Friday 23rd August, 2013

*  This year’s Edinburgh Festival has come and gone.  Our exhibitions, tours and concerts attracted large numbers; our on-going cycle of prayer and praise proclaimed the centrality of the Crucified in all that we do.  Kenneth Leighton, in the 25th year since his death, was honoured in our BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong live broadcast and in a special Cathedral Choir concert.  We re-enacted the arrival of King George IV to Edinburgh with trumpets from St Mary’s Music School and speeches from The Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh (complete with a 19th century guard of honour) and the Lord Lyon (see photographs on page 5). We were honoured one Festival Sunday with the presence of the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland who preached the word and administered Communion.  To our stewards and guides; musicians and artists;  vergers and office staff; and all others who gave so selflessly of their time and talents – my sincere thanks.

*  Whilst economists wonder about the green shoots of the UK’s economic recovery, the shoots of the bright green grass on the west side of Old Coates House are there for all to see.  Work is progressing well with the new paths laid, including a stone ramp for disabled access, and new flower beds in front of Old Coates House all taking shape.  In the coming months the raised flower beds in front of Old Coates House will be planted out with herbs which would have been grown around such a 17th century building.  Work on the medical centre on the Manor Place side is progressing well and on schedule for an Easter 2014 completion date.  If you look very carefully, you can see the beginnings of work on the south side of the Walpole Hall too.

*   The Cathedral is always most grateful to those who generously remember the life and work of the Cathedral in their wills. It was typical of my predecessor, Philip Crosfield, that he did precisely that.  With Sue’s agreement his legacy has been allocated to the St Mary’s Cathedral Choral Scholarship Fund, which Philip himself established to help with funding the education of our choristers at St Mary’s Music School.

*  The last Sunday of  the Festival marks the end of the Choir’s year when we pause to say farewell to our S2 choristers, to thank them for all that they have given to us and to the Cathedral’s music and to wish them every happiness and success for the future: Anna Cooper, Neil Jeacock, Emily Jaron and Hugh Mackay have served the Choir with singular distinction and 100% commitment.  These choristers’ parents also deserve our thanks as over the years they must have felt at times they were running a taxi service!  Chorister recruitment is buoyant, and the next generation of Cathedral Choristers starts on 2nd September

*  We also honour Choir Warden Andrew Stones who now “hangs up his cassock.”  I think September 2013 will be the first month since I came to the Cathedral in 1990 when a Stones (either Adrian or Andy) will not be singing Alto in the Cathedral Choir.  Andy’s long service, loyalty and dedication have been exemplary, both as a singer and as Choir Warden.   The Cathedral has been richly blessed.

*  September also sees the ordination of Cathedral Chaplain Willie Shaw to the priesthood on Sunday 15 September at 3.30pm.  Do support Willie with your presence and your prayers in this most important day marking the start of his priestly ministry.

On a personal note Jane and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in August. Deo gratias.