Bill Turnbull eats a Polish traditional Easter meal, learns about the Moravian custom of remembering the dead and visits a Greek Orthodox church - all in Yorkshire.
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Nearly 1,300 years ago on these cliffs overlooking Whitby
in North Yorkshire, the great and the good of the Church met
to discuss the most important day in the Christian calendar.
At the Synod of Whitby, it was agreed to end their differences
and abide by the same formula in setting the date of Easter,
which is why this place has become known as the home of Easter.
Today on Songs of Praise, we celebrate the unifying message
of Christ's resurrection, but we'll also rejoice in the different ways
that Christians mark this special day,
all within the boundaries of what some like to call
God's own county - Yorkshire.
We find out what's on the menu at a Polish church in Leeds,
learn about the Moravian custom of remembering the dead
and visit a Greek Orthodox community,
with music from Catholic youth choirs from across the county
and a performance by the BBC Radio 2 Young Choristers Of The Year.
Our first hymn has words written by St John of Damascus -
a 7th-century Syrian monk and priest,
and it's a joyful celebration of Christ's resurrection.
Our Lady Of Czestochowa is a thriving Roman Catholic church
for the Polish community in Leeds.
Hanka came to Yorkshire in 1958
to join her father, who'd served in the RAF during the war.
One of her best friends in the congregation is Marcin,
just seven years in the UK, with whom she shares a love
of Polish tradition and Easter is a particularly special time.
Well, this is a marvellous spread you've got here.
Marcin, is this what many Polish families will have on Easter day?
Yeah, I think it's like the basis
of what every single family are going to have on the table.
Tell me what we've got in front of us here.
We have got baskets with food which first goes to the church
to be blessed.
And then we bring it back and put it on the table for the breakfast.
How important is the church to you?
It's very important.
You start life with the church for christening.
Then you go to church for wedding.
Then you go for communion.
In the end, you end your life in church, so it is important.
And also, for us, when we come out of church, we meet friends
and we chat and just keep together.
-When did you two meet?
-That's actually a pretty funny story.
'Hanka is the head of our amateur theatre group...'
Now, we have to start from the beginning
because he is making an impression on you.
'..and she put a little message in our newspaper in the church,'
like she's looking for some handsome new actors to the theatre,
so I was like, "Oh, my God, that's me!"
HE SPEAKS POLISH
No, that wasn't right, because you just come in
as if you were coming here every day.
'She's like a really young person, like a real friend.'
'That was like, straightaway, a really good connection.'
How unusual is it for people of different generations
to become friends?
We don't think it's unusual.
I think it's pretty straightforward.
And I only feel old when I look in the mirror.
'But when I'm amongst the young people I feel young.'
You're younger so you sit down and you can stand up.
'Although they might think I'm an old biddy, I don't know.'
Of course you're not!
And will you be celebrating Easter together?
-We hope so.
-I've just been invited, so I think so.
-Now, if you take a piece of egg.
I wish you prosperity, long life, good health
-and whatever you wish for yourself.
-And I wish you the same.
I'm a bit worried about Marcin. He seems to be going a bit hungry.
Now, health, prosperity...
-All the blessings that you wish.
-And all the blessings that you wish.
That was Leeds Cathedral Junior Choir -
part of a network of 1,500 children singing every week in 55 choirs
across the Catholic Diocese of Leeds.
The Bradford and Huddersfield Youth Choirs
will be performing for us later in the programme.
"Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe!" You're a bit cross. One, two...
Part of the diocese's work also takes place in schools
like St Philip's Catholic Primary School.
# ..Half past two is much too late Get it done by half past eight. #
I wasn't really too keen on singing
but now it's, erm... yeah, good. Really good.
You've got to sing proudly and you've got to be
responsible for your voice.
# ..Come from east to west... #
It makes me happy because
I know that we're all singing really nicely together.
# ..Has risen! #
The Christian charity Caring For Life provides individuals with homes
or community support for as long as it's needed.
At their headquarters, Crag House Farm,
there are lots of daily projects.
MUSIC: "The Bare Necessities" by Terry Gilkyson
I shall plant you two where you should find a letter.
Today is a special day for the community
and for one person in particular who's been helped by the charity.
I'm getting baptised today.
It's going to be fantastic.
We have...have you seen the marquee?
It's huge. It's brilliant.
I'm a little bit nervous because my family's all going to be there
and I've got to talk to them, tell them my testimony,
tell everybody else my testimony.
Natasha, would you come and share it with us?
When I was a child I was living between my mum and my dad's house
because they'd broken up
and I didn't really live at either place properly.
Some bad stuff did happen
and I slept on the streets a lot by choice.
By the time I was 16,
I'd moved round several hostels
and they were mainly pretty bad.
'Before I met Caring For Life, it was a struggle, so...'
I never thought that I would get to where I am.
I never thought that I'd be able to get up and be like,
"Oh, yay, it's another day!"
Caring For Life gave me food parcels and paid for other things when
I needed help. Pip was my support worker - lovely Pippa over here.
'I was so angry all the time'
and I was so angry with everything that had happened in my life.
And, erm...then I said to Pippa, "Can we go to church?"
She's took me under her wing,
and I said to her that I'm like her child of faith now.
I always knew I wanted to get baptised,
and I understand that it means I'm saying I'm going to follow Jesus
and I get a second chance at life.
But I didn't think I was good enough to get baptised.... Sorry.
SHE TAKES A DEEP BREATH
Now that I've seen the kindness of other people...
