Thursday 25th September, 2014
September has been a key month in the life of our nation. The Cathedral’s contribution was a live broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on the Sunday before the Referendum, as we offered words and music, prayer and praise to the God and Father of us all. My opening words were:
“Good morning from Edinburgh as we look forward to a momentous week in Scotland’s story. I’m often asked which is my favourite part of the cathedral. I love the stillness of the Lady Chapel, the grandeur of our 3 spires dominating Edinburgh’s sky line, the magnificence of the marble High Altar.
I do have a favourite. It’s the north door. Standing there, I can see if not the kingdom of heaven, on a clear day I can see the kingdom of Fife. And if I look to my right there stands an Iona cross, carved by the Cathedral’s stone masons. It’s not that old, it’s a copy of the one that stands near the Abbey on that most holy of Scotland’s isles, but its symbolism is the same. I often stop and reflect on the Iona cross and how the twists and turns of the Celtic knot bring us back full circle, to the God and Father of us all, who ever enfolds and encircles us, and how the arms of the cross stretch beyond the confines of our round world. St Columba caught something of that vision as he paddled his coracle across the seas to Iona. More than 1400 years ago he stepped out into the unknown, knowing only that the Lord journeyed with him. Each day we step out into the seas of life, they might be calm, they might be stormy, but the risen Jesus journeys with you, us, challenging us to reach out in love to all around us. That was his vision.”
One of our key themes was the wonderful heritage we share.
“The Cathedral is honoured once more to have as our preacher this morning the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, John Chalmers, a good friend. John used to be the minister of Palmerston Place church, literally just across the street from us, and 2 of his children were choristers here. Cathedral and kirk are naturally proud of their respective traditions, but despite differences we share so much in common, best symbolised every Easter day at dawn for more than 25 years when our 2 congregations gather to celebrate the resurrection. We start just outside my favourite north door with the lighting of the Easter fire, then process into the cathedral, candles are lit, baptismal vows renewed, and then the minister of the kirk, John for so many years and now Colin, celebrates the Eucharist for us all at our altar. This sharing of the bread and wine of the upper room, the Lord’s Supper, obeying Jesus’ command to do this in remembrance of him, always speaks to me of the great heritage we share.”
We may have broadcast to the UK on the Sunday before the Referendum. “We” (or more accurately a colour photograph of the Walpole Hall as a polling station) also made it to the front page of the International New York Times.
The votes have been counted, and the electorate has spoken. Now is “a time for healing…”
September also saw the funeral of Lady Wilson. After the death of her husband she moved to Edinburgh in 1998 when she was 80 years old and made her unique contribution to the life of the Cathedral. This North Staffordshire girl, a great lover of reading and music, married a Royal Artillery officer, worked at Bletchley Park, gave birth to two children and shed light and joy to all around when they lived near Sevenoaks. The Wilsons retired to Hampshire, and Penny threw herself into the life of Winchester Cathedral and into the life of Winchester Prison and helping to care for its inmates and their families. Penny was simply loving and lovely, warm and welcoming. From her wider Cathedral family to her very own and special family spanning the generations we extend our sympathy, as we thank God for the life of a faithful soul and a good friend.
September marks the start of the Choir’s new year. We welcome Choral Scholars Camilla Aylwin, Matthew Oddy, Katie Rutherford and Ollie Norman; Choristers Katie Binnie, Ben Bradshaw, Nora Drew, Charlotte de Lacy and Carlo Massimo; and Organ Scholar Jonathan Yip.