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Celebrating St Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music

The choirs of St Paul’s, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral joined together to celebrate St Cecilia, patron saint of music, on 21st November at St Paul’s.

Organised by Help Musicians UK, a charity that supports professional musicians, the Festival of St Cecilia featured a performance from internationally renowned classical guitarist, Miloš Karadaglić and the premiere of a specially created anthem by Thea Musgrave CBE with words from An Ode on St Cecilia’s Day by Alexander Pope. 

The address was given by the Reverend Richard Coles, Vicar of St Mary the Virgin, Finedon, and known to many as a former member of British pop group, The Communards. In his address, he recognised St Cecilia’s influence, “her inspiration has been steady, and many composers have hymned her praise, from Purcell to Britten to Handel to Charpentier to Musgrave to the New York post-hardcore band, Polar Bear Club.” 

Revd Coles added that St Cecilia’s patronage of music extends far beyond the Anglican choral tradition: “Cecilia is too the martyr, the one who paid in blood the price of love. And patron too, I would argue, of a quite different kind of music, the music of militant love. Think of Motown, the sound of the Civil Rights movement in Detroit…sung by those living under the lash, who sought through song to anticipate in a fallen world the righteousness of heaven.”

In closing, Revd Coles asked of St Cecilia, “pray for us, for musicians and composers and songwriters and singers, for the cloistered and the mobilised; give to the voiceless a voice, tune our songs to heaven, and grant us your gifts of roses and fire.”

His full address is available to read here