Fife's Future Songs of Praise


Fife's Future

Music and worship. Sally Magnusson discovers remarkable signs of hope on her final journey around the Kingdom of Fife, and introduces hymns from Dunfermline Abbey.


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This week, we're back in Fife,

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as the ancient kingdom looks to the future.

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We'll hear about the faith of the scientist who studies the sun,

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and the love of the family whose son survived a freak accident,

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and we have hymns from Dunfermline Abbey and St Andrews University.

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If any threatening aircraft try to come near UK airspace

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from the north, this is what they'll be met with.

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It's the very latest RAF aircraft, the Typhoon. But last month,

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after much lobbying and discussion, the Ministry of Defence decided

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to transfer the Typhoons to another base and hand Leuchars over to the army.

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The Kingdom of Fife is used to that kind of uncertainty.

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The coalmines, once a huge part of the economy here,

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have now almost gone.

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When they closed in the 1980s,

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thousands of people were left without a future.

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But today's programme is not about looking backwards,

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but with confidence, looking forwards,

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beginning with our first hymn, from Dunfermline Abbey.

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One thing I've found in St Andrews

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is that there's a growing number of students asking

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about what belief in God actually means.

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My name is Katie. I am studying theology here.

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I'm from the west coast of Scotland.

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I'm Alexandra Thornton-Reid and I'm from south Lincolnshire.

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I study theological studies.

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I love being in St Andrews. It's a great place to study theology.

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Obviously, it's very near to where John Knox preached his first sermon.

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I'm actually studying just across the road from there.

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As a professor of theology, it's Alan Torrance's job to teach them

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how to ask these questions.

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Well, the hardest question for a Christian to ask,

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concerns the problem of suffering.

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Two years ago, my children and I watched my wife die

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slowly and painfully of cancer.

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And, of course, there was the inclination to ask, "Why?"

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But the question that was most significant at that time

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was not the "Why?" question, but the "Where is God?" question.

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Because if God is there with us,

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sharing in our grief, and sustaining us through it,

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then the "Why?" question is something that can be left with God.

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We don't need an answer to the "Why?" question.

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And you found where God was at that time?

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Yes, we had a profound sense of God's presence with us.

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That's not simply because one believes in the existence

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of an abstract God,

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it's because of our conviction in the God of the Christian faith.

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The God who comes amongst us in the person of Christ,

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who suffered poverty, grief, loneliness, erm, despair.

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It is that God, who by his spirit,

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comes to be present with us when we're going through the mill.

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And you went through the mill profoundly, after your wife's death?

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Well, I...I suffered a period of clinical depression.

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I coped for a... Coped quite well for a while, but then all of a sudden,

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the stresses and pressures got to me for a while,

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and I became very seriously depressed.

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We're a bit reluctant in society to acknowledge this.

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Yes. One of the biggest problems in the Christian tradition

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has been to see depression as a spiritual problem.

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Depression has to be understood to be

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a physiological, chemical problem in the first instance.

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It's triggered by environmental factors,

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so, people leading chaotic lives, that may well lead to depression,

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but when the depression takes place, that's a clinical condition.

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And in this process of intellectual enquiry on the one hand

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and personal pain on the other,

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how has your faith come through this?

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Well, like every Christian,

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one has moments of enormous confidence and assurance,

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and at other times, wondering as to whether one might

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be holding beliefs that aren't sufficiently warranted. OK?

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But generally, I'm blessed with feeling enormously enthusiastic

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and confident about the Christian faith.

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The lovely old words of that last hymn

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were set to a traditional Scottish folk tune, Rowan Tree.

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Mixing the traditional and the contemporary, students in St Andrews

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study subjects ranging from physics and astronomy,

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to psychology and international relations.

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Eric Priest is an applied mathematician,

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and a world expert on the sun.

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He's been studying it for years,

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and has come up with all sorts of complex equations

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to explain how it works.

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And these figures, then,

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this is what you spend your time worshipping?

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These equations are wonderful.

