Creative Stratford Songs of Praise


Creative Stratford

Diane-Louise Jordan introduces hymns from Shakespeare's parish church and finds that his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon is still a hotbed for the creative arts.


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Transcript


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In this self-same soil that Shakespeare called his own,

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new artistic roots and shoots have successfully grown.

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This middle-England gem, this idyllic country-town haven

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can still justly be known as creative Stratford-upon-Avon.

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This week, we're in Shakespeare's home town

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celebrating the creative arts

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with magnificent hymns from Holy Trinity Church,

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the ballerina who stepped out of the spotlight to help others shine

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and the poet following in the footsteps of the Bard.

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Shakespeare's legacy is alive and well

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in the town's world class theatre

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and the artistic flair doesn't end there.

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We'll be meeting some local people who have amazing talents of their own.

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Every year the town welcomes a staggering five million tourists,

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so what better way to find out more about this town than to ask a local poet?

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No, not that one...this one!

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-Hi, let me show you around.

-Perfect.

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And of course, David's written our tour in rhyme

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with ideas of how you might spend your time.

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A town like no other, touched by a great writer's charm,

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now has restaurants, galleries and even a butterfly farm.

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Locals and tourists mix in Bancroft Gardens to relax

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in this world-famous venue, far off the beaten tracks.

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The Royal Shakespeare Theatre has historic, dramatic power.

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The building has been reborn - see its impressive tower.

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A vantage point to look beyond the great Bard's history

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and find Stratford's modern forms of pleasure and mystery.

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New and old happily combine.

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Now and then join up to tell their story "As You Like It"

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showing "All's Well That Ends Well".

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And where the great man lies under Holy Trinity's ground,

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we can listen through the ages to each beautiful sound.

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Whatever the past, present and future may be bringing,

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we can open our hearts and hear angel voices ever-singing.

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MUSIC: "Overture Miniature" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

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As soon as she could walk, Margaret Sweet started to dance.

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And it wasn't long before her talent shone through.

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There was the lovely day when my dancing teacher said to me,

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"Do you mind if some people watch you today?"

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And I said, "No, not at all."

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And she introduced me to these three people

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but I had no idea who they were

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because I was only about nine, I suppose.

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And they watched me have a private lesson and afterwards,

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they said, "You really enjoy ballet, don't you?"

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And I said, "Yes, I love it." "Have you been to see the ballet?

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"Because we're in Stratford this week." This was Sadler's Wells.

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And I said... I can clearly remember saying,

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"No, but Mummy says if I'm a good girl,

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"she'll take me to the matinee on Saturday!"

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Margaret's talent was recognised

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and she was awarded a prestigious scholarship

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to study at Sadler's Wells.

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It wasn't just something that happened once a week any more.

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It was something that became a little bit more intense than that

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and I wanted to do more of it.

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We started having walk-on parts in the ballets

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and I had the privilege of being in the first production

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of Cinderella at Covent Garden, so, yes!

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But then I decided I wanted to teach.

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'I enjoyed dancing so much

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'and I wanted to share it with other people.

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'I found teaching very, very rewarding.'

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You try to make the best for God of what he's given you to do.

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And then, just when most people would be considering retiring,

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Margaret's life took her in a new direction

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when she trained for ordination.

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'I can remember one night saying, "No, God, go away, you don't want me, go away!"

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'But He wasn't going to go away.'

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'I suddenly thought, "Yes, I am being called."'

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Margaret found a perfect way to combine her faith

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and her love of dancing.

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'These days I don't often do ballet

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'but I do liturgical dance,

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'or liturgical movement as I prefer them to call it.'

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'Liturgical movement is actually using your body to worship,

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'to express worship. And it's, in a sense, like singing.

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'You are helping other people to worship and your movement in that'

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is expressing for other people

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what perhaps they can't get up and do

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and what perhaps they can enjoy and join in worshipping

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through watching somebody do it.

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'Yes, God definitely has His hand on.

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'He's very, very much with me by my right shoulder'

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all the time. The first thing in the morning is, "Good morning, God,"

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and the last thing at night is, "Goodnight, God,"

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and throughout the day

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and I'm very, very much aware that he's there.

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'I can look back and my feet have always been put

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'where they ought to be.'

