York Minster’s Digital Worship Plans for the Start of Advent 2020

York Minster is inviting people to mark the start of Advent this year by joining its worship online.

The cathedral will be closed for public worship on Advent Sunday (29 November) in line with lockdown requirements, but plans to offer a range of digital worship opportunities so people can join it in marking the start of the season from home.

The plans include livestreaming services on Advent Sunday at 11am and 4pm, as well as the launch of a new weekly webinar series of Advent Reflections, with speakers including the Archbishop of York.

The Minster hopes the digital services and webinars will allow people near and far to join its worship, with livestreams of services broadcast from the cathedral over recent months attracting viewers from the US, Canada and Australia as well as the UK.

The Advent Wreath, thought to be one of the biggest in the country, will also be created by the cathedral’s flower arrangers and lifted into place below the Central Tower for the first time since 2017. The scaffolding surrounding the Grand Organ as part of the once-a-century refurbishment project has prevented the wreath from being put into position for the last two years.

The Dean of York, the Right Revd Jonathan Frost, said: “The four weeks of Advent give us all an opportunity to prepare for Christmas, to reassess priorities and to allow the Light of Christ into the dark and hurt corners of our lives.  For many of us the experience of Covid-19 will have led to a fresh realisation of what really matters most.”

“It is my prayer that Advent will be a time of deep encouragement, reflection and strengthening for each community and person the Minster is here to serve.  We hope that people wherever they are, for whom York Minster is a special place, will be able to join our digital worship, and that it may bring some comfort and joy to everyone in these difficult times.”

In addition to the digital worship opportunities, the Minster is currently open for private prayer from 10am – 12noon Monday to Saturday (excluding Tuesdays when the Minster is closed) and 1pm – 3pm on Sundays.

Please see below for full details of York Minster’s programme for the start of Advent 2020. Details for its programme during December will be released when full guidance is available about restrictions from 2 December.

Thursday 26 November to Thursday 17 December – Advent Reflections webinars – Apocalypse Now (and then).

A series of four webinars broadcast each Thursday with guest speakers reflecting on a stained glass panel from the Minster’s Great East Window and its links to key Advent themes. Speakers include:

  • Thursday 26 November, 3pm – Professor John Swinton, Professor in Practical Theology & Pastoral Care; Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen, will reflect on the theme of death.
  • Thursday 3 December, 7.30pm – The Archbishop of York, The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, will reflect on the theme of judgement.
  • Thursday 10 December, 7.30pm – Dr Paula Gooder, the Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, will reflection on the theme of heaven.
  • Thursday 17 December, 3pm – The Bishop of Hull, the Right Reverend Alison White, will reflect on the theme of hell.

Friday 27 November – York Minster’sAdvent Wreath

The Minster’s Advent Wreath will be created and raised inside the cathedral ready to mark the start of Advent on Sunday 29 November.

Sunday 29 November – Advent Sunday

  • 11am: Sunday Eucharist service – will be livestreamed from the cathedral. The service will include a special sermon by the Revd Maggie McLean, York Minster’s Canon Missioner, as part of a series of weekly Advent Sermons from the cathedral’s clergy under the theme Messages of Hope.
  • 4pm: ‘Looking for the Light’ – A Sequence of Music and Readings for Advent Sunday – will be livestreamed from the cathedral. A simple reflective service journeying through the season’s themes of watching and waiting in anticipation of the light that is coming into the world. Led by the Songmen and Choral Scholars of York Minster Choir, with music including works by Palestrina, Byrd, Bach, Brahms and Vaughan Williams and including a special Advent sermon from Revd Michael Smith, York Minster’s Canon Pastor, reflecting on the great Advent Hymn, Lo, he comes with clouds descending.

Tuesday 8 December, 7pm – Digital Lessons and Carols for Advent

A special pre-recorded digital service for Advent with beautiful music from the York Minster Choir, seasonal readings, stunning images from around the cathedral and prayers.

For full details of all services, including details of how to access livestreams, visit www.yorkminster.org.