The first Scripture passage read at Prince Phillip’s funeral last weekend was a poem from Sirach 43: 11-26. Sirach is one of the books of the apocrypha, a set of Scriptures that have not always been included in the Biblical canon. I hadn’t heard this particular passage before and it was so descriptive I decided to look for some photos of mine to illustrate it.
Look at the rainbow and praise its Maker; it shines with a supreme beauty, rounding the sky with its gleaming arc, a bow bent by the hands of the Most High. His command speeds the snow storm and sends the swift lightning to execute his sentence.
To that end the storehouses are opened, and the clouds fly out like birds. By his mighty power the clouds are piled up and the hailstones broken small. The crash of his thunder makes the earth writhe, and, when he appears, an earthquake shakes the hills.
At his will the south wind blows, the squall from the north and the hurricane. He scatters the snow-flakes like birds alighting; they settle like a swarm of locusts.The eye is dazzled by their beautiful whiteness, and as they fall the mind is entranced. He spreads frost on the earth like salt, and icicles form like pointed stakes.
A cold blast from the north, and ice grows hard on the water, settling on every pool, as though the water were putting on a breastplate. He consumes the hills, scorches the wilderness, and withers the grass like fire. Cloudy weather quickly puts all to rights, and dew brings welcome relief after heat.
By the power of his thought he tamed the deep and planted it with islands. Those who sail the sea tell stories of its dangers, which astonish all who hear them; in it are strange and wonderful creatures, all kinds of living things and huge sea-monsters. By his own action he achieves his end, and by his word all things are held together.
Prince Philip was a passionate environmentalist who helped found the World Wildlife Fund and served for many years as its president. People eulogizing him in the last weeks frequently pointed to his dedication to conservation and environmental causes. Perhaps that explains why he chose this particular passage to be read at his funeral.