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This weekend

Over the bank holiday weekend in the cathedral there will be a display of the six designs that are competing for the honour of carving a new gargoyle for the cathedral.

As part of the stone work project we are replacing two gargoyles which have worn away over the many years they have been on that corner of the cathedral. To help us with this we have asked carvers from around the country to put forward their thoughts for what should replace them. We have whittled the designs down to a final six and these designs will be on show in the cathedral over this weekend.

The carvers have been asked to put forward designs that will be in keepigargoyle 10.4ng with the other gargoyles around the cathedral. This is one of the gargoyles that is being replaced as you can hardly see the features of what was once a beautiful face.

On Monday a judging panel will be coming together to view the designs. The panel includes expert master carvers and other experts as well as the Dean and the Mayor. They will be viewing the designs in the morning and then making an announcement of the winners at the beer festival at 12 noon. The carvers will then have until the end of August to complete the carving and the new gargoyles will then go up on the cathedral in early September.

glasses 30.4Gargoyles aren’t the only carving that appears on the cathedral. This face is one of those above the parapet on the north east corner. He looks out over the city with real glass in his glasses. Stone masons over the years have had a chance to leave their mark on the cathedral with these small funny carvings several of which can be seen around the inside of the cathedral as well as the outside.


colin gargoyle 30.4

This more traditional gargoyle is just above where the stone masons are working now and was added in more recent repairs so you can still see the fine carving and beautiful design.

Did you know that the gargoyles tended to be images of beasts and monsters as they were there not only to spit water away from the cathedral but also to remind people of the presence of evil?

Do come in to the cathedral over the weekend and see the designs that are competing for the honour of being the next gargoyles to go onto the cathedral.

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Dean John in training for 10th Anniversary Beer Festival


The very Revd John Dobson, Dean of Ripon, has agreed to help pull pints for hundreds of festival goers at his first Cathedral Beer Festival. Rick Jones of the Water Rat, Ripon gave the Dean a lesson in the art of pulling a proper pint at The Water Rat ahead of the event.

image007The 10th Anniversary Festival takes place on May Day Bank Holiday Monday, from 11.30am to 5pm in the grounds of Ripon Cathedral. Come along and enjoy live music, great beers and delicious hot food. There is something for all the family including a bouncy castle, face painting and craft table for the children. Live music from Two Well Worn singing duo, King Courgette, Roosters, and 9 bar bands are supporting the Festival.

The event has been kindly sponsored by CNG of Harrogate. Commercial gas supplier CNG, based in Harrogate, is committed to supporting the local community and is delighted to be a sponsor of this year’s event. Local company the Express Group in Ripon have become this year’s Beer Festival Partner.

Many other local businesses have generously supported this community fundraising event, with a view to raising more funds towards the £5m target for the Cathedral’s Music Trust. The Music Trust aims to secure the future of music at the Cathedral for future generations, secure and develop the Cathedral’s reputation as a major centre of musical excellence, provide accessible musical training through membership of the Cathedral Choir, to develop an inclusive outreach programme to take musical excellence into the region and to work in partnership with others who share our passion for music. Since the launch of the Trust, over £500,000 has been raised.

Hambleton Ales and Rick Jones from the Water Rat, in Ripon are once again supporting this year’s event by taking delivery of the beers from Breweries from all over Yorkshire.

image008Ripon Cathedral’s 2015 Beer Festival will feature a selection of 47 different northern ales and will include, Hambleton Ales, Wold Top Bitter, Rudgate Jorvik Blonde, Roosters, Yorkshire Heart Rhubarbeer , Timothy Taylor’s, Theakstons, Five Towns Brewery, Galaxy from York Brewery, Classic Blonde from Clark’s and lots more. The ever popular “Old Sleningford” local cider, grown and will be on sale, with Pimms, wine and soft drinks.
Entrance to the event will be £3.50 for adults, this includes entry and a chance to win a Luxury Yorkshire Food & Drink Hamper, kindly donated by The Deli On Duck Hill of Ripon

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Ripon’s Sights and Sounds – past, present and future!

Experience the sights and sounds of Ripon past, present and future at a fun, free family=friendly event taking place at venues across the city on Sat 14 March. Ripon Cathedral is just one of a host of venues around the city offering a feast for the senses between 11am and 4pm.

PR_PPsignRipon’s three museums are open free of charge with a fun range of activities for all including object handling, have-a-go craft sessions, youth performances and ‘Workhouse Soup’ cookery demonstrations plus a pop up café in the Workhouse Museum with tastier treats.

