First lockdown anniversary

The words Reflect, Support and Hope will be projected in yellow on the front of Lichfield and Blackburn’s Cathedral.

Leicester cathedral will light thousands of candles to mark lives lost.

St Edmundsbury will suspend two hundred tear drops above the altar and Chelmsford Cathedral will be transformed into a vibrant space of colour and light to remind people of the hope found in the darkness of the pandemic as cathedrals commemorate one year since the first national lockdown as part of the National Day of Reflection.

Lighting up lives lost and marking silence: Cathedrals commemorate the first lockdown anniversary on the National Day of Reflection

All the Church of England cathedrals that are able to, will open for private prayer, candle lighting and reflection on March 23, and are inviting people to come in, take time to pray, to reflect, to light a candle or to join them in observing the national one minute’s silence at 12 noon as part of a National Day of Reflection.

The Church of England, Marie Curie, Hope UK, Care for the Family, Ataloss and many charities and organisations across the UK have joined forces for a National Day of Reflection to commemorate the first anniversary of the nationwide Coronavirus lockdown.

Chelmsford Cathedral will create a vibrant space of colour and light with a specially commissioned piece of art against which they will hang prayers and reflections on prayer trees to mark the incredible spirit of hope that has grown out of the darkness of the pandemic.

The Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall said:

“This last year has been one of loss and grief, challenges and hardship, but also of communities coming together, of kindness and care.

“Here at Chelmsford Cathedral we will be marking this unique day, and the incredible spirit of hope that has grown out of the darkness of the pandemic, with the Colours of Hope, a chance for us to pause and reflect as a community and move forward with renewed hope and faith.”

Colours of Hope runs from Saturday March 20 to Thursday March 25 and the Dean will lead a short act of reflection livestreamed on the Cathedral’s Facebook page on Tuesday March 23.

On the eve of the anniversary, Lichfield Cathedral will be illuminated in yellow with the words Reflect – Support – Hope. It will open its doors from 11.45am on March 23 for people to gather to observe together the National Silence at 12noon. There will be a Requiem Eucharist at 12:30 praying for all those grieving and remembering those who have died. And every hour from 12 noon to 6pm after the clock has struck the hour, the cathedral bell will be tolled and the cathedral will be open for people to reflect and light candles. The cathedral will be lit up yellow again on the evening of March 23.

National Day of Reflection 23rd March 2021

In St Edmundsbury, an installation of 200 teardrops will be suspended above the altar – each representing those impacted by the coronavirus – while teardrops will be chalk-marked in the grounds outside and allowed to be washed away by nature.

The Dean of St Edmundsbury, the Very Revd Joe Hawes said:

“Each tear represents a human story, together they create a community of tears sited here above the altar, in the most sacred of spaces, the place where we gather together in normal times to share Holy Communion and where we look to Christ to find healing and wholeness.”

The installation will be in place from 23 March to Maundy Thursday when the teardrop will be broken into individual tear-shaped tea-light holders that will go on sale in the Cathedral Shop when it re-opens on 12 April with all proceeds supporting the Cathedral’s work with those affected by Covid.

Over three thousand candles will be lit in Blackburn Cathedral to mark the number of people who have died from Covid-19 across Lancashire.

Six larger candles will be lit to represent all those who have died during the last year and those who grieve them, all those who are ill, those working on the front line, those who are struggling economically and emotionally, those who are leading us out of the pandemic, and one candle will be lit for hope.

The Dean of Blackburn, the Very Revd Peter Howell Jones will lead the national one minute’s silence at 12 noon which will be followed by the tolling of the cathedral bell and the Cathedral will be open from 10-4pm for people to stop, pray and remember, and prayers will be said on the hour every hour.

The Dean of Blackburn said:

“Almost every person has been affected in one way or another during the last 12 months and we cannot, and must not underestimate the human impact of the pandemic across our nation.

“Many have lost loved ones during that time and been unable to grieve properly or hold the funeral they wanted, others have lost their business, found themselves unemployed, struggled with isolation or loneliness, and we, as a place of faith have to recognise that and look at ways to help and support our communities as we move slowly out of lockdown towards recovery,” he said.

