23rd March 2022 – National Day of Reflection

UPDATED: More cathedrals announce their plans to join the National Day of Reflection on Wednesday March 23. St Paul’s, Hereford, Wakefield.

Art featuring heroes of the pandemic, a new poem from the UK’s Poet Laureate, the Salvation Army on hand to listen and support, postcards written to remember lives lost, a Wall of Reflection to share our memories, a unique performance of the acoustic memorial project Never to Forget, prayers offered, and thousands of candles lit for the friends, families, neighbours, and colleagues we’ve lost during the pandemic.

Cathedrals prepare to mark the second National Day of Reflection: March 23rd 2022

English cathedrals are preparing to join the National Day of Reflection on Wednesday March 23 – the second anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown – coordinated by the charity Marie Curie to support the millions of people who have been bereaved during the pandemic and reflect on the lives of those we’ve lost.

On March 23 Southwell Minster will launch Portraits from an Artist in Isolation (Real People Real Heroes) – an exhibition of 49 paintings and the culmination of eighteen months work by artist, Sarah Flanagan as a tribute to keyworkers who protected us through the pandemic.

National Day of Reflection, 23rd March 2022

Artist Sarah said: “This has been very emotional for me to see participants send me their photographs, how the PPE obscures their faces as they attempt to protects both themselves and the person they are dealing with from the virus.

“I have painted them in a literal, contemporary way echoing the illustrative field of the cartoon and comic which so often contain our accepted interpretation of superheroes: these people are the true heroes.”

Postcards to write the name of a missed loved one have been created by Chelmsford Cathedral and will be made into a Wall of Remembrance with a printed prayer card available to take home, just one part of a day of special events for the local community to pause, reflect and remember. Chelmsford Cathedral which will be open all day with the Salvation Army on hand to provide refreshments and a listening ear, and visitors can light a candle in their memorial garden.

The Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall said:
“The last two years have been difficult for everyone, and this is an opportunity for the community to come together to reflect on what has passed and to look forward to the future. The Cathedral is delighted to be at the heart of this community day.” 

A Wall of Reflection was put in place this week at Sheffield Cathedral with a Memorial Book alongside for people to honour and remember loved ones who died during the pandemic by adding their names. A memorial service will take place in the Cathedral at 5pm on the National Day of Reflection with music and the opportunity to light a candle for loved ones.

Cathedrals prepare to mark the second National Day of Reflection: March 23

At the end of October, the Cathedral will hold a further memorial service to enable the community to come together to mourn those lost over the past few years. The Memorial Book will remain open until October 30.

The Very Revd Abi Thompson, Dean of Sheffield said:

“Covid and the challenges of the last two years has impacted on us all. And although we are now learning to live with Covid, people are still grieving from the loss of loved ones. It is important we provide a place to soothe this pain and to give people the chance to reflect, to grieve, to remember and to celebrate their family and friends who are no longer with us.” 

York Minster has commissioned a special poem for the National Day of Reflection from the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage who will give the first reading of Only Human at a special choral Evensong at 5.30pm. It is intended that a Minster stonemason will carve lines from the poem into a stone bench that will be installed as part of a project to create a new, biodiverse green space at College Green.

The Minster will welcome people from 9.30am with the clergy team and chaplains on hand to welcome and support visitors who will be invited to join worship, pray, to light candles or just to sit for quiet reflection. The day will be one of the Minster’s non-charging days.

The Revd Canon Michael Smith, Acting Dean of York said: “The pandemic has reminded us, sometimes very painfully, that life is both precious and fragile and that – to borrow the title of the Poet Laureate’s new poem – we are all ‘Only Human’.

“Covid-19 taught us that lots of ‘ordinary’ jobs are actually essential jobs that hold the fabric of our communities together.  It reminded us of the importance of family and friends, of simply spending time together and sharing an embrace from time-to-time.
 
“As we resume our lives once again, it is right that we reflect on the last two years and the impact upon all of us.  But it is also a time to begin the journey towards a hopeful future and somehow, to build on the wells of loving kindness, sacrifice and care that were also a part of the pandemic.”

Poems written by the Poet Laureate in response to the pandemic will be read by actor, Stephen McGann at a memorial concert, Remember Me and Never to Forget, held in St Paul’s Cathedral on March 23 for all who have died in the pandemic with special recognition given to NHS and social care workers.

