Hereford Songs of Praise


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Hereford

The Reverend Kate Bottley visits Hereford Cathedral and is shown its famous treasure, the mappa mundi, the world's largest surviving medieval map.


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This is the city of Hereford,

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home to a glorious cathedral.

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And this week I'm discovering how the Christian faith

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is at the heart of the place and its people.

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Welcome to Songs Of Praise.

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Coming up, we've a special treat from jazz singer Gregory Porter

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who chats to JB Gill and performs a song especially for us.

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I'll be meeting Christian, whose family has been running

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the same farm for four generations.

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I believe we're here to be stewards of the countryside

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and we're just looking after it for God,

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and we will try and do that to the best of our ability.

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And I discover Hereford's hidden gems,

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including the largest surviving medieval map of the world,

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the Mappa Mundi.

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This is Hereford Cathedral's greatest treasure.

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It was a really high-status, valuable object.

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So it's right here in Hereford Cathedral that we begin.

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On Wednesday, it's the Christian feast day of All Saints,

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and so we open with a hymn perfect for the occasion.

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Hereford has had a cathedral for over 900 years,

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and over many generations, it's become an historical treasure trove.

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As well as housing an original copy of the famous Magna Carta,

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the Cathedral's museum has one object

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that the Chancellor, Chris Pullin, is very proud of.

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This is Hereford Cathedral's greatest treasure,

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the Mappa Mundi.

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It dates from about the year 1300 and it's a spiritual map, really.

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It's not a map that would be very useful in getting you anywhere,

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but what it shows you is what people believed about the creation

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they lived in at that time.

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It's telling you about the spiritual succession of history.

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So is Hereford on here?

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It is, but it's hard to see, because it's been rubbed off, I think,

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by the fingers of people down the ages saying,

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-"We are here," you know.

-KATE LAUGHS

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When we take it out of its frame every couple of years

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to do a proper check of it, you get that much closer

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and you see the absolute beauty and skill, the fluency of all the lines,

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how beautifully it was drawn.

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-It still looks stunning. It's breathtaking.

-It does.

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We think that during the English Civil War it was hidden

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under a floor for a bit.

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That might be why it's a bit grubby,

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it could be that dirt fell through the floor and got on top of it.

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The cathedral is also famous for its ornate shrine

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to St Thomas of Hereford.

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He was Bishop of Hereford from 1275,

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but he was also very feisty.

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They say he had red hair.

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And he fell out big time with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Bad news, because the Archbishop exiled him to Italy,

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and there he died.

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His bones were returned here to Hereford

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and in 1287, an amazing series of miracles began,

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and when they totted these up in 1307 they found that

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there were 450 examples of people

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who had been healed here in Hereford.

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Eventually, in 1320, he was made a saint, St Thomas of Hereford.

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And this became his shrine.

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In the front you've got a rather lovely icon showing Thomas,

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our Thomas, and then angels are holding up the Mappa Mundi.

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What's the role of the shrine today?

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People are drawn to it, but they're drawn to it to say their prayers,

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and above all, he's somebody who inspires prayer to Jesus.

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That's how I see him.

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Our next hymn also has a local connection.

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The tune is called Hereford

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and it's written by Samuel Sebastian Wesley, organist here in the 1800s.

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O Thou Who Camest From Above.

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As well as being home to one of the finest cathedrals

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in the country, the city of Hereford has a thriving livestock market,

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where of course you can buy and sell Hereford cattle.

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And not far away from there is the 100-year-old Rudge family farm.

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Esther and the four generations before her have had their fair share

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of challenges along the way,

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but the Christian faith has always been at the heart of what they do.

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Farming's not always easy, is it?

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No, it does have its difficult times,

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especially cattle who have had BSE,

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foot-and-mouth... And the weather -

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we're so dependent on the weather. Storms.

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We've got a really bad apple harvest this year

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cos we had a late frost in May. So that's farming.

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Very dependent on weather.

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In the 21st century,

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traditional farming alone rarely pays its way, so farmers

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like Esther and her husband Henry have found ways to diversify.

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We do beef and sheep and cereals, which is

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a traditional Herefordshire farm.

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About ten years ago, we went into growing apples.

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And now we've also gone into quite a bit of renewable energy.

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We just try to keep moving with the times.

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We do some firewood as well, kiln-dried firewood,

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then we've also gone into anaerobic digester.

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What on earth is an anaerobic digester? Did I even say that right?

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Yes, you did.

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It's a way of making electricity from cow muck, basically.

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I believe we're here to be stewards of the countryside,

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and we're just looking after it for God.

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And we try to do that to the best of our ability.

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We believe it's important to manage it well

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cos we're looking after God's creation.

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-Things have not always been easy in the family either, have they?

-No.

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As for times when we have really seen God at work in our lives

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is our second daughter, Stephanie, was diagnosed with cancer

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when she was two.

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That was a really tough time.

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It was one of those days when you look out of the window

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and you can't understand why cars are still moving, you know?

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You've just been told your daughter's got cancer.

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We were told that there was no chance of Steph surviving.

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One particular time I remember just closing the door

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and the peace flooded through.

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I phoned my sister a bit later

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and found out they'd had a prayer meeting at church that night.

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Sorry, it made me a bit teary.

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And there was no coincidence that that peace that we felt

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was just when that prayer meeting was going on.

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Stephanie survived, and 26 years on, is a mother herself,

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and regularly works on the farm.

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Steph is fantastic.

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She's got three kids and yeah, a really strong Christian faith.

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-That's amazing.

-It is brilliant. Yes, it is.

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Ultimately it's God, it's having his peace with us and his strength,

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that person to turn to. The person who saved us has redeemed us.

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That's what keeps us going through this.

