geoffrey Somerset, 6th Baron Raglan Lady Margaret Beaufort
Edward Stanley, 19th Earl of Derby Thomas Stanley, 3rd Baron Stanley *
Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 22nd Earl of Shrewsbury Sir Gilbert Talbot of Grafton *
Charles Courtenay, on behalf of 18th Earl of Devon Sir Edward Courtenay of Tiverton *
Alexander Fothergill, on behalf of 8th Baroness Braye Sir Reginald Bray of Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire *



Other Connected Persons

Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms College of Arms incorporated in 1484
Peter O’Donoghue, York Herald College of Arms incorporated in 1484
Richard Dannatt, Constable of the Tower Sir Robert Brackenbury, Constable of the Tower **


John Seargent pays tribute to Leicester ‘It’s Leicester University that did it… well done Leicester’

The Bishop and The Dean  wait in Cathedral Gardens for the arrival of the Royal Party.


The Queens Message

The reinterment of King Richard III is an event of great national and

international significance. Today we recognise a King who lived through
turbulent times and whose Christian faith sustained him in life and death.

The discovery of his remains in Leicester has been described as one of
the most significant archaeological finds in this country’s history.

King Richard III, who died aged 32 in 1485 during the Battle of
Bosworth, will now lie in peace in the City of Leicester in the heart of England.

I have fond memories of my visit to Leicester Cathedral in 2012 and I am
delighted to learn that its re-ordering has been completed in time for the
reinterment Service.

I send my sincere thanks to the University of Leicester, members of the
Church and other authorities in Leicester who have made this important
occasion possible.


26 March 2015


The Countess of Wessex arrives on Peacock Lane



The congregations stands as the Dean and Bishop of Leicester lead HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO, accompanied by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire Jennifer, Lady Gretton, and HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO and HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO, accompanied by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire Colonel Murray Colville TD DL

The Bearer Party move to shoulder the coffin during the Eulogy

The Eulogy is written and read by Prof. Gordon Campbell MA, DPhil, DLitt, Dr hc, FBA, FSA, FLS, FRHistS, FRGS, FRAS. He was Professor of Renaissance Studies and University Public Orator of the University of Leicester. Prof. Campbell has produced a multitude of academic and popular books including a best selling volume about the King James Version of the Bible published in 2011 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its publication. His main project at present is working for the Museum of the Bible, which will open in Washington DC on 17 November 2017. His principal responsibility concerns the section of the Museum devoted to Biblical archaeology and the history of the Bible, but he is also involved in many other aspects of the planning process. Prof. Campbell was a member of the Liturgy Committee which devised the services for the re-interment of Richard III

Full text of Eulogy

We are assembled today to receive the mortal remains of an anointed King of England in the cathedral that will be his final resting place. This is not a funeral at which we mourn, but rather a service of remembrance that provides a dignified context for the re-interment of the last King of England to die in battle. Richard was in effect crowned twice; his coronation was in Westminster Abbey, but he revived the Norman practice of a crown-wearing’ ceremony a a service in York Minster. Just as at this second crowning Richard sat in state, so at this his second interment he has lain in repose, and on this occasion many people have been able to pay their respects.

Richard was a son of the Midlands who had strong ties with the North and South of England, and with Wales. He was born in Fotheringhay, his family seat in Northamptonshire, 35 miles east of here. He died at Bosworth Field, in Leicestershire, 14 miles west of here, and was buried in the Franciscan church a few yards from this Cathedral. When he was eight, he moved with his mother to London, and a few months later his father and his elder brother Edmund were killed in battle. When the Lancastrian forces reached London, Richard and his surviving brother were sent to Utrecht and then Bruges for safety. When he returned to England, at the age of nine, Richard was created duke of Gloucester. He entered the household of the earl of Warwick, where he was to remain until 1468, when he was 16, by which time the disability that may have left him in pain for the rest of his life is likely to have become apparent. Thereafter Richard became constable of England and chief minister of Wales. In 1471, he was granted the Neville Castle in Middleham, where he had lived for almost three years as a child, and so established a strong link with Yorkshire. When he was appointed steward of the duchy of Lancashire, he became, in effect, the representative of the crown in the north of England as well as the most powerful figure in Wales.