The concert includes a unique performance of Howard Goodall’s Never to Forget, sung by the London Symphony Chorus and danced by performers from Rambert. Never to Forget is a virtual, visual and acoustic memorial project that pays tribute to 122 UK health and care workers who were among the first to have died in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The concert will be livestreamed but you need to register to receive a direct link as well as a concert brochure two hours before the concert is due to begin.

Salisbury Cathedral and Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust are holding a special service, “We Reflect” on the anniversary which will trace the 24-month journey through Lament, Thanks and Hope, remembering those we have lost and say thank you to all key workers.

An invitation to join the service has been extended to all NHS staff, volunteers, care workers and residents from across the region and will include short play excerpts telling real life experiences, poetry from Martin Figura while Poet in Residence at Salisbury NHS Trust last year. The service will be live streamed by the Cathedral.

All our cathedrals will be marking the National Day of Reflection with prayers and special services. Those that can, will join other landmark buildings and light up yellow, Rochester will hold a Taize service, Durham will invite representatives from its local Marie Curie charity, and Bradford is inviting people to join them to mark the national minute’s silence at noon.

People can sign up to watch St Paul’s Cathedral’s special memorial concert on the second anniversary of the national lockdown this Wednesday.

St Paul’s has partnered with the London Symphony Chorus and Rambert for the concert which will include a unique performance of Never to Forget, an original composition by Howard Goodall CBE, as performed by the London Symphony Chorus and City of London Sinfonia, with choreography by Benoit Swan Pouffer performed by Rambert.

The programme includes readings by special guest Stephen McGann, who will read poems written by Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, in response to COVID-19 and in commemoration of lives lost. The Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral will perform music of reflection and remembrance by Michael Tippett and John Tavener.

Tickets for the concert at 7pm on Wednesday 23 March are sold out and the concert will be livestreamed for free. Sign up for free here.

People can also enter the name of their loved ones who have died as a result of the pandemic into Remember Me, an online book of remembrance (www.rememberme2020.uk) launched by St Paul’s for all faiths and none.

Since its launch in May 2020, over 10,000 people have been memorialised on the Remember Me online book of remembrance, and it remains open for as long as it is needed.

Work has also begun on a physical memorial space at St Paul’s Cathedral due to open to the public later this year.

The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s said:

“In the spring of 2020, St Paul’s launched Remember Me, an online book of remembrance as a way to honour and mourn the loved ones who had died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we come to the second anniversary of the UK’s initial lockdown, it is a natural moment to reflect on the many losses and sacrifices during the pandemic. The Never to Forgetconcert at St Paul’s is a special and poignant way to commemorate this difficult time in our history” 

The names of all those who have lost their lives due to the Covid pandemic will be read out during a vigil in the grounds of Hereford Cathedral to mark the second anniversary of the first national lockdown.

Families and friends will gather for the event at 11 am this Wednesday with speakers, prayers and a choir before the minute’s silence is observed.

Local bereavement counsellors from St Michael’s Hospice will be on hand for support.

People are asked to wear something yellow and carry a photograph of those they have lost during the last two years.

Wakefield Cathedral will fall silent for one minute at 12noon joining the minute silence.

A prayer station will be set up for the day featuring a candle and a prayer, with prayer cards available for all visitors to use or takeaway with them.

The Very Revd Simon Cowling, Dean of Wakefield, said:

“Over the past two years every single person has been affected in one way or another by the Covid-19 pandemic and its many repercussions.

“We have lived through a time of many challenges: the challenge of isolation, the challenge of new ways of working, the challenge of finding new ways to communicate with one another and, tragically, the challenge of dealing with grief and loss.

“And yet, despite the enormity of these challenges, we have seen the flourishing of an extraordinary sense of togetherness, of camaraderie and defiance to overcome every challenge put in front of us,’ he added.

To check opening times and directions, please check your local cathedral website here.

The National Day of Reflection was started by charity Marie Curie to acknowledge the devastating effect of the last two year saying; ‘we need to come together, in our communities and as a nation, to acknowledge this lasting pain. Let’s make the legacy of the pandemic one of compassion, love, and being there for each other during the toughest of times.’

A Prayer for the National Day of Reflection from the Canon Chancellor of Rochester Cathedral

Prayer for the National Day of Reflection