The beginning of this year’s Chrism Mass for the Archdiocese of Glasgow at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on 1 April was a little more eventful than usual. As the choir and musicians prepared for the Mass, it was discovered that the pipe organ had malfunctioned and, despite our best efforts, could not be repaired in time so, after reviewing the options, it was decided to have the choir and assembly sing a capella. Fortunately it proved possible to do this without too much alteration to the planned music of the liturgy, and both the singers and the congregation rose to the challenge.

The opening procession of the Archbishop and the priests of the Archdiocese was accompanied by the singing of the Canticle from Ezekiel (“Hear me, my people”) to the well-known tune “Be Thou my Vision”, a good opening hymn in the circumstances with its lines ‘feel the new heart I give, the new spirit and guidance for how you might live;’. The Plainsong Kyrie followed, and the sung Gloria. The Psalm was Mgr. Fitzpatrick’s new setting of Psalm 88.

In his homily, Archbishop Conti commented on the much publicised scandal of child abuse affecting the Church. He recognised that this could cause both loss of confidence by priests themselves and loss of trust by the laity. He reaffirmed his confidence in the priests of the Diocese and expressed his belief that the community continued to hold them in respect and affection.

The Renewal of Commitment by the priests present followed the homily. The Holy Oils were brought in procession for blessing/consecration as the choir led the congregation in singing Noel Donnelly’s setting of “Veni,veni”.

At Communion, the hymns were “Gifts of Finest Wheat” and Noel Donnelly’s “Blessed be the Father”. The Mass ended with a hymn which reflected the sense of renewal and commitment for all present “Go, Spread my Word”.

And the verdict on the absence of an organ? Everyone – choir, people and priests -seemed unfazed and sang with audible enthusiasm. Indeed a lot of those present thought it was very suitable for a Holy Thursday service!

Congregation and concelebrants at the Chrism Mass