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Singing a solo at the Papal mass
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Matthew Sandy sings Psalm 112 at the Papal mass in Birmingham

A choral scholar from King's College in Cambridge has spoken about the honour of leading a psalm at the Papal mass in Birmingham.

Matthew Sandy was invited to sing in front of the Pope and 50,000 people.

He described standing on the stage close to the Pope as both terrifying and awe-inspiring.

"There was a sort of terror moment when I looked up and 50,000 people were staring at me, and the Pope was right behind me. But it was incredible."

Matthew is from the Archdiocese of Birmingham. "I'm originally from Coventry, and the organisers of the mass knew of me because I'd done some singing for them before I came to university," he explained.

"They had heard that I was a choral scholar at King's College and they asked me to come back and sing."

'Great honour'

Matthew took centre stage at the service to beatify the 19th Century churchman Cardinal John Henry Newman, in Birmingham's Cofton Park.

After an Old Testament reading from the prophet Amos, Matthew led the singing of Psalm 112, Praise the Lord.

crowd
Matthew Sandy sang in front of the Pope and 50,000 people

"There was almost a calm about it once the music started," said Matthew.

"And then going into the singing and listening to 50,000 people singing back at you - it was absolutely fantastic. It was a great honour."

He agreed that it was a once in a lifetime experience and said it was only comparable to singing to 120 million people on Christmas Eve at King's College Chapel.

Choral scholar

As a choral scholar, Matthew works six days a week.

"On Mondays we have our one day off for the week.

"From Tuesdays to Saturdays we have evensong in the chapel, so that always starts with an hour of rehearsals in the afternoon.

"On Sundays we start with a rehearsal at 9.30am for a sung Eucharist and there's another service in the afternoon.

"So that's seven services in six days," he continued. "Some people might say that's quite a lot and of course you have to be careful how you use your voice - making sure you're not over-singing or under-singing.

"You also have to be careful about what you do the night before. So it's a case of not going out and getting too drunk as that could really ruin your voice."

Matthew is in his third and final year at King's College. He is currently applying to a number of music colleges where he hopes to study opera.




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