Easter service to be seen by huge TV audience live from Sheffield Cathedral

The Rev Canon Keith Farrow at Sheffield Cathedral where the BBC are preparing to broadcast the morning service live on Easter Sunday. Picture: Chris Etchells
The Rev Canon Keith Farrow at Sheffield Cathedral where the BBC are preparing to broadcast the morning service live on Easter Sunday. Picture: Chris Etchells
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Sheffield Cathedral will be at the centre of the country's Easter festivities on Sunday when a morning service is broadcast live on television to a potential audience of millions.

The church's Easter Day Sung Eucharist is to be shown on BBC One, in what is believed to be the first ever transmission of its kind from the venue.

Cathedral dean the Very Rev Peter Bradley will lead the service featuring readings, choral singing and music from a brass ensemble. The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, will preach.

Viewers can tune in from 10am - then, at one minute past 11, the broadcast moves to St Peter's Square at the Vatican in Rome for Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi blessing.

Preparations are already under way at the cathedral, BBC engineers having arrived early to start putting up lights and movable cameras around the church.

"They're rigging up the building so it looks its best," said the Rev Canon Keith Farrow, the Anglican cathedral's canon missioner.

"It's the first time we've been on TV. We've been on the radio a few times over the years for evensong, but I believe it's the first live broadcast, to my knowledge. I don't think we've ever had Songs of Praise. But this is live, even Songs of Praise is pre-recorded."

The corporation came up with the idea, he said. "Over the years there have been conversations about this, and we thought it would be a good opportunity. On one level there's nothing special, bar the fact it's Easter Sunday, but broadcasting it live brings a greater sense of excitement that we can reach people we've probably never reached before."

The music, predominately by living composers, is being rehearsed, including the Setting of the Mass by Jonathan Dove. "It's very popular, with energetic Gloria, majestic Sanctus and Benedictus and atmospheric and meditative Agnus Dei," said the Rev Canon Farrow. "The music will be fitting for the triumphant season of Easter, celebrating Christ’s resurrection."

The broadcast builds on the Queen's visit to the church at Easter in 2015 to hand out the Maundy money, he added.

"It might be that normally people would never think about Sheffield Cathedral, but hopefully millions of people will be tuning in and watching. We'll be at the heart of the nation on that very important Sunday. It's a privilege to have access to people's homes. It's probably our largest congregation ever. There's that sense of being part of something bigger."

Nevertheless, proceedings will be treated like any other Eucharist. The service is ticketed, 'to keep an eye on numbers'.

"We'd always aim for the best possible experience. There's an element where you think 'Gosh, this is live'. But there's no need to be tense about it. It would be nice to think they'd come back to us at some point."

For free tickets click here or visit the cathedral gift shop.