Types of Service

From the very earliest days of the Church, Christians have prayed on a daily basis, morning and evening, and have met regularly to ‘break bread’ – a practice that developed into Holy Communion. These gatherings, based on praise, prayer and attention to Scripture - the Bible - remain the fundamental patterns for our worship today.

Whether on a gloomy, wet Wednesday morning in February or a gloriously sunny, summer Sunday afternoon, the regular round of worship continues in the Cathedral – it is the heartbeat of our existence.

In addition to our regular services, Manchester Cathedral hosts a wide variety of other special services, for almost any occasion. Our worship encompasses the whole of life’s experiences, and we can celebrate with those who rejoice, and lament with those who are suffering or in grief.

Prayer books of the Church of England

There are two core resources for worship in the Church of England: the Book of Common Prayer and Common Worship. You will find that both traditions are very much alive at Manchester Cathedral.

The Book of Common Prayer goes back to the days of the Reformation in England, and was a ground-breaking innovation, being the first prayer book to be compiled in English rather than in Latin. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s beautifully crafted phrases and carefully constructed services, alongside the resonating poetry Miles Coverdale’s translation of the Psalter, constitute memorable liturgy that remains well-loved today.

Common Worship is a set of services and resources in a more contemporary idiom and language, and is the outcome of a recent process of liturgical revision, that has drawn on the best of liturgical scholarship and practice. Common Worship provides alternatives to the Book of Common Prayer services, and much more besides.

Morning and Evening Prayer

Many of our daily services take place in the Quire of the Cathedral. People have been praying on the ancient misericords of the Quire for over 500 years, and the host of exquisitely-carved angels, all around us in the woodwork, reminds us that we are drawn into the very worship of heaven when we are there.

Morning and Evening Prayer are steeped in Scripture, and many of the prayers and phrases that are used in these services come straight out of the Bible. At these daily ‘offices’ – as they are sometimes called – we praise God, listen to readings from the Bible, join in with some biblical songs (called canticles) and bring the needs of the world and ourselves to God, in prayer.

When Evening Prayer is sung by a choir, it is called Evensong – although the words of the service are exactly the same. At Evensong, there is less participation for the congregation, although regular worshippers find that the singing of the Choir enables them to pray the words, and that their own prayers and praises are uplifted by the music.

Holy Communion

The Gospels tell us that, on the night before Jesus died, he shared a meal with his followers. Breaking and eating bread and drinking from the cup of wine, he instructed them to do this in his remembrance.

Holy Communion is the service in which Christians do just this – eating bread (often, these days, in the form of small flour wafers) and drinking wine. By this action we call to remembrance Jesus’ saving love, and pray that we may be nourished and renewed as we consume the elements that Jesus described as his body and blood. The sharing of this ‘heavenly banquet’ is preceded in the service by prayers of penitence, the reading of the Bible and reflection upon it, and the prayers of intercession. As we finish the service, we pray that God would send us out, freshly equipped for mission and service in God’s world.

Holy Communion is also called the Lord’s Supper and the Eucharist. In Manchester Cathedral it is sometimes a quiet reflective service for three or four people, and at other times a vivacious celebration by a congregation of several hundred.

Weekday eucharists
We are fortunate to have several chapels of varying shapes and sizes, each with its own particular characteristics. At our lunchtime eucharists we make the most of these different spaces, by holding the service in a different chapel each day. When you enter the Cathedral there is a sign near to the door that indicates where to go for the service.

On Sundays
The 9.00am Holy Communion is held in the Quire of the Cathedral, at the High Altar.

The 10.30am Sung Eucharist takes place in the Nave (central space) of the Cathedral, at the nave altar. This service has the largest regular congregation of the day, and has a Sunday School running concurrently for babies and children (parents are welcome, too). After the service there are usually refreshments and sometimes a bring and share lunch, or a community gathering to exchange news and information.

Children and communion
Visiting children who are regular communicants at their home church are welcome to take communion at Manchester Cathedral, as are children who have moved to the Cathedral from another church at which they had been admitted to communion. The Cathedral Chapter is committed to the principle of admission to communion on the basis of baptism, and is currently putting this opportunity in place for other regular child worshippers who, at present, have not been admitted to communion.

Gluten allergy
Gluten-free communion wafers are available. If you would like to have one of these, please alert a steward or verger before the service, so that we can be prepared.

Other services at the Cathedral

We hold baptisms, weddings and funerals at Manchester Cathedral. In addition, we create extra special services to celebrate the highs and lows of the liturgical calendar, most especially during the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. Many of these special acts of worship combine outstanding music, visual arts and symbolic action with the liturgy, all of which contribute towards a truly memorable occasion and encounter with God.

As a Cathedral Church we are host to many diocesan services, as well as services for local and national organizations.

Click on the links below for more detail and booking information regarding any of the following:

Baptism and confirmation
Funerals and Memorials
• Lent, Holy Week and Easter
• Advent and Christmas
Diocesan Services
• Annual or one-off special services for your organisation.