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# Prevent us, O Lord

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# In all our doings with thy... #

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Conductor Stephen Dodsworth started Stratford Chamber Choir

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in 1993.

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Being in Stratford, it's an inspiring place to be.

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There was a lot of music going on

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but not exactly the sort of music that I wanted.

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CHORAL SINGING

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'I wanted a smaller group that was more flexible

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'and the chamber choir provides that.

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'It's like playing an instrument.'

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When the choir's particularly responsive,

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it's really, really exciting.

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And Stephen uses that instrument to perform his own compositions.

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Most of the music I've written has been since I came to Stratford.

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# Prevent us, O Lord

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# In all our doings... #

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'"Prevent Us, O Lord" I wrote for a friend of mine as a surprise.

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'It was his 60th birthday.'

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He sings in the Chamber Choir, he also sings in the Choral Society.

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He also sings in Holy Trinity Choir.

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And I arranged with the Director of Music at Holy Trinity

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that it would be incorporated in a service on his birthday.

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# That in all our works begun, continued... #

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In order to maintain the secret,

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I supplied copies to the choir with a different name from mine

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so that the secret wouldn't be out and then surprised Robert

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by standing next to him in the service

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and placing a copy with my name on it.

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It rather threw him, I think.

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He spent most of the time not concentrating on the singing

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but wondering why I'd stolen somebody else's music!

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-# We may glorify

-# Glorify. #

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The words really, if we're talking about inspiration,

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the words are the inspiration. I'm not the person to say whether

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I'm successful but I always try and...

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underline the...the real sense of the words,

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trying to avoid mawkish sentimentality.

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I'm not sure whether I achieved that either.

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# By thy mercy... #

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Standing in front of the choir when they are singing my music,

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I suppose it's a bit like the cat that got the cream

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because it's a very privileged position.

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And there are a lot of people involved

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and they're actually giving shape and bringing into...bringing to life

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my own creation, as it were.

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# Christ, our Lord. #

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'I'd always been involved in playing the organ or directing

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'and the distraction'

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that that offers is sort of the sacrifice one makes for the worship

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because the music in worship is such a significant part.

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# Amen. #

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I do find icons are a wonderful way of spreading the word of God.

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If you go abroad to places like Greece, everybody has them

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hanging in the cars, in the coaches,

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in shops and obviously in the churches.

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Marcella's love of icons

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has inspired her to learn how to paint them.

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It takes a long time to settle down. It might be an hour or two hours.

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It's just very peaceful. I put on my beautiful music...

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..and I find it very soothing.

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And an icon is more than just a work of art, it's steeped in symbolism.

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The icon represents God's creation.

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First of all, we use everything from nature.

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The wood is used to represent the ark and then we put on a cloth,

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which represents the shroud.

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And then put on layers of gesso, which is ground rock.

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Then we make the paints - it's called a pigment - using the yolk of an egg.

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There's a special way of preparing that and you can add water

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and a little wine or vodka, or...

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Depending on which part of the world you're in.

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It acts as a preservative.

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So, everything is taken from nature,

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painted an icon, and then this is for the glorification of God.

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Choosing which icon to paint is not an easy decision.

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The designs, particularly when you're starting,

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are taken from traditional patterns, so we use a lot of Byzantine.

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There are many types because some come from Egypt, Russia and Greece.

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When you're a beginner as I am,

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although I've been doing it for ten years,

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there's a lot to learn.

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It's changed me.

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I never felt I was very good at praying but for me now,

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it is a prayer.

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An icon doesn't have any perspective. There are no shadows.

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We're, like, looking into heaven, really.

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This is not an Earthly thing and I think with prayer -

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especially when you see them in churches with the candles and music -

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it's taking us off our Earthly plane, really.

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Singers from all over Stratford

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raising the roof here at Holy Trinity Church,

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where Shakespeare was baptised and buried,

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and worshiped with his parents.

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And today, writers are still being inspired by Stratford,

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including our very own modern-day poet David Raeburn.

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I was always - when I studied and even at school before that -

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fascinated by Shakespeare,

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the way he was able to encompass the whole world in his works

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and the way it attracted so many people

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and different people found different answers and questions

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in what he'd written and it is just beautiful.

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So, I came to Stratford and made friends here

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and it became my base, my home.

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David's latest project is a modern-day sonnet

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inspired by the 2012 Olympics.

