You could feel the buzz, the warmth and the joy in St Peter’s Partick as soon as you entered the church for the celebration of the Vigil of St Andrew’s Day on 29th November under the auspices of Glasgow Churches Together (GCT).
It may have looked like chaos to those in the congregation, as adult and children’s choirs were shooed into place, musicians were positioned, and church representatives and other guests were brought together, but it was organised chaos. And the overriding feeling was one of gladness that we were able to celebrate in person this feast of our national patron.
Piper Calum Stewart played as we gathered and then led the church representatives onto the sanctuary as we sang God, our Creator to that wonderfully uplifting tune Highland Cathedral, led by the St Mungo Singers.
Parish Priest Canon Peter McBride welcomed everyone and made special mention of the new Moderator of Glasgow Presbyter, Robert Hynd, and the children of Notre Dame high School, Notre Dame Primary School, the Glasgow Gaelic School and St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School.
MP Carol Monaghan introduced the singing of Psalm 62 in the translation by John Bell, which was followed by the Gospel passage from St. Matthew of the calling of the first apostles, including St Andrew. This was read by the Moderator who took the opportunity to bring greetings from the Presbytery.
Canon Peter gave the reflection, reminding those present that Andrew was shown in the Gospels as an introducer of people to the Lord: of his brother Peter; the Greek visitors, and the little boy with the loaves and fishes. And we Christians, he said, have the same task- to bring others to Jesus – by our prayers and the happenings of our everyday lives. Andrew was generous and giving, following the example of the Lord who gave his whole self in a message of love. So we are to be people of generosity and love, and to pray for all believers, regardless of the things that still divide us.
As we reflected on this message, Ann Morgan from Notre Dame High School played the beautiful Ashokan Farewell and then the High School musicians accompanied the Primary School children in their singing of Will you Come and Follow Me (another Wild Goose hymn to a well-known Scots folk tune), conducted by Canon McBride on his knees before them.
The congregation then sang the Magnificat to the tune of Amazing Grace, keeping the Scottish musical theme going, and this was followed by some beautiful harp music played by Catherine Walker.
The school children led the congregation in the intercessions for the country and all its people, its national and local governments, and these were completed by the praying of the Lord’s Prayer.
Rev Chris Foxon, Chair of GCT, began the concluding part of the service with thanks to the parish community of St Peter’s for hosting the service, and the young people who had graced it with their words and music, a sentiment greeted with applause by the congregation. He then led in the prayer which has become a central part of this service:-
May our country be a community in which everyone matters
Everyone has an honoured place
And the dignity of each is assured
By our faith in you as Father of all.
The blessing was then given by the church representatives present and a sung blessing – God to Enfold You – was presented in Gaelic by a quartet from the Glasgow Gaelic School with the English version then led by the St Mungo Singers.
The service ended with the singing of O Scotland Blest and the taking of a collection for St Andrews Clinics for Children, a charity founded in 1992 by University of Glasgow staff for the treatment of children in Sub-Saharan Africa. However the celebration continued with a wonderful spread in St Peter’s church Hall, where an array of food, including little steak pies and lovely fairy cakes with Christmas motifs (made by one of the parishioners) provided a fittingly warm finish to a great evening.