This Sunday we welcome the choir, Schola Cantorum, from Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School who will sing at the Solemn Mass and also at Evening Prayer. The choir have sung regularly at Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and other Chapels and Cathedrals as well as involvement in concerts and recordings. Our own choirs are busy this weekend and over the next few evenings recording a special CD to mark the 50th Anniversary of our Cathedral. The album will be a collection of music associated with the various events and history of the Cathedral. I’m not sure that it will top the charts but it is hoped it will be a popular memento to buy in commemoration of the Jubilee year.
From the end of this week we will be descending into a season of darkness within the Cathedral for the next few months as safety netting is installed across the area below the lantern in readiness for some initial drilling and erection of an internal access cradle for future monitoring and repair works. This is all to be completed by Holy Week and Easter. I’m not sure how noisy the work will be during the weeks – if it is too intrusive we may have to schedule the drilling elements to be carried out overnight but we will not be able to gauge this until the contract is underway. It is also hoped that work will soon start to repair the flight of steps from Brownlow Hill up to the Cathedral Precinct and replacement of a waterproof membrane in a number of external areas around the Cathedral. So it looks like I will be donning my hard hat and getting some more exercise, and occasionally having to climb up the roof of the building for the next few months.
At present there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes in preparation for the Jubilee events later in the year. When I looked over the list this week it struck me that if everything does actually take place there will be a great diversity and range of activities and it may take a miracle that everything comes together. As well as celebratory liturgies and concerts, there is everything from an exhibition on the other shortlisted designs for the Cathedral from 1960 ultimately won by the Sir Frederick Gibberd’s entry, listening posts of personal memories, special commissions of music and poetry, complex designs for flowers for the Festival, banners and artwork, children’s events and much more. So many people are involved in all these different aspects of the planning and co- ordinating and we owe them all a debt of gratitude for volunteering and taking on the various responsibilities and tasks associated with these events. We look forward to an exciting year ahead.
Next Saturday is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, a day of prayer for the sick and for those who provide nursing and pastoral care for them. Next Sunday Archbishop Malcolm will preside at the Solemn Mass in celebration of Marriage and Family Life.
N.B. We have our own Cathedral special preview evening for the annual CAMRA Beer Festival on Tuesday 14th February. The alternative way to spend a Valentines evening! Tickets available from Cathedral House.