The Office of Matins begins with the plainsong Laudes Regiae
, or Royal acclamations, sung on great and joyful occasions (such as coronations) since the time of the Emperor Charlemagne (742–814). It is likely that a version of the Laudes Regiae
was sung at Edward’s Coronation in Winchester Cathedral. The Laudes
were adapted for the context of their use, and the saints invoked specially chosen for the circumstances of the performance. This present-day version is based on the famous medieval English source from Worcester Cathedral. It begins by invoking the intercession of the saints associated with Westminster Abbey (including, of course, St Edward) for the Queen, and then goes on to acclaim Christ as King. With its powerful litany-like momentum and tuneful character it is not hard to see why this has become one of the most celebrated plainsong melodies.
from notes by James O'Donnell © 2006