The annual service of the Blessing of the Crib in George Square, Glasgow took place on 4th December. The Lord Provost, Cllr. Sadie Docherty, was joined by representatives of Glasgow Churches Together (GCT), students from St. Andrew’s Secondary School and children from St. Monica’s Primary school, the Alba Brass Quintet and members of the St. Mungo Singers for the service.
This year’s event was an emotional one, coming so soon after the helicopter tragedy at the Clutha Vaults in which ten people had died and many others were injured. The weather was cold but dry as the participants gathered around the crib (and others watched from the skating rink) and the Quintet played for the Lord Provost and the guests as they made their way from the City Chambers. Then the St. Andrew’s choir sang “O Come All Ye Faithful”
Dr. Laurence Whitley, minister of Glasgow Cathedral, introduced the Lord Provost who, clearly still affected by the recent event, asked everyone present to observe a minute’s silence for those killed or injured at the Clutha Vaults. She acknowledged the courage and kindness of everyone who had assisted on the previous Friday and she expressed her thanks to the emergency services involved. However, she said, this should be a joyful season and it was important to hold the service and to enjoy it. The St. Mungo Singers led people in singing “May the Souls of the Faithful Departed” for the victims.
The service then moved on with the singing of the beautiful setting of the Prologue of St. John by Frank Docherty, followed by the St. Monica children singing “Silent Night” to the accompaniment of the clarsach played by Carissa Bovill.
Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick, representing the Archbishop of Glasgow, commenced the blessing of the Crib with the following words:“Loving God, your Son Jesus came among us as a sign of your love for us. The crib is a symbol of his birth and of his sharing our humanity. May we, and all who look upon this crib, find here a sense of encouragement and hope. Let it be a reminder to everyone that in our humanity all people are related, That together we are one great human family, and that “God is with us””
He was then joined by the other church representatives for the blessing.
Appropriately the next carol, sung by soloist and choir from St. Monica’s, was “Away in a Manger”. Cpt. Bruce Smith of the Salvation Army then invited everyone to share a sign of peace with those around them to express this time of hope and joy.The Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery, Dr. David Sinclair, led prayers for the city, reflecting on the recent tragedy but also looking forward to 2014 when Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games.
The children of St. Monica’s brought some Christmas cheer with a Christmas poem and a modern seasonal song “Christmas isn’t Christmas till it happens to you”, and the St. Andrew’s Choir led everyone in singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.
The service ended with thanks from Cllr. Docherty to the schools and others who had helped to make it such a warm event, and the singing of “The First Noel”. It had been an opportunity to mark and acknowledge the sadness of recent days but also to move on.