This was the final service of the 2017 Festival and was organised by Glasgow Churches Together (GCT) in partnership with Glasgow City Council and the Mediaeval Glasgow Trust in Glasgow Cathedral. This year was a special occasion being some 820 years since the cathedral had been consecrated and some 900 years since the Diocese of Glasgow had come into being.  This was reflected in the many layers of the service, in words, readings and music.

A piper played outside the Cathedral, and inside there was quiet music from the Cathedral organist, Andrew Forbes, and from Rutherglen Salvation Army Band. Then members of the St. Mungo Singers sang Bruckner’s Locus Iste (This is the place that the Lord has made), an appropriate choice for the day.

The service began with a procession of the GCT church representatives and representatives of Glasgow institutions which had their historical roots in the Cathedral, including the Glasgow High School, Glasgow University and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. They and the congregation were welcomed by Dr Laurence Whitley, minister of Glasgow Cathedral, who reflected that 1500 years ago St. Thenew had given birth to a child who is commemorated by the Cathedral – St. Mungo (or Kentigern) – and he welcomed in particular the many guests who had come for the occasion.

The choir then led the congregation in singing David Evans’ Be Still for the Presence of the Lord, before we experienced a reminder of the mediaeval past of the building as the Scottish Plainsong Choir processed into the choir from the nave, singing Jubente Petrus Domino (the Responsory for the Feast of St. Mungo) and the Sequence Gens Cambrina. A copy of the Holy Bible was installed on the lectern in the sanctuary for the readings, as the congregation sang O Light from Light.

The procession of clergy and civic representatives

After a reading from Joshua (4:19-24) proclaimed by Archbishop Tartaglia, the Lord Lyon, Dr. Joseph Morrow spoke about the beginnings of Glasgow which had its foundations in the Charter of the Burgh granted around 1175/1178 by William the Lion. The Charter was as much about the future of the city, he said, as about its past – it was a living stone which had involved King, Bishop, nobles and the people of Glasgow.  Particular mention should be made of Bishop Jocelyn, he said, who was a Cistercian monk. The Cistercians were renowned for establishing industries in Scotland. Jocelyn not only got burgh status for Glasgow. He established the Glasgow Fair and was a literary patron. The Charter led to new vitality, peaceful trading and just dealings for the city.

His presentation was followed by brief inputs from the Rector of Glasgow High School, the Principal of Glasgow University, and the President of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow, who spoke of the links of their institutions with the Cathedral.

The principal speaker for the service was Dr. Rajan Madhok, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow. He began by reflecting on the year just past – one of melodrama and surprises which had clearly indicated that trust in public institutions had crumbled. Anxiety and stress in the community were at exceptionally high levels.  This gloom affected professional standards but if he had to make a choice of profession again, he would still choose medicine.

He traced his own family history as a Kenyan Asian family expelled from Kenya and coming to England at the time of Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech. This had led his father to moving the family to Glasgow where they were known as “the Kenyans” – a familiarity of address uniquely Glaswegian.  He said the city had given him so much – love, friendships, happiness and riches beyond his dreams. He expressed the hope that the new wave of arrivals would see in Glasgow fairness and warmth – and see the people as well as the opportunities. It was a lovely tribute to the city and its people.

A colourful representation of Glasgow Cathedral links

Russkaya Cappella gave the congregation an opportunity to reflect on his words as they sang two pieces of Russian liturgical music, while the St. Mungo candle was placed before the icon of St. Mungo. Then there was a reading from the Lorimer Scots Bible (1 Peter 2:5-9)by Jack Stuart which echoed the theme of the foundation stone, before cantor and choir led the congregation in singing the Gelineau setting of Psalm 135 O Give Thanks to the Lord for He is Good. The final scripture reading was from Matthew 5:13-16, urging us to be salt and light for the world.

Intercessions were read for the citizens of Glasgow scattered over the world, and for visitors to Glasgow; for our world, racked by violence, especially the Middle East; for our city and all who serve it; and for the Church, the Body of Christ.  The Salvation Army band played while an offering was taken up. Then Fr. David Wallace, chair of GCT, introduced Jim Carruth, Poet Laureate of Glasgow, who read his lovely poem in honour of St Mungo A Flourishing – Song of St. Mungo.

The service ended with a sung blessing (John Bell’s God to Enfold You) a spoken blessing pronounced by the church representatives and a rousing final hymn Tell Out, My Soul. Deputy Lord Provost Gerry Leonard then led the church and civic representatives down to the Tomb of St. Mungo where he laid a wreath while the Scottish Plainsong Choir sang Caelestis Regem Patrie (the Invitatory Hymn from Matins for the Feastday of St. Mungo).

The birthday girl

Footnote The St.Mungo Singers had their own special event after the service when they celebrated the 90th birthday of one of their members Mrs Cathy Mulrine- age does not matter, service is what counts!