The Season of Advent was launched formally and dramatically in St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry on Sunday evening (3rd December 2023) with its now traditional Advent procession. This is a well-established and much loved service of readings, hymns and anthems on the theme ‘Darkness into Light’.

The temperature hovered around freezing as the congregation made their way into church, immediately appreciating the comforting warmth in a porch festooned with Christmas lighting.

The Service — which was based on the Great Advent Antiphons — began in darkness (representing the darkness before creation and the darkness of sin), with the choir gradually proceeding by candlelight from the west end of the church to the east, symbolising our journey of faith towards Christ.

This evening’s Service was led by the Dean of Derry, Very Rev Raymond Stewart, assisted by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster and the Cathedral’s Pastoral Assistant, Rev Canon John Merrick. The service was sung by the Choristers and Gentlemen of the Cathedral Choir, directed by Dr Derek Collins and accompanied by Nicky Morton on the organ, and among those who delivered the lessons and readings were People’s Churchwarden, Miss Muriel Hamilton; Diocesan Reader Mr David Bell; and Parish Reader Ms Jacqui Armstrong.