Southwark Cathedral stands at the oldest crossing point of the tidal Thames, historically the only entrance to the City of London across the river, the one of the first visions of the great city for a newcomer, or for someone returning home. There has been a church on the site since the seventh century — 1400 years of prayer soaking into the earth in that place. Archeological evidence suggests Roman pagan worship even before that. Communities of religious on that sacred site saw the Norman conquest, the dissolution of the monasteries, the deprivations and poverty of the following centuries. Restored in the 1820s, it became Southwark Cathedral in 1905 as a new diocese was created within London. The cathedral as we know it today has seen two world wars and survived the London Blitz; it has stood as a monument, the home of a diocese, and a source of reflection, quiet and comfort throughout a century of war and turmoil.
Our home will always be the Newcastle Cathedral — by the sea, overlooking the city. Our cathedral is different. It’s younger — a baby, compared to the churches we have simply driven past, let alone the magnificent cathedral we’re singing in. Perhaps our cathedral is indescribably different simply because we are so intimately familiar with it.
But we’re a long way from home, and for the moment Southwark is our home. It’s a pretty beautiful home for the week — and they have welcomed us with open arms. They could not have been more welcoming, and now we get to sing for a week in the glory of this building, in the home of our choral tradition.
What an incredible week it’s going to be.