The concentration shows at rehearsal

The concentration shows at rehearsal

It was with a mixture of feelings that almost 50 musicians from across the Diocese of Argyll & the Isles came together at St. Mary’s Kinnoull for their Autumn music weekend on 5 September. There was a sense of anticipation because the focus of much of the work would be preparation for the installation of their new Bishop once the appointment is announced, with the hope that this would not be long in coming. But there was a sense also of some sadness because this weekend was to be the last at Kinnoull until the major upgrading of the buildings is completed.

The musicians gathered as usual on Friday evening for a warm-up before dinner. Then it was down to work before Evening Prayer. Fr. Michael Hutson welcomed everyone and reminded them of the reasons for these weekends which was to support the liturgy in the diocese and in their parishes. This purpose remained as valid today as when the weekends began and he encouraged participants to bring new members along and spread the word.

The music covered during the weekend was wide-ranging – e.g. Peter Jones’ revised Gloria, the James Quinn hymn “To God with Gladness Sing” and Philip Gaisford’s “In the Quiet of the Evening”, Stephen Dean’s “May you Walk with Christ Beside You”, Gerry Fitzpatrick’s new setting of Ps. 148, and the venerable “Ye Gates, Lift up Your Heads”- among others.

Fr. Roddy Johnston provided some inspiring and enlightening talks on the psalms and the prayers and readings for Morning and Evening Prayer, and Mgr Jamie MacNeil gave a wonderful talk based on Evangelii Gaudium.

Mgr. Jamie MacNeil

Mgr. Jamie MacNeil

The first quotation he gave from it reminded us of the importance of our music weekend: “the Church evangelises and is evangelised through the beauty of the liturgy”.

The Eucharist is both a celebration and a source of renewed self-giving, the Pope reminds us. The Dismissal at the end of the Eucharist brings to our attention the huge responsibility on all present to go out and proclaim/evangelise. It should affect the rest of our life, everything we do and we should take the joy of the Gospel to everyone we meet. But we have first of all to experience this ourselves. We need, the Pope says, to serve the poor out of love, and we need to hear the cry of the poor (and not just the materially poor). The Liturgy is Christ’s response to the cry of the poor.

The music weekends are always a great opportunity for the Argyll & Isles musicians to get together and catch up on what is happening, and the social side is important. This weekend was particularly special as it enabled us to celebrate three important birthdays: Fr. Roddy’s 60th,Shona Campbell’s 50th, and Morag McIntosh would be 80 in October. So it was a great reason for a special party on Saturday and Sr. Diane (one of whose many talents is cake making) produced a stunning cake for the occasion. A fitting end to the social side of the weekend, even as the Mass the following day was an appropriate end to the liturgical side.