Music fit for a Jubilee

By Dr Christopher McElroy

You may have seen in the press these last few weeks growing coverage about the Cathedral's Golden Jubilee year. Articles in the Liverpool Echo as well as broadcasts on local radio and television have done an excellent job of raising awareness about the year and the special events that will take place to celebrate it.
 
The highlight of the year will be Pentecost weekend, 3–4 June. The evening of Saturday 3 June, the Cathedral Choir will lead the singing of First Vespers of Pentecost prior to the Grand Jubilee Dinner which will be held in the Cathedral's majestic crypt, hosted by Archbishop McMahon.
 
The following morning at the Solemn Mass at 11am, we will welcome Cardinal Vincent Nichols to preach, along with other bishops and priests who have served the Cathedral over the past 50 years. The music for the Jubilee Mass will be led by the Cathedral Choir and Organ augmented by brass.
 
Two special pieces will be sung at the Mass, both commissioned to celebrate the Jubilee Year. The congregation, choir and cantor will join together in singing movements from Philip Duffy's specially composed 'Jubilee Mass'. Philip Duffy was of course the first master of the music here at the Cathedral (1966–96), and the person responsible for the fine musical tradition that exists today. In addition to establishing a fine choral tradition, Philip worked very hard to improve congregational singing, writing many Masses, psalms and other items. Since the implementation of the new translation of the Mass a few years back, many of his Mass settings have become unusable, so it is a particular joy to have received this new freshly composed Jubilee Mass which will not only enhance our large-scale celebrations during this Jubilee year, but will, I hope, be used for many years to come.
 
In addition to Philip's Jubilee Mass, the choir will also be singing a setting of the great hymn of praise 'Te deum laudamus' (We praise you O God) commissioned by Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Choir Association to mark the Cathedral's Jubilee and composed by Colin Mawby.  Mawby's connection with the Cathedral began in 1967 when Archbishop Beck commissioned him to write a new Mass, in English, entitled 'Mass in Honour of Christ the King'. This was first performed in May 1967 as part of the opening celebrations of the Cathedral, being one of the first fully sung Masses to exist in English (as prior to the Second Vatican Council all Masses were in Latin.)
 
The afternoon of Pentecost will see the two Cathedral choirs from both ends of Hope Street come together for a special ecumenical service of thanksgiving for the role that our Cathedrals play. The following weekend, on Saturday 10 June, the Cathedral's Jubilee Celebration Concert will feature the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Metropolitan Cathedral Choir and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir.  The concert will be conducted by Sir James MacMillan, one of the foremost composers alive today, and a Catholic. This concert will include a celebratory 'Gloria' written by MacMillan himself alongside Francis Poulenc's setting of the same text. Tickets are available directly from the Philharmonic.