A special service of Thanksgiving and Dedication will be held in St Columb’s Cathedral on Sunday at 7.30 pm - and will include the dedication of a new CD featuring the hymns of Cecil Francis Alexander.
Following on from the major celebrations on June 9 to mark the complete restoration of the historic building, the service on Sunday evening will focus on the life of the Cathedral in terms of its music and choral tradition.
In the course of the liturgy the Dean of Derry, Dr William Morton, will dedicate the new CD, which has been recorded by the Cathedral Choir and the Cathedral Chamber Choir.
‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’ is the title of this latest contribution from the Cathedral Choir, in addition to their singing of the weekly services of Choral Matins, Choral Eucharist and Choral Evensong together with their busy schedule of concerts, tours and television and radio broadcasts.
The musical consultant/editor of the CD is Dr Martin Neary, former Organist and Master of the Choristers in Westminster Abbey, who hopes to be present on Sunday evening and who will conduct, for the benefit of the congregation, beginning at 6.45 pm, a rehearsal of the hymns featured in the service.
The Dean will also dedicate two new sets of robes for the Cathedral Choir in the course of the service - in Derry crimson and in violet - as well as awarding the Philip Mehaffey Memorial Organ Scholarships, which will be presented by the former Bishop of Derry & Raphoe, Dr James Mehaffey and his wife, Thelma, in memory of their son.
Dr Morton will also launch The Cecil Frances Alexander Music Trust with Dr Neary as its Patron. This, together with all the other components in the service, coincides with the centenary of the death of Bishop William Alexander, husband of the hymn writer, on Monday 12 September.
Dean Morton commented; “The Choir of Saint Columb’s Cathedral has been at the heart of the worshipping life of the city’s most historic building since the early nineteenth century. In recent years, the city has emerged from the violence and unrest of the past towards a more positive and prosperous future. Economic regeneration has transformed the city into a major tourist destination. It is also increasingly recognised as a major centre for the arts, reflected in it becoming the first UK City of Culture in 2013.”
The cathedral is a central part of the Derry’s artistic and spiritual life. During the past decade, the Dean and Chapter have rebuilt the cathedral’s Wells-Kennedy organ at a cost of over £500,000 and overseen a major restoration of the entire building, costing almost £4m.
Internationally-recognised musicians have taken part in the cathedral’s renowned Recital Series, including David Briggs and Naji Hakim. Artists-in-Residence have included some of church music’s most acclaimed choral directors, including Dr Barry Rose and Dr Martin Neary.
Dean Morton added; “Like many of the UK’s ancient cathedrals, St Columb’s has no endowment to support its music; the cost of running the choir has to be found from income. Furthermore, restoration of the cathedral organ was completed, apart from a few substantial donations from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, The Honourable The Irish Society and Derry City Council, largely by money which was raised over a period of 12 years through generous donations by members of the Cathedral community, supported by the vision shown by the Chapter and the Select Vestry.”
The cathedral continues to invest heavily in its music. Most recently, money has been raised to purchase a new Yamaha Grand Piano for the Alexander Music Room, and the two new sets of robes.
Dean Morton commented; “The Cecil Frances Alexander Music Trust carries a single, important aim: to maintain and develop the flourishing musical traditions by supporting the boys and men of the cathedral choir through scholarships and other financial initiatives.”
Dean Morton has extended “a warm invitation” to all who would like to come along to the service. “Everyone is most welcome,” he said.
Parish Reader commissioned, 9/11 remembered
During the service of Choral Matins on Sunday at 11.00 am in St Columb’s Cathedral, David Bell will be commissioned as a Parish Reader by the Dean of Derry, Dr Morton, to serve in the Cathedral.
The preacher will be the Reverend Canon John Merrick.
There will also be an Act of Remembrance in the service to mark the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in America on 11 September 2001.
A special Auction will be held in The White Horse Hotel at 7.30 pm on Thursday 15 September with all proceeds raised for St Columb’s Cathedral. The Dean would greatly welcome all donations of items for auction which may be left in the Cathedral.
Any large item, like a piece of furniture, can instead be photographed and the picture displayed at the auction.
The Dean extends a warm invitation to all who would like to come along.