Easter Sunday Songs of Praise


Easter Sunday

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

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in North Yorkshire, the great and the good of the Church met

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to discuss the most important day in the Christian calendar.

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At the Synod of Whitby, it was agreed to end their differences

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and abide by the same formula in setting the date of Easter,

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which is why this place has become known as the home of Easter.

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Today on Songs of Praise, we celebrate the unifying message

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of Christ's resurrection, but we'll also rejoice in the different ways

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that Christians mark this special day,

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all within the boundaries of what some like to call

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God's own county - Yorkshire.

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We find out what's on the menu at a Polish church in Leeds,

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learn about the Moravian custom of remembering the dead

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and visit a Greek Orthodox community,

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with music from Catholic youth choirs from across the county

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and a performance by the BBC Radio 2 Young Choristers Of The Year.

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Our first hymn has words written by St John of Damascus -

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a 7th-century Syrian monk and priest,

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and it's a joyful celebration of Christ's resurrection.

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Our Lady Of Czestochowa is a thriving Roman Catholic church

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for the Polish community in Leeds.

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Hanka came to Yorkshire in 1958

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to join her father, who'd served in the RAF during the war.

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One of her best friends in the congregation is Marcin,

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just seven years in the UK, with whom she shares a love

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of Polish tradition and Easter is a particularly special time.

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Well, this is a marvellous spread you've got here.

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Marcin, is this what many Polish families will have on Easter day?

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Yeah, I think it's like the basis

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of what every single family are going to have on the table.

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Tell me what we've got in front of us here.

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We have got baskets with food which first goes to the church

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to be blessed.

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And then we bring it back and put it on the table for the breakfast.

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How important is the church to you?

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It's very important.

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You start life with the church for christening.

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Then you go to church for wedding.

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Then you go for communion.

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In the end, you end your life in church, so it is important.

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And also, for us, when we come out of church, we meet friends

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and we chat and just keep together.

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-When did you two meet?

-That's actually a pretty funny story.

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'Hanka is the head of our amateur theatre group...'

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Now, we have to start from the beginning

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because he is making an impression on you.

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'..and she put a little message in our newspaper in the church,'

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like she's looking for some handsome new actors to the theatre,

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so I was like, "Oh, my God, that's me!"

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HE SPEAKS POLISH

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No, that wasn't right, because you just come in

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as if you were coming here every day.

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'She's like a really young person, like a real friend.'

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LAUGHTER

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'That was like, straightaway, a really good connection.'

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How unusual is it for people of different generations

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to become friends?

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We don't think it's unusual.

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I think it's pretty straightforward.

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And I only feel old when I look in the mirror.

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'But when I'm amongst the young people I feel young.'

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You're younger so you sit down and you can stand up.

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'Although they might think I'm an old biddy, I don't know.'

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Of course you're not!

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And will you be celebrating Easter together?

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-We hope so.

-I've just been invited, so I think so.

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-Now, if you take a piece of egg.

-Right.

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Excuse fingers.

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I wish you prosperity, long life, good health

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-and whatever you wish for yourself.

-And I wish you the same.

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I'm a bit worried about Marcin. He seems to be going a bit hungry.

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Now, health, prosperity...

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-All the blessings that you wish.

-And all the blessings that you wish.

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-Happy Easter.

-Happy Easter.

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That was Leeds Cathedral Junior Choir -

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part of a network of 1,500 children singing every week in 55 choirs

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across the Catholic Diocese of Leeds.

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The Bradford and Huddersfield Youth Choirs

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will be performing for us later in the programme.

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"Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe!" You're a bit cross. One, two...

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Part of the diocese's work also takes place in schools

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like St Philip's Catholic Primary School.

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# ..Half past two is much too late Get it done by half past eight. #

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I wasn't really too keen on singing

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but now it's, erm... yeah, good. Really good.

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You've got to sing proudly and you've got to be

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responsible for your voice.

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# ..Come from east to west... #

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It makes me happy because

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I know that we're all singing really nicely together.

