Anyone who wanted to satisfy themselves that our primary schools (pupils and teachers) are in good heart should have wangled an invitation to the schools cantata held in Wellington Church on 22 November this year. There they would have seen commitment, preparation and enthusiasm, as well as outstanding ability in the children involved. One school even packed some of their children into taxis when their bus didn’t turn up, just to make sure they were represented at the event!
The subject of the cantata, hosted by Glasgow Churches Together (GCT) was particularly pertinent in view of the current debates around Europe. It reminded everyone that we in Scotland have always been involved in Europe and this can be seen in the life of John Duns Scotus known as the “Subtle Doctor” who was born in Scotland, educated at Haddington, North Uist and Oxford, before teaching in his turn in France and Germany.
Children from 14 schools took part in the cantata. They had all learned the script at their own schools before coming together on the day at Wellington Church to rehearse for the first time as one. Each musical number was led by a different school. In addition we had dancers (from St. Ninian’s Primary) who performed with infectious enjoyment and handled the challenges of a limited stage space like professionals.
We also had soloists, playing the parts of John Duns Scotus, Uncle Joseph, Philip the Fair of France and his daughter, the Emperor Albrecht, and the Three Wise Men. King Philip in particular played his part with real zest, bounding around the stage as he sang “O what a joy to be a king, allowed to do just anything!” . There were solo singers too whose beautiful voices filled the church.
Joining the children were students from Glasgow University’s B.Ed. course who provided the musical accompaniment for the cantata, as well as singing and playing some beautiful additional pieces. It has to be said that they looked as though they were enjoying themselves as much as the primary school children. An additional instrumentalist sneaked in, in the form of Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick who played piano.
The text of the cantata was written by Fr. Sean Fitzgerald (who was present in the audience,) and Mgr. Gerry, with an additional song by Stephen Smyth. The music was by Mgr. Gerry. Guests included Archbishop Emeritus Conti, Fr. David Wallace, Bailie Margot Clark and representatives of the member churches of GCT.
Dr. David Sinclair, minister of Wellington Church, welcomed the children again to the church, telling them how much he enjoyed them being there. Reflecting the European theme, the
welcomes by the children at the beginning of the cantata were in English and French, and the Lord’s Prayer was proclaimed with real feeling in Scots.
As the cantata drew to a close, the children led us in intercessions for their schools, teachers and families, for our governments, for a sense of God’s love for all, and for a sense of generosity
and justice. A collection is always taken at the cantata for a charity chosen by the schools. This year it was for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Their representative was unable to be present but, thanks to the technical assistance of Wellington Church, the children were able to watch two short videos of the work of MSF.
The final part of the event was the singing of the Our Father, followed by the hymn in honour of John Duns Scotus. Fr. David Wallace, Chair of GCT, thanked the children and their teachers for all their efforts, and thanks were also expressed on behalf of the City Council by Bailie Margot Clark.