Other activities around the city include:
• Dress up your selfie and learn new photo editing skills
• Get up close to fire-fighting and police vehicles in the market square
• Take a look inside Ripon Cathedral, and enjoy the colour and beauty created by its fabulous stained glass windows
• Visit Ripon library for children’s story sacks, fun quiz and lots of other activities (11am-2pm)
• Find out more about the horn-blower at the town hall, this tradition is the longest ongoing unbroken daily ceremony in the world, still going strong after over 1128 years!
• Enjoy craft and musical activities for babies and young children at Ripon’s Community House
• Find out more about what’s on offer at the new Skate Park at a display in Ripon’s library
• North Yorkshire Horizons will also be on hand to provide fascinating facts, advice and support about drug and alcohol addiction.

Stuart Martin, Ripon City Councillor and Chair of the Ripon Minster ‘My Neighbourhood’ Project comments: ‘This will be a great opportunity for families to learn more about the history of Ripon past and present whilst also having a opportunity to experience new things and it promises to be a great day out for all the family.”

The Sights and Sounds…My Community, My Ripon! Event is the 4th ‘My Community Event, and has been organised by the Ripon Minster ‘My Neighbourhood’ Project team, which comprises 15 public and voluntary organisations.

A full list of activities can be found on or by phoning 01765 690799 for details.

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Choristers of all sizes stand under the watchful eye of statues of kings and bishops

BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong from Ripon Cathedral

Ripon Cathedral will reach an international congregation on Wednesday 21st January when BBC Radio 3’s Choral Evensong is broadcast live at 3.30pm. The Cathedral’s Director of Music, Andrew Bryden says, “The choristers are very excited about this broadcast, and I am looking forward to showcasing the choir to a wider audience. The sound of the choir has really come together, especially over Advent and Christmas with the additional services and challenging repertoire we have been taking on.”


Some of our choristers taking a break from rehearsals ahead of the broadcast

The Very Reverend John Dobson, Dean of Ripon, comments, “We look forward to welcoming the wide audience of Radio 3’s Choral Evensong to join our congregation in worship. This sacred place has, of course, been at the cutting edge of communications for over 1300 years, from St Wilfrid’s monks who pioneered writing, through to our use of the internet and social media today. Radio 3’s Choral Evensong does much to take acts of worship into the lives of people unable to attend a church service physically, and is an important part of retaining the proper place of Christian worship in our national life.”

The service is open to anyone to attend, and those wishing to attend the service should take their seats by 3.15pm.

The broadcast goes out live on BBC Radio 3 at 3.30pm on Wednesday 21st January and is repeated on Sunday 25th January at 3pm. It is also available to listen online for 4 weeks after the broadcast.

The music being sung at the service is:

Introit: O nata lux de lumine (Tallis)
Responses: Ayleward
Office Hymn: Tis good, Lord, to be here (Carlisle)
Psalm 106 (Mann; Goss; Armes)
Lessons: 1 Kings 19 vv9b – 18, Mark 9 vv2 – 13
Canticles: Stanford in A
Anthem: Blessed City, heavenly Salem (Bairstow)
Hymn: Jesu, these eyes have never seen (Nun danket all)
Organ Voluntary: Nuages ensoleillés sur le Cap Nègre from ‘Promenades en Provence’ (Reuchsel)

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Dean John, sermon for the National Gathering of the Friends of Cathedral Music, 5th October 2014

A Sermon
preached by the Very Reverend John Dobson, the Dean of Ripon
in Ripon Cathedral
on Sunday, 5 October 2014 (Trinity 16)
for the National Gathering of the Friends of Cathedral Music

Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:8-16; Philippians 3:4b-14; St. Matthew 21:33-end

“I shall sing for my friend”

How fortunate for the preacher on a weekend when the Cathedral hosts both the national meeting of the Friends of Cathedral Music and the Yorkshire Three Choirs Festival! How fortunate that the first words of the first reading should be, “I shall sing.” (Isa. 5:1)

And how fortunate for the congregation that this particular preacher will not be singing. At least, not a solo from the pulpit. And even more fortune is to be celebrated when we notice that we have heard the Revised English Bible instead of the often-used New Revised Standard Version. The latter translates the Hebrew as
“Let me sing”. While the Revised English Bible give us the more emphatic “I shall sing.”

In this cathedral the more emphatic note is certainly welcome, and more than justified. As a cathedral we shall sing, we shall make music – to the highest standard possible. We are quite determined.