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# ..Has risen! #

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Great.

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The Christian charity Caring For Life provides individuals with homes

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or community support for as long as it's needed.

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At their headquarters, Crag House Farm,

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there are lots of daily projects.

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MUSIC: "The Bare Necessities" by Terry Gilkyson

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I shall plant you two where you should find a letter.

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Today is a special day for the community

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and for one person in particular who's been helped by the charity.

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I'm getting baptised today.

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It's going to be fantastic.

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We have...have you seen the marquee?

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It's huge. It's brilliant.

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I'm a little bit nervous because my family's all going to be there

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and I've got to talk to them, tell them my testimony,

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tell everybody else my testimony.

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Natasha, would you come and share it with us?

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When I was a child I was living between my mum and my dad's house

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because they'd broken up

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and I didn't really live at either place properly.

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Some bad stuff did happen

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and I slept on the streets a lot by choice.

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By the time I was 16,

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I'd moved round several hostels

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and they were mainly pretty bad.

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Then...

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'Before I met Caring For Life, it was a struggle, so...'

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I never thought that I would get to where I am.

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I never thought that I'd be able to get up and be like,

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"Oh, yay, it's another day!"

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Caring For Life gave me food parcels and paid for other things when

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I needed help. Pip was my support worker - lovely Pippa over here.

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'I was so angry all the time'

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and I was so angry with everything that had happened in my life.

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And, erm...then I said to Pippa, "Can we go to church?"

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She's took me under her wing,

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and I said to her that I'm like her child of faith now.

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I always knew I wanted to get baptised,

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and I understand that it means I'm saying I'm going to follow Jesus

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and I get a second chance at life.

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But I didn't think I was good enough to get baptised.... Sorry.

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SHE TAKES A DEEP BREATH

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Now that I've seen the kindness of other people...

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APPLAUSE

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..I think I believe more than a lot of other people could

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because I've seen so many hard times

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that it means so much to me now.

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We baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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SHE LAUGHS

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I can't even begin to imagine the things I have not seen yet.

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It's just fabulous. I mean, my eyes have been opened.

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I think there's so much more to see, there's so much more to see,

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and so much more to do.

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It's really incredible.

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Calculating the date of Easter involves a complex

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interpretation of the phases of the moon

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And if that wasn't bewildering enough, there are two different

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calendar systems to take into account, which is why the Eastern

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Orthodox Church often celebrates Easter later

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than Western churches do, sometimes by as much as five weeks,

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except for this year,

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because East and West are both celebrating Easter Sunday today.

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SINGING

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The Greek community in Leeds began in the late '50s

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when a lot of people from Egypt

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had to come to this country

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and it has been a thriving community throughout those years.

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CHANTING

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Easter is the most important

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of our feasts.

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Eastertime is important to me and my family

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because, for us, it's the resurrection of Christ.

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We believe it's our resurrection at the same time.

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Once you enter this church, you will see a lot of icons.

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There is one special for Easter

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and that is the Harrowing of Hades or Hell

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and that depicts our Lord Jesus Christ

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going into Hell and picking Adam and Eve,

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resurrecting them,

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and that is to prove that on his next coming down to Earth

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he will resurrect all of us.

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For 40 days prior to Easter, we are fasting

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so we're not supposed to eat any meat or dairy products

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and the first day we are allowed to have meat again

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is Easter Sunday.

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'We have quite a lot of traditions we do follow during Eastertime.

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'One of them is just painting our eggs red.'

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Why do we have eggs at Easter?

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-The eggs is the beginning of the life, isn't it?

-Oh, yeah!

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'And the red, for us, symbolises the resurrection.'

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-Shiny! Look at the difference.

-Yeah, it does.

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Wow, it looks beautiful.

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The most important aspect of the church service

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is Holy Communion.

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At that stage, the chanters are saying to the people,

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"Now you are taking in your body

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"the body of our Lord Jesus Christ."

