27/03/2016 Songs of Praise


27/03/2016

For Easter Sunday, Pam Rhodes goes behind the scenes at a community Passion play in Poole to discover how it is changing people's lives.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to a special Easter Sunday Songs Of Praise.

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I am in Poole in Dorset, to go behind the scenes

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of the town's community Passion play,

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to discover how it is having a meaningful and lasting effect

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on the lives of some of its actors.

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I have seen the Lord! Don't be sad. He came back for us.

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'I had lost a lot of my self-confidence,

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'but Poole Passion really helped me'

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to find that again.

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I'll be meeting a pastor from war-torn Syria,

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to find out why he'll be returning to his ministry there,

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in spite of the war.

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I want to serve the church back home

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and I want Christians to know what's going on.

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And David is in Oxford,

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to rediscover the long-lost tradition of carols at Easter.

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SINGING IN LATIN

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And as well as a wonderful mix of music,

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including a familiar carol for Easter,

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I'll also bring you details of how you can get involved

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with our Gospel Choir Of The Year competition.

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But we start in Birmingham,

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recalling what happened

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on the morning of the first Easter day -

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Christ's resurrection -

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celebrated in a great song from the writing team

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of Stuart Townend and Keith Getty.

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CONGREGATION SINGS

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WOMEN SING

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MEN SING

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ALL SING

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Since medieval times, the Passion play,

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depicting the last days in the life of Christ,

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has been at the heart of Easter worship for millions of Christians,

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and here in Poole,

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people from all walks of life have come together

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to produce their own community Passion play.

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One, two, three...and action.

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I'm Jamie Derrick, I'm 35,

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I play the role of Marcus, who captures Jesus.

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I will tell you a story,

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-but you're going to have to help me.

-Yes?

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'My name is Faustine. I'm 39.

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'I am originally from France,'

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but now I live in Bournemouth

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and I am playing the part of Mary Magdalene.

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Reaching out to people from all parts of community

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has been at the heart of the Poole Passion

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since it began in 2009.

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It is the brainchild of director and drama professional Sharon Coyne.

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Can we wind back to when you say Magdalene is a great speaker?

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'I was up in London and I saw an exhibition'

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and I was so inspired by it,

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because it was the Passion,

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and it was slow, moving actors

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in modern-day costume and I thought, "We could do that.

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"That is something we could do down here in Poole."

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So just explain how it's grown over the years.

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Well, it started as, supposedly, a one-off of two nights,

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with a cast of about, maybe, 30 to 40

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and now, it has grown to five nights

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and a full company of about 100.

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The cast is made up of people

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from a wide variety of very different backgrounds and ages,

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with actors ranging from seven years old

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right up to 80.

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While teaching drama in a local rehab centre,

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Sharon met recovering addict Jamie.

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I started using drugs and alcohol around the age of 12,

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started off just smoking marijuana, cannabis,

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and then it progressed.

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I was also quite excessively drinking.

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It, kind of, gradually got worse and it spiralled out of control.

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Two years ago, Sharon invited Jamie

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to become a cast member for the Poole Passion

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and he's never looked back.

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When I first done in the play, I didn't have much confidence,

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so it was, like, quite a big boost of confidence

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and it is working with a lot of people from the community,

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which was really important, as well, because I felt part of something.

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Somebody help me!

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Faustine has played the part of Mary Magdalene

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ever since the production began seven years ago

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and getting involved has had a major impact on her life.

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They have taken my Lord out of the tomb. Please...

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'I became quite disabled, became a recluse.'

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So Sharon decided to get me involved,

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to see if that could help me to get out of my shell.

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'I had lost a lot of my self-confidence,

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'but Poole Passion really helped me to find that again.'

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Some people have actively said, "Oh, I don't act, I can't do it."

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And yet, here they are,

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finding a voice and working together.

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They are courageous, I think,

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to stand in front of people in a costume and speak.

