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The 369th Clergy Support Trust Festival took place at St Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday 7 May 2024, and welcomed over 1,700 guests.

It is the longest-running choral celebration of its kind in the world, having first taken place in 1655.

As well as an act of worship, the Festival brings together cathedral choirs who would not normally get the chance to sing together. This year, we welcomed Durham, Rochester and St Paul's Cathedral Choirs.

We enjoyed a history-spanning range of music from the 17th to the 21st centuries, by Gabrieli, Parry, Elgar, Stanford and Cecilia McDowall, the latter of whom was in attendance.

The combined choirs sang Elgar’s anthem, Give unto the Lord, originally written for the Festival back in 1914. We also marked the centenary of Charles Villiers Stanford's death, performing the Ascension anthem, Coelos ascendit hodie.

The combined choirs, performing at the West Doors

The combined choirs of Durham, Rochester and St Paul's Cathedral, singing at the West Door of the Cathedral.

The Archbishop of Wales, The Most Revd Andrew John, giving his sermon.

The Most Revd Andrew John

The Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Bangor preached at the Service, giving a sermon on how recently watching the 2023 film, Barbie led him to reflect on how life, unlike the make-believe world of the film, is not "pink, plastic and perfect".

We will add his full sermon to the website shortly.

“It was a privilege to welcome The Most Revd Andrew John, Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Bangor to the 369th Festival. As well as hearing his engaging sermon, this was a wonderful opportunity for us to reaffirm our commitment to The Church in Wales, to supporting their clergy and to playing our role, alongside the Archbishop and others, in helping them to thrive in their lives and ministry”.

The Revd Ben Cahill-Nicholls
Chief Executive, Clergy Support Trust

Livery Companies and Guilds

This year, over 50 Masters from across the City of London joined the ceremonial procession - from The Worshipful Company of Barbers, to The Worshipful Company of World Traders, from the Butchers to the Wax Chandlers. Many Freeman, Liverymen, Clerks and Past Masters also attended.

Our friendship with the livery movement is four centuries in the making. In 1655, concerned with the welfare of clergy, their children and widows, a Festival was held by merchants, Liverymen and Freemen to raise funds.

370 years later, a great deal has changed, but Clergy Support Trust's mission to serve those who serve remains the same. As does our deep, historic connection with the livery movement. The much-appreciated contributions of the livery were acknowledged in the Order of Service.

How Livery support us

Livery Masters, dressed in fine black, red and blue robes, preparing to process.

Our processing Stewards of the Festival

A line of formally dressed men and women, holding ceremonial sticks, known as wands.

Become a Steward

Stewards play a key historic role in the Festival Service, and have done so for hundreds of years. A longstanding tradition, Stewards process through St Paul's Cathedral, carrying ceremonial sticks - or 'wands' - alongside Bishops, the Masters of Livery Companies and representatives of the City of London.

"Since the seventies, it's very rare that I ever miss the Festival. It's part of my heritage. It's part of my DNA. It's always an event of great interest and excitement and reunion. And of course, the most wonderful choral music, my greatest joy."

Luke, a longstanding Steward

For an annual donation of £75, our Stewards:

  • Access brilliant priority seating
  • Join the ceremonial procession
  • Have their support celebrated in our Order of Service
  • Are invited to high profile events, such as receptions with our Chief Executive
  • Support our work with thousands of Anglican clergy and their families

Find out more

Durham Cathedral Choir

The choir of Durham Cathedral, dressed in white and purple robes.

Rochester Cathedral Choir

The choir of Rochester Cathedral, dressed in white and red robes.

The combined choirs, performing beneath the Dome

The combined choirs of Durham, Rochester and St Paul's Cathedral, as seen from the best seats in the house, beneath the Dome.

The 369th Festival Dinner

In the evening, we welcomed over 250 guests to Plaisterers' Hall for the Trust's annual charity dinner.

We were treated to a beautiful rendition of the sung grace by choristers from Rochester Cathedral Choir, followed by a delicious two-course meal of beef cheek, London-cured salmon or roasted aubergine, with a dessert of a cherry pavlova or a fruit platter.

Speeches were made by our Chair (Senior Treasurer), Richard Farmbrough, our Chief Executive, The Revd Ben Cahill-Nicholls and an Honorary President of Clergy Support Trust, The Rt Revd John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, who recently announced his retirement.

They reminded us of the important work done by Clergy Support Trust, and of how we can walk alongside Anglican clergy and their families together, in their lives and ministry.

The work of the Trust

A dinner at Plaisterers' Hall. Thirty circular tables, with white table cloth, beneath a ceiling of chandeliers.