Sunday, September 30, 2007


Choir stalls
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
34 years ago today I was confirmed in the Cathedral of The Isles, Cumbrae, on my birthday. Today I celebrated my birthday and that anniversary in the same choir stalls where I sang Byrd's Mass for 3 voices at my confirmation. We sang Byrd's Mass for 4 voices at the morning Eucharist, and performed a historical sweep through the music of Scotland at our concert in the afternoon.

But, much though I enjoy the concerts we give ("we" being the St Maura Singers) it is in the liturgical singing of the Mass that I find the greatest reward - not just today, but always. This is especially true with a group such as ours, who know each other so well that barely any direction is needed and who can change tempo in response to an almost imperceptible eyebrow twitch. Add to that a mass setting which I first sang in 1968 and I find myself able to pray the liturgy as I sing it, with all the heightened experience that attends reality rather than performance.

I noticed something else which was adding to my experience today. I realised somewhere about the Sanctus that on this occasion I was freed by the singleness of purpose which being a chorister brings with it to enjoy and participate without distraction. I wasn't having to preach or to pray or to read - I had only to sing to the very best of my ability so that our music could be God's highway, free from obstruction. The music demands concentration and skill - but I was in my element. No worrying about comfort zones here, and no care about congregational politics. Just the freedom to worship and to create beauty.

Quite a birthday, then. I had a birthday cake specially baked for me - the first in years - and candles. And I remembered how, at my confirmation, when +Richard came all the way to Cumbrae just to confirm me, there were 28 candles in the church. At the time I thought it was just one of these Piskie miracles. Maybe I was right.


  1. Happy belated Birthday! You know, I knew it was your birthday in Sept, but I couldn't remember which date. Hope you had a good day