One candle for every life lost to Covid-19 will also be lit at Leicester Cathedral during a live-streamed service on the evening of March 23. The Memorial of Lament service will include words, music and reflection on the year from a variety of speakers including NHS staff, the emergency services, civic and public health leaders and those who have lost loved ones.

Find out more here.

Leicester Cathedral launched a memorial tree last month, The Tree of Loss :Tree of Hope and invited people to add leaves to hang on bare tree branches inside the Cathedral dedicated to those who have lost their lives to the pandemic and all those moments and events that have been lost to the year while recognising the hope of the season.

Candles will be lit on the nave floor of Wells Cathedral for all those who have lost their lives across Somerset.  The tenor bell will toll as the minute’s silence ends, and the cathedral will then open for the public to attend a short service centred on the Covid prayer set in the floor of the Nave. Online there will be a short video reflection from the Dean, the Very Revd John Davies and a reading of their Covid prayer. There will be a retiring collection for the work of Marie Curie.

The Dean said:

“At Wells Cathedral we will stand with our nation in remembering before God those who have died, those who suffer and grieve, those whose skill has brought us the vaccine, and all front-line workers.’

First Lockdown Anniversary - National Day of Reflection

York Minster will open from 11.30am to welcome people for prayer, quiet reflection and to light candles for family, friends and loved ones. The Minster will fall still at 12 noon for a national one minute silence. A chaplain will be on hand throughout the day.

Ely Cathedral will open an online book of remembrance from this Friday (March 19) and the Cathedral will be open on March 23 for private prayer and reflection from 10 -1pm and again from 6.30pm – 8pm. They will join in the minute’s silence at midday and prayers will be said on the hour.

Lockdown Anniversary - National Day of Reflection

Birmingham Cathedral will fill its nave from one side to the other with candles and there will be a pre-recorded short service with the prayers from the Church of England.

Gloucester Cathedral will observe the national one minute silence and then toll its bourdon bell to remember all those who have died, and to look forward in hopefulness. At 4.30pm there will be a live-streamed service of Evensong from the cathedral with choral music and evening prayers that will focus on the themes of the National Day of Reflection.

Portsmouth is extending its opening hours and inviting people to come in for private prayer and reflection. There will be a short online service with a message from the Lord Mayor of the city.

Chichester Cathedral will join the national day of reflection by observing the minute’s silence and the Dean of Chichester, the Very Revd Stephen Waine, has also recorded a number of prayers accessible online for those at home.

Manchester Cathedral is producing an online interfaith event called Lament and Hope to mark the first anniversary at noon on their Facebook page.

Durham Cathedral plans to say a prayer to mark the day live on Facebook before its morning communion service, a bell will toll at the end of the 12 o’clock chimes and the cathedral is urging people to place a candle in their windows at 8pm.

Ripon Cathedral will be open from 10am-4pm for private prayer, reflection and for people to light candles. They will observe the minute’s silence and toll their tenor bell before their midday service of Holy Communion and will be joined by the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

Manchester Cathedral is producing an online interfaith event called Lament and Hope to mark the first anniversary at noon on their Facebook page.

Bristol, Exeter and Norwich cathedrals will host a service with their civic leaders and diocese. Winchester, Newcastle, Southwark, Peterborough, Exeter, St Albans and Chester will share prayers and stream small services with many cathedrals planning for something more meaningful in the autumn when it is hoped we can gather together again. Guildford has announced it is planning a county service on 5 July and a Remembrance Service at All Souls Tide. St Albans too has confirmed it will hold a Memorial Service on November 7

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

There will be time enough for us to come together to reflect, to remember, to grieve, and to give thanks. 

But for now, on the anniversary of the first national lockdown while the country is still under lockdown restrictions, we invite you to take a moment to remember all those who have died, to reflect on our shared experience of this pandemic, to give thanks to all those working on the frontline in the health and social care services without whom our lives and those of our loved ones would have been very much different, and to offer care and compassion for each other. 

“There will be tough times still to come, but know that whatever matters to us, matters to God.

 “Our cathedrals are open for private prayer and for candle lighting on this anniversary of the first national lockdown. We pray for you, as we have throughout this pandemic.”