Video and 15 pix: Children use their magic powers to raise the York Minster advent wreath into position

25 Nov 2016 @ 7.27 pm
| Entertainment
Children from The Minster School help Head Verger Alex Carberry lift the advent wreath into position in York Minster. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Children from The Minster School help Head Verger Alex Carberry lift the advent wreath into position in York Minster. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Thank heavens for the children.

If they weren’t in York Minster the giant advent wreath would never have got off the ground.

The positioning of what is believed to be Britain’s largest suspended advent wreath is a key moment in York’s countdown to Christmas.

After it was built by the cathedral flower arrangers, it needed to be fitted with five candles.

Luckily youngsters from The Minster School were on hand to help Minster Head Verger Alex Carberry position the outer four. One will be lit on the next four Sundays.

The fifth central candle – placed in position by Head Verger Alex Carberry – will be lit on Christmas Day.

York Minster's flower arrangers work on the giant wreath. Photograph:  Anthony Chappel-Ross
York Minster’s flower arrangers work on the giant wreath. Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross
Listening intently, the Minster School children learn about advent. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Listening intently, the Minster School children learn about advent. Photograph: Richard McDougall

But then the 4m-wide wreath needed to be hoisted into position in the central tower. For that Mr Carberry had to ask for the help of the children, whose chants of “Up, up, up” magically powered the amazing centrepiece into position.

It will remain lit until Epiphany on January 6, with dishes the size of woks positioned to catch the dripping wax.

The advent wreath is grounded as the children are briefed by Mr Carberry. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The advent wreath is grounded as the children are briefed by Mr Carberry. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Each candle is taller than some of the schools youngest pupils. Photograph:  Anthony Chappel-Ross
Each candle is taller than some of the schools youngest pupils. Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross
Two children help the Head Verger instal a candle. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Two children help the Head Verger instal a candle. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The raising of the Advent Wreath marks the start of York Minster’s busiest season of concerts, performances and events which run alongside the packed programme of services in the run up to Christmas.

Highlights include the Advent Procession on the evening of 27 November (starting at 5.15pm, with doors open at 4.15pm), Sankta Lucia carol service on 9 December, York Minster’s sell-out Christmas Carol Concerts on 15 and 16 December, and concerts including Handel’s Messiah performed by the York Minster Choir on 10 December.

This central candle will be lit on Christmas Day itself. Photograph: Richard McDougall
This central candle will be lit on Christmas Day itself. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Steady… Head verger Alex Carberry installs the central candle, which weights 4kg. Photograph:  Anthony Chappel-Ross
Steady… Head verger Alex Carberry installs the central candle, which weights 4kg. Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross
The Advent wreath is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages, with evergreen foliage symbolising continuous life and the circle of the wreath itself representing the eternity of God, immortality of the soul and the everlasting life found through Christ.

The four candles around the ring represent the fore-runners of Jesus: the Patriarchs, the Prophets, John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the centre of the wreath, the fifth candle represents the light of Christ coming into the world.

– Reverend Canon Dr Christopher Collingwood, Chancellor of York Minster

It's a big deal in every sense. Photograph: Richard McDougall
It’s a big deal in every sense. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Children look on in awe as they raise the wreath into position. Photograph:  Anthony Chappel-Ross
Children look on in awe as they raise the wreath into position. Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross
The huge display is 4m wide and the foliage will be refreshed several times between now and Epiphany. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The huge display is 4m wide and the foliage will be refreshed several times between now and Epiphany. Photograph: Richard McDougall
An amazing sight. Photograph: Richard McDougall
An amazing sight. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The magic of a Minster candle mesmerises young Arthur. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The magic of a Minster candle mesmerises young Arthur. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Arthur holds a candle beneath the giant wreath in the central tower. Photograph:  Anthony Chappel-Ross
Arthur holds a candle beneath the giant wreath in the central tower. Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross
Arthur and April from the Minster School admire the wreath in York Minster. Photograph:  Anthony Chappel-Ross
Arthur and April from the Minster School admire the wreath in York Minster. Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross