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Prayer and Worship

Our purpose is to worship God, share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, extend a welcome to all who come, celebrate and pass on our rich heritage and discover our place in God’s creation.

What is Christian worship?

Christian worship is the response to God’s initiative in calling human beings into relationship with himself. We respond to this God of love in grace through praise, adoration, thanksgiving, intercession and penitence.

Worship is not just merely human activity. Worship, itself enabled and inspired by the Holy Spirit, is joined to Christ’s perfect and eternal offer to the Father. By worshipping on earth, we join with the saints and angels celebrating in heaven.

What does God-in-Trinity mean?

The essential nature of our worship offers praise and prayer to the Father, in, with and through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

How can we worship?

Christian worship has been characterised over the centuries by:

  • Particular rites such as the baptism and the eucharist, meaning to take communion
  • Pastoral rites for healing and reconciliation
  • The use of signs and symbols
  • Through music
  • The Christian year with feasts and fasts and celebration of holy men and women
  • Developing houses of prayer celebrating our love of God through stone, wood, metal, glass and textiles

Worship at Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral is part of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, the Shrine of St Cuthbert, the Seat of the Bishop of Durham and a focus for pilgrimage and spirituality in North-East England.

We draw on the 17th century Book of Common Prayer and the more modern Common Worship.

We follow the daily pattern of Morning Prayer, Holy Communion and Evening Prayer (said or sung) with Sung Eucharist on Sundays, Saints' and Feast Days.

More about our regular services

History of Anglican worship

The distinctively Anglican vision of Christian worship was formed at the Reformation in the 16th century. This was when The Book of Common Prayer was introduced to England.

Key elements include:

  • The daily recitation of Morning and Evening Prayer
  • Psalms and Bible readings
  • The regular celebration of the Holy Communion
  • The annual cycle of the Christian Year
  • The administration of baptism, confirmation and occasional offices
  • The use of the Ordinal when ordaining clergy

An ever-evolving faith

Since the Reformation, Anglican worship has been enriched by various movements such as:

  • 18th century Evangelical Revival
  • 19th century Oxford Movement
  • 20th century Liturgical Movement
  • Ecumenical Movement
  • Feminist Movement
  • Charismatic Movement


Group of Choristers in the Cloisters

How do cathedrals differ from churches?

Historically Anglican Cathedrals have maintained elements of the Prayer Book long abandoned in many parish churches, This is especially true of daily Matins and Evensong.

Why can they do this?

Cathedrals are collegiate churches, in that they have a chapter of canons presiding over them, as well as a dean. This means they have more resources to provide services, unlike smaller places of worship.

Having a regular choir also allows us to maintain centuries-old traditions of the English Church as part of our worship.