Archbishop Holgate’s School celebrated their annual carol service in York Minster on Wednesday 7 December. In recent years this has become a popular community occasion and parents, governors, friends of the school and members of the public packed the Cathedral close to capacity. This year almost 1400 attended, which is unprecedented in the history of this partnership between the school and the Minster.

Those present heard the Christmas story retold through music, drama, bible readings, prayers and carols. This was done with a particular focus on the unique kingship of Jesus and how the Christmas story is one of Hope and Gods presence here on earth. Over 150 students from Archbishop Holgate’s participated in the service as singers, readers, actors, musicians, ushers and technical crew. This year the combined Primary School Choir consisted of over 300 pupils from 12 local Primary schools. There was also a Community Choir of parents, governors and staff from Archbishop Holgate’s School and others from Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust.

The preacher at the service was the Most Rev. and Right Hon. Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York. Archbishop Stephen spoke of how the birth of Jesus is a story of God coming to earth to experience human existence in all its joys and hardships, to walk among us through the Incarnation. With a seamless blend of humour and seriousness he reminded all who were present that this message is one that brings hope today in a challenging world and is one that demands a response from each one of us.

The school was delighted that the new Dean of York Minster, the Very Rev. Dominic Barrington, and the Lord Mayor and the Sheriff, as well the Lord Mayor’s consort, attended the service. Afterwards, the civic party spoke to the Year 12 School Captains and expressed how impressed they were with the whole evening. The school also welcomed back Councillor Chris Cullwick, who attended last year as Lord Mayor and promised to return. He said afterwards: “What a tremendous amount of work had gone into it!” and expressed his “Thanks and congratulations for a wonderful evening”.

Rev. Richard Nihill, the School’s Chaplain, said: “It is a real privilege to present our interpretation of the Christmas story in the beautiful setting of York Minster. We know that for many of the congregation this is their main opportunity to reflect on the joy and meaning of Jesus’ birth. To have the opportunity to share this experience with almost 1400 people in a packed-to-the-rafters York Minster is wonderful. For me, the annual carol service is one of the highlights of the school year and a wonderful reflection of our school values. We were delighted to have Archbishop Stephen preach such a rousing and thought-provoking sermon. I have never experienced a preacher get a round of applause – but on Wednesday that is just what happened.”

A video of the complete Carol Service in York Minster is available to view on the Archbishop Holgate’s School Chaplaincy YouTube channel.

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