Previously the Vespers of St. John Ogilvie has been celebrated on his feast day in March. This year, the Jesuit community at St. Aloysius, under its new Parish Priest Fr. Tim Curtis, decided to mark the anniversary of his canonisation.
The music for the service was led by the St. Mungo Singers. Before the service started, Dr. Noel Donnelly played some gently reflective music on the clarsach and the choir provided a change of atmosphere to one of rejoicing with Henryk Botor’s lively motet “Misericordias Domini”.
The Vespers began with the lovely Newman hymn “Lead, Kindly Light”, followed by James Quinn’s quietly meditative “O Light from Light”, as Fr. Curtis led the procession to the shrine of St. John Ogilvie to light the candles there. The procession continued to the sanctuary as choir and congregation sang the well-known Ogilvie hymn “On the Battlefields of Scotland”.
The psalms for the evening were Psalms 114 and 115, both of which reflect the psalmist’s confidence in God’s presence and help in the face of difficulties and danger – very appropriate for a martyr. This theme continued with the Canticle from Philippians, reflecting on Christ’s self-sacrifice, and the responsory “Guard us, Lord, as the apple of your eye”.
Fr. Curtis, in his reflection, invited the congregation both to look back to 1976 when John Ogilvie was canonised (an event which some present had attended in Rome) which had been a day of rejoicing for Scotland, and to look forward to 2015 which would be the 400th anniversary of St. John’s death, when we would honour St. John’s courage and commitment. It should not be just a Catholic or a Jesuit celebration. John Ogilvie died for his country, to make it a place of integrity where love would flourish. The aim should therefore be to make it something for the whole country.
The Intercessions which followed included prayers for Scotland and its civic and political leaders, the church leaders, and all who suffer persecution for their faith. The choir then sang the motet “Istorum Enim” which echoes the vision in Revelation of those martyrs who have washed their robes clean in the blood of the Lamb.
The Vespers finished with the singing of the Salve Regina and Noel Donnelly’s hymn in honour of St. John “Let Scotland’s Hills”. The Parish community provided refreshments in the Ogilvie Hall and there was an opportunity to discuss ideas for the celebrations in 2015.