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WOMAN SINGING

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Since the start, Sharon has been striving

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to make the Poole Passion relevant and ground-breaking.

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Every time that we've done it, this will be our fifth production,

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we have changed the role of Jesus.

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So, so far, we have had a woman Jesus,

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we have had a Nigerian Jesus,

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we've got an Irish Jesus this time,

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and we have changed it,

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and that makes people look at the play differently.

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As the production prepares for the first night,

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cast members like Faustine and Jamie

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are grateful for the way the play has helped turn their lives around.

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I feel a lot of parallels with the story of the Roman guard

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who is, kind of, this brutal man,

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but Jesus got down and healed him,

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and I feel like that is what has happened to me.

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Later in the programme, I'll see first-hand

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how Sharon and the cast's first big night performance

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of the Poole Passion turns out.

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It is just very scary!

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SHE LAUGHS NERVOUSLY

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CONGREGATION SINGS

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MEN SING

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ALL SING

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WOMEN SING

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ALL SING

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Lord Enthroned In Heavenly Splendour,

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written back in their 19th century, but with that classic timeless feel

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of many of our great Easter hymns and, down the years,

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the Easter message has been set to a whole variety of styles of music,

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some of which have been lost in the mists of time.

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And so, in search of those old musical treasures,

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David has gone to a very old city, to find out more.

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# Ding-dong merrily on high... #

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Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires -

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the perfect place to delve into history

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and to enjoy some carol singing.

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NEEDLE SCRATCHES

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No, not that kind of carol.

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There isn't a shepherd, wise man or a baby in sight.

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I've come here to rediscover

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the lost tradition of carols for Easter.

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Carols are actually songs of celebration

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dating back to medieval times

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and some were written specifically for Easter.

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'I have come to Oxford's famous Bodleian Library

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'to meet historian Dr Eleanor Parker, to find out more.'

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Eleanor, when I think of carols,

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I think of O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Away In A Manger -

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I think of Christmas. But originally,

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carols weren't just for Christmas, you're saying, right?

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That's right. Carols can be sung all year round and in the Middle Ages,

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people would sing carols on any occasion

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where they got together to celebrate something.

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But if carols aren't Christmas songs,

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what is a carol?

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Well, originally, the word would refer to dancing,

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so it comes from the idea of dancing in a ring

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and the songs that people sang as they danced would be called carols.

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And what form did they take? What were they like?

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Well, we actually have an example and I can show you one right now.

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Oh, wow. Yes, please.

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So, what we have got here is a Medieval Latin song.

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What is it about?

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It is really about the season of spring

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and it talks about how, in spring,

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things get warmer and the birds start to sing,

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flowers reappear on the Earth,

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and it talks about all these things as a reflection

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of the creative power of God.

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So why did people stop singing them?

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Why did Easter carols go out of fashion?

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One of the reasons is that the main occasions for singing them

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just, kind of, died out, as society changed,

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but another one might be that carols could sometimes be a bit subversive,

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because they could be sung by anyone.

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Authorities didn't always like people singing carols

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and tried to stamp it out a bit.

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So, were there protest carols?

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There were political and satirical carols,

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making fun of the rich or criticising social inequality.

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But they did keep being sung for quite a long time

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in folk tradition, even as late as the 19th or 20th century.

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To hear what our Easter carol sounds like in its original Latin,

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we have invited young musicians who specialise in early music

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to the majestic hall of New College.

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THEY PLAY TRADITIONAL TUNE

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THEY SING IN LATIN

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Eleanor, how does it feel to hear this music

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in this place?

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It's really lovely. I mean, this is just the kind of place

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where carols would have been sung in medieval Oxford,

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so it is really, really nice to hear it.

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Now, I have got the English lyrics,

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I can really see what you were saying

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about them speaking about spring and what it is like,

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and then speaking about God

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and weaving it all...

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Is this quite typical

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of the way that people used to write

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in this period?

