Christmas Worship from Lichfield Cathedral live on BBC 1
13th December 2011
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Christmas Morning worship to be shared live on BBC One from Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral and its community will be beamed into the homes of people all over Britain this Christmas, as the medieval building will be the seasonal setting for the BBC One live Christmas morning broadcast. The historic city of Lichfield was selected by the broadcaster for the programme for this, one of the most significant days in the Christian calendar.

Tommy Nagra (Executive Producer, BBC Religion and Ethics) said:
“Lichfield Cathedral is a magnificent setting for the Live Christmas Day Eucharist, a significant and important part of BBC One's Christmas Day programming. We hope that viewers from across the country will enjoy the beauty of the surroundings as they celebrate the magic of the Nativity.”

The Dean and Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral are very excited and honoured to be able to share the Christmas morning Sung Eucharist with such a large audience across Britain. Up to a thousand people are expected to attend the family service at the Cathedral and worshippers are advised to arrive early to ensure they can be seated. The Eucharist will start at 10am with doors opening at 8.45am. The congregation will need to be seated by 9.30am.

The broadcast will begin with the Dean of Lichfield and young members of the Cathedral community gathered around the crib.

The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield commented:
“It is a marvellous opportunity to share our celebration of Jesus’s birth with so many people. Lichfield Cathedral has a nice blend of grandeur and friendliness and we hope we can communicate that warmth and joy to all who will be sharing the broadcast in their own homes. We are working hard to ensure that the Cathedral will look its absolute best and our musicians are sure to delight us with really special Christmas music”.

The service will also include readings from the Old Testament and the Gospel of Luke, and the Homily will be preached by the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield. Music for Christmas morning is Harold Darke’s Communion Service in F major, Away in a manger (in an arrangement by Ben Lamb) and Hodie Christus natus est (Today Christ is born) by Francis Poulenc. The setting of the Communion is one of the best-known in the Anglican tradition – you might say it is part of the fabric of English Church Choirs – and has an evergreen freshness to it. The arrangement of Away in a manger explores new harmonies for this well-loved carol, highlighting the words with colours that bring out some of the meanings that can all-too-easily be lost when listening to such a familiar tune. Hodie Christus natus est is the Magnificat antiphon for Christmas Day, and this lively setting by Poulenc overflows with the joy of the season. 

The Cathedral Community has been planning and preparing for the broadcast since the summer months and as well as the Cathedral clergy and choral foundation, an army of volunteers including the Flower Guild (or ‘petals’), servers, stewards, bell-ringers and of course the Holy Dusters have been working hard to ensure the Cathedral looks its best for its debut as the location for a live Christmas morning broadcast. The three-spired Cathedral will be decorated with beautifully-crafted flower pedestals and garlands in red and gold, all created by the expertise of the Cathedral Flower Guild. The Christmas crib (where the Christmas story will have been told to hundreds of Lichfield’s schoolchildren in the days leading up to Christmas) will be at the East End of the building, the traditional crib figures lending their own seasonal atmosphere to the proceedings.

Attending the service
The capacity of Lichfield Cathedral is limited and therefore worshippers are advised to arrive early at the Cathedral. Please note that once the Cathedral capacity has been reached, the Cathedral will unfortunately not allow any extra worshippers into the Nave owing to Health and Safety regulations.

Leading up to the service, please note that from December 21, access to the Cathedral will be through the North West and North Transept Doors (the South door will be closed to the public). Please also note that on Christmas Eve, the Cathedral will open at 11.15am. This is due to broadcast preparations. On the morning of December 25, the 8 o’clock Holy Communion service will begin at the slightly earlier time of 7.50am. For more information please visit or call 01543 306100.

For those wishing to enjoy the service in the comfort of their own home, the broadcast will be live on BBC One at 10am. Alternatively the service will be available on the BBC iPlayer in the following week.

The service will be sung by the choir’s sixteen choristers and nine Lay Vicars Choral, together with two or three supernumerary singers, all under the Direction of Ben and Cathy Lamb, who are the first married couple to share the post of Director of Music in an English Cathedral (and probably further afield than that). They have been in post since September 2010. The Cathedral Organist is Martyn Rawles.

The president of the Eucharist is the Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber.
The preacher is the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill.
The gospel is read by the Chancellor, the Revd Canon Dr Pete Wilcox.
The prayers of penitence and intercessions are chanted by the Precentor, the Revd Canon Wealands Bell.

Photograph courtesy of Lichfield Camera Club.

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Louie C

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