After the opening hymn Be Thou my Vision, Dr. Sturrock welcomed everyone and invited them to take time to reflect on the past year, both its highs and its lows as a candle was lit on the communion table. He remembered in particular the late Dr. Laurence Whitley, retired minister of the Cathedral, who had died in 2018.
A rather damp and windy night did not prevent a good turnout at the annual Hogmanay Watchnight service in Glasgow Cathedral. The theme was “Hope for Travellers” and the event was organised by Glasgow Churches Together and Hope Alba. Rev. Dr Roger Sturrock from Wellington Church led the congregation through the liturgy, and the musical support, as usual, was given by the wonderful Cathedral Strings.
Then the Cathedral Strings led the singing of Christine Carson and John Bell’s Singing, we gladly worship the Lord together which picked up the theme of travelling in the line of its chorus Those who are travelling the road of life sow seeds of peace and love.
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia read prayers of thanks, ending with the classic hymn of thanksgiving for the year, the Te Deum. Robin Green proclaimed the scripture reading and the Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery, Rev Roy Henderson, read the intercessions for our city, our churches, our world, finishing each one with the words In this hope we travel.
The soloist this year was Thomas Dillon of the Academy of Sacred Music who sang two lovely pieces, Lullay and The Heavens are proclaiming. As is traditional at this service, a collection was taken up for a local charity – this year it was Junction 12 Youth Project which works in local schools in the east end of Glasgow to provide additional support for young people in the 10-18 years age group.
The reflection for the year was given by Rev. Alan Wells of Castlehill Baptist Church, who had the congregation laughing as he began by referring to the dramatic events of the year just ending and highlighting one – the choice of a female Dr. Who. We might envy Dr. Who, he mused, for the ability to time travel, to regenerate. The capability of becoming a new person would appear to be very handy. We are all time travellers, he pointed out, although our time travel is in one direction only and tonight we mark the passing of another year.
2019 will be unpredictable and we may feel uneasy but we take with us hope. The church is faith-centred and our faith is in one who is unchanging – Jesus Christ. He is the same now as at the foundation of the world and the foundation of this cathedral. He has conquered death and he will not fail us.
As the final minutes of the year drew on, Rev. David Easton, Interim Moderator of the Cathedral, suggested three promises of Christ as his final thoughts for the year just ending and the year to come. Each of these promises was prefaced by the words Be of good cheer, so they could be described as the three cheers! Jesus said: to the sick man “your sins are forgiven”; to his disciples “Do not be afraid!”; and again to his disciples “I have overcome the world”. As a well-known hymn puts it, we leave the past to God’s mercy, the present to his love and the future to his providence.
On that positive reflection, the congregation launched into the final hymn with confidence Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided before heading out into 2019.