For many, a key component of Christmas is attending a church service. We find out what what’s going on at Hexham Abbey....

Nothing quite beats the spine-tingling sensation of being in church at Christmas – and if you go along to Hexham Abbey, you’re bound to leave with a rosy glow. The 1,300-year-old landmark, which, in 2014, underwent £3m restoration work, is hosting more services than usual this year to mitigate against Covid. The rector, Rev’d David Glover, hopes the pandemic won’t put a dampener on them.

“We’re still working out how to do these things in a safe way,” he says. “Because of circumstances, things sometimes have to change, so it’s wise to check our website. I hope people will come and I hope they will feel safe. It’s hard to know. There’s such a mixture of reactions – people who feel nervous and people who feel fine. Church life is beginning to pick up now so I’m hoping we’ll have a good few at Christmas.”

The main services run from December 22nd to Christmas Day, with carol services taking place at 6pm and 8pm on the 22nd and 23rd. “We normally have two – we’re going to have four this year so we can distance people a bit more,” explains Rev’d Glover. “It’s traditional carols, choir carols and readings in a lovely candlelit atmosphere.”

In contrast with last year, when Covid restrictions were in place, the congregation will be able to sing. They’ll also get the opportunity at the Christmas Eve services. “Our plan is to have a family crib service at three o’clock and five o’clock,” says Rev’d Glover. “Then there will be a midnight communion beginning at 11 o’clock. On Christmas Day there’ll be a parish Christmas eucharist at 10 o’clock. We may be doing a Christingle as well, but that will be earlier in the month.”

While some in the congregations will be regulars, there will also be the once-yearly attendees and – since the pandemic – perhaps even some new faces. Rev’d Glover says people have been drawn to the church in recent turbulent times. “We’ve had an angels installation in church, with four-and-a-half thousand paper angels, and people have been able to come and write messages, thoughts and prayers about Covid and loss,” he says. “We’ve had huge numbers. It’s a real sign that people have wanted to come to church and find some solace.”

While Christmas at the abbey may not be quite normal this year, Rev’d Glover hopes it will be no less successful. “I think perhaps in the past we’ve had 500 people and, this year, we’re going to go for four services with 200 people,” he says.

Tickets are required for the carol services and the family services. These are free and can be obtained from the abbey. For the most up to date information, visit