In common with many other churches across the country (including Holy Trinity Church Guildford), on the eve of his funeral, Guildford Cathedral's evening service on 16 April included Thanksgiving for the life of the Duke of Edinburgh. Elements of the service had been put together by the Royal Household.
In a perfectly timed and faultlessly executed 35 minute service, there was much to reflect on as the evening sunshine streamed through the Cathedral windows. For example, the traditional opening sentences of scripture for a funeral service, the well-known reading about the man standing at the Gate of the Year "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God" read by Shahid Azeem (High Sheriff of Surrey), the prayers led the Michael More-Molyneux (Lord Lieutenant of Surrey) and the commendation led by Dianna Gwlliams (the Dean of Guildford) "Into your hands, O Father and Lord, we commit your servant Philip".
In a short homily, Jo Bailey Wells (the Bishop of Dorking) reflected on the Duke of Edinburgh's many visits to Surrey over the years, not least to the Cathedral for its consecration in 1961 and its 50th anniversary in 2011. He had opened many Surrey institutions for example the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey, the new glasshouse at the RHS Gardens Wisley, the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking and Christ's College Guildford. And on her way to the service, she had passed a group of teenagers getting ready for their weekend hike in the Surrey Hills as part of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
Like all people, Prince Philip was "a loved and cherished child of God, now free from all limitations" (from the Introduction to the service).
Earlier in the week, Richard Teal and Carolyn Lawrence (the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference) had offered the following prayer -
Lord God, we give thanks for the long life of Prince Philip. For all that he has contributed to our nation and beyond, and for his support for our Queen. We pray that he will be at rest, trusting in the grace of God. We remember before you her Majesty the Queen and her family, praying that they will know your comfort and strength in the days to come. In Jesus' name, Amen.
The Wey Valley Methodist Circuit sends its deepest condolences to The Queen and the members of her family.