City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Science Festival Service at St Giles’ Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 11 April 2010

St. Giles Cathedral on Edinburgh's Royal Mile
Show Details
Edinburgh International Science Festival Service 2010
The Very Reverend Gilleasbuig Macmillan (minister), Michael Harris (Organist and Master of the Music)
William Russell; Felix Mendelssohn; Noel de Jongh; Leighton; Stanford; Louis Vierne.
Running time: 

The sun was shining through the stained glass windows. The long and impressive procession of the representatives of the Science Festival and the privileged bodies of Edinburgh, in order of precedence, with their mace and sword bearers worked their way to their allotted pews. The High Constables took control of those without a ceremonial gold bearer.

Meanwhile Michael Harris on the Austrian Rieger Orgelbau organ, installed in 1992, had played William Russell’s Largo and Andantino and a Felix Mendelssohn sonata. Once the Minister was in his place the choir sung Noel de Jongh’s introit O come, let us sing unto the Lord. We all rose to sing the hymn Rejoice, the Lord is King and the choir of 22 moved to their stalls.

Kenneth Leighton’s Preces were sung by the choir before the Minister bid us welcome and prayed. There’s a lovely sound system in St Giles’, positioned at a man’s height, which makes you feel the Minister is speaking to you personally and not booming out to everybody. We responded by saying the printed Collect.

Clearly heard readings and the choir singing one of my favourite psalms, one of shortest and the last, number 150, preceded us all singing an unfamiliar hymn. After a dodgy start by all around me, it became clear that this was a Science Festival hymn and each verse dealt with matters scientific - constellations, atom’s hidden forces, cell tissue, creatures and nature. Understanding made singing a whole lot easier.

Joyce Macmillan, the arts journalist, was the guest preacher and her address was full of praise for Edinburgh’s festivals and the arts - so long as they remained funded by the great and good. Thank goodness, she said, that at least some things that are at best experimental get a hearing. But it was Gilleasbuig Macmillan's prayers that sharpened the mind on the need for science.

Soaking in the Address was aided by the choir singing Stanford’s Ye choirs of new Jerusalem. Out have gone debts and debtors and in have come trespasses in the Lord’s Prayer, and on to the final hymn, Blest be the everlasting God to the tune Bishopthorpe.

Michael Harris was back in his loft having come down at one stage to conduct the choir. His voluntary as the procession departed, again in due order, was Louis Vierne’s Final (Symphonie 1).

Event: Sunday 11 April 2010  11.30am