The second service of the Festival was held at Glasgow Cathedral and was attended by representatives of the member churches of Glasgow Churches Together, as well as members of their congregations, representatives of local and national government, the universities and the legal profession and other city services. The Cathedral provided a beautiful venue for the service which was a wonderful mix of prayer in word and song, music and dance! The City Council had provided tiered seating for the service and this gave a greater spatial focus.
As the clergy processed in, the Rutherglen Salvation Army Band played, then
piper Willie Park, who had been welcoming the congregation outside, created a beautiful atmosphere for the opening of the service as the sound of his pipes faded into the distance within the cathedral itself. Then Bailie Cathie McMaster called out twice “Let Glasgow Flourish” to which the congregation responded “By the preaching of His word” “By the praising of His Name” before the choirs (the St. Mungo Singers,with Russkaya Cappella) led them in the rousing opening hymn “Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah”.
In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Whitley reflected on the quite tentative beginnings of this celebration, some five years before, and its growth into the Mungo Festival. He gave a special welcome to Bishop Gregory Cameron who travelled up from St. Asaph in Wales for the service. The opening prayer was then led by Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick, Chair of Glasgow Churches Together. After the first reading from Isaiah 52, given by Bob Doris MSP, Russkaya Cappella sang two lovely Russian liturgical pieces: the Glorification of St. Kentigern, and Glory to God in the Highest (by Bortnyansky). The St. Mungo Singers then led all present in singing the Glasgow anthem “Let Glasgow Flourish”.
The next part of the service was quite stunningly different in the subdued lighting of the cathedral, as a group of young dancers, dressed in white, from the group Visual Statement Dance Company presented a extract from a ballet on the story of St. Mungo to the music of Handel. The second reading, from the Gospel of St. Luke Ch.5, followed, read by George McCrandles, Area Commander of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue.
In his address, Bishop Cameron began with a story from some 14 centuries ago- the story of a queen, a king, a bishop, a ring and a fish. Just as the congregation had been lulled into thinking it knew the tale, he revealed that it was in fact a Welsh tale about St. Asaph and King Gwyneth, rather than the well-known story involving St. Mungo. So who had pinched the story from whom and did it matter? (St. Asaph was a disciple of St. Mungo, as Mungo was of St. Serf and Mungo had founded monasteries on the Clyde and on the Clwyd). What mattered was that people cherished the legends and the memories of the early saints and their commitment to truth and justice, their willingness to speak truth to power.
We are required to do the same today but what are the justice and truth
we are called to proclaim. The Old Testament reading reminds us that we are to be bearers of the Good News, to build up Jerusalem (as the Glasgow anthem said) for the Kingdom is in our midst today. He very much appreciated how the psalm in the anthem linked Glasgow and Jerusalem. Bishop Cameron reminded us that the greatness is not only determined by the beauty of its cathedrals and the splendour of its galleries etc but by how it treats the most humble and the poorest of its citizens, and the greatness of the church is confirmed if it is in the forefront of the fight for justice. The Gospel reading centred on a miraculous catch of fish. This is symbolic – if we trust in God and seek his blessing on our lives as individuals and as a society then we can experience abundance. He closed with the challenge: “Let us, like Mungo, speak truth and fight for justice – then let Glasgow flourish!”
After a meditative clarsach piece played by Carissa Bovill, the following intercessions were read for the City, its people and the world today:
St Mungo’s humble origins are a reminder to us of the many difficult situations people find themselves in today. People today experience hardship, both material and spiritual, and in a measure never experienced before. Adversity comes from all sides and there are recurring and ever new crises all around. We pray that in the midst of all these tribulations, St Mungo’s witness might give us new strength. Like St Mungo may we go out to others seeking to establish friendships with all those we meet creating communities where people help one another.
We are a diverse group gathered here this evening representing different churches, different civic realities, and yet in our diversity we recognise our common bond – children of Glasgow. It is as the family of Glasgow that we recognise all the joys and sufferings of life in this City and beyond. We pray for those who serve the city , giving generously of their time and talent for the benefit of its citizens. For those who left office this year we ask God to repay them abundantly with his graces and for those who will conclude this year we ask God to bless them in their work over the coming months.
In the life of our city , we acknowledge the great work being carried out in our schools in the formation of our young people, and we recognise the challenges which these young people face in carving out a future here. We give thanks for the contributions made by voluntary organisations to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in the city and share their concerns regarding the future of their endeavours. We value the cultural activities of our citizens and the embellishments their talents give to our lives, recognising the hardship of earning a living in such a precarious occupation.
The children of Glasgow present and past have made a significant contribution to life not only in Glasgow, but also in many parts of the world. From Science to Art, from the Theatre to the Sport Arena, Glaswegians have contributed to the quality of life in those communities where they have made their homes. May they continue to be encouraged in their generous giving of their times and talents. May they be assured of the support and prayers of all whom they have left behind. May we give thanks for the fruitfulness of St Mungo’s life down through the centuries both here at home and across the globe.
At the end of each intercession, one of four young people representing the city lit a candle. The congregation then joined in singing the Lord’s Prayer before an offering was taken up while the Salvation Army Band played. The final communal hymn was a lovely if perhaps less well-known setting of the Breastplate of St. Patrick “I bind unto myself today” by C F Alexander. The final prayer was said by Archbishop Conti before the blessing was given by the church leaders. The service closed with the singing of the Rutter setting of the Gaelic Blessing by the St. Mungo Singers and the procession of the Church and City representatives to lay a wreath on the tomb of St. Mungo. After the service, there was also the opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of the Cathedral Community.