News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool



Cath Pic Jubilee Issue-1 Cover May

Canon Anthony O’Brien – Cathedral Dean


One of the sayings attributed to the late Duke of Edinburgh related to the opening of a building following the completion of a new build extension.  In his speech he referred to the blitz of London and stated that after the bombing raids when some of the shops had had their windows blown out they put up signs saying that they were ‘more open than normal’.  Then he pronounced that ‘Just like them, I declare this place more open than normal.’  


Thankfully our experiences haven’t been as devastating as the blitz but during the next two months we will all be slowly opening our churches and the Cathedral more than has been the norm over the last twelve months.  That will bring with it fresh challenges and opportunities -not everything will or can be exactly the same as it was before the pandemic.


In May we celebrate the calendar anniversary of the opening of the Cathedral on 13th and the actual Feast on which it took place on Pentecost on 23rd May.  Archbishop Malcolm will preside at the Solemn Mass on Pentecost Sunday, recalling not only the opening of the Cathedral but also the visit of St John Paul II in 1982.  


Sadly, we will not be able to have a public celebration of the Two Cathedrals Pentecost Service in the afternoon – once again it will have to be an online service only for this year.  This will coincide with an exhibition of doves that will be opening in Liverpool Cathedral that weekend.


A new repertoire for Holy Week

by Dr Christopher McElroy Director of Music, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral


Holy Week was rather different at the Cathedral this year. Government restrictions only permitted 3 singers in the choir and no congregational singing.  Most choral music written over the last four hundred years has been for 4 (or more) voices, traditionally laid out as Soprano (the highest voice, usually sung by boy/ girl trebles in our Cathedral) Alto (a lower female voice, or male falsetto) Tenor (higher man’s voice) Bass (lowest man’s voice.)  Thus, the available repertoire for 3 voices was rather limited.  As a result, hours of looking for new repertoire for Holy Week for 3 voices was invested upon, with some intriguing possibilities uncovered.


However, on the Friday before Palm Sunday, the Government announced that the 3 voice restriction for a choir no longer applied, and that a slightly larger group in accordance with the space available was now permitted.  Needless to say, a bit more notice would have helped and saved hours of searching for new 3 voice repertoire.  In the event, given that all of our service sheets were prepared and liturgies planned, the chosen music was retained, but we increased the 3 singers to 6 for some services.


One of the most moving traditions of Holy Week in our Cathedral is the singing of the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.  We are very fortunate to have a set of all four passions written for our Cathedral by Philip Duffy, Master of the Music in the Cathedral from 1966-1996.  These are set for three soloists who take the parts of the narrator, Christ and the other voices, with the choir taking the part of the crowd.  For this year Philip kindly revised his settings so that they could be sung by just the three soloists allowing us to continue this tradition.


Another major difference this year with Holy Week, and indeed with Cathedral liturgies generally, has been the growing importance of live-streaming choral services via YouTube and Facebook.  The numbers of ‘views’ of choral services during Holy Week from our Cathedral runs into the thousands and allows us to share our ministry far and wide, particularly to those who are not able to regularly come into the Cathedral.  If you have not yet done so, why not join our congregation ‘virtually’ one Sunday for Solemn Mass at 11.00 am or Choral Evening Prayer at 7.00 pm on YouTube or Facebook.

Cathedral Record

An opportunity to learn more about the liturgical cycle

005 Dean Tony O'Brien 3 Cathedral