In these difficult times, many people are confused and frightened. Matters are not only moving very fast, but it appears that official advice is changing almost in a daily basis, with the continual advance of the SARS-CoV-19 virus. At the Chapel Royal, we had already adopted sensible precautionary measures, such as hand-cleansing on entry etc and the administration of Holy Communion in one kind.
On Monday 16 March, the Government issued fresh advice, to the effect that all people should, if possible, socially isolate and avoid journeys except in cases of necessity. That would include attending gatherings. This particularly applies for those who are over 70 years of age or are vulnerable through having a pre-existing health condition.
There was initially some confusion as to whether that would also include attending religious acts of worship. The Secretary of State for Health later confirmed in the House of Commons that this does. Therefore, it is with sadness that we announce that public services will cease in HM Chapel Royal Hampton Court Palace, with immediate effect.
However, the offering of prayer will not. As with other churches around the world, we will privately continue to offer the Eucharist and the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer here, for HM The Queen, the nation and for you all, for as long as I can. Even if you are unable physically to attend, we can maintain our Chapel Community spiritually and virtually, through prayer, contact, and spiritual communion. We will do everything possible to keep in touch via electronic communications and telephone. Please continue to look at the Chapel’s website, and social media, by which means we will attempt to provide resources for prayer and sustaining your spiritual life. Please do not give up faith or hope. Whilst physically separated, we can still be united by that sacrifice of prayer.
These are frightening times, not least for those of us who find ourselves in the vulnerable category. It is essential that we now make the sacrifice, not only to look after ourselves, but to allow our wonderful health serve the ability to cope, without finding itself overwhelmed. Every life matters since everyone is made in the image of God.
The immediate future is without precedent in recent times. Drastic action and sacrifice is required. But as we know, through the greatest sacrifice of all – that of Jesus in the cross – the fear of Gethsemane and the darkness of Good Friday ultimately lead to the light and new life of Easter. We currently find ourselves in the darkness. With faith, hope and love, we can, and will, get though this, eventually to come together again and celebrate the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice for us in this beautiful and holy place.
Yours in Christ,
Anthony Howe, Chaplain.
Following advice issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Chapel Royal has suspended public worship until further notice. The chapel remains open for private prayer to ticket holders, members and staff. This suspension also includes Sunday lunchtime recitals.
The worshipping life of the chapel will continue in private, and we hold you all in our prayers.
You may wish to follow our Facebook page @ChapelRoyal where will be issuing sermons and other material to help sustain our spiritual life during this difficult time.
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Photography by Richard Champness
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The Chapel Royal
Hampton Court Palace