If you have not been to St Mary’s before – don’t worry; it is easier than you think.
For details of how to find the building, see the Getting Here page on this website.
There are currently two services at 9.30 am and 11 am in the cathedral building and one that is available as online worship on this website.
For those coming to in person serivces, some people switch between the two services but others prefer to try to come to the same service every week. The services are substatially the same though different music is used at each service. At the 9 am service the music that is sung is plainsong – a repertoire of very beautiful chants that have been part of the worship of the Western church for centuries. At the 11 am service the music that is sung is usually by more recent composers. Music matters a lot at St Mary’s. Although our choir can’t sing at the moment due to the covid regulations, individual members of the choir are allowed to come and sing as a solo voice – a cantor. You will also hear the organ and sometimes the piano played in these services. At the 11 am service, some of the prayers are led by those who are participating in the online worship, perhaps though being self isolating at home.
If you come to one of these services, the first person you are likely to meet is likely to be one of those responsible for leading the service. Members of the clergy usually greet people at the door of the church. Once you come inside, someone will welcome you and give you a service sheet. Everything that you need is in this leaflet – hymns, music and prayers are all gathered together.
At the moment you need to reserve a seat in advance. St Mary’s can hold hundreds of people but at the moment there is a limit of 50 people at each service. Seats can be reserved here: https://thedatabase.thecathedral.org.uk. Seats for each Sunday are released at noon on the preceding Wednesday.
The stewards in the church will direct you to your seat. Please sanitize your hands as you come into church and sit where you have been told to sit. The covid regulations require us to fill up the church from the front to the back. Unless you are specifically exempted from doing so, please wear a face covering at all times when inside the building.
There is flat access into the church for those in wheelchairs. There is also an accessible toilet on the same level, which is located through the door on the left behind the organ console near the front of the church.
Before the covid pandemic our Young Church met every week in the Synod Hall during some of our services. That’s not possible at the moment but children are always welcome at services and there may be special activities from time to time online.
You will know that the service is about to begin as the side door near the back of the church will open and a procession of people will come through – the congregation stands up to greet them. These people are the altar server (who helps the service to run smoothly) and the clergy. The person who is going to be conducting the service comes in at the back of the procession.
We sometimes use incense in our worship on feast days and special occasions – a symbol of our prayers rising to heaven and a sign of the sacredness of the worship in this place. At this time incense is more likely to be offered at the High Altar rather than amongst members of the congregation.
Whoever is presiding at the service will greet everyone and the service is then underway – all the details are in the service sheet that will tell you what is going on all the way through. Although there is considerable variety during the year, most of the services have the same basic shape week by week which people get used to after coming a few times.
We generally sit or kneel to pray – most people stand to sing when singing is allowed.
The morning services on a Sunday are always communion services. Everyone is welcome to receive communion at St Mary’s. If you don’t feel you want to receive the bread and wine, you are encouraged to come to the altar along with everyone else for a blessing.
If you are receiving communion then please santise your hands whilst in your pew. Then come up to the altar when the stewards direct you. Receive the bread from the priest (who will also have hanitized their hands) step to one side two meters away from the priest, remove your mask and consume the bread wafer. On your way back to your seat there are hand sanitizers to use.
At the moment we can’t have Choral Evensong. Once choirs are able to sing again, this beautiful tradition will resume.
It isn’t possible to socialise after services in person these days. At the end of services we are all asked to disperse without chatting either in church or outside. This is one of the most difficult discipline’s of this current time as we are a friendly congregation.
To make up for not being able to chat in person, there is an online coffee hour that takes place each Sunday at 1 pm. Some people come to this who are part of the congregation who worship online and some come who are part of the congregation which worships in church. To receive details of how to join this and weekly information about the congregation please join the email list by signing up on this website. (You should receive a confirmation email – check your spam or trash folder in your email account if you don’t seem to have received it).
If you are finding a way into the congregation, please fill in a Welcome Card. It is easiest to fill this in online.