At 9 o’clock on Christmas morning, you will be able to switch on BBC Radio 4 and hear the joyous news of Christ’s birth, brought to you from Ripon Cathedral. The Christmas morning service was recorded in the Cathedral’s nave just five days before Christmas and will air to an audience of millions across the world. 

The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev’d. John Dobson, who leads the service, will introduce the beautiful setting of Ripon Cathedral where, for over thirteen hundred years, people have gathered to celebrate Christmas and the joy of the angel’s message. The service begins with a roaring rendition of ‘The Yorkshire Carol’, Christians Awake, with the soaring voices of the Cathedral Choir heard in pieces such as Rutter’s What Sweeter Music, sung by the Cathedral’s Lay Clerks and Girl Choristers under the auspices of the Cathedral’s Director of Music, Andrew Bryden. The Choir was joined by the Cathedral’s organist, Tim Harper, as well as a brass ensemble. Children from the choir and congregation will also assist in the giving of apples to members of the public, a Ripon Christmas tradition that we believe dates back to the Middle Ages.

Cathedral Christmas - The Clergy

The Clergy – Image by Joseph Priestley


Dean John will be heard celebrating the hard-working, down-to-earth nature of the area encapsulated in the Diocese; the Cathedral City of Ripon is seen by many as the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, ‘a place where talk of shepherds and sheep connects the content of the ancient Christian gospel with the reality of contemporary life’. Throughout the service, the congregation will be reminded of the realities of contemporary life for many in the area; the prayers spoken by Canon Ruth will reflect the recent closure of Kellingley colliery and Redcar steelworks, as well as remembering those affected by recent flooding in Cumbria.

This realism is also the central theme of the sermon, which will be given by Bishop of West Yorkshire and the Dales, the Rt. Revd. Nick Baines.  Bishop Nick extends the invitation ‘to plunge ourselves into the depths of the real world as it now’, just as Jesus did some 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. 

The recording will air shortly after 9am on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas morning.