Music at the Cathedral: January 2018

By Dr Christopher McElroy

After the excitement of Christmas, January can feel a bit flat. However, the liturgical season of Christmas continues up to the Solemnity of the Epiphany (and in fact technically all the way to the Presentation of the Lord on 2 February). To mark the 2018 Epiphany, for the second year running we held a special Epiphany Carol Service in the Cathedral on Sunday 7 January. The service opened at the crib, before proceeding with a mixture of carols, readings and motets, all of which reflected on the later parts of the Christmas story and the early parts of Jesus's ministry.

Every two years the Cathedral also hosts an Epiphany Service for schools across the Archdiocese. At this year's edition, which took place on Friday 12 January, we were joined by a delegation from our twin city of Cologne in Germany. Our visitors played a prominent part in the service, and before they left they inscribed onto the wall of the Cathedral the initials: CMB 2018. CMB stands for 'Christus mansionem benedicat' which translates as 'Christ bless this house'. But, of course, CMB also represents the names of the Three Kings, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. Since before the Middle Ages, Catholics would bless their homes by writing in blessed chalk the initials of the three kings above their doorways, a tradition which is still alive in Germany and was brought to Liverpool by our Cologne friends.

Liverpool is a unique city in many respects, but none more so than the close relationship between its two Cathedrals. To mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the choir and congregation of both Cathedrals gathered at Liverpool Cathedral for Choral Evensong on Sunday 21 January. The joint choirs sang music by Tallis, Howells and Vaughan-Williams, surely three of the greatest ever English composers.