The Liturgical Commission:

The Second Manchester Group Meeting

The Manchester group met at the Cathedral on Monday 26th July: Andrew Shanks, Ewan Fernie, Michael Symmons Roberts, Albert Radcliffe (founder of the Manchester Cathedral International Religious Poetry Prize), Rachel Mann (‘Cathedral Poet’), Michael Powell (librarian of Chethams Library), Pam Elliott (Cathedral Education Officer) and Jan Dean (childrens’ poet).

Funding has now been raised for the making of two Catalan-style processional ‘giants’, St. George and the Dragon. These will be made by artists working with clients from the Booth Centre for the Homeless, based at the Cathedral; the project has been supported by two grants, from Awards for All and from the Church Urban Fund. The ‘giants’ will represent the George and Dragon figures in Mark Cazalet’s modern reredos for the Cathedral’s Fraser Chapel: George as a young Afro-Caribbean man in an England football shirt, cutting the shackles of a chained up dragon, representing in this instance a passion for urban renewal, shackled by apathy and despair. The ‘giants’ will have their first outing at the FQ event scheduled for the evening of Sunday May 8th next year: processing from St. Ann’s in the city centre to the Cathedral on their way to the service.

Andrew, Ewan and Michael reported on the progress made in devising that event: its sacramental core, the making of a red cross flag, as suggested at the previous meeting of this group; its poetic structure, as we seek as it were to infuse that symbol with fresh significance; the jazz musical accompaniment; Andrew Motion’s offer to contribute. We discussed how to promote it. In particular, what should it be called? A work of ‘liturgy’? Or ‘worship’? How signal the underlying engagement with Spenser’s work, given that we want it to be an event completely open to participation from people who may never have so much as heard of him? Eventually, we came up with the title:

‘Redcrosse’:
A Celebration of St. George

We also discussed the possibility of publishing a book, containing the text of the event, plus other related material that might be used in future such celebrations.

Another spin off from this project is its impact on the Cathedral’s work with schools: the particular concern of Pam Elliot and Jan Dean. The Cathedral runs a Poetry Competition for Schools. Next year the theme of this competition will be ‘heroes’; with a particular slant towards the imagery associated with St. George. And we may well organise other events, for school groups, around this theme.

Andrew Shanks.

Back to Manchester Group Personnel page.

Back to The Faerie Queene Liturgy Project page.