Churches told to avoid carol concerts on 4th Sunday of Advent due to World Cup Final

22 November 2022, 14:04 | Updated: 22 November 2022, 14:07

Church of England vicars have been told to try to avoid putting carol services on the last Sunday of Advent to avoid a clash with the World Cup Final
Church of England vicars have been told to try to avoid putting carol services on the last Sunday of Advent to avoid a clash with the World Cup Final. Picture: Getty

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Church of England vicars have been told to avoid organising carol services for the last Sunday of Advent due to a risk of clashing with the football tournament...

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Coming out of a 6-2 opening match against Iran, England Football Fans are on a high following the team’s first win at the 2022 World Cup.

However, with the Qatar hosted football final due to take place on Sunday 18 December, the impact of a World Cup tournament this late in the year may affect Church turnout this Advent.

At least that’s what the Church of England’s support website said. In a post titled, ‘Making the most out of the World Cup Final 18 Dec 2022’, the Christian denomination have recommended that churches do not host their carol services on this date.

“On the 18th December,” the Church of England affiliated site writes, “Churches often hold Carol Services in the afternoon or evening, and this could still be possible if you choose the time carefully…but what if there are penalties?!

“It may be best to avoid that day altogether and host a carol service on Saturday 17th instead.”

Read more: Advent music: 10 best carols and hymns to begin the festive season

Bryn Terfel on football

The post goes on to say that the date of the World Cup Final shouldn’t put the Church and football fans at odds with each other, and suggests ways that the football match can be used as “a missional tool this Advent and Christmas”.

‘Church Support Hub’ suggests church officials could watch the game and join fans at their local sports club, where they can offer to lead carols during the match, or they could host a screening at their church.

Another option suggested is to put on a pre-prepared Football Nativity play called ‘Greatest of All Time’.

Lines from this include, “We really want to make some noise when we see this new King we have heard about and whose star we have seen. *Character blows vuvuzela*”, and to the tune of It’s coming Home, the three Kings sing, “We’re coming West, We’re coming West, We’re coming, Kings are coming West”.

Read more: Singing American football player wows teammates with Bocelli’s ‘Time to Say Goodbye’

While the post offers seven different suggestions for how the Church can engage football fans, many in the liturgical world have pointed out that this recommendation has come out far too late from a practical perspective.

Historically many churches hold their carol services on the last Sunday before Advent, and will have already planned their 2022 concert to be the same. Planning will have included booking musicians, so it may prove difficult for churches to move their performances even a day earlier due to diary clashes.

Last week the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North told the Church Times that churches would do well to “stick to Christmas” rather than engage with the World Cup.

The World Cup’s host, Qatar, has been at the centre of media coverage for the football tournament due to its views on LGBTQ+ people and the accusations that oversea workers died whilst building the football stadium.

“I don’t want to see churches live streaming football matches in stadium where hundreds of overseas workers have died,” Bishop North told the Church Times, though he added that it was up to individual churches to do what they thought best. He also added that moving carol services on the 18 December seemed like, “common sense”.