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Ely Cathedral


At the heart of the life of the Cathedral is the on going pattern of Morning Prayer, Holy Communion and Evensong. Prayer and worship are the bedrock of all we do. All Services at the Cathedral are open to everyone. The style of worship tends to be formal, using established patterns of prayer to help us grow together into the mystery of God. 

Three Services are held at the Cathedral every day of the year without exception.

The weekday pattern

Morning Prayer at 7.30am
Holy Communion at 8.00am
and Evensong at 5.30pm.

The Sunday pattern

Holy Communion at 8.15am
Sung Eucharist at 10.30am
and Evensong at 4.00pm.

Evensong on Sundays and weekdays is always according to the Book of Common Prayer, as is the 8.15am Communion Service on Sundays. The other Services use the modern form of service from Common Worship.

At different times of year the character of the church services changes; the great celebrations at Easter and Christmas have a festive feel, but during Lent and Advent the mood is more reflective. Also during Lent and Advent Compline, a late evening Service is sung each week in the Lady Chapel with candlelight.

The weekday Services take place in the side Chapels of the Cathedral; the Sunday Services take place in the main body of the Cathedral.

The Eucharist

Whether said or sung, the Eucharist is the central act of Christian worship and reveals the heart of the Christian faith. On the night before he died, Jesus of Nazareth met with his disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover.

At this meal he took bread, broke it and said 'This is my Body'. He took a cup of wine and said 'This is my blood - the blood of a new covenant of forgiveness'. He shared the bread and the wine with his disciples, and told them 'do this in remembrance of me'.

Whenever his followers gather to do as he said we are caught up again in the events of the last week of his earthly life and he lives amongst us as we receive his gifts.

The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. It is an act of celebration in which the very life of God is given to us in bread broken and wine outpoured. And receiving this life week by week, ordinary frail and fragile beings are strengthened as members of the Body of Christ, a community called to serve God in the world.

On Sundays and Major Feast days, the Eucharist is sung by one of the Cathedral Choirs using settings from the sixteenth century polyphony to modern works by living composers. At all Communion Services everyone who has been baptised is welcome to receive Holy Communion; otherwise a personal blessing may be received. The Ministry of Laying on of Hands with Prayer for Healing is offered as part of the Sunday Sung Eucharist, and occasionally there may be a Baptism.

The Eucharist is celebrated every morning at 8.00am (8.15am Sundays) and every Thursday and on Saints Days at 12.10pm. 

Choral Evensong

This Service, with its resonant and beautiful words, typifies the English Cathedral tradition of choral worship. Most of the singing is done by the Choir, the congregation participating through a prayerful listening. The Service consists of psalms, readings from the bible, an anthem, and prayers for the world and the church and for those in need.

When the Cathedral Choirs are on holiday Evensong may be sung by a Visiting Choir, or else it is replaced by a said service of Evening Prayer.

Morning Prayer

The heart of Morning Prayer is the saying of the psalms and listening to two readings from scripture. Here, at the beginning of the day, we begin by relating our lives to God and holding the needs of others in our prayers. Morning Prayer is followed immediately by a said service of Holy Communion.

Hourly Prayers

From the spring until the late autumn prayers are said on the hour from 10am until 4pm. This is a real reminder that the Cathedral is first and foremost a house of prayer, and visitors are invited to pause and reflect as the prayers are said. The prayers on the hour end with the Lord's Prayer in which all visitors are invited to join in their own language.

Special Services

The Cathedral is used regularly for major Services apart from the daily round of worship. This might be the annual Ordination of Priest and Deacons, the Christmas Carol Service, the Justice Service, the Annual Service for the Blessing of Animals arranged by Wood Green Animal Shelter, and the Act of Remembrance on Remembrance Day. For the last few years the Cathedral has hosted every other year a Service for the donors and recipients of organ transplants. About three times a year an Evening Service is held using the chants and music of the Taize community.

St Etheldreda Cell of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham

What is the Walsingham Cell?
It's a local group of Christians who belong to the St Etheldreda Cell of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham. It is a link between the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham, Norfolk - a great centre of Christian Pilgrimage and Ely Cathedral.

The Purpose of the Society.
To deepen faith in the incarnation (i.e. that Jesus, God took flesh and became a human being)
To honour Mary for her part in this.
To bring more people to know and love Mary's Shrine at Walsingham - England's Nazareth.
To pray for the conversion of unbelievers, and the unity of Christians.

What are Members asked to do?
To be faithful members of the local church.
To encourage pilgrimage to Walsingham and other holy places by their own example.
To pray for the work of the shrine at Walsingham
To pray and work for the spread of the Christian Faith, for Christian Unity, and for their own parish.
To say the Angelus, or one decade of the Rosary, every day as a private devotion.

The Monthly Cell Mass.
The monthly Cell Mass normally takes place on the 2nd Saturday of each month at 12.30pm in the Lady Chapel and is offered for the Shrine at Walsingham. The Mass is open to all and offers intercessions as members stand informally around a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.. Cell members make a special effort to be present.

If you would like to arrange a special Service here at the Cathedral on behalf of a group or church, contact the Canon Precentor, James Garrard on 01353 660335.

PLEASE NOTE. Photography and video recording must not be used in the Cathedral during any service.
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The Choir Enlarge

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Compline by Candlelight Enlarge

Sung Eucharist - The Gospel

Sung Eucharist - The Gospel

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Walsingham Cell Mass Enlarge

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Our Lady of Wlasingham Enlarge

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The High Altar Enlarge