St. Mungo’s, Townhead, was the venue again for the Children’s Cantata. This year the subject was St. Ninian, the earliest recorded Scottish saint, and the Cantata was by Br. Stephen E Smyth (words) and Fr. Gerry Fitzpatrick (music). A total of 23 schools were represented on the day – over 600 children, together with teachers and some parents. The children not only sang and acted but provided dancers and instrumentalists, supported by a small group of adult musicians

The woodwind section!


A lot of work goes into the Cantatas, with a teachers’ committee planning and arranging the event, music being recorded by Carissa Bovil and circulated to schools, children and teachers practising away for weeks before the day, and Mary Bradley beavering away on the special booklet for the occasion with Netta Ewing’s colourful Celtic graphic. On the previous evening and on the day itself, long before the children started to arrive, Lori and John Ramsay and sound production students from Clydebank College worked on the amplification for the singers and instrumentalists, while Fr. Gerry rehearsed with the musicians.

Jane McKenna from GCT explains what is going on to the "postie"!

As the children arrived, St. Mungo’s became a sea of colour: children in their bright school uniforms, dancers with tartan ribbons and sashes, beautifully decorated banners and the main characters of the Cantata in their costumes. There were also invited guests from Glasgow Churches Together, the City Council, the Education Department and from SCIAF which was the charity chosen to receive the collection taken up at the Cantata this year. The unusual amount of activity clearly communicated
itself outside the church, too, as passing postwomen stopped to look and admire!

Once all the schools had arrived, a brief rehearsal was held to fit together all the sections which had been learned and rehearsed quite separately. The young instrumentalists ( violins and cellos, flutes, guitars, glockenspiels and xylophones) from St Paul’s, Whiteinch, St Joseph’s, Milngavie, St Ninian’s, Knightswood and St Martha’s were re-inforced by adults on Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Violins, Cello, Guitar and Clarsach, piano and percussion.

Some of our instrumentalists

It was, as always, fascinating and indeed wonderful to watch how everything came together – a tribute to the hard work the teachers and children put into the preparations.

One of our soloists "St. Martin" with narrators

The Cantata began with a colourful and impressive procession of the main characters (King Cunedda, St. Ninian and St. Martin of Tours), readers, dancers and the Book bearer (carrying a copy of the Bible), all preceded by representatives of the schools carrying their banners. The procession was accompanied by the singing of John Bell’s “Will you come and follow me” to the tune “Kelvingrove”.

Some of the narrators of the Cantata

Children from St. Marths’s and Our Lady of the Annunciation welcomed the guests to the celebration and read the opening prayer.

here in this book
Are the hopes and dreams of God’s people.
Here in this book
are the hopes and dreams of the people today.
Keep us true to your word
Joyful in the praise of your name
And ready to serve you in our neighbour’.

A small group from Our Lady of the Rosary led the singing of Psalm 18 (setting by Mary Dickie):
Their voice has gone out, they fill the earth. The word of the Lord is heard.

The Cantata proper then started. The story was narrated in sections by small groups of singers
from different schools while the rest of the children sang the various choruses and we had the joy
of more dancing.

A group of children from St. Vincent’s School for the Deaf, together with their teacher,
signed the Cantata at the front of the church.

"St. Ninian" flanked by some of the colourful banners

As the Cantata came to a close, the narration reminded us of the Christians who had given witness
over the years in Scotland and of the many anniversaries being marked in 2010, and invited all
present to join in singing the final song.

The intercessions which followed were read by the children and signed by St. Vincent’s School.
Then everyone joined in the singing of the Our Father. Carissa Bovill then played Clarsach
as the collection for SCIAF’s work in Haiti was brought forward by representatives of each school
and given to Mary Cullen, Head of Communications and Education for SCIAF.

Mary Cullen receiving some of the donations

Mary took the opportunity to thank everyone not only for the generous donations but also for the
pleasure of being present – for the music, the singing, the dancing and the signing. She told the children
the story of Baptiste, a little Haitian boy whose brother had been injured in the earthquake and whose
house had been destroyed. He was now living in a tent in a refugee camp. The homes, schools and
churches had all been destroyed where he lived but the money given would help SCIAF provide him and other children with shelter,
food, water and medicine, and a temporary school.

Margaret Long of Glasgow Churches Together also thanked the children and everyone involved for making the Cantata such a special event.
The Director of Education, Mr. Butcher, also thanked the children for what he described as a very uplifting experience and reminded them
that faith was a very important aspect of their education. The final word of thanks was said by the children themselves who thanked everyone
who had been involved in preparing and delivering the Cantata.

The guests then processed out as the children sang the Mallaig Sprinkling Song, and retired to the church house where they had the opportunity
to talk to members of the organising committee over a cup of tea. Meantime the excited buzz as the children made their way out to their buses
clearly indicated that this had been a memorable event for them.