Musicians' Church Website Launch
Reflection in S Stephen Walbrook at the launch of the Musicians' Church Website
S Cecilia was a martyr who had nothing specific to do with music. The story has it that she was a young girl who was to be married to a rich Roman who required her to adopt paganism. She refused, asserting her faith and that she was betrothed to Christ, and was sentenced to death. They put her in the hypocaust to suffocate her. It did not work, so her throat was cut. Following Jesus Christ was and for so many is a matter of sacrifice, and the fine music of a S Cecilia Mass does not mask the fact that the feast celebrates the martyrdom of a young woman.
The antiphon for the opening of her mass used to run: As the organ played for her wedding, music sounded for her in heaven. Later the main school for church musicians in Rome was next to her church and she was their natural patron.
From the act of witness of a young girl so much great good has come since she has inspired so many great works of religious music.
It is so good that musicians give so much to the churches, and that the musicians’church website will enable the link between worship and music to be deepened and extended.
Thanks are due to Stephen Baxter who has facilitated the centering of the website at S Stephen Walbrook. To Richard Robbins and Andrew Earis for their work on it, and if I may say so, also to those in the office of the Archdeaconry of London who have done so much to cast and realise the vision.
|S Stephen Walbrook|
We are also immensely grateful to to the Friends of City Churches for their financial support, and of course to John Rutter for his commitment to the planning group and to this evening's concert. Along with him we are delighted that Julian Lloyd Webber, Judith Weir and Bishop Pete Broadbent are Patrons of the Musicians' Church website.
Last month I was in one of our poorer parishes in my former archdeaconry. They had an organist for that Sunday, and afterwards there was a discussion in the sacristy. Should they book the organist – at £60 – for the harvest festival or for the mass for the centenary of the armistice. They could not afford both.
I hope that the website will allow music to flow to many churches; not just the wonderful spaces from which we are privileged to launch our mission here in the City and Westminster, but beyond to places where at the moment there is less. That church has a fine organ and a good railway link – and a fantastic greasy spoon café on the corner. It could be on this website, and from that great good could flow.
From the ancient centre of the musicians’ chapel at Holy Sepulchre (which remains a centre of much work, and the home of the Memorial Book), to the expansion we celebrate today, there is the opportunity of an even greater expansion to encompass those places which are hard to reach, but from which the sounds of praise arise to the glory of God. Musicians’ churches everywhere.
Thank you for all that you are doing; thank you for this great evening; and thank you for all that you will do in service of the One whose Word was the first sound in creation, and whose breath is the source of all music.