As Baillie John McLaughlin, representing the Lord Provost, noted in his comments at the end of the service, this Mass has been taking place for over 16 years to mark the Celtic Connections Music Festival, and singers and instrumentalists from across the Diocese and elsewhere in Scotland, as well as members of the Irish and Scots Gaelic communities and visitors to the city, came together for the celebration. There were also members of the Knights of St. Columba, including their Supreme Knight, Mr. Charlie McLuskey,
The principal celebrant, Fr. David Wallace, was joined by Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick, Fr. Hugh O’Donnell, Canon John McIlroy, Fr. Andy O’Sullivan, Fr. Declan McNaughton, Fr. Tim Curtis parish priest of St. Aloysius and Deacon Kevin Kelly. Outside the church, piper David played to welcome visitors. The church was well filled by the time the service started.
The combined choirs sang liturgical pieces with a Celtic link such as the Celtic Invocation and the hymn of Columba, and the instrumental ensemble provided some lovely haunting melodies in the Celtic tradition to set the scene for the Mass. The service itself then began with the Canticle of Ezekiel “Hear me, my people”, the call of the Lord to all his people.
The celebrants wore the beautiful vestments produced by the Sacred Threads Embroiderers – many of the orphreys depicting Celtic or Scottish saints – adding extra colour to the celebration as they processed into the lovely sanctuary of the church.
The liturgy was truly a celebration in song with all the Mass parts sung, including the Gospel – proclaimed clearly and with feeling by Deacon Kevin – the Dialogue Creed sung by Mgr. Gerry and the Eucharistic Prayer led by Fr. David. We even had some singing from Fr. Hugh in his homily! This was a clear display of the richness of musical ability among Glasgow’s clergy.
As in previous Celtic Roots Masses, Irish and Gaelic featured in the proclamation of the Liturgy of the Word and in the Intercessions, reminding us that many of our citizens are of these communities. The homily on the other hand had some different roots. Fr. Hugh O’Donnell is a Mill Hill Father from Glasgow who has spent most of his ministry in Africa. By a fascinating co-incidence, he and Baillie McLaughlin have been friends since primary school.
Fr.Hugh started with a light-hearted children’s song about Jonah (the subject of the first reading) but continued with the serious point that Jonah was a reluctant prophet like so many of those in the Bible. He was converted by God to his task and did as he was asked even if he wasn’t sure where he was going. But the miracle happened and the people were converted. That was often the experience of many of the missionaries.
The gospel passage makes it clear that the first thing the Lord did was to call people to help him in his work, and he didn’t go to the temple or the synagogue to find them among the religious experts or the educated. His call was to the ordinary people to go and spread the word. The Celtic Saints were for us the bringers of the Good News. They also came from elsewhere to spread the word and we thank them for it.
Fr. Hugh finished by reflecting on his experiences of ecumenism in Kenya when he had tried to get children of different faiths to recognise that they had to have respect for other people’s way to God and encourage them. It was good to see how far ecumenical relations have come in Glasgow. Inspired by our roots, though we may be afraid, we need to go forward and try to spread the Good News in our turn – and the miracle will happen.
The hymn which followed at the preparation of the gifts reflected Fr. Hugh’s theme and that of the readings -Cesareo Gabarain’s “Lord, you have come to the seashore” which has proved so popular among all age groups. For Communion there were two modern scripture based hymns, one well fixed in many churches’ repertoire – James Quinn’s This is my Will – sung to the old traditional tune “Wally,wally” -and a very attractive new piece by Sean Bowman and Gefforey Nobles –“I am the Vine”. The Post Communion thanksgiving hymn brought us back to the Celtic theme with John Bell’s lovely setting of Psalm 62 to a 19th Century American folk tune with a Scottish feel “Resignation”.
Before the final hymn , Baillie McLaughlin conveyed the thanks of the Lord Provost to all and took the opportunity to express the city’s understandable pride in the Celtic Connections Festival which has grown so much over the 22 years of its existence and has done much to confirm Glasgow’s status as a UNESCO City of Music. He congratulated everyone involved for an uplifting service filled with wonderful music.
For the recessional we returned in music to Glasgow and what is now known as the Glasgow anthem “Let Glasgow Flourish” which gave everyone the chance to sing out with joy. Then there was an opportunity for people to have a cup of tea or coffee and a chat before heading home – or off to one of the Celtic Connections events.