February update

Wednesday 31st January, 2018

From the Provost

Dear friends,

As regular members of the congregation on Sunday mornings at the Cathedral will be aware, there have been a few changes in our liturgy over recent months. I wanted to use this opportunity to talk about a few of those, and also indicate some further changes that are planned in the months ahead in the production of this magazine, and the ways in which the Cathedral communicates with you all.

The most obvious change for the main 10.30am Sunday morning service is that we have moved to producing a booklet each week containing the entire liturgy, with the exception of hymns from New English Hymnal. The reason for this change is an appreciation of both the number of visitors and new congregants that are present each week, and the desire to help them participate and understand the service as much as possible. We were aware that having a service booklet, a weekly bulletin with order of service, and a hymn book, meant that people were juggling a number of items, and that to navigate your way through an unfamiliar service was quite a challenge. With increasing numbers of people new to our liturgy, and with a desire to help them engage with the service, it was felt that a single booklet made things much more straightforward to follow. We are aware, of course, that this does demand us to use more paper, but we remain committed to recycling as much as possible, and sourcing recycled paper if available. We would appreciate your feedback on the layout and readability of the liturgy booklet.

In terms of the content of that liturgy, there have been a few changes there also. This is something that is easier to do when we are producing a booklet each week. So, for example, we have used the different Eucharistic Prayers authorised for Advent, Christmas and then Epiphany, before returning to the perhaps more familiar words in the last couple of weeks. These different Eucharistic prayers have been used by the rest of the Episcopal Church for a number of years and attempt to give depth to the aspects of faith that the different seasons focus upon. The booklet also allows us to print the words of hymns not found in the New English Hymnal, which means we are able to broaden the range of hymnody we use and offer hymns written more recently. By and large we continue to use familiar tunes, but the advantage of having our wonderful choir is that it is possible to use their help in learning a new tune occasionally. We have also said the Creed in more recent weeks rather than sung it to Merbecke as had been the custom. I have no doubt that we shall return to singing it (perhaps to mark the seasons of Lent and Advent), but again it was felt that for those unfamiliar with the Merbecke setting, it was hard to pick up and sing from scratch.

These changes are undertaken to enhance the depth and appreciation of our liturgy: the way in which that liturgy gives structure and shape to worship, and how the poetry of words and music gradually reveals its depths through use. We are always happy to hear from you about what you feel works, and draws you deeper into prayer and worship, and what is less helpful. Please do let us know.

We have also been thinking about the role of this magazine. There is clearly a need for a publication that communicates something of the work of the Cathedral, provides a point of contact, and offers some reflective pieces on our life together. As a method of communicating what’s on, however, it is more limited in becoming quickly out-of-date. That task is now better performed by the weekly notices in the service sheet, and by the website and Facebook page which we do try and keep up-to-date. The magazine is also a considerable administrative burden to produce. For these reasons, therefore, we are proposing that Magnificat becomes a quarterly publication. In order to ensure that you receive notices of what is happening in and around the Cathedral, however, we would be grateful if you could ensure that the office has details of your email address (if appropriate) using the form opposite. The intention is that the weekly notices will then be emailed out, usually every Friday. The notices will of course be available as hard copy via the weekly service sheet.

A couple of other items of news: a travelling exhibition, organised by Edinburgh Interfaith Association, entitled Our Story, will be on display in the Cathedral from March 18th – 26th. This exhibition features testimony and objects that illustrate the history of the diverse religious communities of Edinburgh. It is a condensed version of the exhibition currently on display in the Museum of Edinburgh. We are delighted to be hosting it.

I’m also delighted to announce that from September 2018, another curate will be joining us. Andy Phillip, currently a member of St Peter’s, Linlinthgow, will be ordained deacon on September 30th and then join the Cathedral clergy team.

Full details of our Lent, Holy Week and Easter services are in this magazine. May your journey of faith through these coming months be blessed.