The Glasgow Archdiocesan Music Committee marked the end of the Year of Mercy with a Mass for church musicians on 13 November at St. Mary’s Calton, where they had earlier in the year held their Autumn Music Conference. Members of the St. Mungo Singers and the East End Deanery Choir led the music of the Mass and the principal concelebrant was Archbishop Emeritus Conti who was joined by Mgr Gerry Fitzpatrick and Fr. Jim Lawlor.
Archbishop Conti welcomed everyone to a Mass where we would not only celebrate the Year of Mercy but could also pray for our dead with the rest of the Church in November, and we could also keep in mind that it was Interfaith Week when we could celebrate harmony in the Lord.
Fr. Lawlor gave the homily. He began by asking how many had driven to the Mass and had they had their radio or CD on. He had been playing his favourite piece, the opening of Bach’s St.Matthew Passion at full blast, and taking the opportunity to conduct when he was sitting at traffic lights, much to the amusement of other motorists.
Unlike a radio personality who confessed to crying when he played it because it reminded him that we all will die and all beauty is transient, Fr.Jim reflected that for him, and for us, music is uplifting and beauty is an attribute of God. Our understanding of beauty is different: it is not just skin deep. When society is working and there is justice and peace, that is beauty. When there is love in a family, there is beauty there too.
In the Gospel reading for the Mass, Jesus tells his disciples that the beauty of the temple will pass and there will be nothing left of it, and that even families will betray each other, so is the radio personality right? No, St Augustine found the answer in finding God. When music finally stops and there is only silence, this will be perfect and eternal beauty,. We are of God and we will become part of that perfection.
The music of the Mass gave plentiful opportunity to enjoy beauty, drawing from the riches of church music: Taize and plainsong, a lovely setting of Psalm 84 by David Harris (sung by St. Simon’s cantor Sandra Lamb), a sung Easter Creed, the Hymn for the Year of Mercy (used at the Intercessions), Botor’s Misericordias Domini, Schubert’s German Mass, Noel Donnelly’s Communion Antiphon “As we eat this Bread”, James Quinn’s communion hymn “This is my Will”, and ending with the Amazing Grace Magnificat.
It was truly a prayerful celebration of beauty and joy in music, living up to St Augustine’s words “Those who sing pray twice”. And the celebrating continued in the church house where a celebration cake which had been formally cut by Archbishop Conti and parish priest Fr. Tom White before the Mass, was now shared out, as well as plenty of other nibbles and tea and coffee.