The second service in the St Mungo Festival took place in Glasgow (St. Mungo’s) Cathedral, hosted by Glasgow Churches Together (GCT). It was a hardy congregation who attended, despite the wild wet weather with a hint of snow, or actual snow if you lived on the outskirts of the city, but those brave enough to come were welcomed by the warm sound of the Rutherglen Salvation Army Band – but even the band were not strong enough later in the service to drown out the sound of the torrential downpours.
Piper Willie Park began the service by leading in the civic and GCT church representatives to the Cathedral. The City was represented by Deputy Lord Provost Baillie Gerald Leonard, and among the church representatives were Archbishop Emeritus Mario Conti – Archbishop Tartaglia was unable to attend as he was unwell – Dr. Laurence Whitley, Bishop Gregor Duncan of the Scottish Episcopal church, Rev. William Young of the United Reformed Church.
Baillie Leonard proclaimed the city’s motto “Let Glasgow Flourish” twice, to which the congregation responded “By the preaching of His word………By the praising of His name”. This was followed by the singing of the canticle of Zechariah from St. Luke’s Gospel, the Benedictus, to the tune of Finlandia.
Dr. Whitley welcomed the congregation to what was the 9th hosting of this service which had begun as a one-off celebration and was now the centre of a festival, thanks to the work of former Baillie Cathy McMaster. He described the evening as a celebration for Glasgow -a great big family with a big heart, and he thanked people for making the effort to come out on such a miserable night.
After the reading of a short excerpt from the Life of St. Mungo in Latin and English by Archbishop Conti and Dr. Whitley, which the Archbishop reminded people had been read in the Cathedral centuries before in honour of St. Mungo, students from Trinity High School Choir brought a modern touch by singing John Rutter’s hymn “Look at the World”. This was followed by a reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, proclaimed by Bishop Duncan, the singing of Psalm 62 and a reading from the Gospel of St. Mark.
Dr. Irene O’Brien, Principal Archivist of the City Council, gave an address on St. Mungo and what we know about him, the diocese (which is celebrating its 9th centenary) aspects of the links with the cathedral. She reflected on how much of our city history was linked with St. Mungo and the honour paid to him. She invited those present to see this as their story and their history, as we are all Mungo’s Bairns.
Carissa Swan provided some meditative music for the congregation as they reflected on Dr. O’Brien’s words. Then we were brought back to the 21st century as modern technology enabled us to experience video greetings from Bishop Gregory Cameron of St. Asaph in Wales which is reputed to be another foundation by St. Mungo, and Rev. Angus Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. There was also a letter of greeting from Papal Nuncio Archbishop Mennini who congratulated Glasgow on the 900th anniversary of its founding as a separate diocese, as well as over 1400 years since the death of its founding saint.
In a further change of texture Trinity High School choir provided another modern hymn setting as they sang Matt Maher’s “Lord, I need you”. They then brought to a table in the centre of the nave the St. Mungo candle (which bore a copy of the Russian icon of St. Mungo) to place it before the icon which had been generously loaned for the service by the Russian Orthodox Community, together with the four symbols from the legends of St. Mungo which appear on the City Coat of Arms. As this was done, intercessions for the city and its citizens, reflecting on the four emblems, were said.
This part of the service was concluded by the singing of the Lord’s Prayer and the Glasgow Anthem “Let Glasgow Flourish”. The St. Mungo Singers provided a sung blessing in the form of Chilcott’s setting of the “Irish Blessing” before Fr. David Wallace, Chair of GCT, led the church representatives in the final blessing.
The service ended with the joyful and uplifting hymn “God our Creator” sung to the tune “Highland Cathedral” and the civic and church representatives processed to the crypt where a wreath was laid at the tomb of St. Mungo. The Salvation Army band some more cheering music as the congregation left, and this was very welcome when we saw the state of the cathedral precinct after all the rain – the ability to walk on water would have been useful but it didn’t get us down as we celebrated another lovely St. Mungo service.