A congregation of more than eight hundred from all corners of the diocese and as far afield as Coventry and Dumfries took part in the historic service of Candlemas on February 2nd.
Preparations for the service began two days earlier. Head Verger Philip Bustard and his team began setting out the four thousand candles with elaborate patterns of light on January 31st – and the laborious task of lighting the candles began more than two hours before the service began.
The Candlemas Eucharist celebrates the Presentation of the Infant Christ in the Temple, and traditionally marks the end of the Christmas season. At Ripon Cathedral it has been celebrated for hundreds of years. A visitor to the Cathedral in 1790 declared that the whole building was “one continued blaze of light all afternoon”. This year, the preacher was the Dean of Wakefield, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener.
Clergy and lay people from all five Episcopal Areas joined civic leaders – including the Deputy Ripon Hornblowers – in a candlelit procession which snaked past some of the spectacular displays throughout the 12th century building.
The Dean, the Very Revd John Dobson said “Here at Ripon Cathedral the Candlemas Sung Eucharist has long been established as one of the most spectacular services of the year. The light from thousands of candles, the glorious music, and several hundred people gathering from across the region all combine to make this a great occasion of celebration and spiritual encounter.”