St Paul’s Cathedral has been here for over 1,400 years. It has been built and rebuilt five times, and always its main purpose has been as a
place of worship and prayer.
St Paul's, with its world-famous dome, is an iconic feature of the London skyline. Step inside and you can enjoy the Cathedral's awe-inspiring
interior, and uncover fascinating stories about its history.
Learning & Faith
Lifelong learning is a core part of the our work, delivered through a variety of events by St Paul's Institute, and the
Cathedral's Adult Learning and Schools & Family Learning departments.
History & Collections
For more than 1,400 years, a Cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood at the highest point in the City. The present Cathedral is the
masterpiece of Britain's most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren.
Behind the scenes, the cost of caring for St Paul's and continuing to deliver our central ministry and work is enormous and the generosity of
our supporters is critical.
Widely considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful buildings and a powerful symbol of the splendour of London, St Paul’s Cathedral is a
breathtaking events venue.
Sermon preached at Remembrance Service Matins, Sunday 8 November 2015 by the Very Revd David Ison, Dean of St Paul's Cathedral
The Dean issues an invitation to stop being ordinary and get in touch with the spirit of Remembrance
‘The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.’ (Psalm 112)
It was an ordinary day, a grey Monday morning. The buses and taxis roared along noisily, a siren went past, most people walked along with scarcely
a look. There were flags and a band and people in formal clothes. A few tourists wondered what was going on and took pictures of something they
didn’t quite understand. Just an ordinary day in the City of London.
It was the opening of the Garden of Remembrance by the east end of this Cathedral six days ago. The familiar rituals, the Last Post the poignant
words, the British Legion banners; the City of London paying tribute to ordinary people who sacrificed their lives that we might be free to
remember. There we were, ordinary people on an ordinary day, recalling the extra-ordinary suffering, sacrifice and loss of war, acknowledging our
debt as individuals and as a nation – remembering. And then going back to our ordinary Monday lives.
But we don’t have to go back to the ordinary. We can change how we perceive the world: as the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, ‘The world is
charged with the grandeur of God; it will flame out…’ – Flame out, for those who will see it.
Most of us will have received at some time what for us has been life-changing news. Someone dies, a baby’s born, a diagnosis has been given, and
our ordinary life shudders to a halt: yet other people go past as though nothing has happened, while we want to shout at them and say, Haven’t you
noticed that the world has changed? When it happens to you, your world stops being ordinary and becomes a different place, as your life is shaken.
That’s how it was last Monday morning in the Cathedral Garden, for those with eyes to see. It was an invitation to stop being ordinary, and instead
to get in touch with the meaning of remembrance, to see the extra-ordinary things which most people didn’t notice. There we stood, at the
intersection of life and death, the everyday and the eternal, when ordinary life turns into something quite different, while the rest of the world
carries on regardless…
‘The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance’ it says in our first lesson. To be righteous is to live in justice, to be generous and
compassionate to those in need. The righteous person models how God is, they bring justice and hope and love to others: that’s how we want to
remember them, and that’s how we would like to be remembered.
When someone dies, we want to keep their memory alive. We don’t want them to be forgotten. And what I think we mean is that we want his or her life
to have touched and changed the world, to have had a meaning, to have been righteous: that the sacrifices and sufferings that we remember,
today and at other times, have made the world a better place.
And yet we also know that, while today we remember, there will come a time when the world moves on and we and our dead are largely forgotten.
Forgotten by others that is, but not by God: as Jesus said in our New Testament reading:
‘The nations worry about all these things: but your heavenly Father knows that you need them – so strive for his kingdom, his righteousness, and
everything else will be yours as well.’ God in Christ remembers us. Humanity forgets, but God’s memory is eternal.
Keeping the dead in everlasting memory is too big a burden for us to bear, but God can take care of them, and us.
Our task is to entrust our dead to God in faith, to follow their righteous example, to walk in justice and faith through this ordinary world in the
extraordinary light of eternity.
Today it’s an ordinary Sunday at St Paul’s. The buses and taxis roar along noisily, a siren goes past; most people walk past the cathedral with
scarcely a look. Some hundreds of people are outside and inside the cathedral. There are flags and people in formal clothes. A few tourists wonder
what’s going on and take pictures of something they don’t quite understand.
And yet what we do this morning is extra-ordinary – for those with eyes to see.
Jesus told his followers not to worry about life and death. God’s made the flowers of the field more beautiful than King Solomon in all his
glorious robes, he said; so how could you think that God won’t remember you?
The First World War chaplain and poet Studdert Kennedy (‘Woodbine
Willie’) wrote what Jesus said into a short poem, about seeing God in an ordinary line of walking, wounded soldiers, where in the everyday he
suddenly meets the eternal. The poem’s called, ‘Solomon in all his glory’.
Still I see them coming, coming
In their ragged broken line,
Walking wounded in the sunlight,
Clothed in majesty divine.
For the fairest of the lilies,
That God’s summer ever sees,
Never was clothed in royal beauty
Such as decks the least of these.
Tattered, torn, and bloodied khaki,
Gleams of white flesh in the sun,