City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Kirking of Edinburgh's Council


By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 10 May 2010

The Lord Provost and Councillors, attended by the High Constables, processed quietly into  St Giles’ and, as is the custom nowadays, the congregation remained seated. The Council had come, in time honoured fashion, from the City Chambers across the High Street to ask for the Church’s blessing on their work over the forthcoming year.

From the Latin, rogare - to ask, comes Rogation Sunday which falls on the Sunday before Ascension Day. As the Minister, Gilleasbuig Macmillan, told us there are places where traditionally they walk round the perimeter of their parish. Prayers used to be said at particular points. Gospel Oak and Amen Corner, in London, have this origin. Indeed Queen Elizabeth I in England, he told us, restored the custom temporarily forbidden by Mary because in the days before accurate mapping it served a useful purpose.

The Minister could have made more of it, by describing it as a cost cutting exercise by the Council, because the electricity was off. But he’s a kindly man.  In fact, only the south west corner of St Giles’ was affected. The stalls for the choir of 28 under Michael Harris, the Master of Music, were well lit but the organ was out. So convincing was the piano in its place that many a visitor may not have realised.

The choir’s Introit was Tallis’s If ye love me keep my commandments. The congregation stood to sing Immortal Invisible, God only wise. The choir and clergy processed to their places. The Minister prayed and we recited the day’s Collect O Lord, from whom all good things do come.

Between the Bible readings the choir sang Psalm 67, God be merciful unto us and bless us. The second reader was the Lord Provost, a retired Church of Scotland minister. We all sang the hymn Lord of beauty, thine the splendour and then sat to hear the Minister’s lively and timely sermon.

Thomas Weelkes who died in 1623 had written the Anthem, Alleluia, I heard a voice. After prayers we sang the final hymn, Praise the Lord! Ye heavens, adore him. We were on our feet as the civic procession made its way out.

Event: Sunday 9 May 2010 at 11.30 am