Cathedral to host Manchester Arena attack memorial service, one year on.

Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral will be the venue for a civic service on Tuesday 22 May, to remember the day 22 people lost their lives in the Manchester Arena attack.

An invited congregation including the families of those who died, people who were injured, first responders, civic leaders and national figures will gather in the Cathedral for an hour-long service from 2pm.

Outside, in Cathedral Gardens, the service will be shown on a big screen, and will be watched simultaneously by crowds at York Minster, Glasgow Cathedral and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral..

In Manchester Together – With One Voice, choirs will join together in song to remember those affected by the Arena attack. Choirs and groups of singers from the region are invited to perform at the event and can register their interest at the Manchester Together site. The event will conclude with communal singing which will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester.

From 22 May to 26 May, words of songs will be projected onto St Ann’s Church and other parts of St Ann’s Square as part of an artwork called “There Is A Light”. The city council is inviting people to suggest song lyrics which have a personal resonance for them to include in the projection.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester city council leader said: “Music is in Manchester’s soul and it is only fitting that it should play a central part in marking what will be an emotional anniversary. We saw in the aftermath of the 22 May attack how spontaneous song captured the city’s spirit, its solidarity and refusal to give in to hatred.”

Christian communities across the Manchester region are being asked to pray for the city on May 22nd. Many churches will be including special times of prayer on Tuesday 22nd and on the Sunday before. They will be praying for continued healing of bodies and minds for those who were affected by the attack in any way, and comfort for those who will be feeling the grief of bereveament most acutely on this first anniversary.

Homeless Jesus sculpture unveiled in Manchester

Homeless Jesus statue in Manchester

A new sculpture in Manchester is making people in our city centre think about Jesus Christ in a new way. The sculpture is not of Jesus as a baby or Jesus on a cross, or even Christ in glory. This time Jesus is depicted as a homeless man lying on a bench.

The work “Jesus the Homeless” is by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, and is one of a series of casts in cities around the world including Washington DC, Dublin, Glasgow and Singapore. This one was rejected by planners in Westminster but granted planning permission by Manchester City Council. It has been installed outside St Ann’s Church on St Ann Street in the central retail district.

The statue was unveiled in April 23rd 2018 by two homeless men called Dave and Ian and blessed by the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd David Walker, who said, “Jesus is very explicit in the Bible – when we offer or refuse care to those in need, we will be judged as though he himself were the needy person before us.”

St Ann’s Church raised the money to place the statue in front of its church building. The church is active in helping homeless people in the city, including a new project called ‘Morning Hours’, in which hot drinks and toast are provided to rough sleepers before day centres open.

Rector of St Ann’s Church, the Revd Nigel Ashworth, said the artwork would ‘challenge passers-by to question their attitude towards homeless and marginalised people that they come across in their day-to-day lives’.

Philippa Hanna and support, Night & Day Manchester, 4th April 2018

Philippa Hanna came to Manchester riding high on the success of her most recent alt-country album, Come Back Fighting. Best known within Contemporary Christian music, Philippa Hanna is making a name for herself in various places and platforms. She’s been getting radio time from the likes of Bob Harris and turning heads in Nashville. Her recent music has been likened to The Shires, spanning pop and country, both feisty and soul-baring.

Becky Higg

On a cold Wednesday night, The Night & Day Cafe, the stylish Northern Quarter venue was comfortably full of people aged 18 to granny. The evening started with local singer Becky Higg, who brought some plaintive acoustic numbers. Her highlight was, “Hold me Tight”, a reflection on finding hope in depression.



Second on was another Manchester performer, Lily-Jo, who sings pop with a fighting edge. Lily Jo is bold and magnetic, oozing confidence. She struck this reviewer as sounding like Philippa Hanna as she was ten years ago.

Lily-Jo sang “Beautiful Scars” and told us about her Lily-Jo Project, which supports people with mental health issues. She gave us her finest song, “Good Enough” and finished with “Unstoppable”, a song released with Philippa Hanna, which to my taste was a bit too preachy. But Lily-Jo is one to watch.

Philippa Hanna

Then came the main act, Philippa Hanna, with her “A Team” band – her husband Joel Cana on drums, his brother Josh on bass and keys and the brilliant Roo Walker on lead.

Most of Philippa’s 80 minutes comprised nine of the ten tracks from the Come Back Fighting album, but with less of a Nashville sound than the commercial release. The set started off with the title track and the standout “Off the Wagon”.

Most songs were introduced with the stories behind them, and nearly all of these were personal – her struggles, her fears and her passions. Between the songs there were a lot of stories of anxiety and depression and cancer. One song, Million Flowers, was written for the death of child. These were songs from the heart.

But there was also joy, and the joy was mainly in the music itself, which affirmed love and the power of survival, and a faith in Jesus Christ which carries hope in every note. The music is of the highest quality. Here is a singer reaching new heights, confident in her skin, skilled and talented and bold and powerful.

For one song, “Do the Unthinkable” Philippa even put down her guitar, which does seem to be her comfort-blanket at times, and sang without its support. Also included in this set was her recent cover of the Ed Sheeran smash “Perfect” with lyrics adapted to make them refer to the love of Jesus. This is slightly cheesy of course, but very well pulled-off and has had remarkable success on social media.

Overall, Manchester was treated to three female singers of the highest calibre, all singing of a Christian faith that gives strength to life. The whole evening rang with faith that empowers women, and all people. Such gigs bring hope and fortitude to the soul as well as a rocking good night out.

Philippa Hanna’s Set List

(all songs from the album Come Back Fighting 2017 unless indicated)

  • Come Back Fighting
  • Off the Wagon
  • The Speed of Light  The Speed of Light 2016
  • Dorothy
  • Let ‘em Fly
  • Getting on with Life
  • Hollywood  Through the Woods 2013
  • Raggedy Doll  Out of the Blue 2011
  • Million Flowers
  • Perfect  Ed Sheeran cover
  • Do the Unthinkable
  • The Hero
  • I am amazing  Out of the Blue 2011
  • Lighthouse  Through the Woods 2013


  • I saw the light
  • Arrow  The Speed of Light 2016


words and pictures copyright Wayne Clarke @wayneaclarke for Faith in Manchester