The congregation at theCeltic Roots celebration

The congregation at the Celtic Roots celebration

The annual Mass during the Celtic Connections Festival drew as great a crowd as ever this year to St Aloysius’, Garnethill.

While Scott Glasgow the Piper gave a sonorous and stirring welcome on the steps of the Church, Aisling Gael and the South Side Fiddlers created a warm and welcoming pre-Mass sound inside, and the freshly composed ‘Celtic Prelude’ by Carissa Bovil was a fitting introduction to the hymn to St Bridget, and then the St Mungo Singers and the choir of St Mungo’s, Alloa sang Chilcott’s Irish Blessing.

The Mass began with the very full congregation joining in ‘God our Creator’ – set to the so aptly named ‘Highland Cathedral’ – and then the Liturgy of the day began to develop with the Dunkeld Kyrie and Gloria, the stirring prophecy of Moses, Psalm 94 and all that followed. Fr Michael Savage presided and led the clergy and people in the sung Eucharistic Prayer, and Fr Willie Moran spoke most effectively of the opportunity presented for us to cherish our roots and our faith and to support other people by the way we live.

The Intercessions included : ‘We pray for the citizens of Glasgow, both new and old, for performers and guests who have come here to enjoy and take part in the Festival, and for people who use the arts as a means of expressing the joy and dignity of all that is human and for people everywhere who are less fortunate than ourselves.’

The music was very varied, ranging from the rounded Celtic Airs of Aisling Gael and the joy-filled Irish rhythms of the South Side Fiddlers before Mass to Chilcott’s Irish Blessing, the Hymn of St Bridgid, the spacious verses of the hymn to ‘Highland Cathedral,’ the exuberance of the Dunkeld Gloria supported by band as well as choirs, the plainsong Credo 3, the ever-popular intercessory verse set to ‘vermio’, Noel Donnelly’s sensitive setting of the Canticle from the Letter to the Philippians, the accessible Schubert setting of the Sanctus within the sung Eucharistic Prayer, and the bi-lingual (Latin and Irish) 11th century hymn ‘Deus Meus’ set by Seán Óg Ó Tuama. The Glasgow Anthem ‘Let Glasgow Flourish.’ was a suitable response to the evocative words of Bailie Catherine McMaster, representing the Lord Provost, who articulated civic pride in Glasgow and a sense of its welcoming posture to visitors from elsewhere – including home-comers from the Scots Diaspora.

The vestments used by the clergy – who came from both the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Diocese of Dunkeld – were designed by Netta Ewing and created by ‘The Sacred Threads’.

'The Sacred Threads' vestments

'The Sacred Threads' vestments

Fr Peter Griffiths and the community at St Aloysius excelled themselves in their hospitality – a generous example of a Glasgow welcome. Both photographs are (c) Brian Burns, St Aloysius 2009