The Argyll & Isles Spring Music Weekend took place at St. Mary’s Kinnoull, on 6-8 May, with over 60 musicians and singers from throughout the Diocese attending. We arrived to beautiful weather, with deer wandering through the grounds, birds singing and the St.Mary’s chickens sounding off. The only sad note was the absence of Br. Malachy, a familiar figure in the garden and grounds, who had died the previous month. I think a number of the choir will have paid a quiet visit to his grave in the little cemetery at St. Mary’s.
Since deacon David Connor, a long time member of the choir, is being ordained in June, the main focus of this weekend was preparation for the Ordination Mass. The first, informal, session was held as attendees arrived on Friday afternoon, to begin looking at the new music required, including the revised Peter Jones Gloria, based on the new Missal text.
After dinner, Fr. Michael Hutson welcomed everyone and outlined the plans for the weekend. Over the course of the evening, we learned David Haas’ “You are Mine”and Gerry Fitzpatrick’s setting of Psalm 23, did more work on the Gloria, and revised music already in repertoire which would be used at the ordination.
Night Prayer was celebrated in the Oratory, led by Fr. Roddy Johnstone. This was followed by further rehearsals in the Chapel, before we wound down the first day with some chat and catching up in the Common Room.
Saturday started with preparation for Mass, revisiting the work from the previous evening and revising the Liam Lawton Sanctus and Acclamation. Fr. Michael, in his homily for the Mass, referred to the Easter readings, and reminded us that Jesus, just as in the Emmaus story, is now with us in a new way, present to everyone in every time and place. He is present in the Church and particularly in the Eucharist, and the gift of music enables us to take him to others.
After morning coffee, Fr. Roddy continued the series of talks on the Psalms that he had started at the previous Music Weekend, and gave us a wonderful insight to the depths of meaning in Psalm 1. He invited us to see our work as bearing fruit for others and to take heart in what we do in our parishes. We then broke into sections to rehearse , adding the parts for the Gloria, and learning parts for “Praise my soul the King of Heaven” and “Go to the World”.
After an afternoon break, we come back to continue work on the new music, adding the response for the Ordination psalm (Ps.89 – setting by Ronan McDonagh). Mgr. James MacNeil then gave a brief reflection on the new Missal which comes into use in Advent 2011. He reminded us that the Mass is the action of Christ experienced anew in what has been handed on from the Church of the Apostles – it is our privilege and responsibility to hand it on in turn.
He explained that the new translation seeks to be closer to the Latin text. It is not a change from Vatican II’s reform of the Liturgy but should be seen rather as a chance to reinforce the engagement of the Faithful at Mass. In the Eucharist we offer ourselves with Christ, and in Communion Christ is one with each recipient. We need to think about what is happening at Mass, to recognise Christ in each other and to put this understanding into practice in our own lives.
Night Prayer followed in the Oratory before dinner and a final rehearsal to bring together the work carried out in the sectional practices. Argyll & the Isles folk are inexhaustible and, despite a long day of singing, praying, shopping and walking, we had our usual ceilidh night (and all the party pieces) in the Common Room.
The following morning, there was time for a brief rehearsal for Mass before we joined the parish congregation and put into practice all we had learned over the weekend. Then it was coffee, checking out and heading home until we meet again.*
*The next meeting will be a rehearsal on 5 June in Oban for the Ordination Mass before the Ordination on 14 June.