Cathedral music: December 2020

By Dr Christopher McElroy

Advent and Christmas 2020 will be quite unlike any other year here at the Metropolitan Cathedral. Instead of the daily round of carol services, rehearsals, concerts and general preparations, the Cathedral is quiet. For once, Advent will genuinely be a time of preparation and stillness, allowing us to reflect on both Jesus coming to earth as Man, and his second coming at the end of time.
The season of Advent started with the Solemn Mass for the First Sunday of Advent and the Advent Sequence both being streamed online to large numbers of people. Even though, due to the lockdown at the time, we were not able to welcome people into the Cathedral, we were able to bring the Cathedral into many homes throughout the Archdiocese, with people joining us from across the UK and as far afield as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa!
On the Second and Third Sundays of Advent, in place of our usual streamed Evening Prayer we have offered a recital of organ music for Advent (6 December, 7pm) and a series of musical and spoken meditations based on the ‘O Antiphons’ (13 December, 7pm). Both these programmes are available on the Cathedral’s social media channels, alongside the Advent Sequence that was streamed on the First Sunday of Advent. Please do take the opportunity to use these resources to assist you in your Advent journey.
Moving closer to Christmas, we are very much looking forward to welcoming our boy and girl choristers back to the Cathedral. During the months of lockdown they have been rehearsing, almost daily, both online and, since September, in school. While many Cathedral choirs around the country have been singing regularly during the autumn term, we have taken a more cautious approach and just had adults singing at the principal choral services each week up to this point. 
We feel the time is right for the choristers to return (with all the relevant control measures and social distancing in place), and they are very excitedly preparing music for the Cathedral’s carol services (this year titled ‘Carols at the Cathedral’) and for the First Vespers of Christmas Eve and Midnight Mass.
All these services will be streamed online and will feature many of your favourite Christmas carols such as: O Holy Night, O Come all ye faithful, Silent Night, Ding Dong Merrily on High, For unto us a child is born, and many more.
If you are not able to make it to the Cathedral, do tune in via the Cathedral’s social media channels to take part from home: