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Zadok the Priest : Handel’s anthem sets to glorious music words sung at English coronations for over a thousand years.
Zadok the Priest

George Frederic Handel’s anthem ‘Zadok the Priest’, shamelessly plagiariased for UEFA’s ‘Champions League Anthem’, has been part of every coronation in England since 1727, and the words were chosen by a saint over a thousand years ago.

KING George II was crowned King of Great Britain in Westminster Abbey on October 11th, 1727.

At the moment of his anointing,* an anthem was sung which had been used at this point in the ceremony ever since the coronation of King Edgar and Queen Ælfthryth in 973, at the hands of St Dunstan (who also compiled the service).

Zadok the Priest, and Nathan the Prophet, anointed Solomon King;
And all the people rejoiced and said,
God save the King!

This recalls the day in about 970 BC, when, at the urging of his wife Bathsheba, the aging King David resigned the throne of Israel to his son Solomon.**

It was court composer George Frederic Handel, however, who picked out this anthem for special treatment at the coronation of King George. His grand setting for choir and orchestra has been sung at every coronation since then, including that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

* Actually, the choir got confused and sang it in the wrong place.

** See 1 Kings 1:29-39.

Zadok the Priest

Performed by ‘The Sixteen’, directed by Harry Christophers.

Find this music (or similar) at Amazon.co.uk

Zadok the Priest, and Nathan the prophet, anointed Solomon King;
And all the people rejoiced and said,
God save the King! Long live the King!
May the King live for ever,
Amen, Allelujah.

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Picture: From Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
King George II of Great Britain, in his coronation robes, painted by Thomas Hudson (1701-1779).
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Music by George Frideric Handel
(1685-1759)

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