During December, the cathedral will play host to over 50 special services, concerts and events. The season began with a record-breaking St Basils SleepOut, where local people slept out in Cathedral Square to raise money for the youth homelessness charity, St Basils. December will encompass events as diverse as the traditional Swedish ‘Santa Lucia’ service with Ex Cathedra Choir, ‘Carols for the Business Community’ with brass band, and a screening of the film ‘It’s a wonderful life.’
There will also be Christmas favourites, including the BBC WM Carol service, the traditional Nine Lessons and Carols, as well as services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day sung by the Cathedral Choir.
This year there are many events for children and families, denoted by the family symbol on the flier. School groups will attend ‘Advent Pilgrimages’ to explore the meaning of Christmas. Families with tickets to the film screening on 23 December are invited to a free, exclusive event called ‘wonder’ which explores the different themes of Christmas through fun interactive activities, including den making, penguin racing, secret messages, dressing up, and a ‘star trail’.
Dean Catherine said: “This is a rich and special month in the cathedral. We are waiting, and inwardly preparing, during Advent for the coming of our Saviour at Christmas. At the same time, throughout the month, cathedral worship enables thousands of people to celebrate the hope and joy of Christmas. This is a huge team effort, with church wardens and deputies, flower arrangers and bell ringers, staff and visitors chaplains offering hospitality; the clergy preaching the good news of the birth of Christ and the musicians offering beautiful music, all with the purpose of enabling an experience of heaven on earth.
“At a time when so many people are longing for a place to call home, Christmas reminds us that God asks to make his home in us every day. The Christ child asks for room in our hearts and lives. As poet Christina Rossetti wrote, ‘What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet what I can I give him, give my heart.’ As we give the hospitality of our hearts, lives are transformed.
“This is a particularly poignant Christmas as I prepare to leave Birmingham. For the last six years we have loved, and been at home, in this warm and wise Christian community and this vibrant, and changing city. I have been so proud to be Dean of Birmingham and will always carry the city region and its cathedral in my heart. Thank you.”
This is also the final Christmas for Canon Marcus Huxley who is retiring as Director of Music after 30 years of service. Marcus will have prepared the choir for 18 different performances during December, including a wedding, radio recording, and all the Christmas favourites.
On top of the Christmas events, morning, midday and evening prayers are said or sung each day. The cathedral is open 365 days a year, and entry is free. Everyone is very welcome to pop in for some quiet space in the midst of a busy city.