St. Agnes’s hold two services each year, in June and on the first Sunday of November, for those buried in the cemeteries within the parish or whose final committal took place in Glasgow Crematorium. This year the first Sunday of November coincided with the Feast of All Saints, and so the liturgy was as much a celebration of the Communion of Saints as a remembrance of those who had died.
The community of St. Agnes were joined by friends and relatives of the deceased, particularly those who had died in the past year, and the music of the liturgy was led by the St. Agnes Children’s Choir under its new director, Carissa Bovill, and the St. Mungo Singers.
Before the Mass started, the children, resplendent in their red choir dress, sang “Lord, you have come to the seashore” , Carissa played a gentle air on clarsach, and the St. Mungo Singers, sang the blessing “God to enfold you”. Then they led the congregation in the singing of the opening hymn “Holy God, we praise thy name”.
As the parish Priest, Fr. Barry, incensed the altar, the introit for All Souls “Just as Jesus died and rose” was sung. The Mass was primarily a celebration of the saints, and so the Gloria (Dunkeld setting) was sung.
The readings were given by two young girls of the parish whose clear proclamation were a lesson to adult readers on how this ministry should be done. Between the readings, the psalm of the day – Psalm 23 – was sung using the choral responsorial setting by Mgr. Fitzpatrick.
In his homily, Fr. Barry recalled the story of the glorious west window of Winchester Cathedral whose stained glass depicted the Saints and which was destroyed by Cromwell’s army. The parishioners gathered together as many of the fragments as they could and tried to piece it together again in its original state some 20 years later but it proved an impossible task. Yet now the window shows the saints joined together in their brokenness, glowing in the wonderful light of God. This surely is a great metaphor for our own lives. We may be shattered by the blows of life but God continues to find ways to let his light shine in and through our brokenness. As the Gospel indicates, the blessed emptiness of the poor in spirit allows God to fill us.
The intercessions were introduced by the beautiful James Quinn hymn “Remember those, O Lord” set by Mgr. Fitzpatrick, and closed to the singing of “May the Souls of the Faithful Departed” (Noel Donnelly’s setting). As the gifts were prepared, a second collection was taken, as always at this Mass, for the work of St. Margaret’s Hospice.
The sense of a celebratory liturgy was maintained by the Eucharistic Prayer being sung by Fr. Barry, with the congregation, led by the St. Mungo Singers, responding in the Sanctus and Acclamation from the Kelvinhall Mass.
As the Communion began, the Children’s Choir sang the lovely Francesca Leftley hymn “Take me Lord”. The Mass ended with the Final Commendation “Receive their Souls” for all the dead who were being remembered in this Mass, before the final processional hymn “For all the Saints” ended the service on a positive note of remembrance.
St. Agnes’s community were their usual hospitable selves and provided refreshments in their church hall where there was the opportunity for people to mingle and talk over a cuppa.