And another Deacon…And another Christian

Off to the Memorial Chapel of the University of Glasgow yesterday afternoon for the ordination of a third new deacon for the diocese – this time someone from St Mary’s congregation, now the Rev Kevin Francis.

The chapel was packed and there was an interesting mix of people from church and folk from the University. Kevin looked as though he had been born to wear the dog collar and looked radiant at the heart of the University Anglican community, which has blossomed over the last few years under his care.

One of the lovely things in this service was a new setting of George Herbert’s text “Come My Way” which was sung by the University Chapel Choir.

I get to meet various members of Chapel Choir from time to time when I’m doing the odd wedding up at the University and when they appear either en masse or individually down at St Mary’s for something or other.

There was a big something or other last night that drew some of them to evensong – we were baptising Samuel Patrick Grossmith, whose dad had been the organist at the deaconing earlier in the day. It did feel like a rather long day by the time I got to my bed last night. I’d been to church for many hours.

I found myself thinking yesterday afternoon that there might be something we can learn from the world of the theatre. I suspect that yesterday afternoon’s service might have benefitted from an intermission. A ten minute comfort break between the first hour and the second might well have helped. Perhaps I should suggest to the Provincial Liturgy Committee that we try to move the Peace in this direction. Had the Peace been introduced all those years ago with the option of ice-creams and gins and tonic, it might well have been less controversial.

Anyway, it was lovely to celebrate with Kevin yesterday afternoon and lovely to welcome Samuel Patrick as he was baptised by his grandfather at last night’s evensong. Kevin will be a blessing to the University and to St Brides’s, Hyndland. And Samuel Patrick? Well, who knows who he will be a blessing to, and that is the potential which give the thrill to any baptism.

A splendid day all round.

Messiaen's Birthday

Off to the chapel of Glasgow University last night for a concert to celebrate what would have been Messiaen’s 100 birthday.

The first half was organ only. Firstly the eternal church shimmered into view and the disappeared again in Apparition de l’Eglise Eternelle.

Then it was off to Bethelehem for the Christmas cycle La Nativité du Seigneur. The University had helpfully provided the gaudiest tree in all of Christendom the better to concentrate our minds on the glorious colours in Messiaen’s music.

I’ve only known La Nativité in bits, I think. I’ve never heard it before from beginning to end. It is a wonderful piece. My favourite is Les Mages ie the Magi who come hirpling into view from the East. I once heard this described as music to ride camels by. The whole of their journey is worth it for the glimpse of glory that they get in the last chord of that movement.

John Butt played all of this splendidly – no mean feat, there are a lot of notes and not all of them in places where you expect them.

After a brief wine and crisps interval, it was back for more. The Quartet for the End of Time was performed by Siân Holding (violin), Alex South (clarinet), Sarah Harrington (‘cello) and Oliver Rundell (piano and gloves). It was a very beautiful second half. The mesmerising shapes and shades of the apocalypse unfolded before our eyes.

Monsieur Messiaen describes it best himself: “I pass beyond reality and submit in ecstasy to a dizziness, a gyratory interlocking of superhuman sounds and colours. These swords of fire, these flows of blue-orange lava, these sudden stars; this is the tumult of rainbows!”

This was a concert which took one to a solitary place. It was strange at times to look up and realise that one was sharing it with others. I’d have preferred to hear this music in a warmer, darker place lit by a hundred candles.

Happy Birthday Mr Messiaen.

Happy Birthday to you.