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News from the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral, London

Dear Friends,

I hope that you have been keeping well over the past weeks. Although the Cathedral building has been closed, we and our colleagues in the City churches have continued to pray for the City, its people and institutions, its visitors and workers. We have developed a larger presence on-line including virtual services. But we have missed our contacts with you and been sad to see many services and events necessarily cancelled. We’re very aware that many Livery Companies and other institutions are also going through difficult times, and we will share together in coming months the journey of working through what lockdown has meant and the process of building back towards a sustainable normality.

I’m writing to let you know about the re-opening of St Paul’s, following recent government announcements. We opened just for private prayer on 15th June from 11am to 3pm, and from 4th July have had a lunchtime Eucharist each weekday, and an 11.30am one on Sunday with organ and cantor.

From 13th July on weekdays opening hours will be 8am to 6pm (tourism will begin again with entry 8.30am to 4pm, with pre-booking for tickets, but prayer is always free) and there will be daily services under the Dome:

Weekday services:
8.00am – Eucharist
8.30am – Morning Prayer
12.30pm – Eucharist
5.00pm – Evening Prayer/Evensong – this will as far as possible include organ music and a cantor

Sunday services from 19th July:
8.00am – Holy Communion
8.45am – Morning Prayer
11.00am – Eucharist with organ music and sermon
3.00pm – Evening Prayer/Evensong
4.30pm – Organ Recital (most Sundays)
5.30pm – Eucharist

Please note that the times of Sunday services are slightly different in July and August from our previous patterns. We will review the times of services, and these may change again in September or as guidance changes. We expect to have the 2-metre distance rule for seating, with some chairs put together for couples or family groups, for the next stages of the pandemic. We are working on how to manage track and trace and other government
guidance. We do not expect large numbers at this stage but will be delighted to be able to welcome those who are able to come and look forward to this further step towards a ‘new normal’.

St Paul’s has been busy in other ways too during lockdown, and you may have seen some of these on social media or in the news. We created the Choir of the Nation (actually including people from around the world!) to bring singers together from their own homes and create new worship music, as well as continuing to work with young singers online. Our American supporters have created a Hope campaign to encourage people through hard times.

Do explore more of what the Cathedral has been doing during the lockdown – see for example the thoughtful reflections and leading thinkers engaging with Hard Questions that people are asking, or try out a virtual pilgrimage, all available at the new St Paul’s Resource Hub.

And if you feel able, do spend a bit of time with the Remember Me book, the online book of remembrance for those who have died as a result of the pandemic, which St Paul’s has worked hard to create and host with the help of a number of partners. It’s very moving to see now over 5000 people commemorated there, and we pray for them and for those who mourn their loss. We also aim to install a physical memorial to ensure that those who have died, and the experience this has been for everyone in the UK, will be remembered by us and by future generations.

A number of the City churches have been involved in producing online resource: an example is at the Our City Together website with podcasts about aspects of City church history and life.

What has happened for each of us over the last four months will vary enormously, according to our personal circumstances. But all of us have had to face significant change. For many this has involved loss, trauma and stress, and it will take time and space to recover, and to reassess what is truly important for us and those we love. The Cathedral and the City churches are here to help with that process, and we look forward to seeing you again as time and events allow. We expect to be planning for remembrance and memorial services in due course; and in the meantime we continue to hold you in our prayers and look forward to seeing you in person as soon as we can.

May God’s peace and love be with you,

The Very Rev’d Dr David Ison
Dean of St Paul’s

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