Durham Cathedral has held its annual Lighting of the Christmas Tree and Blessing of the Crib Service. Sunday saw the switching on of the cathedral’s magnificent 27-foot Norwegian spruce tree, which has been provided by Ward Bros.

The service also involved a candlelit procession in the darkness by the cathedral’s choristers and clergy, carols and prayers. After the Christmas tree had been lit, the cathedral’s crib scene was blessed. The congregation then gathered around the crib and sang Away in a Manger.

The Lighting of the Christmas Tree and Blessing of the Crib Service is considered to be a very beautiful and atmospheric occasion. The service draws hundreds of families to Durham Cathedral each year.

Members of the congregation were asked to bring wrapped Christmas presents, marked with the age group they were appropriate for and whether they were intended for a boy or girl. The presents were collected by the Salvation Army and distributed to people in need.

The Christmas tree was this year switched on by seven-year-old Isabel Sheen. Isabel’s family have strong connections to Durham Cathedral. Her parents, Henry and Stefanie, first met at the cathedral in 2004 when Henry was living nearby and Stefanie was working on a PhD at Durham University.

In 2007, Henry and Stefanie got married in the cathedral. They have also baptised both their children in the building – Isabel in 2009 and her older sister Katharina in 2008. In addition, Isabel attends the cathedral’s Chorister School.

Henry and Stefanie said, “We have marked so many special occasions for our family at the cathedral in recent years so we were delighted when Isabel was given the honour of lighting the tree this year.”

“We are extremely proud that Isabel played such a key role in the service, something that we hope will be a fond memory for her in the years to come.”

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