08/05/2016 Songs of Praise


08/05/2016

Sally Magnusson is in Belfast to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising, two events which shaped the history of Ireland.


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Transcript


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2016 marks the centenary of World War I's Battle of the Somme

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and Dublin's Easter Rising,

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two events that shaped and divided the Irish nation.

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On Songs Of Praise this week, I've come to Belfast to learn

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more about the continuing significance of these two events.

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If Irish Republicans claim the Easter Rising

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as their heroic kind of moment in history,

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Ulster Unionists claim the Somme as their moment of heroism.

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And I'll be finding out how this humble caravan is helping

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the younger generation to mark the anniversary as part

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of a project called 100 Days Of Prayer.

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-How are you getting on there, Laura?

-Getting there, getting there, yeah.

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I'll be finding out how some of these schoolchildren

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have ended up joining a top cathedral choir.

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And I'm at Leeds Rhinos rugby league club with news

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of an exciting opportunity for fans of the game to

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sing in front of 80,000 people at the Challenge Cup final in Wembley.

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Oi, I think you'll find that's our trophy!

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All right, lads, I was just borrowing it.

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Hey, what are you doing? Hey! Put me down!

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Most of our hymns are from around Northern Ireland this week,

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as well as a performance

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from Northern Irish worship leader Nathan Jess.

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And our first hymn comes from a congregation

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gathered in the Waterfront Hall, here in Belfast.

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It's an important anniversary year, here in Northern Ireland.

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Back in 1916, two events rocked the island of Ireland,

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the impact of which is still being felt here 100 years on.

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The Easter Rising is seen by Irish nationalists

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as the cornerstone of the struggle for independence from British rule,

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whilst the huge sacrifice made by the Ulster volunteers

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at the Battle of the Somme helped pave the way

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for the formation of Northern Ireland.

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What's striking here in Belfast is you don't need to search

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the history books to find out what happened -

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it's all around you.

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The Easter Rising really changed the course of Irish history.

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Most Irish nationalists supported moderate home rule,

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so this was a small unelected group who were planning

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a revolt against English rule.

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Their slogan was - "England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity."

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So, they planned to have a rebellion in the middle of the Great War.

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They held Dublin for a week.

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Key positions like the Post Office, like St Stephen's Green,

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and it was at the GPO that Patrick Pearse,

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the commander-in-chief of the rebel forces

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read a proclamation to Irish men and Irish women

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proclaiming a sovereign independent republic.

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And no accident that the Easter Rising was Easter.

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There was this quasi religious significance,

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the idea of a resurrection,

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the rebirth of a new, independent Ireland,

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no longer threatened with the idea of becoming a kind of West Britain.

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The siege lasted six days before it was quashed by the British Army,

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who court-martialed the revolutionaries

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and sentenced them to death.

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The executions were the real game-changer in this whole thing.

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The executions, you know, barely recorded in the press.

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J Connolly was the last of the rebel leaders to be executed.

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It was the nature of his execution which ultimately leaked out.

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He had been wounded in the ankle and now he was strapped to

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a chair in front of a firing squad of young soldiers

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and, you know, they faltered.

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And he actually said, "I admire all brave men who do their duty."

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And that is really emblazoned on the folk memory of nationalist Ireland, right down to today.

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From the nationalist Catholic area around Ardoyne,

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we made our way to an area associated with the loyalist

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Protestant community on the Shankill Road

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and a memorial to the Battle of the Somme.

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The Great War had a massive impact on Ireland, Sally.

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There was something like 200,000 Irish men from this island,

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of both traditions, fought in the Great War.

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And of course, when it comes to the Battle of the Somme,

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it impacted almost exclusively on the Ulster Protestants

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who enlisted in 1914.

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On the first day, you had 5,000 casualties, on 1st July 1916.

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As they went over the top,

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into the sort of waiting German machine guns,

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and it was through, they believe, this blood sacrifice,

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that the Ulster Unionists

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earned their right to opt out of an Irish state after the Great War.

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And it is seen very much as their birth certificate,

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a very bloody one, of the state of Northern Ireland today.

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Where is God thought to have been in all this?

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Protestant clergyman, Roman Catholic priests,

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all talked about, you know, this being a God justified war.

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And the Deity was called to bless the arms of men in both these key events.

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I have here my grandfather's death penny.

