Glasgow’s Christian tradition goes back to the legendary figure of St Mungo, who died at the start of the 7th century.
For several years, since Cllr Liz Cameron became Lord Provost of Glasgow, there has been a little service in George Square, beside the Crib, outside the City Chambers of Glasgow, where the Lord Provost and leaders of the Christian Churches in Glasgow gather, and adult and children’s choirs lead people in singing carols.
So far the Blessing of the Crib has involved the St Mungo Singers, a choir from Bearsden, a choir from St Catherine’s Primary School, the junior choir from St Leo’s parish, and the school choir from Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School accompanied firstly by the Parkhead Salvation Army Band and then by an ensemble from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
The Glasgow Crib is blessed or dedicated in words such as these:
Loving God, Your Son Jesus came among us as a sign of your love for us. This crib is a symbol of his birth and of his sharing our humanity. May we, and all who look upon this crib, find here a sense of encouragement and hope. Let this crib be a reminder to everyone that in our humanity all people are related, that together we are one great human family – and that ‘God-is with-us’.
Let us bless this crib and all who pause here in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Initially the ‘Blessing of the Crib’ was accompanied by the welcoming of babies born since the previous Christmas in Glasgow who were given a Certificate and gift by the Lord Provost, and by a visit from Santa Claus who gave any children present a little gift.
Historic notes about the Crib
The crib celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Christians of all denominations believe that Jesus is the Son of God and Saviour of the world.
The crib scene as we know it today owes its origins to St Francis of Assisi, in Italy. In 1223 he set up the first such representation: with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus; the shepherds, angels and kings; and, of course, the ox and ass. This proved to be very attractive and is now familiar and popular world wide. The imagery is taken from the ‘Infancy Narratives’ in the Gospel of Luke (Chapters 1-2) and Gospel of Matthew (Chapters 1-2).
There were earlier devotions to the crib in Christian tradition. In the second and third centuries, St Justin and Origen of Alexandria both refer to the ‘cavern’ or ‘grotto’ where Jesus was born. And, in the fourth century, ‘relics’ of the crib were brought to St Mary Major’s church in Rome. Forms of Christmas ‘dramas’ were celebrated well before the time of St Francis.