The tomb of St. Mungo

St. Mungo’s Feast was well and truly celebrated in Glasgow this year. As well as the Mass in St. Mungo’s church, there was an ecumenical service in Glasgow Cathedral on the evening of the Feast.

It was attended by representatives from the many Christian communities in Glasgow including Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Russian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Methodist, Salvation Army, United Free, United Reformed. Representatives from civic bodies including the City Council, Trades House and Merchants House were also present, as was the Romanian Consul. The ancient links with Culross inFife were highlighted by the presence of Rev. Jayne Scott, the Minister of Culross and Torryburn and members of her parish community.

Music for the service was provided by the St. Mungo Singers, Russkaya Cappella, and the Rutherglen Salvation Army Band, with soloists Willie Park (piper) and Carissa Bovill (clarsach), and young dancers from Visual Statement Dance Group, which is based in the East End of Glasgow, also took part.

Piper Willie Park braves the cold to welcome the congregation

Piper Willie Park braved the cold to welcome the congregation to the Cathedral, and the Salvation Army Band played inside as they gathered. Then Bailie Margot Clark began the service by twice proclaiming “Let Glasgow Flourish!” to which the congregation responded “by the preaching of His word”, “by the praising of His name”, before singing the Altus Prosator – a hymn written by St. Columba who was a contemporary of St. Mungo.

Dr. Laurence Whitley, the Minister of Glasgow Cathedral, welcomed everyone to the celebration which had been initiated some six years previously and had expanded and grown into the St. Mungo Festival. The opening prayer was then read by Rev. Jayne Scott. It was followed by a reading from Isaiah (52:7-10) read by Lewis Ramsay, Assistant Chief Officer of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.

Russkaya Cappella

A lovely contrast was then presented by Russkaya Cappella singing two pieces a capella, the first a chant in honour of St. Mungo, and the second an 18th Century “Cherubic Hymn”, their voices echoing through the nave. In another change of texture, this was followed by the Glasgow anthem “Let Glasgow Flourish” sung by congregation and choirs.

The young dancers of Visual Statement provided a beautiful and joyful interpretation in dance of the spirit of Glasgow to the music of A Glasgow Jig by William Jackson, engaging the eyes as they weaved patterns in white and shades of green in the centre of the nave.

Bishop Gregor Duncan, the Episcopalian Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway proclaimed the Gospel reading from Luke 5:1-11, before Archbishop Tartaglia gave the Address in which he reflected on his own family roots in the area, on those who preceded us in the faith inGlasgow, and on the challenging call to us also to discipleship.

The St.Mungo Festival, he reminded those present, is one with liturgy and worship at its core but one which involves the civic authorities and others and leads to a rediscovery of our past. He reflected that St. Mungo would not wish people to focus on him but on the Gospel. We may be Mungo’s bairns but first and foremost we are all the children of God.

Fr Marcel Oprisan lights a candle during the Intercessions

As the congregation reflected on his words, Carissa Bovill played quietly on the clarsach, and then Br. Stephen Smyth, Secretary of ACTS, introduced the Intercessions which were read by Rev. Colin Brown, Presbytery Clerk of the West Presbytery of the United Free Church, Fr. Marcel Oprisan of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Sr. Maire Gallagher, and Rev John Humphreys, Moderator of the United Reformed Church in Scotland.

We prayed for those experiencing difficult situations, those who serve the city and the church communities, those working in schools and voluntary organisations, and those Glaswegians contributing not only in Glasgow but elsewhere in science, the arts and sports. At the end of each intercession, the reader lit a candle as the congregation responded with the Taizé chant “O Lord, Hear my Prayer”.

A bird’s eye view of Rutherglen Salvation Army Band

Everyone then united in singing the Lord’s Prayer, before an offering for the Lord Provost Fund for charity was taken up as the Salvation Army band played. The final congregational hymn was Charles Wesley’s beautiful hymn “Come Holy Ghost, leading into the blessing by the church leaders.

The service ended on a festive note with the St.Mungo Singers singing the joyful anthem “Resonet in Laudibus”. The church and civic representatives then made their way to the Tomb of St. Mungo to lay a wreathe in honour of the city’s patron saint.

Civic and church leaders at the tomb of St. Mungo

Visual Statement – a swirl of colour