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This was issued to all families in the United Kingdom

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who had lost a loved one in the Great War

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and, of course, the UK included Ireland at that time.

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What did people feel about having these?

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I think there were different resonances in different communities.

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In nationalist Ireland,

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often the death penny would be relegated to a bottom drawer

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because in the view of the nationalist consensus after 1916,

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the men who had fought on the Western front

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had fought in the wrong war.

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In the unionist North, of course, the blood sacrifice at the Somme

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was really important, was really iconic,

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was something to be proud of.

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So, very different reactions.

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But, today, we are discovering our common history, even though

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in Ireland we don't always have a common memory.

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This time last year, winners of our FA Cup Fans Choir competition were

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gearing up to perform at the final

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of one of football's biggest matches.

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This year, we are giving the opportunity to rugby league fans.

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Here's Aled to tell us more.

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The Challenge Cup is rugby league's most historic

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and prestigious competition,

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and the only knockout tournament of its kind

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to include teams from all levels of the sport.

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Each final since 1929 has been preceded by Abide With Me.

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# The darkness deepens... #

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This year, once again,

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fans will gather in Wembley to watch the final two teams

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battle it out for this, the Challenge Cup,

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and you could be on the pitch before kick-off,

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helping to lead over 80,000 voices in song.

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We're looking for 32 super supporters to form our choir.

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It's a fantastic opportunity to raise the curtain

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at an historic sporting event and raise the roof while you're at it.

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Oi, bring back our trophy!

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CHEERING

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Someone who knows what it feels like to hear that hymn

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resound around Wembley is Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

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As a stalwart of the Leeds Rhinos team for over 15 seasons,

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he has played in five Challenge Cup finals

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and last year, though injured,

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watched his team complete an historic treble of trophies.

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I've been fortunate,

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I have played a couple of times there for England now,

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and I've played in the Challenge Cup final probably four or five times,

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and the novelty has never worn off. The experience. I walk out there,

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it's a bit like the Colosseum, I guess.

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And it is always red hot.

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You feel like you're walking into an oven, a big cauldron.

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You see these big flame throwers going boom, boom,

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80,000 people all going mad.

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I'm not sure if you're on the pitch when Abide With Me is sung,

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but I think you're probably almost on the pitch, so you can hear it

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through the walls. What impact does that have on you?

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It's massive.

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# Shine through the... #

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The words in there, it was written by a guy who was looking

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towards God in his final days, in his final weeks.

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You know, I understand what he's putting out there.

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And in a very similar way to me, hoping God's behind me when the ball

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gets kicked off in a big game, Wembley, we all need Him there.

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Jesus is at the centre of our lives through thick and thin.

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And the song in itself is a narrative

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and I think it gets to the core of who and what we are as human beings.

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It's a tough ask for the choir, isn't it?

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I think it is, but what I feel is that the only way to

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grow in life is to get out of your comfort zone.

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We are very privileged because you have agreed to be a judge to help us find this choir.

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What are you going to be looking for?

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I'll do my best but I want to look for some passion, some enthusiasm.

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There's a lot of unsung heroes in rugby league,

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right from the grassroots to the professional clubs,

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people who are there, week in, week out, cleaning those changing rooms,

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doing all those tough jobs.

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It's a great opportunity for people who love rugby league to go

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sing at Wembley in the most prestigious trophy in rugby league,

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at the biggest occasion.

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Anybody out there who wants to enjoy theirself, go and do it.

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You don't have to be an expert or a professional,

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just got and enjoy singing.

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So, you can nominate yourself but you can also nominate other people?

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I can imagine there are a lot of people out there who can

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think straight off the top of their head,

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"Oh, that's so and so, that's him, that's her, who should go and sing."

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I've nominated you because I've heard you got the voice of an angel.

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HE LAUGHS

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-No, definitely not.

-THEY BOTH LAUGH

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If you're a rugby league super fan who goes above

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and beyond for the team you love, or you would like to nominate

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someone who you think fits the bill, we would love to hear from you.

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The competition is open now. It'll remain open until June 12.

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Anybody can enter - male or female.

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You've got to be at least 12 years of age and be a UK resident.

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We'll be announcing the winners by June 26th.

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To get your entry form, and for full terms and conditions,

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go to bbc.co.uk/songsofpraise.