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Yeah, medieval poets really loved writing about the spring

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and they liked seeing the signs of God in the natural world

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and, of course, the new life that comes

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with the resurrection of Christ at Easter is reflected

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in the new life that we see in the signs of the world around us.

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And now a French traditional carol,

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which is perfectly suited for springtime

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and the resurrection.

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CONGREGATION AND CHOIR SING

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MEN SING

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ALL SING

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CHOIR SINGS

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Well, I love carols, so it is nice to think

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we are allowed to sing them twice a year.

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And singing is right at the heart

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of our Gospel Choir Of The Year competition,

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so if your choir is thinking of entering,

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do it now, because this year's competition closes on May 1st.

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You can get all the details and the terms and conditions that you need

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on our website...

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To whet your appetite, here is a performance

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from one of last year's finalists.

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# Why do you cry?

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# He has risen

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# Why are you weeping?

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# He's not dead

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# He paid it all

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# On that lonely highway

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# And his anointing

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# I can feel

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# He shed his blood

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# Ohh, ohh, ohh

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# For my transgressions

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# Ohh, ohh, ohh

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# And by his stripes

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# We are healed

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# So, as you go

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# Through life's journey

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# Don't you worry

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# Lift up your head

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# Don't you cry

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# Ohh, ohh, ohh

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# Stop your weeping

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# Ohh, ohh, ohh

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# He has risen

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# He's not dead

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# Whoa, don't...cry

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# Wipe...your eyes

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# He's...not...dead

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# Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa

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# Don't...cry

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# Wipe your eyes

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# He's not...

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# Dead. #

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APPLAUSE

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This week's attacks in Brussels have been a stark reminder

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of the long shadow of terrorism that exists in our world today.

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Fortunately, such attacks are not part of OUR daily lives,

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but the same is not true for many Syrians,

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who are desperate to escape violence and flee the country.

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But there is one Syrian Christian who has been visiting Britain

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with no wish to stay here.

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He feels that his ministry is to be alongside

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those who are caught in the midst of conflict.

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Josie has been to the New Life Centre

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in Northallerton in North Yorkshire, to meet him.

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There is very little

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good news coming out of Syria at the moment,

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but for some people there, suffering the ravages of war,

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hope and comfort come in the form

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of Pastor Edward Awabdeh.

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He is in the UK to meet the Christian charity

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that helps support him.

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We never thought that Syria

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will plunge into such depths of darkness and killing.

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Of course, Damascus is a city that plays a big part in the Bible.

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What is the climate like there for Christians at the moment?

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The risk they go through is a risk on everybody who lives in Damascus.

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Everything you rely on, you just lost.

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Everything that was a priority in your life,

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you find out that it's lost its value completely.

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We go through some risky days

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with random shelling from around Damascus

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and that is very scary,

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because you cannot guess where this bomb will fall on.

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But any area that is threatened by the extremist Islamists,

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like Isis, Jabhat al-Nusra and others, they are very intolerant,

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to the degree that you deserve to be killed, if you're not like them.

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It is so sad to see people

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who want to take everything out, everything Christian.

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What is your message for those of us here?

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I want to tell the people of the whole world

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that evil is real.

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We can touch it every day.

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But Jesus and his victory is real also,

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and you can experience that every day.

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And one such triumph in the face of evil is the painful story

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of a teenage boy's sacrifice, in order to stay true to his faith.

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He knew that this town was taken by Jabhat al-Nusra.

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And he was expecting, the whole family,

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expecting that they might kill this son.

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They tried to protect him,

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to give him a false ID or something like that,

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but he rejected, his mother said.

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He said, "No, Jesus said if you deny me before man,

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"I will deny you before my Father in Heaven."

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And this is what happened.

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They asked him to deny Jesus

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and he said, "I want to be faithful to my Lord and Saviour."

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And they killed him right away.

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This is the age of martyrdom.

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In terms of going back to Syria, which you are doing very shortly,

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what are your feelings about returning?

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I can't wait.

