The Annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for the work of Strathclyde Police was held this year in St. Andrew’s Cathedral on 14 May. The service was attended by serving officers of the Force, families and friends of deceased officers and members of staff, and representatives of the Churches in Glasgow.
The music of the service was led by members of the St. Mungo Singers who sang, before the service began, a selection of motets and choral pieces including Noel Donnelly’s “How Blest are Those who have Died in the Lord”, John Wesley’s “Lead me, Lord”, and Walford Davies’ “God be in my Head”.
As the Church representatives processed to the sanctuary, choir and congregation joined in the strong and familiar words of “Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer”. Fr. John McGinley, one of the Strathclyde Police chaplains, welcomed everyone to the service, before the opening prayer was read by Dr. Laurence Whitley, also a police chaplain.
The first reading, from Isaiah 32, was given by Mr. Stephen House, the Chief Constable. The choir then sang Bob Hurd’s beautiful setting of Psalm 42. Mrs. Shirley Andrews, Head of Force Training gave the second reading, from Romans 8. The final reading, preceded by the Gospel Acclamation “God loved the World so much”, was from St.Luke’s Gospel Ch. 22.
In his sermon, Archbishop Conti expressed his feeling of privilege at being given the opportunity, on behalf of both the Catholic community of Glasgow and the other churches, to thank Strathclyde Police for its service and to offer condolences to those who had lost family or friends.
The Annual Remembrance Service was a beautiful tradition which gave us all the opportunity to reflect on that service to which we are called by God. As indicated in the Gospel passage which had just been read, we all have a vocation of service. Archbishop Conti commented that he had personal reason to be aware of the services rendered by Strathclyde Police in recent weeks, with the re-opening of the Cathedral at a time of some unrest.
Reflecting on St. Paul’s comments in Romans 8, Archbishop Conti highlighted Paul’s encouragement that our hope should transform the experience of death, and we should be particularly aware of this at Eastertime. Referring to the Memorial Garden at the Cathedral which would be formally opened on 16th May, he reminded the congregation that a memorial is intended to help us to lay memories of loss to rest, and the Gospel passages inscribed on the plinth of the Memorial again give us hope.
The Archbishop reflected that we are called to be images of Christ to each other in love and friendship. If sometimes it seems that the respect in which the police force is held only comes to the surface in times of adversity, the reading from Isaiah should give comfort when they feel their service is unappreciated.
The words of the John Bell hymn which followed – “We cannot measure how you heal” – felt very appropriate. The Prayers of Commemoration and Thanksgiving were then read. These beautifully written prayers included those who had died, their families and friends; all who strive for the peace of our nation and world in the police, armed forces; and all who have positions of leadership whether political or religious.
This short but moving service closed, after a blessing, with another well known and loved hymn, “For all the Saints”.