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Now, whether it's large or small,

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every church wants to encourage the next generation to get involved.

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David has been to West Yorkshire

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to see how one cathedral is using music to connect to young people.

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THEY SING

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Just behind me is one of the choirs of Leeds Catholic Cathedral,

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rehearsing for mass.

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Most cathedrals, having chosen their choristers, might send them

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off to a specialist music school for training, but not this one.

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Funded by the national charity Friends Of Cathedral Music,

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Leeds Cathedral staff

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recruit their singers in local Catholic schools.

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Up to 3,000 children a week, from all walks of life, are taught

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about Christian worship and how to sing.

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The children at this inner-city school have had choir training

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from the age of six with travelling choral director Lucy Haigh.

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Their singing has become more confident. It's more polished.

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They've improved a great deal in tuning and blending their voices,

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and listening to what the person each side of them is doing.

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And is it hard to find children with those qualities?

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Not really.

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I find them in every school.

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It's just a question of finding that raw talent

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and giving the children the chance to develop it.

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# Oooh-oooh

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# It's me... #

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Everyone has different backgrounds and we all sing together in unison.

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# The clarinet, the clarinet

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# Sings doodle, doodle, doodle, doodle-det... #

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It kind of improved my belief in God and how God actually enjoys

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hearing a lot of people sing and do what they are good at.

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# The horn whose song is forlorn... #

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If I hadn't joined the choir,

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I would probably just be at home doing nothing.

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# The trumpet is sounding

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# Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta... #

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The head teacher can see the change and not just in the singing.

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I think we have to be open to children learning about God

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in so many different ways.

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And, for some children,

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singing is the way that they will learn about God's presence

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in their lives and how to use the gifts that God's given them.

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We are seeing kids constantly

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who perhaps won't be from backgrounds where they know that

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a Cathedral Choir exists, that it is even a possibility,

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and it is not simply a matter of turning out

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very skilled musicians,

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although that's a wonderful by-product.

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We aspire for them to go out into the world stronger in their faith.

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We've put our trust in them

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and they, without exception, can continually exceed our expectations.

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As mass begins, I, for one, think it is great

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that these children, who never imagined they would end up here,

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have been entrusted with leading worship in a major cathedral.

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THEY SING IN LATIN

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The best bit is singing in the Cathedral

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and seeing the Cathedral, and how it feels like a second home.

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THEY SING IN LATIN

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It feels like everybody's looking at us, so we have to really

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believe in ourselves and just boost up my confidence.

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I'd like to stay in choir for a really long time.

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Our next hymn was recorded right here, in Leeds Cathedral,

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in 2008, when young people from across the city

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came together in song.

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While we're on the subject of young voices,

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BBC Radio 2 is scouring the country for two talented singers

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to be named Young Choristers Of The Year 2016.

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All the details and terms and conditions

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are on the Radio 2 website.

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So, if you're a chorister or you know someone who is,

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get your application in right away.

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Now, we are going to hear a performance from the current

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Young Choristers Of The Year.

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# Make me a channel of your peace

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# Where there is hatred, let me bring your love

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# Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord

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# And where there's doubt, true faith in you

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# Oh Master, grant that I may never seek

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# So much to be consoled, as to console

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# To be understood, as to understand To be understood

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# To be loved, as to love with all my soul

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# Make me a channel of your peace A channel

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# Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope

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# Where there is darkness only light Let me bring light

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# And where there's sadness, ever joy

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# Oh Master, Grant that I may never seek

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# So much to be consoled, as to console

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# To be understood, as to understand To be understood, as to understand

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# To be loved, as to love with all my soul

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# Make me a channel of your peace Make me a channel of your peace

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# It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

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# In giving to all men that we receive

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# And in dying that we're born to eternal life

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# And in dying that we're born to eternal life. #

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Back here in Belfast, it may be 100 years

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since the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising,

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but the tensions around both events can still run deep

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for the people who live here.

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To coincide with Northern Ireland's centenaries,

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the global movement 24-7 Prayer have come up with

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the idea of 100 days of prayer across the country.

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-Well, Laura, what's this? 24-7 Prayer?

-Yeah.

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Take me inside. Show me what you're doing.

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Laura Brown grew up in this area of West Belfast and she

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and her friends are determined to pray for peace in their community.

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What goes on in here?