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"Soma Christou metalavete."

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# Soma

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# Christou

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# Metalavete

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# Pigis

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# Athanatou

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# Gefsasthe

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# Soma

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# Christou

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# Metalavete

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# Pigis

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# Athanatou

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# Gefsasthe

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# Allilouia. #

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This is Fulneck village in Pudsey.

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It looks a bit like a film set for a Georgian period drama

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with one of the longest and most beautiful terraces in Europe.

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It's also home to Britain's largest Moravian settlement.

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The history of the Protestant Moravian Church dates back to 1457,

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but it takes its name from the refugees who settled in the 1700s

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on the estate of one Count von Zinzendorf,

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close to what is now the border of Poland.

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And it was Zinzendorf himself who chose to establish this

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settlement here in Yorkshire,

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with this wonderful church at its heart, built in 1748.

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Its interior reflects

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the simplicity of Moravian Protestantism.

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Moravians are perhaps best known

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for their Christmas Christingle services,

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but they also have their own unique Easter Sunday tradition.

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We congregate in here at 7am,

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and the chapel bell is ringing.

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And when that stops, the minister comes out of the vestry,

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and he stands there and he says, "The Lord is risen."

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And we all say, "He is risen indeed."

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And then we all walk down to the burial ground.

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The minister has a list of all the people who have been buried

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in God's Acre, in that pasture from Easter to Easter.

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You wouldn't really think it was a graveyard

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because all the gravestones are flat in the ground.

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That's right, because in death, we're all equal.

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We don't have to have big stones.

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Most of my family are down here.

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My parents, my grandparents,

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my great grandparents, and my husband.

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And then, just last year, my sister was scattered just down there.

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It must be quite moving, a special moment,

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when you remember everybody who's died in the past year.

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Well, yes, but I remember being here one, beautiful,

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still, spring morning, and the minister was reading out

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these names, and I had a friend, and her name came up.

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And, all of a sudden, from that corner came this whooshing noise.

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WIND BLOWS

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This sound carried straight on and went out that way.

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And all the branches were bending. It was wonderful.

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And I just thought, "Yes".

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Your friend was trying to tell you something?

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Yes, I think she might have been, you know, that she was OK,

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and she was still having a good time.

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And why do you have this special ceremony at Eastertime?

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Because it's celebrating that Jesus Christ is risen again.

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I mean, it's not just a ghost, it's not just a spirit, he is a man,

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he is back to how he was.

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This is a poem about what God means to me now.

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When I step outside, every day

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My eyes are open to the beauty on display

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I hear the birds, and feel the breeze

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It takes all I've got not to fall to my knees

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I can show you my world, if you take my hand

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Meet Jesus, the saviour of man

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He'll show you the way, the truth and the life

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And he'll trade it all for your sin and spite.

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# Brother, sister let me serve you

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# Let me be as Christ to you

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# Pray that I may have the grace to

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# Let you be my servant, too

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# We are pilgrims on a journey

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# And companions on the road

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# We are here to help each other

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# Walk the mile and bear the load

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# I will hold the Christ-light for you

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-# I will hold the Christ-light for you

-In the night-time of your fear

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-# In the night-time of your fear

-I will hold my hand out to you

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-# I will hold my hand out to you

-Speak the peace you long to hear

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# When we sing to God in heaven

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# We shall find such harmony

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# Born of all we've known together

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# Of Christ's love and agony. #

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This year's BBC Radio 2 Young Choristers Of The Year

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competition is launching now.

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Further details can be found on the Radio 2 website.

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Despite the differences of customs and traditions,

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whether you're Greek or Polish, Catholic or Moravian,

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Easter Sunday really is the most important Christian day of all.

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A time to recognise and celebrate Christ's resurrection

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as the one truth that unites all.

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So, wherever you are, have a happy Easter.

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Next week, it's the junior School Choir Of The Year semifinal

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from the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

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Six of the best junior choirs in Britain sing

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to win a place in the final.

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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.


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