Tears and hope at Manchester Cathedral memorial service for the 22 who lost their lives in last year's attack
Twenty two candles shone out on the altar of Manchester Cathedral this afternoon representing the 22 who lost their lives in last year's terrorist attack. They were made from the wax of the thousands of candles left in memorials across the city in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing of an Ariana Grande concert.
Another, single candle was lit for those who mourn and the hundreds who were injured, as the cathedral hosted a moving invitation-only anniversary service today. It was attended by the families of those who lost their lives, the injured, first responders, students and civic leaders as well as Prince William, the prime minister Theresa May, mayor Andy Burnham and opposition politicians Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon and Vince Cable.
Prince William read from 1 Corinthians 13 during the service, which was led by the dean, Rogers Govender and watched around the country including on big screens in nearby Cathedral Gardens as well as at York Minster, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Glasgow Cathedral.
The bishop of Manchester David Walker gave the sermon and repeated a theme he began on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning about the dangers of moving on too swiftly. 'This cathedral reminds us that God isn't like that. God has no timetable for our recovery from tragedy...He's always ready to see our tears, to hear our cries, and to whisper words of comfort,' he told the congregation this afternoon. The bishop also stressed the importance of remembering those who had survived the attack and remained hurt or bereaved.
There were tears in the congregation, which included families of those who were killed, during the first hymn Amazing Grace, and a youth choir rendition of Over the Rainbow.
In what was a multi-faith service in a Christian framework, the Catholic bishop of Salford, John Arnold, read a prayer as well as an imam and representatives from the Jewish, Hindu and Sikh communities. A representative from Manchester Children's Hospital also led prayers.
At 2:30pm, the dean led the nation in a minute's silence observed around the country including at the House of Commons chamber in Westminster, London.
'Those who were lost and their loved ones will forever be in the hearts of the people of Manchester,' said the dean, before images of the 22 who died in the attack were displayed to music.
The final blessing was given by the archbishop of York, John Sentamu.
Later, ten thousand people are expected to join a mass singalong in Manchester tonightat the end of what Grande herself said on social media would be a 'challenging' day.
Bells across the city will ring at 10.31pm to mark the exact time Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb after the concert.
'The targeting of the young and innocent as they enjoyed a care free night out in the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, was an act of sickening cowardice,' May wrote in an article for the Manchester Evening News newspaper.
'It was designed to strike at the heart of our values and our way of life, in one of our most vibrant cities, with the aim of breaking our resolve and dividing us. It failed.'