And now I may turn, without passing beyond the bounds of the pulpit on such an occasion as the present, to look at the great illustration of the Christian ideal which the royal life, now closed, has given. I venture to say that, without exaggeration and without irreverence, our Queen might have taken, for her own, the declaration of our Lord Himself on this occasion: “I am among you as one who serves.” She served her people by the diligent discharge of the duties that were laid upon her. During a strenuous reign of sixty-three years [1837-1901 – RZ], she left no arrears, nothing neglected, nothing postponed, nothing undone. In sorrow, as in joy, when life was young and the love of husband and family were joys anew, as when husband and children were taken away and she was an old woman, lonelier because of her throne, she labored as “ever in the great Taskmaster’s eye.” That was serving her nation by the will of God. She served her people by that swift, sincere sympathy which claimed a share alike in great national and in small private sorrows. Was there some shipwreck or some storm that widowed humble fisherfolk in their villages? The Queen’s sympathy was the first to reach them. Were the blinds drawn down in some colliery village because of an explosion? The Queen’s message was there to bring a gleam of light into darkened homes. Did some great name in literature or science pass away? Who but she was first to recognize the loss, to speak gracious words of appreciation? Did some poor shepherd die in the strath where she made her Highland home? The widowed Queen was beside the widowed peasant, to share and to solace. Knowing sorrow herself only too well, she had learned to run to the help of the wretched. Dowered doubly with a woman’s gift of sympathy, she had not let the attitude of a throne freeze its flow.
She served her people yet more by letting them feel that she took them into her confidence, spreading before them, in the days of her widowhood, the cherished records that her happy pen had written in the vanished days of her wifehood, opening her heart to us in mute petition, that we might give our hearts to her. She served her people by the simplicity of her tastes and habits in these days of senseless luxury and fierce, sensuous excitement of living. She served her people by the purity of her life and, so far as she could, by putting a barrier around her court, across which nothing that was foul could pass. “He who works iniquity shall not tarry in my house,” said an ancient king, on taking his throne. And our Queen, to the utmost of her power, said the same and frowned down – stern, for once, in a righteous cause – impurity in high places. Una had her lion, and this protest of a woman’s delicacy against the vices of modern society is not the least of the services for which we have to thank her.
Let me remind you that all this patient self-surrender had its roots in Christian faith. She had taken her Lord for her example because her faith had knit her to Him as her Savior.
Therefore, she, as no other English sovereign, conquered the heart of the nation and was best loved by the best men and women. Never was there a more striking confirmation of the truth that whoever, in any region, reigns to serve will serve to reign. – Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910), from a meditation on Luke 22.25-26.
Note: Queen Victoria died on Tuesday, January 22, 1901, at the age of 81, after 63 years as Queen of England. The earliest Lord’s Day on which this sermon could have been preached was the following Sunday, January 27, 1901.