St. Andrew’s Day was marked this year by, among other events, ecumenical Vespers in St. Andrew’s Cathedral on the Vigil of the feast, organised by Glasgow Churches Together (“GCT”). Piper Jacqueline Riley played outside the Cathedral to welcome the congregation and inside an instrumental ensemble and the St. Mungo Singers provided appropriate music.
The service began with the singing of James Quinn’s lovely “O Light from Light, our footsteps guide” as the representatives of the churches processed to the sanctuary. Then Mgr. Chris McElroy, Administrator of the Cathedral, welcomed everyone to the service on behalf of the Archbishop who was unable to attend himself. He was very happy that the celebration was taking place in a church dedicated to St. Andrew and the building of which had commenced almost 200 years before in 1814.
After the Invocation and Doxology, the choir led the singing of the well known hymn “Lord, You have come to the seashore”, an appropriate choice for an apostle who had been a fisherman. It was followed by the singing of Psalms 18 (setting by Mary Dickie) and 125 (setting by Gerry Fitzpatrick), and Stephen Smyth’s version of the Canticle from the Letter to the Philippians.
The scripture reading was Ephesians 4: 11-13, where St. Paul describes the varied gifts given by Christ to his church to build it up. Fr. David Wallace then gave the reflection. He jokingly commented that normally this reflection was given by the Moderator or the Archbishop but tonight the congregation were getting a wee parish priest from Castlemilk. Then, turning to the season, he reminded us that in the United States, they had just celebrated Thanksgiving, something that we could perhaps learn from. This feast of St. Andrew was an opportunity for us to give thanks for the fact that we are able to celebrate and to do it as churches together.
He suggested that it was easy perhaps to become downhearted at the loss of numbers of churchgoers in our city, but had things changed so much since the time of Christ who had been rejected in his own day. Instead let us look to the courage of St. Andrew who had been one of the first to answer the call of the Lord which had changed his whole way of life. We have to leave ourselves behind in answering the call. Christ has given us all gifts for the building up of the body of the church, so how do we work together. We can do so in social outreach through organisations such as Faith in Community Scotland, and in our worship
There is a buzz about the coming of the Commonwealth Games and Fr. David asked what impression did we want to give visitors to our city – one possibility is to open the doors of our churches to them. He invited us to express our thanksgiving for what we are together in the name of Christ – his church for those who need Him most.
The instrumentalists provided quietly reflective music for the congregation to consider Fr. David’s words. This period of reflection was followed by the singing of the responsory, before the choir led the congregation in the singing of the Magnificat (Morar setting).
In the Intercessions, read by Dr. David Sinclair, Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery, those present joined in praying for the people of Scotland, for peace, particularly in Syria, and for the common good. Then the Lord’s Prayer was sung.
Before Mgr. McElroy led everyone in a final prayer to St. Andrew, the choir sang “Istorum Enim” an appropriate motet for St. Andrew who had given his life in witness to Christ. The church leaders gave a joint blessing, echoed by the sung blessing “God to enfold you” , and the service ended with the well-known and rousing hymn to St. Andrew “When Christ our Lord to Andrew cried”.
GCT provided welcome cheering hospitality in the Cathedral porch after the service, giving people the opportunity to chat before going out into the November night.
Sadly, within a couple of hours, the scene in Clyde Street was anything but cheerful as disaster struck the Clutha Vaults just yards from the Cathedral, and we remember all those who died or were injured in this tragedy in our prayers.