Leading the people of God in praise and worship

By Dr Christopher McElroy

During the last month here at the Cathedral we have presented medals to our new chorister leaders. All teams need leaders and cathedral choirs are no exception.
The Gospel on the Sunday the medals were presented was the story of the calling of Jesus’ first disciples. These disciples, who eventually numbered 12, followed Jesus throughout his earthly ministry. In time, they became leaders, inviting others to share in Jesus’ mission. Jesus trained the disciples as leaders not by sending them to a special school or on a special course, but by asking them to model his own behaviour.
On Holy Thursday each year, at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, our Cathedral community have their feet symbolically washed by the Archbishop. We do this to recall Jesus’ actions when he washed the feet of his disciples. Jesus did this to illustrate that leadership is primarily about service. As Matthew’s Gospel tells us, Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve others.
Our new chorister leaders have been called to lead their fellow choristers in singing the praise and worship of God. As Jesus illustrated, this call to leadership is one of service: to their fellow chorister, to the choir, to the Cathedral, and to Jesus himself. Jesus led his disciples by modelling the behaviour and ideals he wanted them to show others. So it is then that our new chorister leaders are called to lead others to God through the gift of music. As Saint Augustine once said: ‘To sing is to pray twice.’ Music raises minds to heaven and allows us to sing the praise of God.

The boy and girl sections of the cathedral choir each consist of four teams. The boys’ teams are named after people who played an important role in the building of the Metropolitan Cathedral; the girls’ teams are named after four influential female liturgical musicians.

Downey (Archbishop Richard Downey who commissioned the Lutyens Crypt)
Gibberd (Sir Frederick Gibberd, architect of the Cathedral)
Heenan (Cardinal John Carmel Heenan, former Archbishop of Liverpool who commissioned the competition to design the Cathedral)
Lutyens (Sir Edwin Lutyens, designer of the Cathedral Crypt)

Hildegard (Doctor of the Church, mystic, composer and theologian)
Miriam (Song leader in the Old Testament)
Cecilia (Patron saint of music)
Mary (Mother of the Lord Jesus, and singer of the Magnificat)

Please pray for our new chorister leaders that they might worthily echo Mary’s words: ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour’, and that they might carry out diligently their role of leading the people of God in praise and worship.