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We feel that we are living a divine, meaningful life.

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We are so blessed to be the heart of Jesus for the broken-hearted

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and for the crushed and for people who are suffering at such a time.

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I would have not preferred to be anywhere else in the Earth

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at such a time.

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CONGREGATION SINGS

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MEN SING

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WOMEN SING

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ALL SING

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The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me

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will be the one to betray me.

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In Dorset, the early scenes of the Poole Passion

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are being played out.

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Judas, what are you saying?

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After seven months of painstaking preparations and rehearsals,

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tonight is the first of five performances.

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We have worked so hard to put this play together

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and we are just ready, now,

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to share this piece of work.

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The King of the Jews, Your Majesty(!)

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The productions moves across two churches,

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with a street procession of Jesus being led to his crucifixion.

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Come on, Jesus!

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Playing Jesus is an amazing privilege.

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You know, it's a... a fantastic emotional journey.

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It has given me a, sort of, greater understanding,

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in my own particular faith and beliefs,

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especially with the message

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of love, compassion, forgiveness and tolerance to all mankind.

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The Passion play being told in this way, in this community,

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makes it real, makes it relevant.

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It allows people to engage in an emotional way,

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and it really reaches deep inside us, at some level

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we perhaps really can't fully understand.

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Magdalene says that she was lost, that she was troubled

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and that, when she met Jesus,

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she found a new way of life.

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And for me, finding the Passion play gave me a new way of life.

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Do not touch me, Mary. Do not hang on to me.

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You have to let me go.

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The play culminates with the scene of the resurrection.

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I have seen the Lord! Don't be sad. He came back for us.

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For Sharon, this part of the story is the lynchpin

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of every Christian's faith.

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This is the message.

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If it had ended, if the resurrection hadn't happened,

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we definitely wouldn't be telling the story today.

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We would be lost.

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# Still be thou my vision... #

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It is because there is hope

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that Jesus did come back from the dead

0:29:460:29:49

that is a very powerful and key message

0:29:490:29:53

for Christians all over the world.

0:29:530:29:55

APPLAUSE

0:29:550:29:58

Jesus is for now. He is for everybody now.

0:29:580:30:01

He died for all of us 2,000 years ago.

0:30:010:30:04

It's just as relevant now as it was then.

0:30:040:30:06

I have done two, now.

0:30:060:30:07

I am not well enough to do any more. This is my last, I am sorry to say.

0:30:070:30:11

So it was quite emotional for you.

0:30:110:30:13

Well, I can't tell you how emotional it is been. I'm breaking up, now.

0:30:130:30:17

It is spiritual and you feel moved,

0:30:170:30:21

and I think we all feel moved inside, when we do it.

0:30:210:30:25

APPLAUSE

0:30:250:30:27

Well, we end the programme today, of course,

0:30:300:30:34

remembering the victims of those attacks in Brussels this week,

0:30:340:30:37

but also remembering that the message of Christ's resurrection,

0:30:370:30:41

especially on this most important day

0:30:410:30:44

in the Christian calendar, is hope.

0:30:440:30:46

So, wherever you are,

0:30:460:30:47

I wish you a safe and a peaceful Easter.

0:30:470:30:50

CONGREGATION SINGS

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MEN SING

0:31:470:31:50

WOMEN SING

0:32:050:32:08

ALL SING

0:32:220:32:25

For Easter Sunday, Pam Rhodes goes behind the scenes at a community Passion play in Poole to discover how it is changing people's lives.

Music:

See, What A Morning, performed by the congregation of St Germain's Church, Birmingham

Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendour, performed by the choirs and congregation of St Peter's Church, Swinton

Now the Green Blade Rises, performed by the congregation of The Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick

Don't Cry, performed by Godalming Community Gospel Choir

We Cannot Measure How You Heal, performed by the congregation of St Alban's Church, Bristol

Thine be the Glory, performed by the congregation of St Mary's Church, Portsea.


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