Cathedrals and parish churches light up for Night of the Stars

21st December 2018

Church of England brings ancient and modern together, beaming beauty of cathedral services to world outside

Churches across the country will display illuminated stars tonight at the culmination of a campaign by the Church of England aimed at encouraging people to attend services this Christmas.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will launch the Church of England’s Night of the Stars outside Canterbury Cathedral where a spectacular light show will be projected onto the south side of the cathedral.

At Durham Cathedral, the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, will be present for a light show beamed onto the north transept of the Cathedral. Both events will be supported by robed clergy and the cathedrals’ choirs, leading hundreds of people in carol singing.

The events are the culmination of the Church of England’s #FollowTheStar campaign which has so far included video advertising, a celebrity recipe from Great British Bake Off star Martha Collison and a specially-created app with reflections from Christmas Eve to Epiphany.

A giant illuminated star has been placed on the Gatehouse of Bishopthorpe Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of York, as part of the campaign.

Churches and their wider communities across the country have mounted illuminated stars on towers, walls and advertising hoardings and produced a range of star-themed items from T shirts to beer mats to promote the campaign.

Launching the campaign, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Wherever you are this Christmas, you are invited to follow the star and to be with Jesus.

“#FollowTheStar doesn’t ask you to be perfect. It says: come just as you are to take the life-changing Christmas journey. You are welcome. You are deeply known and truly loved.”

The light show uses a piece of music by contemporary composer, Cecilia McDowall, O Oriens, sung by the Chapel Choir of Merton College Oxford, for whom the piece was commissioned. The text is the antiphon for 21 December: “O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”

View current news