The Mitchell Library was again the venue for celebrating the Vita Kentigerna – the mediaeval Life of St. Mungo – in words and song. The entrance area had been beautifully set out with explanatory banners and copies of the facsimile of the Vita Kentigerna and copies of other mediaeval scripts to catch the attention of people coming into the Library cafe area.
The celebration began with gentle clarsach music from Carissa Bovill, followed by the beginning of the Latin Morning Prayer for the Feast of St. Mungo sung by Fr. George Gillespie and members of the St. Mungo Singers.
Mrs. Catherine McMaster, a former member of Glasgow City Council who had done much to develop the St.Mungo Festival, introduced the event, explaining that what had just been heard would have been what people would have heard in the 12th Century Cathedral at the time of Bishop Jocelyn. He had been an inspirational figure for Glasgow, who had a clear idea of what he wanted the city to be. Under him,Glasgow had become an independent diocese, instead of being subject to the Archdiocese of York. He had also commissioned the monk, Jocelyn of Furness, to write the Vita Kentigerna to celebrate Glasgow’s beginnings.
Some of the children from The Children’s Singing Studio of the Glasgow Russian Orthodox Parish School under their director, Svetlana Zverevska, then sang the hauntingly beautiful Glorification of St. Kentigern a capella. They followed it with a Russian carol “The Swift Winged Angel” – we were reminded that the Russian Orthodox church celebrates Christmas on 6 January and we were still within the Octave of Christmas. Their truly impressive singing was warmly appreciated by everyone present.
The reading from the Vita Kentigerna – given in English by Rev. Dr. Laurence Whitley, Minister of Glasgow Cathedral, and in Latin by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow– this year covered the story of the birth of St. Mungo at Culross inFife after his mother, Thenew, had been set adrift on the River Forth by her father. The attentive silence of those present proved that the ancient story still has the power to hold the attention.
The event finished with the singing of the Glasgow anthem “Let Glasgow Flourish” led by the St. Mungo Singers and the Children’s Singing Studio. The City Council then generously provided refreshments for the singers and musicians to round off the celebration.