Pontifical Vespers for Advent 2018

The Annual celebration of Pontifical vespers, led by Bishop Richard, was held on the second Sunday in Advent in the Cathedral. The High Sheriffs of East and West Sussex and Surrey, resplendent in civic regalia, were in attendance together with the Mayor of Arundel and many other civic dignitaries from around the Diocese. The vibrance of simple poinsettias decorating either side of the altar steps was more than a fitting setting for the spiritual preparation for the birth of our Lord. The choir, as always, was in great form under the gifted leadership of the musical Director Elizabeth Stratford.

Bishop Richard took his theme for the homily from the reading of a sermon of St Augustine . This dealt with the birth of John the Baptist and marked the frontier between the Old and the New Testaments. He drew out the parallels between the birth of John to a barren couple and the birth of Jesus. John’s father, Zachariah, had been struck dumb because he had not believed the prophecy but his speech was restored when John was born. John was a voice for a time but Christ was to be the Word in eternity For the visitors, unfamiliar with the liturgy of the vespers, it was an uplifting experience. Many have since written warmly of their appreciation of the event and expressed their wish to be invited again.

The service was followed by a Christmas drinks reception and refreshments at the back of the Cathedral. Members of the Congregation were able to talk to each other and meet the dignitaries and learn more about what their roles involved.