Double Joy!

Had you been fortunate enough to watch the Lessons and Carols service from Kings College on Christmas Eve, and then attend St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow for the Midnight Eucharist, you would have a chance to join in a magic moment twice in the same day!

On both occasions the choirs sang ‘O magnum mysterium’. by Morten Lauridsen….see photo above. The words are few….’O great mystery and wondrous sacrament, that animals should see the newborn Lord lying in their manger. Alleluia!

This is one of those pieces which seem to transcend all time, all space, all religions, all emotions, all words or language. Anyone who fails to be moved in some way by it really has not yet gripped the concept of something existing beyond us. On an emotional par with the Allegri ‘Miserere’, this piece should be listened to in a quiet place and with the mind at peace. 

Such was St Mary’s, just after Communion, and with the lights gradually dimming , we were led into some other inner world, where not even a cough was heard, the breath was held, and the faint lights around the window ledges and over the Choir screen seeming to sparkle even brighter. As the final notes faded, the silence became more intense and some kind of tiredness set in as if we had been part of the choir and that heavenly host.

The link below gives you the music but not the sensation, as the audience permits no pause between the final notes and the applause……such a piece needs no applause only appreciation!

 Far better to get a CD, and sit at peace in your own space, and let the music and emotion wash over you……you are unlikely to ever be the same again!

Vocal support, please.

Some of us will be singing carols again at one of the Glasgow Hospitals for Christmas.

Gartnavel Hospital Reception is the venue, Thur 17th is the date and 7.00pm is the time. It was great fun last year and we know the patients enjoyed it, as no-one chased us away or hit us with a bed-pan!

So come along if you can, words and music provided……..and by the way…we have a bean-feast afterwards!

Cecilia and Advent carols…..Yippee!

This Sunday (22nd Nov) we celebrate as the feast of St Cecilia and there will be plenteous of good music heard and sung. For more details about this lady click on the ‘Cecelia’ link in the categories on the right-hand column.

Yes it’s moving to Advent-time again, and as usual St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Great Western Road, Glasgow, will have this annual musicfest. It is at 6.30 pm in Sunday 29th November……and not a Christmas tree in sight!

For more details of both these events, click the link here …..

Be there….you know it makes sense!

Next practice

This will be held at 7.30 on Thursday 19th at Lenzie…..for more details contact me via Comments. Also let me know that you can come, or can’t.

Please bring along any solo pieces we could incorporate in a couple of secular events we are looking-at.

St Aidan’s, Clarkston, yet again


Our third visit to St Aidan’s, Clarkston, was no less eventful than the previous two!

A Patronal Festival Evensong is pretty-well fixed in the church’s calendar, so if people are likely to be away elsewhere, then there is a problem. This happened this time with the organist, and several of the Church Choir members, and some of our members not being available on the due date.

The new Rector Rev Nicholas Taylor, had hardly  time to settle in before this festival, and Helen Raeside, the assistant organist had to get to grips with the music, some of which was new. Even problems with one of the radio mics seemed to conspire against us.

However, even with all that, it was a lovely service with  an excellent sermon from the Rector of a neighbouring Church. The usual eats and drinks before and after gave us a chance to socialise with many folk we had met before.


  • Introit:- ‘Except the Lord build the House’….(JHM)
  • First Hymn:- ‘Saintly Aidan’
  • Psalm:- 89, Chant E.J.Hopkins
  • Magnificat:- Chant J.Turle
  • Nunc Dimittis:- Chant H Baker
  • Second Hymn:- Dear Lord and Father…to tune Repton
  • Anthem:- ‘O, Lord, my heart is not proud’ …Music by Margaret Rizza
  • Hymn:- Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour!
  • Vesper:- ‘May the road rise to meet you’…music by J.Jerome Williams


Gabriel Faure

The RSNO organised a Workshop on the above, in Sherbrook-St Gilbert’s Church in Glasgow on Sunday. It was intended to encourage more people to join the Chorus, as, like many institutions, they can always take on more members.

This was the first time I had taken part as a singer, as previouslyI had conducted it! I would reckon that there were over 100 ladies, with about 30 men….so we were well out-numbered!