..I think I believe more than a lot of other people could
because I've seen so many hard times
that it means so much to me now.
We baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I can't even begin to imagine the things I have not seen yet.
It's just fabulous. I mean, my eyes have been opened.
I think there's so much more to see, there's so much more to see,
and so much more to do.
It's really incredible.
Calculating the date of Easter involves a complex
interpretation of the phases of the moon
And if that wasn't bewildering enough, there are two different
calendar systems to take into account, which is why the Eastern
Orthodox Church often celebrates Easter later
than Western churches do, sometimes by as much as five weeks,
except for this year,
because East and West are both celebrating Easter Sunday today.
The Greek community in Leeds began in the late '50s
when a lot of people from Egypt
had to come to this country
and it has been a thriving community throughout those years.
Easter is the most important
of our feasts.
Eastertime is important to me and my family
because, for us, it's the resurrection of Christ.
We believe it's our resurrection at the same time.
Once you enter this church, you will see a lot of icons.
There is one special for Easter
and that is the Harrowing of Hades or Hell
and that depicts our Lord Jesus Christ
going into Hell and picking Adam and Eve,
and that is to prove that on his next coming down to Earth
he will resurrect all of us.
For 40 days prior to Easter, we are fasting
so we're not supposed to eat any meat or dairy products
and the first day we are allowed to have meat again
is Easter Sunday.
'We have quite a lot of traditions we do follow during Eastertime.
'One of them is just painting our eggs red.'
Why do we have eggs at Easter?
-The eggs is the beginning of the life, isn't it?
'And the red, for us, symbolises the resurrection.'
-Shiny! Look at the difference.
-Yeah, it does.
Wow, it looks beautiful.
The most important aspect of the church service
is Holy Communion.
At that stage, the chanters are saying to the people,
"Now you are taking in your body
"the body of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"Soma Christou metalavete."
# Allilouia. #
This is Fulneck village in Pudsey.
It looks a bit like a film set for a Georgian period drama
with one of the longest and most beautiful terraces in Europe.
It's also home to Britain's largest Moravian settlement.
The history of the Protestant Moravian Church dates back to 1457,
but it takes its name from the refugees who settled in the 1700s
on the estate of one Count von Zinzendorf,
close to what is now the border of Poland.
And it was Zinzendorf himself who chose to establish this
settlement here in Yorkshire,
with this wonderful church at its heart, built in 1748.
Its interior reflects
the simplicity of Moravian Protestantism.
Moravians are perhaps best known
for their Christmas Christingle services,
but they also have their own unique Easter Sunday tradition.
We congregate in here at 7am,
and the chapel bell is ringing.
And when that stops, the minister comes out of the vestry,
and he stands there and he says, "The Lord is risen."
And we all say, "He is risen indeed."
And then we all walk down to the burial ground.
The minister has a list of all the people who have been buried
in God's Acre, in that pasture from Easter to Easter.
You wouldn't really think it was a graveyard
because all the gravestones are flat in the ground.
That's right, because in death, we're all equal.
We don't have to have big stones.
Most of my family are down here.
My parents, my grandparents,
my great grandparents, and my husband.
And then, just last year, my sister was scattered just down there.
It must be quite moving, a special moment,
when you remember everybody who's died in the past year.
Well, yes, but I remember being here one, beautiful,
still, spring morning, and the minister was reading out
these names, and I had a friend, and her name came up.
And, all of a sudden, from that corner came this whooshing noise.
This sound carried straight on and went out that way.
And all the branches were bending. It was wonderful.
And I just thought, "Yes".
Your friend was trying to tell you something?
Yes, I think she might have been, you know, that she was OK,
and she was still having a good time.
And why do you have this special ceremony at Eastertime?
Because it's celebrating that Jesus Christ is risen again.
I mean, it's not just a ghost, it's not just a spirit, he is a man,
he is back to how he was.
This is a poem about what God means to me now.
When I step outside, every day
My eyes are open to the beauty on display
I hear the birds, and feel the breeze
It takes all I've got not to fall to my knees
I can show you my world, if you take my hand
Meet Jesus, the saviour of man
He'll show you the way, the truth and the life
And he'll trade it all for your sin and spite.
# Brother, sister let me serve you
# Let me be as Christ to you
# Pray that I may have the grace to
# Let you be my servant, too
# We are pilgrims on a journey
# And companions on the road
# We are here to help each other
# Walk the mile and bear the load
# I will hold the Christ-light for you
-# I will hold the Christ-light for you
-In the night-time of your fear
-# In the night-time of your fear
-I will hold my hand out to you
-# I will hold my hand out to you
-Speak the peace you long to hear
# When we sing to God in heaven
# We shall find such harmony
# Born of all we've known together
# Of Christ's love and agony. #
This year's BBC Radio 2 Young Choristers Of The Year
competition is launching now.
Further details can be found on the Radio 2 website.
Despite the differences of customs and traditions,
whether you're Greek or Polish, Catholic or Moravian,
Easter Sunday really is the most important Christian day of all.
A time to recognise and celebrate Christ's resurrection
as the one truth that unites all.
So, wherever you are, have a happy Easter.
Next week, it's the junior School Choir Of The Year semifinal
from the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.
Six of the best junior choirs in Britain sing
to win a place in the final.
Bill Turnbull is treated to a Polish traditional Easter meal, learns about the Moravian custom of remembering the dead and visits a stunning Greek Orthodox church - all within the boundary of Yorkshire. Young Catholics from across the county sing some old favourites, and there is a performance by the BBC Radio 2 Young Choristers of the Year.