With so few Holidays of Obligation to observe, how can we raise their profile in our communities. One way is to celebrate the Vespers of the feast either on the Vigil or on the evening of the feast. The community of St.Leo the Great accordingly hosted a sung First Vespers of Saints Peter & Paul, with the help of the St. Mungo Singers on 28 June. Fr. Sean Fitzgerald presided over the celebration.
Before the Vespers began, the choir sang the joyful Misericordias Domini. The service commenced with the singing of Geoffrey Shaw’s setting of “Hail, Gladdening Light”, as the candles were lit. Then congregation and choir sang the Hymn of the Two Apostles to the familiar tune of “For all the Saints”. The psalms for the evening were psalms 116 (117) and Timothy Dudley-Smith’s version of Psalm 147 to the tune “Rhuddlan”, followed by Noel Donnelly’s setting of the Canticle from the Ephesians.
After the Reading(Romans 1:1-3,7) and some reflective harp music, Fr. Fitzgerald provided some thoughts for the celebration of the Feast: we hope for the blessing of Peter & Paul on our families and on the choir but particularly, on this feast, on our priests. (He himself was celebrating his 49th anniversary of ordination.)
The reading spoke of being “the servant of Christ”. The priest may feel unworthy of this task so it is therefore all the more important that he has the support of his people. We should remember them on this day. He took comfort from the promise of God to send “pastors after my own heart”. Fr. Sean took the opportunity also to thank the St.Mungo Singers and its Director, Fr. Gerry Fitzpatrick, for all their work – as he put it “their hospitality and their musicality”.
The final section of the service comprised a short responsory “The apostles faithfully preached the Word of God”, the Dalreoch setting of the Magnificat, and the Intercessions and Our Father. The plainsong Salve Regina closed what had been a lovely meditative liturgy.
Afterwards in the Hall, the St. Mungo Singers provided hospitality for the
congregation and an opportunity to view a selection of great photographs from their 40thAnniversary pilgrimage to Rome, taken by Gerald Barry who has found himself unwittingly cast in the role of the choir’s official photographer