Modern way of sharing Christian message from a Scottish landmark
Dr. Andrew G. Ralston, an Elder at Glasgow Cathedral in Scotland, describes a recent venture which uses the latest technology to promote the good news of Jesus Christ — to the world.
Australia’s connections with Scottish Presbyterian churches goes right back to when it was first colonised by Britain. Many of Australia’s earliest Congregations were founded by settlers from Scotland in the early decades of the nineteenth century.
Today Glasgow Cathedral, one of the Church of Scotland’s most historic churches, regularly welcomes Australian visitors. One of the most distinguished is Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, who participated in a moving service held last summer to mark the centenary of the start of World War One.
That centenary service was broadcast across the world and was the most recent of many significant national events which have given the Cathedral a high profile. In a way, though, attracting widespread attention is nothing new for the Cathedral.
Within 50 years of the building being dedicated in 1136, Bishop Jocelin was “gloriously enlarging” the structure to accommodate the growing numbers of pilgrims coming to the shrine of St. Kentigern. Also known as St. Mungo, Kentigern is the patron saint of Glasgow. He is believed to have founded a church on the site of Glasgow Cathedral and been buried there around 612.
More than an historic monument, though, the Cathedral is home to a thriving Congregation which has not forgotten St. Mungo’s injunction to “let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word”.
Appropriate for the medieval setting of the Cathedral, one way of living out St Mungo’s call is through the high standard of the musical component of its services.
The choir now consists of fourteen choral scholars and choristers. Leading them is young and enthusiastic Director of Music, Andrew Forbes, who endeavours “to make this the pre-eminent church choir in the country.”
The Cathedral has a vision of sharing its musical excellence with as many people as possible.
During the past two years, it has developed a novel method of doing so, by offering live streaming of a weekly service of Choral Evensong at www.glasgowcathedral.org.uk
This traditional service of music, prayer and Scripture readings remains online for seven days. Statistics suggest viewing of the service is evenly split between those who follow it live on a Sunday and those who watch the recording during the following week.
The technical side of the venture is in the hands of Canadian-born Glen Collie and his wife Jane. Glen started his working life with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and sees the broadcasting of Choral Evensong as a means of carrying out the enduring Great Commission. As Jesus said: “Go … and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
Indeed, these evensong broadcasts are reaching all nations, with regular followers not only in Australia but from as far afield as India, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. The service is even watched by a considerable number in China.
“In its second year of operation, the broadcast has reached 17,000 hits,” says Glen. “Anecdotally we know many people watch with others, and so the 17,000 hits could represent as many as 25,000 people effectively attending the Cathedral’s Evensong.”
Viewers can also access a series of short “Thoughts for the Day”, delivered by Rev. Dr. Laurence Whitley.
Australian holidaymakers visiting Scotland this summer are assured a warm welcome at Glasgow Cathedral. And if you’re not able to be there in person, the members and office-bearers invite you to join them in worship at this ancient place — by means of the latest technology.
Follow the broadcasts of Choral Evensong at: www.glasgowcathedral.org.uk
Dr Andrew G. Ralston