A Welsh Christmas Songs of Praise


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A Welsh Christmas

Bill Turnbull joins in the Christmas preparations at St Davids in Pembrokeshire. The city's cathedral is the setting for festive music from tenor Rhys Meirion.


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No, this isn't the Breakfast studio, it IS Songs Of Praise,

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and for my first programme, we've come to West Wales,

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to the tiny city of St Davids in Pembrokeshire,

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to see how people here are celebrating Christmas.

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But first, I've got to vote for my favourite tree!

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So, I try to master a Christmas anthem in Welsh.

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There's always room at the inn here in St Davids.

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Carols from the city's stunning Cathedral.

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And festive music from Rhys Meirion.

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Come over here, come round here. There we are.

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CHILDREN CHATTING

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This is a great idea.

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Every child in St Davids gets a special gift from Santa.

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The presents are handed out

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during the annual Christmas Tree Festival in the City Hall.

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It started back in 2004.

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One of our past association members,

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she'd been to Iceland,

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and this happened in Iceland, so she brought it back,

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and as you can see, it's just grown.

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We do it every year now. It's a tradition in St Davids.

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And we start with...

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-CROWD:

-Five, four...

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And the prizes for the best trees in the festival are presented

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at the Christmas lights ceremony in the city square.

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And the overall winner is...

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Peter's fruit and veg shop!

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Thank you.

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Well, this is the beginning of our Christmas celebration

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and we've got a very strong sense of community here

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and it's wonderful that people gather together.

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It's only a little village of 1,500 people,

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and yet everybody knows everybody and Christmas is an amazing time.

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St Davids has the population and atmosphere of a village,

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but it's actually the UK's smallest city, on account of its hidden gem.

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St Davids is a magnificent cathedral and local choirs

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and congregations have come together to sing for us.

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They're going to start with a well-known Welsh folk song

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often sung at Christmas time, Ar Hyd Y Nos, All Through The Night.

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I must say, they have some rather unusual Christmas customs

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here in St Davids.

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One of them involves this young fellow here.

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He's called Bambino, or "little child", and every December

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he becomes part of the city's Christmas preparations.

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The first Sunday night is when the bambino's first presented.

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He's presented at the parish Eucharist service,

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and the first parishioner receives the bambino

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and takes him into their home and that's where he starts his journey

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throughout the parish, and for the whole of Advent, then he travels

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throughout everyone's homes to be part of their Christmas celebrations.

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It's not just young families,

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it's people who may be on their own or elderly people who just feel

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they'd like a nice companionship of having Christ come into their lives.

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-There he is!

-Baby Jesus!

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Welcome. Come in.

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It's the sign Christmas has finally arrived when Bambino arrives.

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It's the celebration of the incarnation of Christ,

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that's why he have the bambino.

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He reminds us of the fact that when Jesus was born,

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he didn't have any room for him at the inn, and throughout Advent

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we're taking him into our homes and giving him room and it's lovely

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that he's able to do that journey and arrive back at the cathedral

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to be part of the celebrations in time for Christmas Day.

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Why do you like him coming into the house?

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Because he's so special and soft.

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-He's cold.

-He was going to be cold,

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-that's why he needs his special blanket, doesn't he?

-Yeah.

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-Did you have a blanket when you were born?

-Yeah.

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You did, didn't you?

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When Bambino arrived with us, our children

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are quite young at the moment, so for them it is a true reminder

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of what Christmas is about.

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When they see the Jesus, physically see the Jesus,

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it's wonderful for them to be inspired by that.

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When they come to our home, we have an Advent candle

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which we would light when the baby arrives

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and we'll have a little prayer and a chat about what Christmas is about

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and reminding the children.

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Christmas is all about celebrating Jesus's birthday.

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And so having baby Jesus reminds us of that, doesn't it?

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-And seeing Father Christmas.

-Father Christmas as well, yes.

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Christ came into our lives at Christmas and it's not about

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the presents or the tree, it's about Christ,

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and that's what's so important in our lives, when he comes to us.

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# I have travelled

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# Many moonless nights

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# Cold and weary

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# With a babe inside

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# And I wonder what I've done

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# Holy father, you have come

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# And chosen me now

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# To carry your son

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# I am waiting

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# In a silent prayer

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# I am frightened

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# By this load I bear

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# In a world as cold as stone

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# Must I walk this path alone?

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# Breath of Heaven

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# Hold me together

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# Be for ever near me

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# Breath of Heaven

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# Do you wonder

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# As you watch my face

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# If a wiser one

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# Should have had my place?

