Cathedrals are the home of Christmas worship on the BBC

11th December 2023

Portsmouth and Manchester cathedrals will be the home of Christmas on BBC 1 this year while York Minster will host the Archbishop of York’s Christmas Day Service on BBC Radio 4 and Norwich Cathedral will sing Sunday worship on Radio 4 on New Year’s Eve morning.

The BBC has just announced its schedule for the festive season

Midnight Mass will come from Portsmouth Cathedral with traditional carols, readings, and prayers. The Dean of Portsmouth, The Very Revd Dr Anthony Cane, will introduce and lead the service and he said:

“We are honoured and excited to welcome the BBC to our Cathedral for this special service. We hope the broadcast will bring comfort and joy to all who watch it, as we celebrate the love of God seen in the infant Christ at this special time of year.”

The Cathedral Choir made up of both boy and girl choristers, will be accompanied by members of The Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marine and their repertoire will include O Little Town of Bethlehem, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, as well the TV premiere of the Church of England’s Christmas single, ‘The First Nowell’

It will be the culmination of the Church of England’s national Christmas campaign Follow the Star: Join the Song which will see a new version of the carol sung by choirs and congregations at carol services across the country including in Chichester, Lincoln and Winchester cathedrals.

The new melody has been written by renowned composer and former King’s Singer Bob Chilcott.  A recording of the new carol by St Martin’s Voices has now been shared across digital platforms and proceeds from the single will be donated to the St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity, a UK-wide homelessness charity.

BBC Radio 4 will be at York Minster next Tuesday (12 December) to record a special act of worship for broadcast on Christmas Day morning.

The service will include prayers, Bible readings, and a homily from The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, as well as much-loved carols and traditional music for Christmas Day performed by The Choir of York Minster.

The choir will be singing a new version of the poem, Away in a Manger, set to music by the young British composer Lucy Walker.

The Dean of York, the Very Revd Dominic Barrington, said:

“We are delighted that York Minster will be the location for the recording of this act of worship for BBC Radio 4’s Christmas Day schedule.  
“The Good News of the birth of Jesus Christ will be told in words and music that will both captivate and comfort listeners on Christmas morning.” 

Manchester Cathedralwill be the home for the Christmas Day Eucharist live on Christmas Day morning on BBC One and iPlayer.

This joyful service of hope, peace and goodwill will be led by the Dean of Manchester, the Very Revd Rogers Govender and the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Prof David Walker, will preach.

Manchester Cathedral Choir will lead the congregation in some of the nation’s favourite carols, including O Come, All Ye Faithful, Unto Us Is Born a Son and While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night.

The Dean of Manchester, the Very Revd Rogers Govender said:

“We are overjoyed to be at the heart of the nation’s worship on Christmas Day. 

“Christmas is the season of peace and goodwill. At a time when we need these messages more than ever, we are honoured to be able to share them with the nation.”

Christmas Day Eucharist will air live from 10.15am. Doors will be open from 8.45am and the congregation are asked to arrive early to be welcomed seated by 9.30am.  All are welcome.

Norwich Cathedral Choir will be singing BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship on New Year’s Eve.

The Girl Choristers, Lay Clerks and Choral Scholars of Norwich Cathedral Choir will lead a reflection on the life of Mother Julian of Norwich, at the end of this 650th anniversary year of her ‘Shewings’.

Midnight Mass from Portsmouth Cathedral 11.45 pm Christmas Eve on BBC 1

Christmas Service with The Archbishop of York will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 7am on Monday 25 December and will then be available on BBC Sounds.

Christmas Day worship from Manchester Cathedral from 10.15am on BBC1