Each year we tell ourselves this was the best one yet – the best children’s Cantata, that is – but each year the primary schools and everyone else involved in the ecumenical event (sponsored by Glasgow Churches Together) excel themselves. This year’s Cantata was held in a new venue, the beautiful Wellington Church of Scotland in University Avenue, hosted by the minister Dr. David Sinclair and his congregation.
Twenty primary schools took part:- Bankhead Primary; St Bartholomew’s; St Clare’s; St Conval’s; Dalmarnock Primary; Garscadden Primary; Golfhill Primary; John Paul II Primary; St Martha’s; St Mary’s; St Monica’s; Motherwell Cathedral Primary; St Ninian’s; Our Lady of the Missions; Our Lady of the Rosary; St Paul’s; St Philomena’s; St Roch’s; St Timothy’s and St Saviour’s, and they filled the church.
It was a cold day but the children filled the church pews with warmth and enthusiasm. They were joined by singers and musicians from the Education Department of the University of Glasgow under B.Ed. Music Programme Leader, Miss Moira Summers, and they soon filled the church with music and colour as well. Adding to the colour was great bunting with the flags of the Commonwealth nations (kindly donated by David Buchan of the Flag Company).
After a brief rehearsal, under the guidance of conductor Maria Shields, the event began with the B.Ed. students presenting the beautiful song “Iona” . Then, as children from St. Monica’s, dressed as monks and clansmen, processed in with the Bible to the front of the church, the musicians led the combined schools in singing “God our Creator”, celebrating the gifts of God to them and their families and friends. The Bible was then reverently placed on the lectern as a prayer was read.
Pupils from Golfhill Primary School welcomed everyone in English and Gaelic to the celebration before a pupil from Our Lady of the Missions School read an extract from Adamnan’s Life of St. Columba. This was followed by the singing of Psalm 18 (setting by Mary Dickie and beautifully sung by Our Lady of the Rosary Primary pupils) and a reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
Then the Cantata proper started with a pupil from John Paul II primary outlining the story. Each section of the Cantata was led very effectively by different school. The sound was wonderful and it was difficult to believe that these twenty schools had all practised separately and only come together on the day. They sang as one with real enthusiasm.
At the end of the Cantata, pupils from St. Ninian’s Primary rounded it off fittingly with a lively performance of Scottish country dancing. Then there was a brilliant presentation of a “Newflash” about the proclamation of Adamnan’s Law of the Innocents, courtesy of Ken Mallard of Glasgow University, Hugh Kelly (who was responsible for the amplification of the event) and Wellington Church’s great technical equipment.
Ken had recorded children from St. Paul’s Whiteinch, presenting “the news from 697 AD” introduced by the well-known music from a certain TV news programme! The “newsreaders” explained what the Law of the Innocents was about and how it had been achieved by St. Adamnan (or Eunan). The children clearly were fascinated by this presentation and there wasn’t a sound in the church as they watched it. Then the B.Ed. students sang “Adamnan’s Song”.
Intercessions were then read and signed by children from St. Roch’s Primary for the people of Scotland and Glasgow, with particular mention of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games1. Columba loved the island of Iona. He worked and prayed there, and his message of love and peace spread throughout the land of Scotland. May we bring that message of love and peace to all the people that we know , and make our world a better place. Lord hear us. 2. Bless all people of goodwill and of different faiths who pray and work together for the good of those around them. May their efforts bring about a more peaceful and just society where the rights of all people are respected . Lord hear us 3. Bless all the people of Scotland. May we follow the example of Columba and Adamnan and make Scotland a land where everyone can feel welcomed and all can find a home . May we remember to help all those in need , and be a friend to the stranger. Lord hear us 4. Bless this city of Glasgow as we prepare for the Commonwealth Games next year. May all the citizens of Glasgow give a kindly welcome to visitors from other lands and offer them generous hospitality. Lord hear us
The prayers began with the singing of the hymn used in connection with the UN Day for World Peace “O Day of Peace”, and ended with the praying of the Lord’s Prayer.
As is traditional at the Cantatas, a collection was taken up for charity. This year it was for the Lord Provost’ Fund to be used for children in need, and Baillie Margo Clark (representing the Lord Provost) accepted the donations brought down in procession by the children to the front of the church. Baillie Clark took the opportunity not only to thank the children for their generosity to those in need. but for inviting her to a wonderful morning and a wonderful performance, which had taken a great deal of organisation.
She was honoured to represent the Lord Provost at the Cantata and told the children that they had been so professional and accomplished. She now knew a great deal more about St. Columba than she had before as a result. Music-making is a marvellous experience, she said, and can give great pleasure throughout life, and she encouraged them to keep up their skills. She also told the children she kept a “memory box” and asked them to send her things from their experience of the Cantata to put in it – perhaps they should also think of keeping a memory box!
Mr. Jim Whannel of the Education Department expressed his thanks on behalf of the Department to all involved. He joked that he now needed spectacles to read but he had not needed them this morning; he could hear the music and the words the children sang. Referring to the bunting decorating the church and to the words of the Day of Peace hymn, he drew attention to the references to wolves and lambs and the fact that some flags will have wolves behind them and some lambs, and invited the children to think why this should be?
The children themselves then presented the vote of thanks to all who had made the day possible (including in particular Maria Warrington the Music Development Officer for Primary Schools) and managed to include a subtle hint that they had really liked the venue and wouldn’t mind getting invited back. Archbishop Tartaglia led the final prayer and the blessing, with Dr. Sinclair and Rev. Karen Hendry.
The celebration finished with the rousing Glasgow Song, with its references to the symbols on the city’s coat of arms and, now, to the Commonwealth Games and the city’s welcome to all. As the children headed back to their schools, excitedly chattering, the guests were welcomed into the Crypt Café of Wellington Church to enjoy homemade soup and baking, and reflect on a wonderful experience.