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# But I offer all I am

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# For the mercy of your plan

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# Breath of Heaven

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# Hold me together

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# Be for ever near me

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# Breath of Heaven

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# Breath of Heaven

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# Lighten my darkness

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# Pour over me your holiness

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# For you are holy

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# For you are holy, Lord

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# For you are holy, Lord

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# For you are holy, Lord

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# For you are holy, Lord. #

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-I like this present.

-You take them out for me. OK?

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At this busy time of year,

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even Father Christmas needs some extra help.

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Christmas is

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the best time of year.

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We all become Father Christmas and we do a toy appeal.

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The charity Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship helps those

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who can't afford the added expense that Christmas can bring.

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Obviously children need to be fed and clothed still at Christmas,

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but to give them something extra at the time

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when everybody is giving and receiving.

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We're celebrating a birthday.

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It's Jesus's birthday, it's good to give presents at Christmas time.

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If the parents can't afford it, and we do have people

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that genuinely say, "Christmas was cancelled until PATCH came along.

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"We told our children, 'No presents this year.'"

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Then they hear about us and that they're going to be referred

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and their faces just light up.

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We get the name, the age and gender of each child and any special

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likes or dislikes and we try to match up four or five really good quality

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toys with wrapping paper, sticky tape, chocolates, art material,

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and that all gets put in a box and delivered to the parents.

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We deliver during school time so the kids don't know it's coming from us,

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so it's really from the mums and dads and not this anonymous charity.

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I came and helped last Christmas. It's just a year coming up now.

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I heard about PATCH and it's a good project.

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It's helping our community. I want to be involved in,

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as a Christian here, living out

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and living my faith, I want to be able just to bless

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the community around me, and so I really thought, "Why not?

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"Why can't I just put a few presents in boxes,

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"give a couple of days of my time and just really help out?"

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It's my normal Christian...

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It's what God calls us to do, to look after people around us,

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so for me it's just part and parcel of what I'd normally do.

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I absolutely love it here, working with my volunteers,

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seeing people's faces and meeting the most extraordinary people

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that give to us. I'm overwhelmed so many times by people's generosity.

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I really believe that's what God would have me do

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and it's the most fantastic job in the whole, wide world.

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SINGING

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I've been invited to take part in a tradition that is unique to Wales,

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and funnily enough for the Land of Song, it involves some singing.

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Well, this is a baptism of fire, isn't it?

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It's my first Songs Of Praise and I'm being asked to sing,

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sing in Welsh, in front of the most marvellous choir

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who've just performed it perfectly.

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-Doesn't seem very fair. Can I do it?

-Of course you can!

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-What are we going to do? I need help with the words.

-With the words.

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Wrth gofio'r awr.

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Wrth gofio'r awr.

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Ddaeth Iesu mawr.

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-Dd-ddaeth...

-Ddaeth...

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Well, I think I probably need some practice, but the members

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of the Tabernacle Chapel in St Davids certainly don't,

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as this special service called Plygain has been held here for more than a century.

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-Very good.

-You haven't heard me singing yet!

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Well, it's a Welsh tradition of singing carols at dawn

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on Christmas morning, and the word "plygain" means "before cockerel".

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There's a word which is just hopelessly long.

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I'm never going to manage that.

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In the past it could start at three o'clock,

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anytime between three and six o'clock in the morning.

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But the latter is the more commonly favoured time for us in St Davids.

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We come in in the dark, then you go out enlightened by the service

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and the birth of a new day.

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People will volunteer to read the scriptures, to offer a prayer,

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to give out carols to sing, and we always end up with

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a traditional Christmas anthem,

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called Hosanna Heddiw Sydd.

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-From the beginning, this is.

-I don't want to do this!

-Neither do I!

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The words was written on a blackboard by the late Mr David Nash,

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who had been the secretary of this chapel for many years,

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but his writing on the blackboard is still preserved.

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It tells of the birth of Jesus Christ and how we was the star.

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Hosana heddiw sydd, swn nefolaidd fydd.

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Just basically the Christmas story,

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and we're praising Jesus on his birthday.

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# Cyhoeddwyd gan angylion Duw

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# Cyhoeddwyd gan angylion

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# "Daeth o'r Nefoedd wen." #

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Much better when I conduct.

