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 three services at 9 am, 11 am and 5 pm in the cathedral building. The 11 am service is livestreamed on youtube and can be watched there at any time during the week.
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 substantially 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. The choir sing at the 11 am and 5 pm services (except during choir holidays which are usually a week after Christmas and a week after Easter and six weeks in the summer). You will also hear the organ and sometimes the piano played in these services. The prayers of the people (intercessions) that are used in church for the morning services are the same prayers that are used in the online service.
If you come to one of the services in church, 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.
There is no need to book a place. If you want to be there, then just turn up.
You can sit wherever you like in the main body of the church. Members of the congregation are welcome to wear a facemask but are not required to do so.
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.
Children are always welcome at services and there may be special activities from time to time online and details of any Young Church activities will appear on the cathedral website. There are usually activities for Young Church members during the 11 am service in the Synod Hall, adjacent to where the worship is happening in church.
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.
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.
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 come up to the altar when the stewards direct you.
Choral Evensong is sung at 5 pm.
If you are finding a way into the congregation, please fill in a Welcome Card. It is easiest to fill this in online.