Darkness into light: Finding hope in the Christmas story this Advent

24th November 2022

People are invited to journey from darkness into light at services across our cathedrals this weekend marking the start of the season of Advent, and the hope of the Christmas story.

Darkness into Light : Finding hope in the Christmas Story. We’re marking the start of the season of Advent in our Cathedrals.

Bradford Cathedral will mark the holy season of Advent by switching on its ‘Star in the Tower’ ahead of Sunday evening’s Advent Procession when the cathedral will start in darkness for an atmospheric candlelit service with the cathedral choir.

More here.

Advent 2022

Cathedral Isle of Man

The musical instrument of the Renaissance, the Viol will accompany the Cathedral Chorister Trebles singing a special service of light to mark Advent Sunday this Sunday in Cathedral Isle of Man, lit only by candles.

The service is on Sunday at 3.30pm and you can join online via the Cathedral’s website.

Chichester Cathedral’s Advent Procession takes place this Sunday too marking the beginning of the season of Advent, moving from darkness to light, symbolising the imminent arrival of Jesus with readings and carols sung by the Cathedral Choir.

Derby Cathedral will hold its ‘Darkness to Light’ Advent Service this Sunday when the interior of the building will begin in darkness and end flooded with light with Reflections in Scripture and Music on the themes of Advent. 

Durham Cathedral is inviting people to experience the joy of the festive season with a programme of special services, concerts and events, in celebration of the birth of Christ starting this Saturday (26 November) with two nights of Advent Procession by Candlelight. These atmospheric services feature the theatrical procession of choir and clergy in the darkness, with only flickering candlelight illuminating their way. 

Ely Cathedral has announced its programme of worship and events for Advent and Christmas starting with its Advent procession from darkness into light this Sunday

There will be donkeys at its two crib services on Christmas Eve, and you can find out more here.

Gloucester Cathedral will hold its dramatic darkness to light Advent Procession this Sunday, marking the start of its Advent season of worship and events and is inviting people to find peace and joy within its walls this year.

You can find more here.

The interim Dean of Gloucester, Canon Dr Andrew Braddock, said:

“In these troubled times, we will be focusing on the need for peace: peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in our communities and peace in our world. 

“Such peace has to be worked for. It is the peace that comes in loving our neighbours as ourselves, in caring for creation and contributing to the common good. At the heart of our Christmas celebrations is the story of Jesus Christ. His birth shows us that peace-making involves entering the messiness of the world to bring hope, joy and new beginnings.”

Lichfield Cathedral’s special Advent services start From Darkness to Light this  Saturday and Sunday. Evocative choral and scriptural meditations on some of the great Advent themes. Every Sunday morning the cathedral will observe the ceremony of lighting the Advent wreath. There are special sermons this year throughout Advent and a dressing up nativity too.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said:

“This Advent and Christmas our world is in turmoil, our planet under threat, we face new economic and energy crises, and we live with the consequences of war in Ukraine, we are bystanders to great suffering.  

“It is time to hope, dream, work and pray for a peaceable and just future.  Come and tap into the resources of the Cathedral, a faith community of the imperfect, waiting for and celebrating all the signs of light.”

Find all the services here.

Newcastle Cathedral’s Advent Procession of Light this Sunday, a candlelit service of carols, choral music, readings and prayers as the Cathedral Choir processes from darkness to light, will see the start of its Advent and Christmas programme which this year includes the walking nativity through the city from the train station to the cathedral, and a cathedral time travel as they celebrate their namesake, St Nicholas patronal with family friendly festive activities as they invite everyone to join them on the journey towards the coming of Christ.

Ripon Cathedral’s Advent Procession & Carol Service is this Sunday and will be lit entirely by candles for the service with Ripon Cathedral Choir as they celebrate the Advent themes of watching and waiting in hope for the world.

The Advent banners now hang from the pillars of the nave with words to be used in the coming services, there’s the enthronement of the chorister bishop on December 8 when In celebration of St Nicholas, a bishop who gave generously to poor children, people are asked to bring a new gift for a child, teenager or adult to be distributed by the Salvation Army. And there’s the traditional Boxing Day pilgrimage from Ripon to Fountains Abbey.

Advent 2022

Salisbury Cathedral will hold their spectacular Darkness into Light services over three nights from Friday when the Cathedral will be transformed by over 1,300 candles as they move from total darkness into light with movement, colour, shimmering robes, haunting music and Advent scripture.

The services will take place on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7pm and Sunday at 5pm. Doors open one hour before and marks the start of their varied Advent programme.

Liverpool Cathedral will mark the first Sunday of Advent in total darkness before a procession, led by the Cathedral Choir, will move through the darkened building by candlelight, signifying moving into the light of the coming Christ and becoming light when they reach the Altar.

The Advent Carol service at Truro Cathedral this Sunday marking the start of the season, will include the traditional Advent themes of watching and waiting, light and darkness, prophecy and expectation. The service will be conducted by candlelight and the procession will move from the west to the east end of the cathedral to ‘go out to meet him’. It will be livestreamed.

For all Truro’s services and events this Advent and Christmas – including its much-loved pets’ carol service on 30 December click here.

Winchester Cathedral has announced its range of services for Advent and Christmas starting again with its Advent Processions this Saturday. A service of darkness and light music and the spoken word, mirroring the journey of the human race from the darkness of sorrow and death into the light of Christ’s dawning Kingdom. There’s also chance to dress up as your favourite nativity character at its big family nativity services. All here.

Worcester Cathedral is inviting the local community to come together this Christmas time with a packed programme of festive celebrations starting with the Advent Procession this Sunday which will take people on a journey from darkness into the light of the coming Christ.

You can find all their events here as well as a community carol service next Thursday (1 December) followed by a procession to the local Cornmarket for the opening ceremony of the city’s Victorian Christmas Fayre.

York Minster is preparing to mark Advent and Christmas with traditional services, seasonal concerts and music and family-friendly events throughout December starting with the Advent Procession this Sunday. This will be an atmospheric candlelit service of music and prayers for Advent, in celebration of the arrival of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

This service will also be livestreamed. (Free tickets required.)

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

“At this very special time of year, we reflect on the heart-stopping vulnerability of the Holy family seeking a safe place for the birth of Jesus Christ.  I look forward to welcoming you to York Minster – in person or from home via livestream – to celebrate the miracle and joy of Jesus’s birth.”

York Minster’s Advent and Christmas in full.

For all the Christmas markets, tree festivals and fares taking place this Christmas take a look at our Events section here.

Photo credit – Ash Mills, Salisbury Cathedral