Services will be held in many cathedrals today to commemorate the start of the First World War.
At Durham Cathedral, there will be an evening for quiet contemplation. A prayer, poem or short reflection will be offered every 30 minutes from 6.30pm, following which a candle in the Nave will be extinguished. The electric lights will be slowly dimmed throughout the evening until 11.00pm, at which point the Cathedral will fall into darkness to mark the exact time that war was declared 100 years ago. After a few minutes of quiet reflection, the Easter Candle will then be re-lit and the lights brought up as a sign of hope and thanksgiving for the gift of peace. Prayers of intercession will be offered for all places living through conflict today.
York Minster will hold an evening service and vigil of prayer to include prayers, readings, poems and music reflecting on the events that led to the conflict that destroyed so many lives. As the service progresses, the Minster will move from light into darkness as the candles in the Nave will be gradually extinguished. The final two candles will be taken from the Nave Altar and carried to St John’s Chapel, the war memorial chapel, where they will be placed on the altar. At the end of the service at 9pm, the congregation and members of the public will be invited into St John’s Chapel for a vigil of prayer until 11pm – the exact hour at which war was declared 100 hundred years ago. The final two candles will be extinguished at that moment.
Bradford Cathedral will be open from 7.30pm for a quiet vigil – with people free to come and go as they please – before a service at 10pm which will be attended by the Lord Mayor & Lady Mayoress, other civic dignitories, and members of the armed & reserve forces. The Dean of Bradford comments ‘The trauma of these years left its mark on families and communities around the world for generations. It is deeply appropriate for us to spend some time in reflection and prayer’.
Birmingham Cathedral is also holding a candle-lit vigil leading up to the hour when war was declared. It will include reflective readings from war poets and from scripture; stories linked to the early months of the war of the thoughts, hopes and fears of the people who fought in the mud and blood of the trenches, or at sea or in the air; beautiful and evocative music from the Cathedral Choir and Birmingham City Choir; muffled bells. As the evening draws on, the mood and lighting will darken recalling ‘the lights going out all over Europe’. For the final hour there will be a live link-up to the national service in Westminster Abbey.
Details of all commemoration services at cathedrals are available on cathedral websites.