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I look at them,

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I play with them every day.

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You can never solve them exactly, but you can make approximations to them.

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In such a way that your approximation

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is relevant for what you're looking at on the sun.

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You're a distinguished scientist, you're also a Christian.

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There are many people that would say that was...incompatible.

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Not to me.

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I find science and Christianity complement one another

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and they're consistent with one another.

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I don't know what you think the life of a scientist is like.

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Do you think it's being coldly logical,

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in a white coat in a laboratory, with a blank face?

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-That's what we're often told, yeah.

-That is completely wrong.

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For me, science is all about creativity.

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Imagination. Questioning.

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But it's also about proof, isn't it?

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No. Pure mathematics is about proving theorems, that's true,

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but that is only a very small part of science.

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Most of science is about building models, mathematical models

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that are consistent with the observations,

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the experiments that you're looking at.

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How does God fit into your model?

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Well, there's a deep analogy here,

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because, as I said, science is about questioning,

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and when you do that, you realise how little you know,

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which give you a sense of humility,

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and it also gives you a sense of wonder.

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Erm... And that, to me, is exactly the same as the life of faith.

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To me, the life of faith is a pilgrimage.

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I can never prove the existence of God,

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in the same way that I can never prove that these equations

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are describing completely accurately what is going on on the sun.

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So, for me, the question is,

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"Is the existence of God consistent with my experience, or not?"

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For me personally, the existence of God is much more consistent.

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So, I can't prove that God exists,

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but I'm prepared to live my life under the assumption that he does,

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and that's what I mean by faith.

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Faith is not absolute certainty, it's living with these questions.

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It's living a life of pilgrimage.

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Our next song finds new words to express a very old biblical theme.

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Forgiveness, acceptance, a new start.

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It's performed by singer-songwriter, Ian White.

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# When you pass through the waters

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# I will be with you I'll watch over you

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# When you walk through the valley

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# I will comfort you

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# For I am the Lord your God

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# Who lights the way

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# There's no need to be afraid

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# Don't let the past keep holding you back

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# Don't lose the dream in which you believe

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# For I want to do

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# Deep within you

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# Something new

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# When you're dry as a desert

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# You can drink from me Waters rich and free

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# When you need some forgiveness

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# I will show you mercy

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# And light a fire that will burn a brand new road

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# It will show you where to go

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# Don't let the past keep holding you back

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# Don't lose the dream in which you believe

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# For I want to do

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# Deep within you

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# Something new

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# You can make a difference for a better way

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# For living for tomorrow means making the best of today

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# So turn the page and you will see

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# Just how rich your life can be

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# Don't let the past keep holding you back

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# Don't lose the dream in which you believe

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# For I want to do

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# Deep within you

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# Something new

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# I want to do

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# Deep within you

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# Something new. #

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The Navy may have pulled out of Rosyth

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but Britain's two new aircraft carriers are still being assembled in the dockyard.

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And with Fife becoming a centre of excellence for renewable energy,

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the demand is high for engineering skills.

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Right in the middle of Rosyth dockyard,

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Carnegie College is determined to create new skills,

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to replace the mining that was once Fife's biggest employer.

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It was devastating to see the community just decline

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and then lose all confidence

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in itself as a result.

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Now, what we're seeing is young men and women from these communities

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having optimism and hope and seeing careers for themselves.

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It's a fantastic thing to see.

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I feel that in my role in the college,

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I can create opportunities for people through securing the funding,

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through designing the curriculum, to create those opportunities,

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get people back into jobs.

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The youngsters around here, I can see they're talented and motivated,

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but that is the generation that could be lost.

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Yes. These young men and women are very talented, as you say.

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Good Higher grades and have made a choice to step into industry

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and develop those skills in a different way, through a different route.

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And it's great to see them flourish in that way.

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And you believe this is a God-given gift,

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-that this is where you should be?

-Yeah, well, that gift, yes, is God-given.

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I've got a strong Christian faith,

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I've always been in or around my church.

