Second Sunday of Advent
John the Baptist appears as the herald in today’s Gospel calling us to prepare a way for the Lord, to make a straight highway for our God. Creating a straight highway in our spiritual lives is an impossible achievement but we all could clear away a few of the weeds which will be enough to make a path for the Lord to come, he will do the rest – but it still desires effort and an open heart for this to happen.
In place of Choral Evening Prayer this Sunday afternoon the choir will be singing one of J S Bach’s Cantatas ‘Wachet Auf no 140’ (sleepers awake) written for this period of the Advent season.
St Nicholas Day, 6th December, is on Tuesday. Our Crypt Chapel and our primary School both share the patronage of this Eastern Bishop Saint who is closely associated with Advent and Christmas because of his acts of kindness and generosity to those in need. There will be an extra mass at 9am for the schoolchildren and staff of our school. The priest who concelebrated at the Solemn Mass last Sunday, Fr Albert, who is a regular visitor to our Cathedral from Holland spoke to me after mass regarding the popular traditions that they have on St Nicholas day. He also handed me a few gifts of chocolate, including a chocolate Saint Nicholas. It is a strong tradition for them to give gifts on this day and especially chocolate – so there’s a great excuse for us all to have a treat on Tuesday. We also celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary on Thursday.
The schools Advent Service takes place on Wednesday this week at 1.30pm with a cast ranging from a tiny baby, Theo, right across the age range to adult actors for Mary and Joseph, Herod and the mysterious Eastern Kings. The Cathedral staff, clergy and choirs are all jointly involved in these services trying to bring to life once again the Christmas story for young children from our diocesan schools – secretly we enjoy doing it more than the children! This last year there have been two of our music staff going into schools as part of the Schools Singing Programme. The fruits of all of this are now beginning to show and we are likely to have a choir of over 200 children singing on Tuesday. Over the years we have had a donkey and a number of dogs dressed as sheep in the production to accompany the shepherds which the children love to see. This year we have had a number of applicants for the role and three dogs were called in to the audition to test their behaviour and calmness around children. One couldn’t cope with working with others and another overplayed the role and became over excited- further training was needed for both. So Kissee, the old stager shepherd dog, who already has her equity card, is making a welcome comeback.
Next Saturday at 7pm we have our own Cathedral Christmas Concert ‘A Celebration of Christmas’ involving all our Cathedral choirs, the Knowsley Children’s choir and the Rock Choir. It will be a magical night of carols and seasonal favourites and Christmas fun with all playing their part. Tickets are £8 each or £15 for a family. We now have the newly rebuilt Cathedral Organ in full working order which will add an extra sparkle to the celebrations. Come along and join in the fun and support the Cathedral!
Bishop Tom Neylon will be with us next weekend, the Third Sunday of Advent, and he will preside at the Solemn Mass. Later that afternoon at 3pm the Boys choir will sing Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ following Evening Prayer.
Canon Anthony O’Brien