On 26 June 1483 Richard, aged 30, was proclaimed King of England; 26 months later, aged 32, he was dead, slain at Bosworth Field, and his body was carried in ignominy to Leicester. Richard’s posthumous reputation has been less than glorious, because in the sixteenth century, many people, including Shakespeare, judged him harshly. In recent decades, however, that adverse judgement has been challenged. Indeed, Richard III has the greatest following of all English monarchs, apart from our present Queen. Organisations such as the Richard III Society are the visible manifestations of a sentiment that draws huge numbers of people to King Richard. Many still have an emotional bond to King Richard, and stand ready to defend him against criticism. Our purpose today is not to enter into argument about whether or not Richard was a good king, or even a good man. We do, however, remember some of the indisputable facts of his life. He was a faithful son of the church. He had a disability that inhibited movement and may have caused him pain. His only legitimate son, Prince Edward, died about the age of nine in 1484; according to one chronicler, Richard and his Queen were for a long time ‘almost out of their minds with grief’. A year later, Richard’s consort, 28-year-old Queen Anne,followed their son to the grave; she is buried in Westminster Abbey. Richard was also predeceased by his sister of York, the Duchess of Exeter, who is buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Lady Anne has been an important presence in the genetic analysis of the bones found in the car park a few yards from here, because mitochondrial DNA is passed down through the female line. Richard inherited his mitochondrial DNA from his mother, and his sister passed it down through the generations, where those who inherited it include Michael Ibsen, who not only assisted the University with its research, but also carved the carved in which King Richard will soon be buried.

The recovery and identification of the bones of King Richard was the work of the University of Leicester’s archaeology team, led by Richard Buckley, and of scientists and historians in other University departments. Beyond the University, valuable assistance has been afforded by Philippa Langley (on behalf of the Looking for Richard Project and the Richard III Society), Sir Peter Soulsby (on behalf of the City of Leicester), The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester (on behalf of the Church) and Lady Gretton, our Lord Lieutenant (on behalf of the Crown). All these people, and many others, have contributed to the process that has culminated in this service, in which we commit the mortal remains of King Richard to their final resting place.

The Opening Prayer – This is a translation of opening prayer from the medieval rite of reburial.

Hear our prayers, O Lord,
as we beseech you to have mercy upon the souls of your servants
whom you have commanded to pass out of this world.
Draw them into the realm of light and peace,
and welcome them to be among your faithful departed
through Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


The Cathedral Procession, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Leicester, walks into the Cathedral whilst the congregation sing ‘O God of earth and altar’.  The Cathedral Procession leads the coffin eastwards from the font to the plinth and King.

K Chesterton (1874 -1936) who wrote the hymn was a novelist, poet, essayist, biographer and Roman Catholic apologist. He is probably best known for his Father Brown stories.

The music is an English traditional melody collected and arranged by the great English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 -1958). He was very much involved in the English Folk Song revival. The English Hymnal (1906), which he edited, includes many folk-song arrangements as hymn tunes as well as several of his own original compositions.

The hymn’s opening echoes the first prayer in its plea for God to incline his ear to our prayers. It contrasts the imperfections of Earthly life (not least as exemplified by our faltering rulers) with the need for humankind to be united under God.

The Dean welcomes the congregation…’Today we are committing his mortal remains to consecrated ground in the cathedral.’

The Dean begins by speaking the ‘trinitarian formula’: ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ referring to the three persons of the Christian Trinity. These words are quoted from a command of the resurrected Jesus in Matthew 28:19, commonly called the Great Commission: ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’

The quotation from the Book of Genesis has, of course relevance to the re-interment of Richard III’s bones. The context for this verse is that Joseph, one of the most significant persons in the Old Testament, has reached the age of 110 and calls his brothers to him and makes them swear that they will carry his bones out of Egypt to the Promised Land when he dies. The children of Israel remembered their oath, and when they left Egypt during the Exodus, Moses took Joseph’s bones with him. The Israelites entered the Promised Land by crossing the River Jordan, which in Christian thought has come to represent the moment of transition to new life, when our sins are washed away and we pass from Earth to Heaven. It is this passing that we celebrate today as we commend the soul of Richard to God. This story weaves through the service providing it with a central theme and argument. This is also the theme of the mediaeval burial rite. 
This is followed by the Lord’s Prayer


Richard’s Book of Hours, found in his tent after the Battle of Bosworth, is placed on the coffin by HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

The Collect makes direct reference to the story of Joseph’s death and the carrying of his body out of Egypt. This collect only exists in the medieval rite of reinterment.


“Kindly and mercifully receive us with your servant Richard,

whose bones we transfer to a new tomb today.

May the shadow of death not govern us

nor chaos and darkness consume us,

but, cleansed from the stains of all sin,

may we be gathered at a place of refreshment in the bosom of Abraham.”


Psalm 114, accompanied by the plainsong Latin Antiphon ‘In paradisum’,

traditionally used at funerals and services of remembrance.


