St Mungo Festival Service at Glasgow Cathedral
On Sunday 15th January 2023, we had the joy of celebrating once again our ecumenical Festival service in Glasgow Cathedral, hosted by the Cathedral Community and Glasgow Churches Together. Piper Willie Park led the clergy and civic representatives from the St Mungo Museum to the Cathedral where the congregation awaited them. The book of the Gospels, the St Mungo Icon and candle were also borne in the procession and placed in the sanctuary, as the St Mungo Singers, with organist Andrew Forbes, led the singing of O light from light. The book of Gospels was placed on the lectern and proclaimed as the inspiration for St Mungo and so many others, and an encouragement for those present.
The minister of the Cathedral, Rev Mark Johnstone, then welcomed everyone to a building where for many hundreds of years people had gathered to worship God. The service which followed was a wonderful mix of poetry, music, scripture and prayer.
After the opening prayer, Jim Carruth, Glasgow’s Poet Laureate, read his poems, The Exile of Teneu and A Flourishing (the Song of St Mungo). Then children from St Denis Primary School – introduced in confident clear tones by one of them – sang a number of Glasgow themed pieces, including The Mungo Rhyme, Going Home to Glasgow and We’re the Children of the City of St Mungo. The last named song truly raised the roof as the children gave it everything they had and filled us with confidence in the future of the city with such young citizens growing up in it.
Readings from Scripture followed, before, the reflection was given by Rev Hilary McDougall, Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery. She began by thanking the children of St Denis’ for bringing back memories of her own school days in the East End of Glasgow. Turning to the story of St Thenew, she reflected that there is still in our day violence against women, even as Thenew had experienced it. However she had shown herself resolute and determined, bringing up her son, retaining her faith when tested and triumphing despite adversity.
Glasgow, said Rev Hillary, had other examples of women facing up to adversity including, in our own day, the Ukrainian women currently living on the MV Ambition with their children who act with determination and courage. The story of Mungo’s life showed his faithfulness to God and his ability to do great things and he is an inspiration for us, but so is his mother whose story is not so often told. She urged that women’s voices need to be heard and their stories also told.
As the congregation reflected on Rev Hillary’s words, Carissa Swan played accompanying music on the harp before intercessions were read for peace in our world, for refugees to our city, the safety of women in our society and for all who serve in civic life or provide services for our city.
Before the end of the service, a collection was taken up for Motor Neurone Disease, as the Kilmarnock Salvation Army Band played. Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns brought greetings from the City Council and thanks for the work of Glasgow Churches Together and Mediaeval Glasgow. The Glasgow anthem Let Glasgow Flourish was sung and the clergy present gave a blessing before the final hymn which was Anne Carter’s setting of the Magnificat to the tune of Amazing Grace.
The civic and church representatives then descended to the tomb of St Mungo to lay wreaths there after the service.