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LAUGHTER

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# Tua Bethlem dref

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# Awn yn fintai gref

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# Ac addolwn ef

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# Gydar llwythau

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# Unwn ninnau

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# Ar y llwybrau

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# At y crud

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# Tuar preseb awn

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# Gyda chalon lawn

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# A phenlinio wnawn

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# I fachgennyn Mair

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# Y tragwyddol Air

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# Yn y gwellt ar gwair

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# Dygwn roddion

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# Serch y galon

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# Aur anrhegion

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# Thus a myrr

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# Tua Bethlem dref

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# Awn yn fintai gref

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# Ac addolwn ef

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# Ac addolwn ef. #

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I think I'm going to have to take some home.

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'Christmas, of course, is an excuse for all of us

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'to overindulge on lovely food.

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'Indeed, where would we be without our Christmas turkey?

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'But for some, it's food for thought.'

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Very nice. Thank you.

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All home products, all Welsh products.

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'My father-in-law gave us a turkey for Christmas lunch,

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'but it was a live one.'

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And I thought it was such a lovely bird, pity to kill it, and I said so.

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At that stage, I was only 19 years old.

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So, he didn't say anything.

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Next day, he returned with two turkey hens.

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And from those first three birds, over 50 years later

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there are many more turkeys at the Davies family farm.

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We're producing 10,000 this year, so we've started production.

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-We're getting through, yes.

-That's a lot of Christmas dinners.

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It's an awful lot. It's a big responsibility as well, you know?

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You're responsible for producing these fine birds and, you know,

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turkey plays a huge part of the Christmas Day meal, doesn't it?

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So it's an exciting time. We're all very excited.

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Not many places you'll find three generations

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all working together in one business

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let alone in a farm business.

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Let alone three generations of women in a farm business.

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Yes, it's girl power, I tell you!

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So here's to the girls who rule the roost on the turkey farm!

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Absolutely! There's no messing with us Davies girls, I tell you.

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A very, very busy time of year for you and for the family

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and a lot of pressure, I would imagine?

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It is pretty manic. Christmas for us starts back in July, August time.

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We have the day-old chicks, they arrive here at the farm.

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It all starts back in July, August.

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We've started properly now for Christmas production.

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That's where your faith comes into it, you know.

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My mother always says, it's just we are so incredibly lucky

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to have that faith in order to get us through

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these very, very sort of challenging few weeks ahead of us.

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It's going to be a lot of long hours and hard work,

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and it's an awful lot of praying, hoping that everything will go fine.

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You know? There's a lot of pressure in order to produce these birds

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and at the end of the day, I know it's only a Christmas turkey

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but a lot of people rely on us for the most wonderful service

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and we always promise that we deliver that.

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I think faith definitely carries us through that.

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# This is the truth sent from above

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# The truth of God The God of love

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# Therefore don't turn me from your door

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# But hearken all both rich and poor

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# The first thing which I do relate

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# Is that God did man create

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# The next thing which to you I'll tell

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# Woman was made with man to dwell

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# And we were heirs to endless woes

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# Till God the Lord did interpose

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# And so a promise soon did run

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# That He would redeem us by His Son

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# And at that season of the year

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# Our blessed Redeemer did appear

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# He here did live

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# And here did preach

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# And many thousands he did teach

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# Thus He in love to us behaved

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# To show us how we must be saved

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# And if you want to know the way

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# Be pleased to hear

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# What He did say. #

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Jesus, Prince of peace,

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who shared with Mary and Joseph

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the life of an earthly home,

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be with us in our homes as we prepare for Christmas

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and the commemoration of your birth.

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Bless our children, our families and friends,

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fill us with joy and thanksgiving,

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deepen our sense of wonder

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as we understand your great love for us

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and teach us to find in you true happiness

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in giving rather than in receiving.

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And the blessing of God Almighty,

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the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with you

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and remain with you always.

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-ALL:

-Amen.

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I've met some lovely people here

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and enjoyed some wonderful Welsh hospitality in St Davids

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so it just remains for me to wish you a very happy Christmas

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and for the cathedral choir and the congregation to sing

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one of everybody's favourite carols,

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O Come, All Ye Faithful.

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Next week, David is in London

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for a festive feast of candlelit carols and Christmas readings

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with Kevin Whately and Tina Hobley.

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Plus music from Only Boys Aloud

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and Katherine Jenkins.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Bill Turnbull joins in the Christmas preparations at St Davids in Pembrokeshire, where every child is guaranteed a Christmas present and there's always room at the inn for one special baby. The city's historic cathedral is the setting for traditional carols and festive music from Welsh tenor Rhys Meirion.