Hymn 1 - Regina Coeli
Composed for Feast of Candlemass 1982
Blackburn Cathedral

For most of the 1980s I had responsibility for the band of fifteen or so altar servers at Blackburn Cathedral. The Cathedral is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and keeps its Patronal Festival on 2nd February, The Feast of the Purification, otherwise known as Candlemass. In 1982 this feast fell on a Sunday. I approached the Provost, the Very Rev'd Lawrence Jackson, and suggested to him that we could, maybe, have a heightened liturgy at our 10:30 Holy Eucharist service on that special day. He replied that I should list my suggestions and let him consider the matter. Thinking that he would probably not accept all of my ideas I added every liturgical enhancement that I could think of, all of them in the best tradition of the Anglo Catholic wing of the Church of England. To my astonishment he accepted everything, on the condition that I fully documented my proposals for use by the clergy, servers and the choir, and that I arranged and conducted suitable rehearsals for them all.

To enhance the occasion still further I wrote a hymn in dedication to the Blessed Virgin. With my limited (very limited!) musical skills I pecked out a tune on our ancient piano which I hoped might be suitable. I approached the Organist and Master of the Choristers John (now Dr John) Bertalot, explained to him what I had done and he kindly offered to make any necessary changes to it and to harmonise it for congregational use.

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