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Yeah, well, our community, I am part of a small prayer community,

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each of us have committed to spending our week praying in here.

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So we created this space that we could move around

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and take to different organisations and churches,

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and non-church organisations, just places that really needed prayer.

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And we thought, "Well, we can take this and spend a few hours

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"or a few days, or a few weeks just soaking that place in prayer."

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So, you can write your prayer request for the news.

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We have fish that represent people that we are praying for,

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that we just want to see God's best for their lives.

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We just pray for them, up there.

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Down here, we have thank you prayers so you can say, "Thank you, God",

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for answering this prayer.

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And what kind of response have you had from people here?

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Really, on the whole, people have been really positive.

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People that haven't really prayed before like this

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have just found it really curious, have loved engaging with it.

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I've lived here all of my life, I was born a few streets away,

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so I am very proud to be from this area.

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We are in an area that is traditionally very segregated,

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in terms of religious background.

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So, on this side of the road, we have Protestant Suffolk,

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who would be predominantly loyalist.

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On this side of the road is Lenadoon, which again would be

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predominantly Catholic nationalist kind of background or affiliation.

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So, this road and this car park that we are stood on at the minute

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is what is known as the Interface.

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We still, every so often, have groups of young people

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that will meet on the Interface to fight each other.

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That is definitely still an ongoing concern that we have.

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Just round the corner from the caravan,

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the tell-tale signs of division are still visible.

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This gate was put up 30 years ago and hasn't been opened since then,

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so there is no thoroughfare through here.

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There is a pedestrian gate that gets locked at seven o'clock every night.

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It's here to keep the peace but, really,

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they are just symbols of division and segregation, still.

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People living here still feel afraid, they still

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feel like they are under threat, on both sides of the community.

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Today, Laura and her friends are putting up

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their prayers on the peace wall in a gesture of hope for the future.

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There is hope. Northern Ireland is going to have a bright future.

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I believe that is through God and through prayer.

0:28:100:28:12

The 100 days was oriented around three Hs, the healing of the past,

0:28:120:28:18

the honouring the present and hope for the future.

0:28:180:28:21

We really have prayed in faith and believe that all three of those

0:28:210:28:25

have, in some ways, is come to pass.

0:28:250:28:29

My hope for the future is that the church in Ireland

0:28:290:28:31

will be united, that we will lead the way in peace

0:28:310:28:34

and reconciliation by demonstrating what it looks like to forgive and to

0:28:340:28:38

honour each other, and to show grace and compassion and forgiveness.

0:28:380:28:41

# God is love

0:28:450:28:48

# He is love

0:28:480:28:53

# Love poured out

0:28:530:28:57

# All for us

0:28:570:29:01

# There is no-one stronger than our God

0:29:010:29:06

# There is no-one stronger than our God

0:29:090:29:15

# Your love overcomes

0:29:170:29:20

# Heals my broken heart

0:29:200:29:24

# Your love, over us, it speaks of who you are

0:29:260:29:33

# Oh, yeah

0:29:330:29:35

# Your love is stronger than the waves that crash on me

0:29:350:29:42

# Your love is always there

0:29:430:29:47

# And it will always be

0:29:470:29:51

# For our song

0:29:540:29:56

# Your love poured out

0:29:560:29:59

# For our freedom

0:29:590:30:01

# Your love poured out

0:30:010:30:03

# For our redemption

0:30:030:30:05

# Your love poured out

0:30:050:30:07

# Your love poured out

0:30:070:30:09

# Oh, your love poured out

0:30:090:30:12

# Heals my broken heart

0:30:120:30:16

# Your love over us

0:30:180:30:22

# It speaks of who you are

0:30:220:30:25

# Oh, yeah

0:30:250:30:27

# Your love is stronger than the waves that crash on me

0:30:270:30:33

# Your love is always

0:30:360:30:39

# It will always be. #

0:30:390:30:43

That's almost it for today.

0:30:550:30:57

Next week is Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the church,

0:30:570:31:00

and Connie joins the bloggers and tweeters

0:31:000:31:03

who are spreading the message in the digital age.

0:31:030:31:06

Now, for our final hymn.

0:31:060:31:07

We couldn't leave Northern Ireland without this tune.

0:31:070:31:11

Sally Magnusson is in Belfast to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising, two events which shaped the history of Ireland. Plus a competition for all Rugby League fans.


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