The weather was miserable and there were road works at the junction of Kelvin Way and University Avenue, making the traffic horrendous, but this didn’t stop 24 primary schools* and around 700 Glasgow children creating a really joyful event at Wellington Parish Church.
The event was the annual Children’s Cantata, and this year they were celebrating St. Andrew, with the help of music students from Glasgow University’s B.Ed course. The children crowded into the warm and welcoming church, filling all the seats with a mass of colour and enthusiasm. The celebration started with a procession of children with Scottish flags, led by children from St. Monica’s and St. Martha’s dressed as Jesus, Peter and, of course, Andrew (complete with fishing nets) and others representing some of the countries of which Andrew is the patron saint (Greece and Russia). A pupil from St. Mungo’s carried in the book of the story of St. Andrew.
As they came in, all the schools, led by St. Brigid’s, sang “God our Creator” to the rousing tune of “Highland Cathedral”. St. Mungo’s then led the opening prayer. The flag-bearers were welcomed by Dr. David Sinclair, the Minister of Wellington Parish, who said it was great to see the church so full, and he promised that the upper balcony seats were no more expensive than the “stalls”!
The celebration then moved on with the St. Andrew Song, written in Scots by Liz Bovill, and sung and acted by the children from St. Monica’s, which gave us a great, lively start.
There followed a short scripture reading by Alexandra Parade Primary, who proclaimed the Word in a way which many adult readers could do well to emulate. St. Bartholomew’s children led the singing of Psalm 18 before the Cantata proper began, telling the story of St. Andrew, with the children of St. Anne’s and St.Paul’s Whiteinch leading the singing.
We were then treated to some lively Scottish country dancing by children from Our Lady of the Rosary Primary before there was an interruption – a newsflash from 832AD about the Battle of Athelstaneford! It was a brilliant piece of recording á la BBC by the same school, “reporting” the outcome of the legendary battle at which King Oengus High King of the Picts with his Scots-Irish allies defeated the Northumbrian army of King Aethelstan, and the miracle of the saltire which had appeared in the sky as a sign of the support of St. Andrew for the King. The children sat enthralled by the newsflash, and hopefully they will remember something of the story.
The last part of the Cantata celebration began with intercessions: for Scotland; for all the other countries of which St. Andrew is patron saint; for us to have the courage and imagination of St. Andrew; for peace; for refugees and victims of wars or violence, and for children everywhere; and finally for all those helped by the Glasgow City Mission.
Each year at the Cantata, the participating schools give donations to a charity chosen by them. This year it was Glasgow City Mission and representatives of each school came forward in procession to present their donations to Graham Steven, Marketing & Fundraising Manager for the Mission. He thanked them for their gifts which would help their work with the homeless or struggling with various problems.
The music students led the sung blessing “God to enfold you” and then gave a beautiful, haunting, rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” to the accompaniment of the harp. The absolute silence of the children showed how much they appreciated this.
Baillie Margot Clark, on behalf of the Lord Provost, expressed her congratulations to all the participants and a special word for their teachers who had helped bring the event together – she invited the children to give them a clap! – and for the musicians who had supported them. Ian Robertson, Assistant Director of Education, told the children they had been inspirational. The event was a reminder of what schools are all about. The children were a credit, he said, to themselves, their schools and their teachers.
For Glasgow Churches together (GCT), the organisers of the Cantata, Fr. David Wallace told the children that the day was about togetherness – all the different schools coming together to make wonderful music. He explained that that was what GCT was about – working together to do good things – and he thanked Elspeth Glasgow, the Ecumenical Officer of GCT, and Mgr Gerry Fitzpatrick, together with the teachers involved, for making the event possible.
The final word of thanks came from the children themselves, through pupils of St. Teresa’s Primary, who thanked Mgr. Gerry for the music and all the guests for coming. The celebration then closed with the children singing John Bell’s “Will you come and follow me”. Then came the fun of trying to match up buses and schools in the chaos that was University Avenue at lunchtime with ongoing roadworks.
Alexander Parade Primary; Bankhead Primary; Broomhill Primary; Glasgow Gaelic School; Our Lady of the Missions’ Primary; Our Lady of Peace Primary; Our Lady of the Rosary Primary; St. Anne’s Primary; St. Bartholomew’s Primary; St. Benedict’s Primary; St. Brigid’s Primary ; St. Clare’s Primary; St. Denis’ Primary; St. George’s Primary; St. Martha’s Primary; St. Maria Goretti’s Primary; St. Mary’s Primary; St. Monica’s Primary; St. Mungo’s Primary; St. Ninian’s Primary; St. Paul’s Primary; St. Roch’s Primary; St. Stephen’s Primary; St. Teresa’s Primary.
Naomi Allison, Susan Bates, Isabella Coo, Naomi Dobson, Ellen Dryburgh, Philip Henderson, Gerard Hennan, Cameron Hutton, Hayley Keenan, Ashley Lawson, Kelly Lawson, Robbie Leith, Holly Little, Sarah Lockhart, Steven McEwan, Isabella Pellegrom, Cria Sangster, Hannah Stygal, Emma Thomson, Jack Thomson and David Walker