We practised from 2pm to 5pm, during which we had periods of vocal training which I found very useful. It was during this time I found out the nitty-gritty problems of  trying to pitch some of the notes. It is a complex piece as far as a singer is concerned. I would actually say that there was an element of in-built orchestral writing and harmony. This may have been influenced by the fact that both his parents died about the time of writing, and his mind was in a turmoil.

The performance at 6pm had an audience of about 30 brave souls. There were moments when I felt I had lost it, but just kept an ear open for clues. So whatever the difficulty it still has a certain solemnity/reverence/tunefulness which no doubt accounts for the popularity of this wonderful piece.

Ballachulish Colourful Choristers

We were very lucky to have Frank Conn with us when we went to join with some local choristers at St John’ for Evensong…as he is a very good photographer! The following two were taken on a miserable wet day, but still have a sparkle about them….. or maybe it is the rainbow colours of choir robes!!



On the Communion Table behind the choir were the Communion vessels allegedly used before the battle of Culloden.

A number of real compliments!


Following the Ballachulish Evensong, we were so pleased to have the following letters directly on our other blogsite ( ) or forwarded to us from Julie, the organiser:-

Thank you for organising such a great treat for us all with Choral Evensong – a long time since I enjoyed a service so much as did everyone else – and seeing so many people C of S & RC there too shows ecumenism is working – so roll on your next one in July.
Everyone played their part well, readers, choir was superb, & Donald.  Glad to hear St John’s restoration was benefiting so well …..
kind regards Cathie Mac Coll (who is in her 80s & from Glencoe)

You and the Vestry deserve great plaudits for organising such an excellent and spiritula Evensong. Nice to see Cxxxxxxx Macxxx at the back and to enjoy the superb tea afterwards where everyone mingled !   A long time since I enjoyed such a fine evensong

love …….John


Evensong at Ballachulish was something to be remembered for a long time. Thanks to all who arranged this beautiful service and Haste Ye Back….from Alisdair Campbell

I am sorry that I couldn’t be there on the day, but some of the folk from my congregations went and found it different to anything they had been to before and enjoyable! I thought I should pass that on to you as it’s always good to get positive feedback and some people are usually quicker to criticise than praise.

Alison Burnside (Rev Mrs)
St Munda’s l/w Duror Parish Churches

Let me know about any other special events and I will intimate them.



Makes it worthwhile doesn’t it!

A great sound in Argyll!

On Sunday we joined St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ballachulish, in Argyll, and all the Episcopal Churches in the West Highland Mission,to hold the service of Sung Evensong. You can’t miss the Church, in its glorious setting halfway between Glencoe and the Ballachulish Bridge.It has an ancient history and we were proud to be asked along. The graveyard is of great historical interest, and they have the Communion Cup and Plate reputedly used by the Jacobites just before Culloden. The building is in much need of restoration, but the beauty conceived by the architect still evident. You can find general information about them on the Diocesan website .

They would welcome any contributions to their fabric fund, so if you would like to make a donation, you can contact them via  the Diocesan website as their current Restoration Appeal website is not operating just now.

Music Details:-

We were pleased to be supplemented by local choir members, and a total of 18 singers filled the choir stalls. This allowed us to have a rousing service of well-known hymns, the traditional sung responses, collects, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, and Psalm 119 (only a small part!). In addition we had an Introit and Anthem.

Introit:- ‘Collect 21′


  • Angel Voices, ever singing 
  • Saviour Again to Thy Dear Name we Raise
  • The Day Thou Gavest

Psalm: 119 vv 33-40 Double Chant ‘St John’s’

Anthem:- ‘I saw a new heaven’….a first performance. Some of the words of the Revelation of St John were the inspiration of this piece, and if you want some more information on it, you will find it under ‘To compose or not to compose’.

It was wonderful to see a goodly number in the pews who had come from as far as Fort William and Oban. It was evident that many knew the Office and the hymns off by heart and they had little need of the Order of Service.

We would like to thank all those involved in the arrangements, especially the Friends of St John’s, the Rev Donald Davidson, of Kinlochleven, who led the service, Elsa the Organist who had a lot of new, and difficult, music to practise and play on what proved a slightly-temperamental organ. Last but not least, the choristers who helped us raise the roof in this lovely old building!