‘HOPE’ was the one word which could sum up Arundel Cathedral’s midnight mass on Christmas Eve – which was broadcast across the nation by the BBC.
Countless people tuned in to watch the event unfold last week, on BBC One, with the cathedral being illuminated in stunning festive fashion.
Pews were packed with Christmas pilgrims who wished to join the festivities. Outside, the streets were equally packed, with an array of lorries and broadcasting equipment.
Arundel mayor Michael Tu was not at the service. However, he did watch it all on television.
Mr Tu said: “It’s a great honour for the service to be held in Arundel. It’s only held in one town per year, so it’s a great honour. It was a good show and it looked like the cathedral was packed. The singing was great.”
The service was led by the dean of the cathedral, the Reverend Canon Tim Madeley.
Introducing the mass to TV audiences, the dean said: “Here in Arundel, our local community have been working hard to prepare the church for this celebration of our faith. This joyous mass at midnight reminds us that the darkness of our lives was swept away by Christ who was the light of the world.”
The service featured an array of carols, from O Come All Ye Faithful to Silent Night and Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, all sung by the Arundel Cathedral Choir, directed by Elizabeth Stratford.
There was also a brief featurette by local resident Lorraine Cranfield, who spoke about some of the preparations which go into getting the cathedral ready – particularly the use of the blood-red poinsettia plant used to remember loved ones at Christmas.
During the service, the dean spoke about ‘hope’. He said: “As we stand at the end of the civil year, we, too, must stand and look forward – not with fear at life’s changes but with hope. For us here in the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, 2015 marks a time of great hope. In the summer we will celebrate the golden jubilee of our diocese and of this building as a cathedral. Also we have the hope of the appointment of a new bishop in the not-too-distant future.”
County councillor Dr James Walsh was a eucharistic minister on the night. He said: “Everyone put their hearts into it – the choir, congregation, clergy and the service. It was a tremendous celebration of the real meaning of Christmas.”