Festival of Sacred Music 2014-2015


12 September 2014 to 26 April 2015

Leaflet_cover(1).jpgThis festival looked at a part of church life that extends well beyond the church walls.  We find it on television and radio, in schools, in the Usher Hall and at pop concerts. Sacred Music - you can play it, you can sing it, you can listen to it, you can dance to it, you can be uplifted by it, you can be transported by it, you can be comforted by it. It appeals to Christians, to people of other faiths and none, to people of all ages; it is recognised for what it is.  People have favourite pieces and hymns, from memories of school assemblies, weddings, music that stirs the soul, or the words have special meaning. But what do we know about the origins of Sacred Music?   Why has it developed as it has?  What is its history?  What was/is it for? The Festival of Sacred Music shed some light on these questions.

It ran at Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church, Edinburgh, from 12 September 2014 to 26 April 2015, a period that included many of the great Christian celebrations which have inspired some of the finest music written. The Brochure showed that it covered a spectrum of musical tastes and offered something for all ages.   As well as concerts there were lectures illustrated with music to deepen knowledge and understanding, and workshops which enabled participation in the music from different traditions. For example, there were workshops on the Scottish Psalms and Spirituals. There were visits by Jonathan Wainwright: distinguished musicologist and professor at the University of York, John Butt: renowned professor of music from Glasgow, and artistic director of the Dunedin Consort, and Dr Jamie Reid-Baxter, an acknowledged authority on Scottish cultural history, with music performed by Sang Scule. We were very pleased too that we had input from our own choir, the choral group and other singers and musicians.  Music from George Watsons Caritas Strings, at the opening concert, for example. Also in our regular worship here at Mayfield Salisbury a wide breadth of sacred music featured special pieces as the programme moved through the church calendar.


The Brochure containing the full programme can be downloaded here.


Details of events can be read about in the news section, under the headings -
Festival Opening
A Special October
Our Festival Continues
Three more Events
Festival Final Events

More photographs of the events can be found in the Gallery

Some Closing Words


At its best, music used in the service of worship lifts us above rational thought, above doctrine and tradition, into the peace, calm and silence of the Sacred. For many, music bears the sould to a greater height, leaving behind the shortcomings of reason in order that we may encounter the Holy, the numinous, in the intimacy of our inner self. Presence, joy and sublime happiness defy analysis: music is a doorway into inexpressible unspeakable mystery.

The Festival has greatly enriched the life of our congregation. Many people beyond our membership have been drawn to the programme of events and public worship on Sunday morning. The Festival will leave a legacy which will inform our thinking and shape our public worship for years to come.

Scott S McKenna

Contact Information

Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church,
18 West Mayfield,

0131 667 1522 / 0780 801 1234

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Scottish Charity Number: SC000785


  • Because God is both knowable and unknowable the tension of the symbol, the multilayers of the myth and the openness of the poetic are all vital to our desire to celebrate the Mystery to whom we relate and in whom we have our being.
    Mark Oakley

  • You must love him as he is: neither God, nor spirit, nor image; even more, the One without commingling, pure, luminous ...

    Meister Eckhart

  • The purpose of our life is God's glory. However lowly a life is, that is what makes it great.
    Oscar Romero

  • Faith may justify bigotry or fanaticism, as Church history tragically witnesses. It needs a safeguard. If it is not animated as it were by the greatest of the theological virtues (love), faith can become defective.
    Thomas Norris

  • Dry not, dry not, your tears of love eternal! Only to eyes that fail to weep does this world seem so dull and dead. Dry not, dry not, those long, sad tears of love.
    Johann von Goette

  • The post modern paradigm manifests itself as a unity which preserves diversity and diversity which strives after unity.
    David Bosch

  • There is only one assertion that requires no evidence. Children are a sacred trust...Unless we care properly for our children, we shall never build a better world.
    'A Good Childhood’ The Children’s Society

  • These are only hints and guesses, hints followed by guesses; and the rest is prayer.
    'The Dry Salvages' T.S.Eliot

  • According to strict truth, God is incomprehensible, and incapable of being measured.

  • Myth is a story about the way things never were, but always are.
    Thomas Mann

  • In the darkness ...The child of your love - and now become as the most hated one - the one You have thrown away as unwanted - unloved ..... The darkness is so dark .... I have no faith.
    Mother Teresa

  • I love the Bible. I owe my faith and my life to the Bible and its liberating message. It is in the Bible that I first met Jesus ... I too am included in God's embrace.
    Gene Robinson

  • It is this great absence that is like a presence, that compels me to address it without hope of a reply ....
    R.S. Thomas

  • Faith is not a proud self-consistent philosophy. It involves maintaining oneself between contradictions that can't be solved by analysis. It is therefore a living response to the grace of God as revealed in fragile lives.
    Mark Oakley

  • Any religion which does not say that God is hidden is not true.
    Blaise Pascal

  • The contemporary Church is losing aspects of its wide and generous memory and therefore condemning itself to become a 'swimming pool Church' - one that has all the noise coming from the shallow end.
    Mark Oakley

  • For all your doctrinal headaches take Paradox.
    Mark Oakley

  • The true vision and the true knowledge of what we seek consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness that our goal transcends all knowledge and is everywhere cut off from us by the darkness of incomprehensibility.
    St Gregory of Nyssa

  • Death, death be hanged, the Lord has promised me that I shall live. This I believe!
    Martin Luther

  • We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life have not been put to rest.

  • Religion is the flight of the alone to the Alone.

  • Stupid clergymen appeal quite directly to a Bible passage directly understood ....
    Soren Kirkegaard

  • What is the point of the arts of reading and criticism as long as the ecclesiastical interpretation of the Bible, Protestant as well as Catholic, is cultivated as ever?
    Friedrich Nietzsche

  • A figure like Ecclesiast, rugged and luminous, chants in the dark a text that is the answer, although obscure.
    Wallace Stevens

  • Myth is the poetry of the soul.
    Sara Maitland

  • Our loss of the ability to think mythically, poetically, allegorically, creatively, theologically, and artfully is a greater threat to our religious experience than anything good scientists have to report ...
    Sara Maitland

  • In general, Zen attitude is that words and truth are incompatible, or at least that no words can capture truth.
    Douglas Hofstadter

  • 'God' is a one word poem
    Rowan Williams

  • What is today? Today is eternity.
    Meister Eckhart

  • Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things.
    Meister Eckhart

  • The most powerful hunger we have, mostly suppressed and misdirected, is the hunger for God.
    Miroslav Volf

  • We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be, for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost.
    Thomas a Kempis

  • Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.
    Rabindranath Tagore

  • God is the beyond in our midst.
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • 'God is not the answer, God is the question.'
    Herbert McCabe