Clapping Hands

Earlier this year, there was a rather special service at St Mary’s, at which a number of journalists were present. After the end of the celebration,  I went over to talk to the journalists to give them some quotes for their pieces for the next day. The first thing that I was asked was, “Well Reverend, do you often have people clapping in church at the end of the service?”

I took a deep breath, thought about the quotes that I was hoping they would print and said, “Well, yes we do actually, now let me tell you why I invited Bishop Gene to come to Glasgow….”

It was the prolonged applause which quite a few of the papers focussed on in their reporting including that of  the Herald. (It can also be heard as part of this video of proceedings).

I’ve been talking to some of the musicians in St Mary’s about applause after services. When I came here, applause rang out occasionally in recognition of some particularly bravura organ voluntary or some special event like when +Gene joined us. However, recently, the applause thing seems to have developed a life of its own. Indeed, it seems that the sound of clapping can be heard in our land whether it is appropriate or not.

Thus,  in consultation with the Director of Music, I’ve decided to put the following notice in the service sheets on Sunday. After all, riotous applause is not the only way of showing our gratitude at what is often a carefully chosen, thoughtfully played and prayerful punctuation mark to end our liturgy and send us out into the world.

The Provost and musicians are grateful for the appreciation of the music in St Mary’s and are aware of the affection which is felt towards the musicians. As a measure of this affection, they would prefer the congregation to applaud after services only when people feel they cannot help themselves!