Southwark Cathedral packed for Mayor of London’s carol service

Olympic and Paralympic medallists were among the readers at the Mayor of London's carol service at Southwark Cathedral on Monday night.

Southwark Cathedral packed for Mayor of London’s carol service

The service brought together British athletes who competed in this summer's games, as well as Team London ambassadors and games maker volunteers.

The congregation was welcomed by the cathedral's new precentor Canon Gilly Myers who said that there had been so much to celebrate in London this year including the Jubilee, Olympic Games and Paralympics.

Paralympics dressage double gold medallist Natasha Baker read John Betjeman's poem The bells of waiting Advent ring. Rowing gold medallist Alex Partridge read St Matthew's story of the Wise Men in Bethlehem.

Other readers included Team London ambassador Kiran Kaur and London 2012 games maker Louise Cheung.

The Old Testament passage was read by London Assembly chair Jennette Arnold. Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who instigated the annual carol service five years ago, delivered the opening words of St John's Gospel.

"Our carol service is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing successes and achievements of an extraordinary year for our city, one that we shall never forget," said Boris Johnson.

"It's also an opportunity to reflect on how we can build on the fine qualities that were on show throughout our golden games, from the aspiration, hard work and glorious achievements of our sporting heroes, to the community spirit and good humour of the thousands of volunteers that welcomed people from around the world and helped make it such a triumph."

In a message printed in the order of service, the Mayor said: "Christmas is a time to reflect on the message of the nativity, on the gifts of friendship, of love and of peace, and to come together as a city, united and harmonious."

The service began with City Hall press officer Jessica Roscoe singing solo the first verse of Once in Royal David's city.

Urban Voices Collective, who took part in the Olympic Games closing ceremony, and St Catherine's Gospel Choir from Bexleyheath sang songs and led the carols.

Present in the sanctuary was the Bishop of Southwark, who gave the blessing, the Bishop of Willesden and Metropolitan Police chaplain Jonathan Osborne.

Also at the service were London Assembly members, London borough mayors led by Mayor of Southwark Cllr Althea Smith, business and faith representatives, ambassadors and high commissioners.

The Mayor was joined by his father, former MEP Stanley Johnson.

Members of the public formed long queues in the churchyard and Borough Market more than an hour before the service was due to begin. Civic guests had difficulty making their way through the crowds waiting outside.

Southwark Cathedral's own carol services, featuring the combined 'great choir' of men, boys and girls – will be held on Friday and Sunday evening.

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