Follow the Star: Join the Song - Resources for churches

Learn more about the Church of England's Advent and Christmas campaign for 2023. Stay tuned for more updates.
Join the Star carollers

After two challenging Christmases during the pandemic, we returned to the very popular Follow the Star branding last year, in line with feedback from dioceses and parishes.

Last December, thousands of churches extended ‘The Great Invitation’ from the Church of England to Follow the Star to their local church in person once again. Helped, of course, by a return to a more normal Christmas, 2022’s Follow the Star saw significant growth in engagement across a wide range of indicators on social media and sign ups to reflections.

As we did last year with The Great Invitation, we’re also developing brand-new resources and ideas which can be used alongside branding from previous years.

This year’s theme – Follow the Star: Join the Song – highlights how singing can help draw us closer to God and each other through the journey from Advent to Epiphany.

The story

The shepherds went back,
singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen;
it had been just as the angel had told them.
- Luke 2.20 (GNB)

In the story of the first Christmas, the shepherds are astonished to find the night sky filled with countless voices singing God’s praise.

Amazed as they are, the shepherds take up angel’s invitation and hurry to Bethlehem. And it isn’t long before the shepherds are singing, too, praising God and sharing the good news of Jesus’ birth.

Centuries later, singing is still central to how millions of people celebrate the good news of Christmas. Singing and hearing carols can enable people of all ages to get in touch with the wonder and the truth of the Christmas story.

Join our webinars

One of the key elements of the Join the Song campaign is to invite choirs and singing groups of all ages to learn and sing the carol.

We are running three webinars to help you get the most out of this year’s campaign:

  • Explore Join the Song resources to support your church: This webinar will offer information and ideas on how you can use the national branding, reflections and resources to help you to invite people to your church – both online and onsite. Learn more and register for this webinar on Tuesday, 19 September.
  • Using Join the Song with under-18s: Find out how you can engage under-18s through singing our new setting of The First Nowell. Learn about the resources available for under 18s and get practical ideas for using them in schools, church or at home. Sign up to join our webinar on Wednesday, 27 September.
  • Christmas 2023's digital resources unwrapped: Join the Digital Labs team for this interactive session to look at the resources available for this year's Christmas campaign. Sign up to join the webinar on Wednesday, 11 October.

What are the key elements of the campaign?

Colleagues across the national Church have been working with dioceses and parishes to make a range of resources available to help communicate the Follow the Star theme.

Alongside some familiar elements, we are excited to announce some completely new strands to this campaign to help schools, churches, cathedrals to connect with this year’s call to Join the Song, including:

  • An invitation to all choirs and singing groups to sing a new version of ‘The First Nowell’ – listen to a preview now.
  • Free resources to help choirs of all ages and stages learn and perform the carol
  • Supporting resources for schools including collective worship sessions
  • Our first printed Follow the Star Advent Calendar for families – with stickers!
  • Accompanying online Advent reflections for all ages
  • Daily Christmas reflections booklet by Richard Carter - plus free app, email and audio versions.
  • And much more, including a wealth of free tools and resources on A Church Near You


Stay tuned for more resources as they become available.