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I'm very active in and around my own church.

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And my faith is important to me,

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because it's not always an easy job to do.

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I do remember, we were training for mining engineers,

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only a decade ago, and the jobs were pulled away from them.

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My faith then comes into play, because what we did

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was we found alternative jobs for all of those people.

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But my faith is bigger than that.

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My faith is much more about the whole job that I do,

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and the fact that working in the education sector is fantastic.

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# The Lord bless you and keep you

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# The Lord make his face to shine upon you

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# To shine upon you and be gracious

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# And be gracious

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# Unto you

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# The Lord

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# Bless you and keep you

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# The Lord make his face to shine upon you

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# To shine upon you and be gracious

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# And be gracious

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# Unto you

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# The Lord lift up the light

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# Of his countenance upon you

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# The Lord lift up the light

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# Of his countenance upon you

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# And give you peace

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# And give you peace

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# And give you

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# Peace

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# And give you

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# Peace

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# Amen

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# Amen

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# Amen

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# Amen

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# Amen

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# Amen

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# Amen

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# Amen. #

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Kinghorn lifeboat is one of the busiest in Scotland,

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covering the commercial and pleasure craft using the Firth of Forth.

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It sees action around once a week, and its volunteer crew

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have a target time from call to launch of just seven minutes.

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But there can be risks. Crew member, Alistair McLean,

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suffered severe brain injuries, when four years ago,

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he fell overboard and was hit by a propeller.

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The surgeon came up to see us

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and told us that he would be paralysed down his right side.

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He would lose the sight in the right side of his eyes, possibly the left.

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He would have no speech and no comprehension.

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I did ask her... I said he would learn to speak again,

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and she said no, he wouldn't.

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That was a...a big shock

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What was going through your head at the time?

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We got in to see him, after the operation.

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We were told exactly how everything was touch and go.

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It was very much, they were looking hour by hour

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so, when we came out, we had a quiet area, and I thought,

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"I'll sit down now and take the time to pray."

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I thought, "I'll say the Lord's Prayer," and I couldn't remember it.

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Couldn't remember it.

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And the only thing that I could remember

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was from earlier in the week,

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we were discussing favourite hymns, and my favourite hymn was

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Father, I Place Into Your Hands The Things That I Can't Do.

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And that was the only thing that I could remember.

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So, I just said it over and over and over to myself.

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Cos it was all I could do, was place him in God's hands.

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And then something completely unexpected happened.

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Alistair began to make steady progress

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towards returning to normal life.

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Although he can't crew the lifeboat, Alistair is once again,

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very much part of the team,

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as he edits the pictures shot by the lifeboat camera.

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-Have you not got any?

-No.

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When he had been at the hospital,

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they had no televisions in their bedrooms.

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They had to go to a television room.

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So, he'd spent quite a wee while without television.

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So, we had got him home, settled him into his room,

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and when we were all going to bed, he was watching, I don't know,

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some comedy programme, and he was just giggling.

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Just pure giggles.

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And I just said to my husband, I says, "Listen to that."

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I says, "You just didn't think you would ever hear that again,"

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his giggling.

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We thank you for the beauty and complexity

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and mystery of all that we see in your universe.

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We thank you for the hope, that through all our questioning,

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you will find us, even when we feel we are losing you.

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We thank you for the bonds of love between family and friends

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which carry us through the unexpected challenges which life brings us.

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We say goodbye to the Kingdom of Fife

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with a great hymn of praise from Dunfermline Abbey.

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Next week, hymns and stories

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inspired by a subject we all talk about -

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the weather. Aled looks to the skies, with a cloud spotter,

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tries not to make it rain as he attempts a new instrument,

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and views planet Earth from a heavenly perspective.

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A good outlook for hymn-lovers everywhere.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail [email protected]

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Sally Magnusson discovers remarkable signs of hope on her final journey around the Kingdom of Fife and introduces hymns and songs from Dunfermline Abbey, St Andrews University and singer Ian White.


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