On Sunday afternoon, 22nd October, people gathered from parishes, schools and chaplaincies from all around the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross to take part in a special Diocesan Service to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation in Germany. The Service was televised in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork by Kairos Communications and recorded for broadcast later on RTE One television.
A special liturgy, devised by the Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne working with the Director of Music, Peter Stobart, was approved by the Bishop. With the Word of God, in a number of different languages, at the heart of the liturgy in readings and music, the key themes were commemoration, reformation, renewal, Christian unity and reconciliation. Among those present were four friars from the Dominican Community, Pope’s Quay, Cork. The Lord Mayor of Cork (who was abroad) was represented by Cllr John Sheehan, Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork.
The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton presided at the Service which was led by the Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne. For months, the choir of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, under the direction of Peter Stobart, with Phoebe Tak Man Chow (recently appointed whole time Assistant Director of Music at the Cathedral) playing the organ, together with soloists and an orchestra, many of whom began their musical careers at St Fin Barre’s, had been working hard on the carefully chosen pieces of music.
The Service opened with the Luther hymn, ‘A mighty fortress is our God’, and the other music included Gloria in Exclesis (Missa Brevis in D major, Mozart), Psalm 84, and familiar hymns: ‘In Christ here is no east or west’, ‘And can it be”, and ‘Thy hand, O God, has guided thy flock, from age to age.’
A centrepiece of the Service was the Cantata Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild, BWV79 (J.S. Bach); ‘God the Lord is sun and shield’. The cantata includes the familiar chorale Nun danket “Now thank we all our God’ and another key text in the recitative:
Praise God, we know the right way to salvation; for, Jesus, you have shown it to us through your word…
The Serviceincluded brief reflections about teh Reformation in their respective ecclesiastical traditions by the Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton (Church of Ireland), Pastor Stephan Arras (Lutheran Church in Ireland), and Mrs Gillian Kingston (Methodist Church in Ireland).
The readers were Janet Dillon from Douglas Union of Parishes with Frankfield, and Archdeacon Adrian Wilkinson. The intercessions were read by Linda Deane from Mallow Union of Parishes, and were interspersed with readings about or within the Reformation traditions as they unfolded over the years: from Martin Luther (read by Pastor Stephan Arras of the Lutheran Church in Ireland), from the preface to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer (read by the Reverend Sarah Marry, St Anne’s Church, Shandon), words of Pope Francis about the Reformation (read by Father Christopher Fitzgerald representing Bishop John Buckley and the Diocese of Cork and Ross), and John Wesley’s own words (read by the Reverend Geraldine Gracie of the Methodist Church in Ireland).
The Service concluded with an Act of Commitment led by Bishop Colton, the blessing and dismissal:
We go into the world to walk in God’s light to rejoice in God’s love and to reflect God’s glory.
followed by Prelude in E flat Major BWV552, J.S. Bach.
The Service was to be broadcast on Sunday morning 29th October but, as it happened, it was broadcast that Sunday afternoon, again on 31st October (when Martin Luther is commemorated), and on Sunday, 5th November. The Service may still be seen on RTE Player HERE until 20th November.