Today marks six years, six whole years, since I’ve been the Provost and Rector of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow.
It has been quite a journey, for all of us, hasn’t it?
I remember that day primarily for the service that took place which was one of the most exciting liturgical services I’ve ever been a part of. It wasn’t just me who thought that either – there was quite a lot of chatter about it for long time afterwards. It particularly centred on me singing the gospel (What?! a Provost who sings?!) and, it being the Feast of the Visitation, spinning round half way through it to allow the choir to sing the Magnificat, which features strongly in the gospel of the day. I remember what felt like a surge of adrenalin (or perhaps the Holy Spirit) rushing through the congregation as they sang.
Stanford in G never moved me more.
I also remember the choir singing the relentlessly beautiful Totus Tuus by Gorecki. I’m listening to it again as I type this.
Totus Tuus sum, Maria,
Mater nostri Redemptoris,
Virgo Dei, Virgo pia,
Mater mundi Salvatoris.
Totus Tuus sum, Maria!
I am yours completely, Mary,
Mother of our Redeemer,
Virgin of God, holy Virgin,
Mother of the Savior of the world.
I am yours completely, Mary.
The waves of holy minimalism were both beautiful and overwhelming and began, just began, to heal the wrench caused by moving away from Bridge of Allan where I had been happy and the people were both kind and good to me.
That was the night in which I started to get a glimpse of what worship might be like here. Eclectic, passionate and, notwithstanding the outstanding quality of the music,Â possessing a paramount interest in the words themselves.
Since the first time I let people know that I was coming to St Mary’s I’ve faced a curious question – “…but what will you do next?”
I don’t really know why people ask me this – they still do, quite a lot. Perhaps it was because I got the job here just a little sooner than some people thought decent – I was still, just, in my thirties. Mind you, new Provosts in their thirties have not been entirely unknown here.
I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing at the moment, thank you very much. St Mary’s has plenty of challenges and plenty of rewards too. Whenever I travel, I become more aware of our wonders. Worship that is compelling, surprising, emotional and engaging. People who are care about justice, beauty and the world around them. A congregation that is bewilderingly diverse, funny and yes, still growing. And that is to say nothing of the city, which still I love.
It is good to be here.
The last six years have been wonderful.