The day starts at just before 7:00 a.m. as the Verger on duty arrives to unlock the Cathedral and set up the altar for the early morning services. Matins starts at 7:15 a.m. in the Latin Chapel, as it has done for centuries. This is immediately followed by Holy Communion in one of the side chapels. All the Chapels are used in rotation, a fact which is appreciated by the regular worshippers.
During term time the choristers arrive at 8:00 a.m. for their morning practice in the Song School, whilst the Probationers have a separate practice in the Cathedral with the Cathedral School's Music Master. During this time the Verger tidies the service booklets and chairs. If there has been a concert or play the previous night this can take considerable time. At 9:00 a.m. the first visitors start to arrive.
The video is turned on in the Slype and during the next hour the Cathedral Day Chaplain, Cathedral Stewards and the Welcomers arrive. The Chaplain is a member of the clergy who has volunteered to spend a day welcoming visitors, saying prayers on the hour, and being available for pastoral needs. The Welcomers are the friendly face of the Cathedral, giving out literature and providing help to the thousands of daily visitors. The Cathedral Stewards are people trained to give tours of the Cathedral and answer questions about the intricate and fascinating history of the building and institution.
Day in day out, the whole building is kept spotless by Glyn the cleaner – no easy task on a wet day when several hundred schoolchildren are visiting. She knows the whereabouts of most things and is often the first port of call for people wanting help or directions.
Throughout the day there will be tours from almost every country in the world. Sometimes parties of primary school children can be glimpsed dressed up as miniature monks as they engage with the history of the place, under the entertaining guidance of our education officer, Jim Godfrey. Often visitors are treated to a free lunchtime recital by a visiting choir or college musicians. On Fridays, the flower arrangers somehow manage to create their spectacular displays despite the throng of visitors. In the gallery, on Wednesdays, the Cathedral embroiders continue their intricate projects as they work on vestments and altar frontals. There is always something going on in the Cathedral.
At 4:45 p.m. the cathedral closes to visitors and the choir enters for their evening rehearsal. While they are rehearsing, the Verger silently gets things ready for evensong and for the next morning’s services. Evensong is at 6:00 p.m. and even on dark cold winter days, there are always people waiting to enter.