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I was thinking about what a wonderful opportunity it is

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for people to think about the world coming together

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in the most literal sense and we do it, we do it for the Olympics,

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we welcome the world here,

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the countries come together not to fight and to argue,

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but to honour each other and to be friends in peace and love,

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and I wrote this song about that,

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inspired by the Olympics and the song goes on to say,

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as well as being strong, hopeful, as well as the joy,

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"Why can't we do this all the time?"

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'David decided to involve the local Church of England primary school

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'in recording and performing the song.'

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'I thought who better to bring this message of peace and hope and love

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'and the hope for a better tomorrow than the future - the kids.'

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# Can you feel the dawning of a bright new sun?

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# Now is the time to come together as one... #

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'The words teach the children an awful lot'

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in terms of how they should live as good Christians.

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# Hold out your hand

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# With a welcoming smile

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# We honour each other

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# With warmth and with style... #

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Talking about rising above trouble and torment

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and loving one another, living in peace and harmony.

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# Any trouble and torment

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# We can rise above... #

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'And the children will soon have a chance to share the song's message.'

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We're absolutely thrilled because we've been asked to go along

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and sing our song in front of the audience

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who are watching the Olympic torch

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going through one of our local villages.

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# By doing our best

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# And surviving the test

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# By showing our worth

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# In front of the rest... #

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'We're excited that every single child from the age of four to 11

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'can be involved in this project'

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and that's why it's important to us, so that we in Stratford-upon-Avon

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can feel that we are closer to those Olympics

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that are going on in Stratford, East London.

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# And we can run rings around this world. #

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Shakespeare has spoken to so many people for so many years,

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in so many different ways,

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it's amazing to look back and think that one man created so many ideas,

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the words that have gone into our language...

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Just to say Romeo and Juliet -

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a whole story suddenly arrives in your head and one man created that.

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It's beautiful.

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# Shall I compare thee...

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# Ooh-ooh-ooh

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# ..to a Summer's day?

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# Thou art more lovely

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# Ooh-ooh-ooh

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# And more temperate

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# Ah-h-h

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# Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May

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# Ah-h-h

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# And Summer's lease hath all too short a date

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# So long as men can breathe

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# Or eyes can see

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# So long lives this

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# And this

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# This gives life to thee

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# Sometime too hot

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# Ooh-ooh-ooh

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# The eye of heaven shines

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# And often his gold

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# Ooh-ooh-ooh

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# Complexion dimm'd

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# Ah-h-h

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# And every fair from fair sometimes declined

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# Ah-h-h

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By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd

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# So long as men can breathe

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# Or eyes can see

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# So long lives this

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# And this

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# This gives life to thee

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# But thy eternal Summer shall not fade

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# Nor lose possession

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# Of thy fair thou owest

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# So long as men can breathe

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# Or eyes can see

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# So long lives this

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# And this

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# This gives life to thee

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# So long as men can breathe

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# Or eyes can see

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# So long lives this

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# And this

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# This gives life to thee

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# Ooh-ooh-ooh

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# Ooh-ooh-ooh. #

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'Father, we give you thanks for all who enrich our lives

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'with their creative talents.'

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'We thank you for music makers, playwrights and poets

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'who enlarge our understanding and give us new knowledge.'

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'We thank you for artists who create beautiful lasting memories.

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'Use their gifts in your service

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'Amen.'

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# May the road rise to meet you

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# May the wind be always at your back

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# May the sunshine warm upon your face

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# And rains fall soft upon your fields

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# May the road rise to meet you

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# May the wind be always at your back

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# May the sunshine warm upon your face

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# And rains fall soft upon your fields

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# And until we meet again

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# Until we meet again

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# May God May God hold you

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# In the palm of his hand

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# And until we meet again

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# Until we meet again

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# May God

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# May God hold you

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# In the palm

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# Of his hand. #

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Well, as we prepare to say goodbye to Stratford-upon-Avon,

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there is time for one final hymn from Holy Trinity Church.

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Based on the Magnificat, it's a modern version of Mary's song -

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Tell Out My Soul.

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'Next week, David explores the origins

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'of some of the most soulful of all songs of praise - spirituals

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'and introduces some of the best-loved,

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'performed by the Adventist Vocal Ensemble,

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'Tessera and Jeharna South,

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'and finds out why they continue to resonate with people today.'

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