Fatherhood Songs of Praise


Fatherhood

Aled Jones introduces hymns for Father's Day, and explores what fatherhood means to different people.


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Transcript


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Oh, that's better. Father's Day - surely the one day in the year

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where I get to relax, and for a change,

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have my children looking after me.

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Perhaps I will unwind with a nice cup of tea.

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I wonder where they are. Hello?

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Hello?

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Typical.

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Coming up, we meet the dad whose own experience of fatherhood

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turned his world upside down.

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A daughter who discovered a father she didn't know she had.

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And we sing some great hymns

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that celebrate God as the Father.

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So, sit back and enjoy.

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Father's Day is a day of thanksgiving.

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It is a day to think about our dads. And for many of us, like me,

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to celebrate being a dad.

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Many hymns capture the belief in God as the Father,

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including our first hymn that paints a glorious picture of God.

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From the beautiful setting of St Andrew's University,

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the congregation sing Immortal, Invisible.

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I have been having a look into the origins of Father's Day.

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It is believed to have been the idea of Sonora Smart Dodd -

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a young American woman who wanted to thank her father,

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who had raised her, following her mother's death.

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It was officially sanctioned as a day of celebration

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by President Richard Nixon,

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back in 1972.

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Pretty impressive to think one girl's dream

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is now recognised all over the world.

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Our next fabulous song is one of thanks,

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performed by Gamlingay Village College Choir.

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Mark Stibbe has four children,

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so he knows the joy and pains of fatherhood.

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But he's never met his own dad.

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I never met my biological father,

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because before my twin sister and I were born,

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he disappeared from the scene.

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We don't know his name.

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We don't even know if he is still alive.

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We know our birth mother's name.

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But other than that, the rest is a mystery.

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But for Mark and his twin sister,

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it wasn't long until they became part of a new family.

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There were two people, Philip and Joyce Stibbe,

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and they came into the orphanage in Hackney and took Claire and me

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in their arms

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and drove us to their home,

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where we started a very different life.

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A life of real opportunities, actually.

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Despite the love of his new family,

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Mark still felt a deep sense of abandonment.

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Even though I had a great adoptive father,

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I felt a deep sense of loss

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at not ever having known my biological father.

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When I became a Christian,

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I found it really easy to relate to Jesus,

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because he is the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

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That's what the Bible describes him as.

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But I found it difficult to relate to God as a father,

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because I projected

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the face of my biological father onto my heavenly father.

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In 1987, Mark had an experience

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that changed everything.

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I was ordained as a minister in the Church of England,

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and I was given the youth programme.

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So I took these young people to a Youth for Christ rally,

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and I thought, "This will change them".

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In the end, it wasn't them who changed, it was me.

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This song began to play that I had never heard before.

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In fact, I had never heard a song like that before.

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The words went, "Father God, I wonder how I managed to exist

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"without the knowledge of your parenthood and your loving care."

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Singing that song for the first time,

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I really couldn't sing it, to be honest.

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I was crying.

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God is not a father who walks out on his kids.

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He will be with me through thick and thin,

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come hell or high water.

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Through the tears, I saw that for the first time.

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As we'll hear, this discovery took Mark's life

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in a different direction.

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Mark's own experience of fatherhood

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has inspired him to help others.

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The Father's House Trust is a charity

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that I formed in 2008.

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The real message at its heart

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is that God is the most loving dad in the universe.

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Through charity work and leadership courses,

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the Trust helps those who have difficult,

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or often no relationship,

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with their fathers.

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What inspired me to start the charity was

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I had an opportunity to go to Uganda,

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and I was speaking in an orphanage.

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I think I was listening to God,

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and I felt like he said to me,

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"You know what? You being orphaned,

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"and adopted, is not a curse on your life.

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"It's perhaps the greatest gift you could have been given.

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"And I want you to bring the Father's love

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"to the fatherless throughout the world."

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Here in the UK, the Trust has made a big difference.

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Liz Pembroke had a happy and fulfilling childhood,

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but didn't know how to receive her father's love.

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On a practical level, he was there.

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I do know it was hard for him,

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and men of his generation,

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to express their love.

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I really just wasn't a confident young girl,

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and needed lots of affirmation.

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And lots of hugs and kisses.

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As I have got older, and have reflected back,

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I realise...

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I did look for that affirmation

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and love

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in other places.

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Maybe I didn't think to look for it from my dad.

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MUSIC: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper

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Liz's contact with the Father's House Trust

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helped her understand how God's love could transform her relationship

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with her dad.

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I didn't even know that God

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could love me,

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or even that he existed in that way.

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I put these defences up round my heart, if you like.

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But actually, that protection was stopping me

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from receiving God's love.

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So, as that barrier is gradually being broken down by God,

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then something magical happens.

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I think the most beautiful thing

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is that I'm at a stage where I...

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really, really know that my dad loves me,

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and that's just...

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the most wonderful thing -

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the realisation that he always has loved me.

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So that's just really very wonderful.

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A great hymn, sung by the congregation at Pershore Abbey.

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Coming up next, a song from Ireland's queen of song, Dana.

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If you don't mind, I'll carry on my sweeping.

