When planning this year’s service, we were astonished to realise that this is the 18th year that it has taken place. As they say “doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself”, and who says that the liturgy should not be enjoyable?

The Mass took place as usual in St Aloysius church, Garnethill, on 27 January during the Celtic Connections Festival. The St Mungo Singers were joined by their choir colleagues from St Mungo’s Alloa and many of the instrumentalists who regularly support events in the Archdiocese of Glasgow – we have now informally nicknamed them the “St Mungo Ensemble”.

Some of the congregation

The principal celebrant was Canon David Wallace whose musical gifts include a great singing voice, and the homilist was Canon Anthony Gallagher, Director of the Religious Education Centre for the Archdiocese. They were joined by members of the Jesuit community at St Aloysius and by Mgr Gerry Fitzpatrick. The congregation was welcomed to the service by piper Isla MacLennan who then led the concelebrants from the sacristy to the sanctuary. Members of the Knights of St. Columba also joined us for the celebration.

The music of the Mass was a celebration of liturgical music in the celtic idiom, traditional and modern: the Celtic Invocation, the Prayer of Columba, Great God Be Near Me, the Hymn of Columba, Liam Lawton’s The Cloud’s Veil and W Y Fullarton’s I Cannot Tell (to the tune of the Londonderry Air).

Two new pieces of liturgical music were included: Mgr. Gerry’s new setting of the Sanctus for his Jubilee Mass, and Canon David’s setting of “Alone with None but Thee”. There were also beautiful instrumental pieces.

The St Mungo Ensemble

As is the tradition for this Mass, the first and second readings were in Gaelic and Irish, and the intercessions in Gaelic, Irish and English.

In his homily, Canon Gallagher reflected on the readings. Five hundred years separated the two main characters, Ezra and Jesus, who speak to the people from the scriptures, but each focusses attention on a new beginning, a chance to start again. We too are charged, he said, to bring about change in our world and our lives, and this Mass is a sign of this possibility to use our gifts to praise God and to beautify our world and our worship, very much the essence of Celtic spirituality.

St. Paul in the second reading reminds the Corinthians that everyone has been given different capacities to be used for the same purpose, the building up of the body of Christ. Glasgow is called the “caring city” and the “welcoming city”, Canon Gallagher reminded us, and we are challenged by the call of Christ to be who we are called to be and to bring about the building up of the Kingdom in our city, to listen joyfully to his word and to go out to help the person who has nothing.

At the end of Mass, there was the opportunity to enjoy tea, coffee and nibbles in the Ogilvie Centre and chat.

Our Piper Isla