This study is designed to test the hypothesis that events like the Holly Bough service held
in Liverpool Cathedral on the fourth Sunday of Advent that attracts a wide range of
participants, including regular churchgoers and occasional (sometimes annual) visitors,
contribute significantly to the psychological health and well-being of these participants.
At the Holly Bough service held in 2019, a total of 383 participants (139 men, 229 women
and 15 individuals who preferred anonymity) completed a recognised measure of
psychological health and well-being (the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire) whilst
they were waiting for the service to begin and again during a 5-min organ
improvisation just before the close of the service. The data demonstrated a significantly
higher score on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire at time 2 than at time 1, suggesting
that the experience of the service functioned as an agent of psychological health and
CONTRIBUTION: Situated within the science of cathedral studies, this paper confirms by means
of a repeated-measure study that cathedrals promote psychological health; 383 participants at
a Christmas service completed the same well-being measure before and after the service, with
a significant increase in scores at time two.