Our final Festival report is on the Festival Service held in Glasgow Cathedral on 14 January with the support of Glasgow Churches Together (GCT). This year’s Festival Service began a little differently with the congregation gathering in the nave, awaiting the church, civic and academic representatives who were led by piper Willie Park from the St. Mungo Museum into the Cathedral.

As they lined up in the nave, the St. Mungo Singers sang O Light from Light before Beadle Bill Sheddon led the opening prayer. Then there was a surprise – to the sound of a handbell ringing, a group of “monks” (more usually known as pupils of St. Denis’ Primary) proceeded up the aisle, followed by St.Mungo (Liam Kearney) himself and more fellow pupils of St. Denis’.

At the head of the steps into the Choir, St. Mungo told the congregation in poetry something of his life and then re-enacted the exchange of staffs with “St. Columba” which is recalled in the Vita Kentigerni. He then led everyone into the Choir of the Cathedral to be greeted by Rev. Keith Ross, locum minister of the Cathedral since the retirement of Dr. Laurence Whiteley. Rev. Ross welcomed the congregation and guests to this celebration of St. Mungo which was intended to let Glasgow flourish by the sharing of the Word together on this day.

St. Denis’ Primary singing “We’re the Children of St. Mungo”

After the opening hymn and prayer, the children of St. Denis’ treated the congregation to a lively and cheerful presentation of two pieces: We’re the Children of the City of St. Mungo and Going Home to Glasgow. Not perhaps what you would normally hear sung in the Cathedral but more than one representative sitting in the Sanctuary could be seen singing along with the chorus of the first song.

Readings from Scripture followed and a candle was placed in front of the icon of St. Mungo on the altar as harpist Carissa Swan played, followed by the singing by members of Russkaya Cappella of two beautiful pieces of Russian Orthodox liturgical music which echoed through the Choir.

The speaker at this year’s service was Nicola Irvine, Dean of the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow, an appropriate choice as the Faculty is marking its 350th anniversary in 2018. Ms Irvine, the first woman to hold this office, explained that the Faculty, whose members are solicitors from Glasgow and the surrounding areas, existed in some form from probably the 12th century but the first formal records which they have date from 1668, hence this year’s celebration.

She explained that the Faculty, in its service to the city of Glasgow, is actively involved in the development of legislation as it affects citizens. In particular now, there is a greater awareness of the needs of the young and vulnerable in our society, and work is done to identify their rights and protect them. She acknowledged in particular the role of Glasgow’s universities in this. She ended by expressing the hope that the Faculty would continue to serve the city for many years to come.

In the Intercessory prayers which followed, the church, civic and academic representatives led the congregation in praying for the city, its leaders and citizens (in particular in this the Year of the Young Person for its young people), for all those affected by any kind of trouble and for peace in our world. The response to each prayer was the lovely Taize chant There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, there is one God who is Father of all.

Russkaya Cappella sing

Glasgow’s Poet Laureate, Jim Carruth, read his Song for St. Mungo A Flourishing which links the tree, bird, bell and fish of the legend of St. Mungo with the parable of the Talents in St. Luke’s gospel (19:11-27) in a challenge to use our talents.

The Lord Provost of Glasgow, Cllr. Eva Bolander, was unable to be present but greetings from her and the City Council were brought by Bailie Malcolm Balfour who reflected that St. Mungo defines Glasgow as much as the River Clyde which runs through it.

The service ended with the singing of the Glasgow Anthem Let Glasgow Flourish and a blessing by the church representatives present before they and the civic representatives processed to the crypt to lay a wreath on St. Mungo’s Tomb as the congregation sang the final hymn O Scotland Blest. 

Thanks are due for musical support to Rutherglen Salvation Army Band and Andrew Forbes who accompanied much of the singing on the Cathedral organ.