Vespers of St John Ogilvie

A Ogilvie Vespers -013 procession

The annual Vespers marking the Feast of St John Ogilvie took place on a bitterly cold March 10th evening at St Aloysius Church in Garnethill. Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, who acknowledged that this was his first experience of such a Vespers in the Jesuit parish since his appointment as Archbishop of Glasgow, was welcomed by the Harp playing of Noel Donnelly and by the St Mungo Singers in their confident rendering of ‘Misericordias Domini.

Before the service began, choir and congregation enjoyed singing Newman’s ‘Lead Kindly Light’ and then we stood to welcome Archbishop Tartaglia and the servers as they approached the shrine of St John to light the evening candles. The choir sang ‘Hail, gladdening light’ and then responded with the congregation to the prayer:

Yours is the day and yours the night, Lord God: Let the Sun of Justice shine so steadily in our hearts, That we may come at length to that light where you dwell eternally. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen

The traditional hymn for the feast ‘On the battlefields of Scotland’ was sung with devotion and conviction. The 2 psalms chosen for the Vespers seemed so suitable for the feast of one who had learned to trust in God’s care for him and who had a deep sense of the divine presence with him:

I walk with you, my God. Each day be at my side.’ The prayers which followed the two sung psalms referred to some of the qualities discerned in the life of the saint:

God, you gave St John Ogilvie the gifts of courage and perseverance. Help us, who have benefited from his example, show some measure of these gifts in our own lives. We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN


Shepherd of Israel, your servant John served you faithfully in the Society of Jesus and returned to Scotland to minister to your people. May the single-mindedness with which you graced his life be also a part of ours. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

The Canticle from the Letter to the Philippians (2:6-11) implied a parallel between the self-emptying of Christ and the efforts made by his follower St John Ogilvie to be faithful in his service. Archbishop Tartaglia’s homily appropriately made much of John Ogilvie as an ecumenical figure since his condemnation was because of his conscience and so he could be held up as an example to encourage people to live by their conscience and not to be subdued by any inappropriate intrusion by the secular power into that area of people’s lives where they feel more accountable to God than to government. Noel’s gentle Harp meditation supported us in our reflections on the reading and homily.

A Ogilvie Vespers -013 Noel A Ogilvie Vespers - 013 Archetc A Ogilvie Vespers - 013 jpeg

The prophetic Canticle, the Magnificat, was sung to ‘Amazing Grace’ with the sopranos enjoying their rather high descant and the whole choir giving a sonorous support to the congregation in the other verses.

The Intercessions – with sung response We pray for our country: may it be a home in which all its people feel at ease, where the rights of everyone are respected, and the aspirations of everyone supported. Almighty ever living God, hear our prayer.

We pray for our civic and political leaders that, they may be given wisdom and strength to care for the common good and to lead the country in integrity and justice. Almighty ever living God, hear our prayer.

We pray for the churches and for our spiritual leaders: that they may feel the support of the community, may feel encouraged by their faith, and strengthened by the example and courage of St John Ogilvie. Almighty ever living God, hear our prayer.

St John died for his loyalty to his faith, as others in Scotland in that age of turmoil died in faithfulness to theirs. May we follow their example in cherishing the faith with which we have been blessed. Almighty ever living God, hear our prayer.

We pray for people everywhere who suffer persecution for their faith. Almighty ever living God, hear our prayer.

We pray for the sick and those who care for them. We remember our dead with gratitude and respect. May they be at peace in the Kingdom of God. Almighty ever living God, hear our prayer.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, as we celebrate the feast of St John Ogilvie, we offer these prayers to you, confident that you hear them. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our Father . . . . . . . . . . .

Choir: Istorum enim: ‘For of such as these is the kingdom

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia:

Let us pray: Almighty and eternal God, you gave St John Ogilvie wisdom in defending the Catholic faith and courage in facing a martyr’s death. Listen to our prayers, and send us an ever greater harvest of faith, hope and love. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen

Salve Regina The polyphonic Istorum enim and the plainsong Salve Regina gave us an enriching variety of musical style, and while only the choir could render the Istorum enim the whole congregation managed the Salve. James Quinn’s verses about St John Ogilvie to Noel Donnelly’s tune gave a little history of the saint’s origins and history, and was concluded with the Taize Doxology – a fitting allusion to one of the principal themes of the Year of Faith.

Tea, coffee, biscuits, pancakes and cake – typical St Aloisian hospitality – were enjoyed by the participants before they set out through the wintry weather to the warmth and security of their own homes. The warmest of thanks to Fr Peter Griffiths, Gina, and the community for their hospitality – Viva St John for another year and then preparations for the 4th

centenary in 2015. A Ogilvie Vespers - 013 plaque