Sung by the choir to plainsong, unforgettably focuses on the miracles wrought by God, when he brought his people out of Egypt. He led them to the Promised Land, took them through the Red Sea, which became dry for them, and guided them over the River Jordan which also became dry for them, and so on. These are a just ground for fearing God.

The antiphon, In paradisum, is a section of the Latin Mass for the Dead. The English translation is: May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem. May choirs of angels welcome you and lead you to the bosom of Abraham; and where Lazarus is poor no longer may you find eternal rest.

The final words, ‘Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them’ is an ancient prayer, originally in Latin, asking God to hasten the progression of the souls of the faithful departed to their place in heaven.



The Reading  Exodus 13.19-22 read by HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GVCO

The Reading, from the Old Testament Book of Exodus, continues the story of the travels of Joseph’s bones. God leads Moses and the Israelites in the form of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This story is the inspiration of the glass doors at the east end of the cathedral. On one is depicted cloud on the other fire.


Psalm 138

accompanied by the plainsong Latin Antiphon ‘De terra’.

This Psalm is a song of praise to a God who regards the meek and lowly but who distances himself from the proud. The Psalmist prays that God will not despise humankind – the work of His hand. The Antiphon, from Genesis, is again from the story of Joseph and the journey of his mortal remains.

From the earth you formed me, with flesh
you clothed me; Lord, my Redeemer, raise
me up again at the last day.


Out in Jubilee Square…


The sermon is delivered by The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester

Search, Find, Honour….

The triple mandate given to the Looking for Richard Project four years ago has broken open not just a car park but a nation’s story.

King Richard has stepped from the pages of history into the fullest glare of the world’s attention.  The search has laid to rest half a millennium of mystery surrounding his burial place and revealed that Richard belongs not just to the archaeologists, the chroniclers and the curators, but to all of us.

The crowds who lined the processional route were captivated by an astonishing discovery, a brilliant forensic investigation and an intense public drama.  They have come here in their tens of thousands from around the world, to this ancient place of prayer, not to judge, condemn or praise, but to stand in silent, humble and reverent attentiveness at the meeting place of time and eternity.

“From car park to Cathedral”, the story has challenged the inventiveness of the world’s headline writers, reporters and story tellers.  Whether we are Ricardians or Shakespeareans, whether we see through the eyes of Olivier, McKellen or Cumberbatch, whether we recognise a warrior or a scholarly pious thinker, today we come to accord this King, this child of God, and these mortal remains, the dignity and honour denied them in death.

From the ancient Hebrew Scriptures comes to us the story of the bones of Joseph, the patriarch of his people held in slavery for more than four centuries, and eventually carried to their resting place in the Promised Land.  Their removal and reburial signified the people’s faith in God’s future and their determination never to return to bondage.

Here in Leicester, five hundred years after Bosworth Field, the cityscape of friaries, abbeys and castles from which Richard rode to battle is now embellished by mosques, temples and gurdwaras.  This city which will be home to Richard’s grave now strives to build harmony in place of conflict: to offer to a war torn world a beacon of mutual respect and honour across language, culture and belief.

That mutual respect and honour has been palpable here in the days since the sudden, unexpected revelation of his remains lying in a cramped, unmarked grave forty yards from this Cathedral.  The “Richard Effect” has revealed a deep connection between a global audience and this young King who bore his disability with courage and knew the pain of bereavement and loss close to his own heart.  Many amongst the crowds who have thronged to see the casket came bearing their own burdens of grief; others came to contemplate the reality of their own mortality.  All have confounded the sceptics by their respect for the remains of an anointed King and a baptised Christian whose lot it was to live and die at a turning point of our history.

In an age of celebrity, image and reputation is a commodity in the market place.  Richard’s reputation, so much disputed and contested will, like all great figures of history, continue to clarify and evolve.  But we come to reinter his remains today because reputation does not have the last word, for Richard or for any of us.  This act of reburial draws our attention away from what it is possible to say with any certainty about King Richard towards what can be said with confidence about God, and therefore about all human life.

The creed recited in this Cathedral and every Christian Church affirms a belief in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.  The words speak of a God who is totally committed to what he has made and loved,  and who will not let us go even on the far side of death.  Ultimately, Christians believe in eternal life not because of some particular quality of any individual who has died, but because of what they believe about God.

For eight centuries, in this place, Christians have recognised Jesus Christ as the one who steps from the pages of Scripture to become a living and life giving presence to all who seek him.

The remains of King Richard will lie here between two vivid signs of that presence.  To the East is the new Chapel of Christ the King – dedicated to the one whose kingship had no earthly security beyond the vulnerable, foolish and much despised rejection of violent power and control.

