Singers from Basel and Zurich joined the choir of St Ursula's, Berne for an afternoon of Anglican chant followed by a service of Choral Evensong in the first in a planned series of such gatherings so that the various choirs can keep in touch between the annual Swiss Archdeaconry Choir Festival.
As the service was held on 17 March it was in honour of St Patrick and all the hymns had an Irish connection. The service was led by the Ven. Peter M Potter, the Archdeacon of Switzerland and chaplain of St Ursula's. In his sermon he revealed that he was actually born in Downpatrick, where the saint is supposedly buried. He assured the congregation that St Patrick had indeed driven the snakes out of Ireland. Patrick's preaching of the gospel had put old
superstitions and cruelties to flight. What is more, Christianity was brought to Switzerland by monks from Ireland. The city of St Gallen is named after one of them and there are said to be more ancient Irish manuscripts in its Abbey Library than in Dublin.
Meanwhile, David Blunden, the organist and choir leader of St Nicholas Basel, has recently been invited to Rome to play the organ at the church of San Gregorio Magno on the occasion of the Vespers attended by Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury during the Archbishop's recent visit.
A member of the choir at St Nicholas commented, "This was an extraordinary privilege for him, and he deserves our congratulations". David will also be the organist for the Archdeaconry Choir Festival on 28 and 29 April.
Information provided by Ven Peter Potter.