There are challenges, of course. Without the advantages of a choir school the recruitment of talented boys and girls could be seen to be more difficult. But we have resolved to find ways of identifying and attracting talent from a wider base than has been the case in the past. Needless to say, we need more resources: the reason why we are establishing an endowment fund to secure the necessary funds into the future. In faith and with some confidence we believe that our vision and commitment will bear fruit; choice grapes, even, to use the imagery of two of our readings. And let us celebrate the success with which we have been blessed thus far in the area of recruitment: 17 boys and 20 girls.

It is an interesting verse, Isaiah 5:1. “I shall sing for my beloved a love song about his vineyard…” We could be forgiven for wondering where the prophet is leading us. Except the Hebrew translated as ‘my beloved’, yadid, could quite legitimately, and possibly more properly, be translated ‘my friend’. This is another word that resonates with us this weekend. We all need friends. Cathedral music needs friends, as was clearly identified back in 1956 when the Friends of Cathedral Music was created. We all need friends; this passage suggests that even God needs friends. The prophet sings a song that belongs to his friend. The song is indeed about love, the love that the prophet’s friend has for his vineyard. This friend had carefully chosen a fertile plot of land which he deliberately dug and prepared for cultivation, removing all the large stones that would inhibit healthy growth before planting ‘choice red vines’. A very pleasing and promising prospect, one might have thought. Yet, despite constant care and attention, the expected-choice grapes disappointingly turned out to be wild grapes.

The friend to whom this love song belongs is God. He now relies upon the efforts of a prophet, a friend, to speak up for him. The friend tells the people of Jerusalem and Judah that God’s chosen people have failed to produce the fruit of faithfulness and justice for which God had been hoping. So, even God needs friends to take courage and speak up for him, often telling the truth to those who are belligerent or apathetic.

Cathedrals and cathedral music are genuinely grateful to those who support and those who are prepared to speak up for us in the wider community and society. Of late we have become the flavour of the month, demonstrating a capacity to grow which has not been seen so readily in every part of the national church. Though, I must say, the growth in membership of the Friends of Cathedral Music has been equally impressive in recent years. You now have four-thousand members.

With cathedrals, though, it is not so long ago that we had to defend ourselves against the accusation of privilege and exalted irrelevance. We are grateful for those who have remained faithful to the vision of a mission which the cathedrals are uniquely placed to extend way beyond the confines of the Church and Church-centred circles. Why did the Church of England decide to retain three cathedrals in this great new diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales? Because our cathedrals make a difference; they connect with the wider community in ways that other parts of the Church do not and cannot.

And we are grateful for those who have kept faith with a taste in music that stands the test of time and is as capable of speaking to hearts, minds and souls now as it ever did. And, yes, sometimes we may just need a critical friend to goad us into embracing the best of the new.

I was encouraged to read the purposes of the Friends of Cathedral Music. Forgive me, those of you who know this.

To safeguard our priceless heritage of cathedral music and support a living tradition.
To increase public knowledge and appreciation of that heritage and tradition.
To encourage high standards in choral and organ music.
To raise money by subscriptions, donations and legacies for choirs in need.
Amen. Amen!

“I shall sing for my friend a song…” and our prayer today is that Friends of Cathedral Music will continue to sing their / your song; and that this cathedral will continue to sing services that bring glory and praise to God, the God who needs his friends to sing up for him on earth as in heaven.

Jesus uses the image of the vineyard in his parable. Speaking in the Temple, he is teaching about the nature of the Kingdom of God, and challenging the passive hypocrisy of those who have regarded themselves as God’s people. Those who would be God’s people – his friends, we might say – are those who would live as he would have them live, making this world more like God’s Kingdom. Israel and Judah had failed in this regard. The Son was needed to claim what was his Father’s. And in so doing showed that God’s Kingdom belongs to those who live it, not those who believe it is theirs by divine right. “Therefore, I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a nation that yields the proper fruit.” (Matt. 21:43)

The message is clear. The Church, with its cathedrals and its music, is not an end in itself. Following in Christ’s footsteps, it is to be the friend who sings the song of God’s love for his people by leading lives that, in return, show love for God and his people. We are to be the friends of God who sing his song in all that we are and do.

Our ambition for our cathedrals and their music is that they do exactly that. By opening hearts and souls to a level of beauty that is often absent from the more mundane routine of daily living; by touching in people those parts that other attempts at life-enhancing pursuits do not reach; by speaking of the majesty and love and friendship of God – our cathedrals in all their ministry and mission, not least music, are agents of the kingdom. They are friends of God who encourage and inspire kingdom living.


The Very Reverend John Dobson, Dean of Ripon

Until God’s kingdom finally comes on earth as in heaven, may our efforts bear fruit and may we all, as friends, sing the song of God.

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