Sunday was the 60th Anniversary of the Coronation of Elizabeth II. A commemorative service will be held today in Westminster Abbey. In his book, In the Beginning; The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Cultures, Alister McGrath wrote that the Queen commanded a Bible be given to every child born in Britain during her coronation year of 1953.
As part of her Jubilee Celebration last year, the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne in 1952 upon the death of her father, George VI, the Queen asked that copies of the New Testament be distributed through churches and schools in Great Britain. The latest statistics I’ve seen from late May 2012 stated more than 655,000 Diamond Jubilee New Testaments had been ordered by churches. Those numbers may seem small in U.S. terms, but it is encouraging considering the present spiritual state of Britain and the fact that the demand greatly exceeded original expectations.
The prayer of the famous Fleet Street journalist, Hugh Redwood, who was wonderfully converted and subsequently served in The Salvation Army for a number of years, was quoted in one of the advertisements for the replica Coronation Bible: “Lord, please make us the people we once thought we were – a people of the Book”.
The Founders were Englishmen before they were Americans, and the Christian faith is written in the story of our nation from its earliest beginnings. Our own Continental Congress “sponsored the publication of a Bible.” Today we can do no less than echo Redwood’s prayer, “Lord, please make us the people we once thought we were—a people of the Book.”
Image from Diamond Jubilee New Testament on Facebook.