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Christmas at St. Paul’s Cathedral: Christmas Carol Services Attract Large Crowds in London

Published by Sebrina Dummitt

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The Christmas carol service at St. Paul’s Cathedral offers a moment of music and readings from people who represent the life of the Cathedral and the City of London in a most spectacular and inspiring setting. The Choir is conducted by Andrew Carwood, director of music, and the organ during the service is played by Simon Johnson, organist and assistant director of music.

On 23 December 2009, assembled crowds were welcomed by the Reverend Canon Giles Fraser, with a dire warning that should any mobile phones ring, a bolt of lightning will surely strike the offenders. Afterwards, the Choir made its way around the cathedral while singing a processional carol.

Readings and Hymns During the Christmas Carol Service

Readings and hymns tell the story of Joseph and his journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the first registration while Quirinius was governor of Syria, the birth of Jesus by Mary in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn, and the angel’s revelation to the shepherds that a saviour had been born.

The lasting impression of the Choir is with the last hymn as they move to the dome sanctuary in the centre of the assembly. The expanse of the space fills with music, and individual voices are remarkable during solos. Accompanying organ music blends well for a strong finish.

Christmas Message From Reverend Canon Giles Fraser, Chancellor, Canon in Residence

A poignant reminder of the spiritual message of Christmas was delivered by the Reverend during his address. He urged the assembly to measure prosperity in ways other than money and warned against the consumerist trappings of the holiday season.


He referred to the London Stock Exchange across the street as a place where “people are skilled at making money, but are remarkably unsophisticated at understanding deeper needs of human prosperity.” He acknowledged that the financial system is just as much about making business work, but that unbridled greed served to create the consequences we are all facing as a result.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, chief bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, has been outspoken about the financial crisis and has made public statements on the role of greed in the bank collapse.

History of St. Paul’s Cathedral

The Cathedral is situated on Ludgate Hill in the London borough of City. Christian worship has been offered at this site since 604 AD. The current cathedral is the fourth to be built on the site, taking 35 years to complete in 1710 with the first prayer service in 1697.

Over the years, Cathedrals on this site have been sacked by Vikings, struck by lightning, destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and survived the Biltz. It has also hosted US civil rights activist Martin Luther King, pop singer Mary Hopkins, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, and was the location for the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana.

The rich history of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the many activities it offers to the public during the festival season make it a must see.

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