Such kingship is a constant affront to all earthly constructs of power.  Such a kingdom shines a revealing spotlight on the essence of government as public service, embodied in every monarch’s coronation as the Sword of State is laid upon the altar of Westminster Abbey.

At the approach of a General Election, these essential, unifying symbols of our common story point us to the values which unite us, to our responsibility for one another, to the “we” society rather than the “me” society.  Five hundred years after the Wars of the Roses we still face the risk of damaging tribal behaviours, of the destructive instincts which can so quickly turn neighbours into strangers and corrode our sense of the Common Good.

King Richard’s grave stands in the space between that symbol of kingship and the High Altar, where in Christian belief new life is made available to all who seek it in bread and wine.  Around this table we learn to die to self and to realise that death is the inexplicable and inevitable path we must take to the nearer presence of God.

In these two places we are reminded that God’s power is not like that of Kings, Presidents or Prime Ministers.  God is not an infinitely magnified mirror of human control.  We may no longer believe in the divine right of Kings, but we still have some way to go before we recognise the God whose power is most fully seen in weakness.

Yet this is where we choose to lay the remains of King Richard – between the symbols of Christ’s kingship and the table of his intimate presence with us.  They are the two beats of the heart of all who have been called to leadership and service – engagement with the world for the sake of a more just society, and withdrawal in search of God’s nourishment of our souls.

Richard, we may imagine, in his short life was familiar with both.  His Book of Hours, present with us today, reflects his profound faith in and dependence on God’s mercy and love.  In it are the words of this prayer:

“Lord Jesus Christ deign to free me, your servant King Richard, from every tribulation, sorrow and trouble in which I am placed …….hear me in the name of all your goodness, for which I give thanks, and for all the gifts granted to me, because you made me from nothing and redeemed me out of your bounteous love and pity from eternal damnation to promising eternal life.”

We dare to pray for Richard today and for all who have gone before us in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life because it is in God alone that we can trust.  To Him be the power and the glory for all time and for eternity.  Amen.


The Reinterment

The Anthem Ghostly Grace

during which the Bearer Party move the coffin to the grave, accompanied by HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO, HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO, bearing the Book of Hours, and HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, asperges the coffin  using rosemary a herb for remembrance with water from the font as a reminder of baptism. He then censes it, signifying prayer and sacrifice.

As we come to lay the remains of Richard to rest between these two holy places, we do so now in the faith we share with him.  Whether we bear a white or a red rose, whether for Richard or Henry, whether for Stanley or Howard, whether for Leicester or York, we recognise at the graveside that all our journeys lead us to this place where reputation counts for nothing and all human striving falls to dust.


For all worldly joyes they wull not endure,

they are soon passed, and away doth glyde.

For when death striketh he sparith no creature,

nor giveth no warning, but takith them one by one.

And now he abydith God’s mercy and hath no other socure,

for, as ye see hym here, he lieth under this stone.


The Anthem Ghostly Grace is by Judith Bingham and was specially written for this service. The text is drawn from three sources. The first and third sections are from a work by St. Mechtilde of Hackenborn (c1240 -1298), a Benedictine nun from Saxony. She was famous for her musical talents and her mystical visions and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Richard’s library included an English translation of works by St. Mechtilde signed by Richard and his wife. The second section is derived from Psalm 42 from the Wycliffe Bible. (John Wycliffe (c1330 -1348) was a philosopher, theologian, translator and reformer. His followers were known as Lollards and the Lollard movement was a precursor of the Protestant reformation. He died at Lutterworth, Leicestershire, where he was vicar of the parish. Again, Richard’s library contained a Wycliffe Bible signed by him. The text of the final section is the Epitaph for Sir Marmaduke Constable, one of Richard III’s inner circle. It is unknown for certain whether he fought at Bosworth but the likelihood is that he did.

Judith Bingham, one of the country’s best known composers, was born in Nottingham and has composed many works in various genres.

Dr. Chris Ouvry-Johns, Director of music at Leicester Cathedral writes: “The music captures perfectly the broad range of emotions associated with Richard’s story, moving seamlessly yet swiftly from the optimism engendered by faith in ‘God the well of Life’ to despondency at the transitory nature of our earthly existence. It reaches its climax with a vivid depiction of the indiscriminate violence of death who ‘giveth no warning, but takith them one by one’, but this gives way to an feeling of inner peace as the text speaks of God’s abiding mercy. The slow yet regular pulse creates the image of a solemn procession throughout (the tempo marking is ‘at the speed of monks walking’) and the setting of the words from the Revelation of St Mechtild, sung on both occasions when it appears to a rising soprano melody, lends the piece a further, mystical, dimension.”

