Three Services are held at the Cathedral every day of the year without exception.
The weekday pattern is Morning Prayer at 7.30am, Holy Communion at 8.00am and Evensong or Evening Prayer at 5.30pm.
The Sunday pattern is Holy Communion at 8.15am, Sung Eucharist at 10.30am and Evensong or Evening Prayer 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.
During Lent and Advent the mood is more reflective. 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 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 by a said service of Holy Communion.
Eucharist (Holy Communion Service)
A service of Eucharist, also called Holy Communion, is a remembrance and a retelling, as well as a thanksgiving (that’s what the word ‘eucharist’ means). The Eucharist recalls a meal shared with Jesus on the night before he died. In the Eucharist today, we follow Jesus’s command, breaking and sharing bread and wine, praising God with music – hymns, anthems, and sung prayers – as well as asking for, and receiving, forgiveness for wrongdoings. We also hear readings from the Bible, offer thanks for the continual presence of Jesus, and being strengthened for taking God’s love into the world.
At Ely a sung Eucharist with choral music is celebrated every Sunday at 10.30am. During the week the Eucharist is celebrated in a simple, said form every morning at 8am and 8.15am on Sundays. Anyone who has been baptised in the Christian faith is welcome to receive communion.
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.