Cathedral Carol Services: Who Attends and Why?

  • David S. Walker


This chapter profiles the congregations attending the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at Worcester Cathedral and at Lichfield Cathedral. Drawing on data provided by 1,151 participants, the following issues are explored: attitudes and opinions regarding Christmas and carol services, motivations for attending the cathedral service, and the broader context of religious belonging, believing, and practicing. The profile of those attending the cathedral carol service is compared and contrasted with other studies of Anglican churchgoers. This enables a distinctive picture to be drawn of a population for whom their Christian faith and belonging are important but who are less committed to church attendance and dogmatic statements, preferring the notions of mystery and of faith as a lived life. They are found to be liberal in their sexual ethics and pluralist toward other faiths; they strongly support the corporate and public dimensions of faith, a faith engaged in society both as political commentator and as service provider. Some conclusions regarding their place in the mission of the church are drawn.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ap Siôn, T. (2013). Ordinary prayer and the activity of God: Reading a cathedral prayer board. In J. Astley & L. J. Francis (Eds.), Exploring ordinary theology: Everyday Christian believing and the Church (pp. 147–158). Farnham, United Kingdom: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  2. ap Siôn, T. (2015). Applying and testing the ap Siôn Analytic Framework for Intercessory Prayer (apSAFIP): Exploring prayer requests left in an English cathedral. In L. Woodhead & G. Giordan (Eds.), A sociology of prayer (pp. 169–190). Farnham, United Kingdom: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  3. Archbishops’ Council (2014). Key facts about the Church of England. Retrieved from Scholar
  4. Archbishops’ Council Research and Statistics, Central Secretariat (2013). Cathedral statistics 2012. Retrieved from Scholar
  5. Archbishops’ Council Research and Statistics, Central Secretariat (2014a). Cathedral statistics 2013. Retrieved from Scholar
  6. Archbishops’ Council Research and Statistics, Central Secretariat (2014b). Statistics for mission 2013. Retrieved from Scholar
  7. Central Board of Finance of the Church of England (1991). The promise of his glory. London, United Kingdom: Church House.Google Scholar
  8. Davie, G. (1994). Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing without belonging. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Day, A. (2011). Believing in belonging: Belief and social identity in the modern world. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Francis, L. J., & Robbins, M. (2004). Belonging without believing: A study in the social significance of Anglican identity and implicit religion among 13–15 year old males. Implicit Religion, 7, 37–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Francis, L. J., Robbins, M., & Astley, J. (2005). Fragmented faith: Exposing the fault lines in the Church of England. Milton Keynes, United Kingdom: Paternoster Press.Google Scholar
  12. Francis, L. J., & Williams, E. (2010). Not all cathedral congregations look alike: Two case studies in rural England. Rural Theology, 8, 37–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lambeth Commission on Communion (2004). The Windsor Report 2004. London, United Kingdom: Anglican Communion Office.Google Scholar
  14. Muskett, J. A. (2014). Measuring religious social capital: Scale properties of the modified Williams Religious Social Capital Index among Friends of cathedrals. Journal of Beliefs and Values, 35, 242–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Phillips, R. (2010). Christmas is not just for Christmas: An exploration of the Christmas story and its meaning as told by members of the congregation at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols held at York Minster on Christmas Eve 2007. Unpublished masters dissertation. University of Nottingham.Google Scholar
  16. Walker, D. S. (2009). The social significance of Harvest Festivals in the countryside: An empirical enquiry among those who attend. Rural Theology, 7, 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Walker, D. S. (2011). Marks of Mission and ways of belonging: Shaping the Anglican agenda for occasional churchgoers in the countryside. Journal of Anglican Studies, 9, 100–116.Google Scholar
  18. Williams, E. (2008). Measuring religious social capital: The scale properties of the Williams Religious Social Capital Index (WRSCI) among cathedral congregations. Journal of Beliefs and Values, 29, 327–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Leslie J. Francis 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David S. Walker

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations