The second Diocesan Pastoral Music Weekend of this year was held in its usual venue at St. Mary’s Kinnoull. Around

60 musicians from across the diocese attended. Unfortunately Bishop Toal was unable to be there, because of illness, but the musicians were joined by Mgr. Jamie MacNeil, Fr. Roddy Johnston, recently ordained Fr. David Connor and Deacon Stanislaw Pamula (who was on his way back to Rome), as well as Fr. Michael Hutson and his usual team of helpers.

Argyll & Isles musicians hard at work

The tried and tested format for the music weekend is extremely successful – refurbishment of existing repertoire, the introduction of new music, talks on aspects of the liturgy and music’s place in it, all interspersed with time for socialising and relaxation in the beautiful surrounds of Kinnoull. The focus this session was on the music for the new translation of the Missal.

The weekend began on Friday evening with a warm-up session of some familiar pieces, and a first look at Dan Schutte’s “Mass of Christ the Saviour”. After St. Mary’s usual filling supper, the group convened again in the chapel for further work on this Mass before the session closed with Night Prayer. Then there was time for everyone to catch up on each other’s news in the Common Room.

After breakfast the next morning, there was time for preparation for morning Mass. After Mass, Mgr. Jamie gave a reflection on the new text for the Sanctus, focussing our thoughts on what is meant by the term “holy” – in brief it means to be like God. Then there were further rehearsals on music for the new translation. In addition to the Schutte Mass, the group learned the Lamb of God from the Rose-Conlon Mass of St. Mary McKillop and refreshed their memory of the Latin Pater Noster. Fr. Michael made the point that the reason for singing certain less commonly sung parts of the Mass (such as the Preface or the Our Father) was to give greater solemnity to particular celebrations. The priests of Argyll & the Isles Diocese had now attended sessions on the place of music in the Mass.

After a break for rest and relaxation, Fr. Roddy gave an reflection on the Gloria, and, in his inimitable way, had everyone looking at it with new eyes – a song of joy after the Penitential Rite which makes us ready to sing it – a Christmas song which we sing throughout the year. But, he asked, how do we glorify or bless God? His answer was that every good thing we have or are is to the glory of God and we give it all to him when we sing the Gloria.

A final rehearsal after supper still left the group with the energy for an informal ceilidh. Even Fr. Kieran, the Rector of St. Mary’s, was persuaded to do a party piece, and the music included great fiddle playing from our youngest member, Kevin, and some beautiful guitar playing by Fr. Roddy.

Kevin the fiddler gets the toes tapping at the ceilidh

The weekend closed with the group joining the parish community for Mass on Sunday morning, presided over by Fr. David. This Mass is, for many, the highlight of the weekend, as it gives the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned and experience first hand how the liturgy can be. Deacon Stanislaw gave the homily and set us the challenge of recognising that love is often to speak the truth into the eyes of another. It is not just a sentiment, it can be a rebuke to others, and we need to be prepared to love with belief and with courage. We can be irritated or angry with another but still continue to love them. It is better to get the truth into the open, rather than hide our anger until it explodes and destroys love.

After Mass, it was time to pack up and get on the way, reflecting that it really won’t be very long till the next Music Weekend in May 2012!