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# Oh, I know why you are crying

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# I can feel the pain you feel

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# I'm walking here beside you

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# And my love for you is real

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# Yet it seems that you don't know me

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# You can't hear the words I say

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# Are the eyes of those around you

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# Cold and empty as your day?

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# I am the light

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# The light of the world

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# I am the light And the light will burn

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# Within the hearts of those who love me

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# It lights the way

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# For those who yearn

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# To see the light

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# The light of the world

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# I am the light And the light will burn

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# And like a moth Drawn to the flame

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# Consumed in my love

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# You are born again

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# Who will speak my word of comforts?

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# Who will laugh for love of me?

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# Who will shine out in the darkness

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# So that all the world can see?

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# Yet the flame of love is growing

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# Like a tide that never turns

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# Like the sun that's never setting

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# So the flame of love will burn

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# I am the light

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# The light of the world

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# I am the light

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# And the light will burn

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# Within the hearts of those who love me

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# It lights the way for those who yearn

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# To see the light

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# The light of the world

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# I am the light And the light will burn

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# And like a moth

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# Drawn to the flame

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# Consumed in my love

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# You are born again

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# And like a moth

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# Drawn to the flame

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# Consumed in my love

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# You are born again. #

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That song was composed by Dana, incidentally.

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Lovely, isn't it?

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There are so many hymns and songs

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that focus on different aspects of God, the Father.

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My own personal favourite reminds us

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that God's love for us is written in our hearts.

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Here it is, sung by Maltman's Green School.

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Sing, O daughter of Zion.

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Shout aloud, O Israel.

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Be glad, and rejoice with all your heart.

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The Lord, your God, is with you.

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He is mighty to save.

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He will take great delight in you.

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He will quiet you with his love.

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He will rejoice over you, with singing.

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Over the years on Songs of Praise, we have met many fathers

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with all kinds of thought-provoking stories.

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One that I particularly admired was the story of David Lyle,

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from Northern Ireland,

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who told us movingly about his own son.

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Matthew was a lovely, witty lad.

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I'm not just saying that myself

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because I was his father.

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The letters we received about him

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after his death

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were heartbreaking,

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because they were unanimous in painting this picture

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of a joyful, friendly,

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affable, kind, generous person.

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But yet, he was a tormented soul.

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Drugs and addiction

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cursed his life,

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and brought him to terrible places.

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It's a normal reaction for anyone faced with

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the terrible tragedy of losing your only son

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to ask the question, "Why?

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"Why us? Why me?"

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But we came through that,

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and indeed, my wife was very, very clear in her thinking

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that God is sovereign.

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We were given new strength

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to come through that terrible period in our lives.

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Faith held us through it and brought us through it.

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And through all the doubts

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and the problems that you face with this,

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and the crushingness that you go through,

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and the times when you feel utterly broken.

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And it was faith,

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it was the love of Christ

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that brought us through it.

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I think it is very important,

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in terms of dealing with the death of your only son,

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that you actually

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celebrate the good memories you have.

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And I've found that this is an important part of faith -

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of Biblical faith -

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that we are

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to approach everything

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with thanksgiving.

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I give thanks for Matthew's life.

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My wife Helen and myself started the website for Matthew,

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because he had such important things to say

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about drugs and addiction.

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His own words about how addiction

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had captured his life, and enslaved him and destroyed his life -

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his own words are so powerful.

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This reality needed to be brought out to people,

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in the hope that even one life might be saved

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from this misery that drug-taking brings.

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In life, we are always dealing

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with the certainty of the unexpected.

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That is the biggest single reality

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that everybody watching this programme faces.

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I think faith in the love of Christ - faith in the risen Christ -

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is an important way of dealing

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with the certainty of the unexpected.

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Our father, who art in heaven

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Hallowed be thy name

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Thy kingdom come

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Thy will be done

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On earth as it is in heaven

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Give us this day our daily bread

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And forgive us our trespasses

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As we forgive those who trespass against us

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And lead us not into temptation

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But deliver us from evil

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For thine is the kingdom

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The power and the glory

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For ever and ever. Amen.

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Despite it being Father's Day,

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I've not had too much time to rest, have I?

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And I've ended up making my own tea.

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Just typical.

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I tell you what - let's all of us just sit back and enjoy

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a great hymn to finish.

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MUSIC: "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"

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News now of our next School Choir of the Year competition,

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which gets more exciting every year.

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We're looking for the best junior

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and senior school choirs in the land.

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If you think your school choir has got what it takes,

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check out our website...

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..where you will find out all about the competition.

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You can also watch all of this year's finalists -

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to see what your choir should aim for.

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Although the deadline isn't until the end of November,

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now is the time to plan to take part -

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so your choir doesn't miss the chance to be crowned

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national champions.

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If you have never entered before, this could be your year.

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# Hallelujah! Yeah! #

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The Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year competition,

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where every voice counts.

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Next week, meet God's architect.

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I'll discover why, 200 years after his birth,

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the churches and cathedrals

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designed by Augustus Pugin

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still echo his faith.

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And there will be hymns galore

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from churches and cathedrals which inspired,

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or were inspired by this grand designer's grand designs.

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