More than 50 parish musicians gathered at St Chad’s Cathedral for a training day, The God Who Speaks Through Song.

Timed to coincide with the Church’s brand new feast day – Sunday of the Word of God, instituted by Pope Francis to be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in Ordinary Time — the day formed part of the Archdiocese’s programme of events celebrating, studying and spreading the Word of God for the Year of the Word 2020: The God Who Speaks.

Saturday (25 January) began with sung Morning Prayer, followed by an engaging and inspiring talk given by David McLoughlin, former Senior Lecturer and now Visiting Honorary Fellow in Theology at Newman University, Birmingham.

Designated ‘Scripture Champion’ for the Archdiocese to lead communication and promotion of the Year’s activities, David set out the aims and plans for the Year of the Word, and called for a quiet revolution in our relationship with sacred scripture.

The musical focus of the day was the psalms, the Church’s (sometimes hidden) treasury of sacred songs.

Alan Smith is a vastly experienced parish musician, and a long-time leader of archdiocesan musical activities. His workshop on singing the Responsorial Psalm offered basic tools – in the form, not least, of a repertoire of Common Psalms, for singing throughout a liturgical season — to parishes still unfamiliar with singing the Responsorial Psalm at Sunday Mass; and, for parishes more experienced and adept at this vital musical element of the liturgy, a host of new ideas to take away and explore.

New to the Archdiocese after 23 years directing the music at Salford Cathedral, Martin Barry led a workshop entitled Psalms instead of Hymns, exploring the traditional places for the singing of psalms and antiphons in the Mass and calling for the joyful rediscovery of the words of scripture as the words we sing in the liturgy.

Part of the afternoon was dedicated to rehearsing the music for a festive sung Mass, with which the day concluded, celebrated by Bishop David McGough. The Cathedral resounded with familiar and new music, all with a close connection to the scriptural themes of the day.

Added to all that, a delicious (and free!) lunch was laid on by Mary Rouse and her superb team of helpers.

All in all, the day was a happy and fruitful gathering of musicians from far and wide, who went away expressing the hope that they’ll be back again soon for more.

Photo Gallery by Con McHugh

The God who Speaks through Song