During the singing of the anthem the coffin is moved to the grave and the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby censes the coffin and blesses it with Holy water thus reminding us of prayer, sacrifice and baptism.

The Prayers

The prayers are read by Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury.

The current Archbishop, Justin Welby, is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury.

The first prayer is from the original medieval rite.

The coffin is lowered into the grave.

The second prayer is from Common Worship.

We have entrusted our brother Richard to God’s mercy,
and we now commit his human remains to the ground:
earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust:
in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who will transform our frail bodies
that they may be conformed to his glorious body,
who died, was buried, and rose again for us.
To him be glory for ever.

The soils sprinkled onto the King’s coffin remind us, in the words of the Book of Genesis: ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’ The Burial service in The Book of Common Prayer contains the well-known phrase ‘earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust’.

The King was born in Fotheringhay Castle in Northampton in1452; Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire was where Richard was brought to learn the skills of knighthood in 1462; Bosworth was, of course, where the King met his death in 1485 ‘fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies’ (Polydore Virgil, Henry VIII’s official historian).


The Responsory is led by The Revd. Monsignor Thomas McGovern, Diocesan Administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nottingham which includes Leicestershire. (In the absence of a diocesan bishop a senior diocesan priest takes over the reigns temporarily. Like the famous Camerlengo in the Vatican after the death of the pope.)


The Celebration of the resurrection

The final sequence of the service celebrates the Christian Hope of the Resurrection. As such it make a joyful contrast to the previous section.

Psalm 150 is the last Psalm in the Book Of Psalms and is the culmination of the book. One commentator calls it ‘the last summit of the mountain chain of Psalms’. It is indeed a joyful hymn of comprehensive praise. Arranged by Philip Moore.



Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Richard’ was commissioned by Leicester Cathedral for this service.

Carol Ann Duffy was appointed poet laureate in May 2009. She is the first woman and the first Scot to hold the post. She was awarded the OBE in 1995 and CBE in 2002 and a DBE in 2015.

The poem is read by Benedict Cumberbatch, the successful film, television and stage actor whose best- known role is that of the eponymous detective in the television series Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch will shortly be seen playing Richard III in the forthcoming series of Shakespeare plays The Hollow Crown on BBC television. Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard III are third cousins, 16 times removed.


My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,

a human braille.  My skull, scarred by a crown,

emptied of history.  Describe my soul

as incense, votive, vanishing; your own

the same.  Grant me the carving of my name.


These relics, bless.  Imagine you re-tie

a broken string and on it thread a cross,

the symbol severed from me when I died.

The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –

unless the Resurrection of the Dead…


or I once dreamed of this, your future breath

in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;

or sensed you from the backstage of my death,

as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.


The Gospel Canticle

The canticle is based on the Benedictus or Song of Zechariah found in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1. The Benedictus was Zechariah’s song of thanksgiving for the birth of his son, John the Baptist. It is one of the canticles in the Anglican service of Morning Prayer. Anne Harrison’s version of the canticle is found in Common Worship (2000). Maurice Bevan (1921-2006) was a British bass-baritone and composer. For 40 years he was a member of the famous Deller Consort, the ensemble which did much to draw attention to the riches of English Baroque and pre-Baroque music. Older people will know his voice well because in Listen With Mother (on the old Home Service on the wireless) he sang, with impeccable diction, the nursery rhymes which were so much a feature of that programme. He wrote a number of services and hymn tunes, the one we hear today, Corvedale, is his most famous.


Archbishop Justin Welby leads The Blessing or Benediction represents a joyful call to faith at the end of a service and an invocation of God’s grace on all present.


The Dismissal Gospel

John 11.25-26

Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.

The Dismissal Gospel is the saying of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John. This is the final statement of Christian Hope in this service.


National Anthem

The first and third verses of the National Anthem are sung in an arrangement by Judith Weir (b.1954) who was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 2014 succeeding Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. She was appointed CBE in 2005. She has composed seven operas and many other works.

The Voluntary

The procession leaves the Cathedral to the first movement of Sir Edward Elgar’s Organ Sonata. It was first performed by the Worcester Cathedral organist Hugh Blair, on 8 July 1895. According to the score inscription, it took Elgar only a week to write the piece.

The Recession. Clergy and guests depart the Cathedral.

A posy is presented to the HRH The Countess of Wessex and the Royal Party make their way back to St Martins House.



Jon Snow“I think Leicester has achieved something quite extraordinary it feels as if the whole community has rallied to this day. I don’t think there is another cathedral or city that could have pulled this off with such perfection”  Jon Snow