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# There is a redeemer

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As well as more hymns from Hereford Cathedral,

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we're in for another musical treat this week.

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Jazz star Gregory Porter is going to be performing

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especially for us, and JB Gill has been to meet him.

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# Smile, though your heart is aching

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# Smile, even though it's breaking... #

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-Gregory, so good to see you.

-Yes.

-Your voice is just so effortless.

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-How did you get into singing?

-That would be my dear mother.

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She was a minister, and she encouraged me to sing in church.

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-I was a loud singer.

-Yeah.

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My mother was always struck by the emotion

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that I would put into these first little church songs that I learnt.

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And how instrumental was gospel music to the music that you do now?

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I haven't changed a lot, because there are gospel messages.

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There are these universal messages of encouragement and love and peace

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in the music that I'm doing.

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You know, when I'm writing songs and when I'm in the studio recording,

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sometimes my mother's on my shoulder.

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-And so the words from Liquid Spirit...

-Mm.

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..I'm making a reference to one of the first gospel songs

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that I learnt as a child, you know?

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# I shall not, I shall not be moved

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# I shall not, I shall not be moved

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# Just like a tree that's planted by the water

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# I shall not be moved... #

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-And so there's all these little references and quotes...

-Mm.

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..from the roots of who I am.

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That's my mother, that's the church, it's gospel music.

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Mm. Does your faith keep you grounded as well?

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I feel God's hand in helping me go all over the world and say,

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and when I've had the opportunity to sing for Stevie Wonder

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and for George Benson

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and for all of these extraordinary people around the world -

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-I've sang for royalty, you know, in seven or eight countries.

-Wow.

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But I like the idea and the fact that I learned my craft, my gift,

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this emotive style, this emotional style, in church.

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And we would pull that PA system out of the church

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and we would sing to homeless people, afflicted people,

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addicted people.

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Tell us about the song that you're going to sing for us today.

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I'm going to sing a song I wrote that's on my most recent album,

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a tribute to Nat King Cole. The song is speaking of mutual respect

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for all people, and to remember a time of kindness and love.

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When you see somebody who's in trouble, lending a hand.

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These are the messages. So the song, When Love Was King. Yeah.

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-Thank you, Gregory.

-Thank you.

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# There once was a kingdom

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# Far, far away

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# Where love was the rule of the day

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# Nothing more, nothing less

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# Than to give your friend your best

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# There's much more story that I could tell

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# To make the hardest hearts swell

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# When love was king

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# Do you remember

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# When love was king?

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# When love was king

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# I remember, oh

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# When love was king

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# He ruled the land

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# With his fist unfurled

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# With open arms for the world

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# Of hungry children

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# First he'd think

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# To pull their lives

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# From the brink

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# When love was king

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# He showed respect for every man

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# Regardless of his skin and clan

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# Beside him stood his mighty queen

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# In equal force, wise and keen

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# He lifted up the underneath

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# And all his wealth he did bequeath

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# To those who toiled

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# Without a gain

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# So they could remember his reign

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# Whoa

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# So seek someplace

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# To call your own

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# Right beside this mighty shining throne

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# When love was king

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# Whoa

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# When love was king. #

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That was an amazing performance from Gregory Porter.

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Before our next song, we've got time just to remind you of a really

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exciting opportunity for young choirs across the country.

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Our Young Choir of the Year competition has previously

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been just for schools,

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but it's now open to all choirs whose members are school age.

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The closing date is 1 December,

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so to find out more, go to the website...

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..where you'll find all the details and terms and conditions.

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Cathedrals like Hereford are often places of pilgrimage,

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and that's a theme reflected in our next hymn, He Who Would Valiant Be.

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# He would valiant be

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This window recently installed at Hereford Cathedral

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is dedicated to the Special Air Service, the SAS,

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famous the world over for its military excellence

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and founded in 1941 here in the city.

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In fact, Hereford has been associated with the Armed Forces

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for over 100 years

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and many of the residents here have a military background.

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JB Gill has been meeting one of them.

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Now take your phone out.

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-VOICEOVER:

-Stuart Anderson now puts his well-honed military skills

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to use as a security expert helping people stay safe on the street.

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You're not aware of what's happening,

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so if you put that away...

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Right at the start of his army career as a teenage recruit,

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Stuart received a traumatic physical injury which would impact him

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psychologically for many years to come.

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I was shot in a training exercise.

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The bullet shattered every bone in my foot, bar one.

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Woke up many hours later and they'd operated,

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And at that time saved my foot.

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Pain is a strange one.

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You can deal with it, you can take pain relief.

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The bigger problem was the pain that was going on in my head.

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I wasn't able to deal with it at that young age.

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So at 17, get shot, get told you're going to lose your leg,

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and I didn't, I managed to get through that.

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But I realised this was long-term.

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-And I blamed God, I blamed him for shooting me.

-Mm.

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So that anger became bitterness.

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But you did go on into full service, didn't you?

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Within a year I was in Northern Ireland

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and I went on to do eight years' service.

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Although I was going on and seeing progress in that area,

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I was dropping downhill psychologically.

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Stuart sought solace in a new career as a bodyguard,

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and he started a family.

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But even after a decade, the scars hadn't gone away.

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So I had the family, nice house, nice car, earning good money,

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and I looked like I had everything in place.

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But inside, I was actually broken.

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Behind the doors, me and my wife, we led our own lives.

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We didn't get on. It was all hollow.

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So then what changed?

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I decided to take my kids to church, because I thought it would

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be good for them, hoping for them to have good moral grounding.

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And there was this bloke, Danny, he was talking, and he said,

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"You're either walking towards Jesus,

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"or you're walking against him."

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And something broke me. And I realised that I was walking away.

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Jesus turned up and met me, and everything changed from there.

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But that wasn't the end, was it?

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Because you still had other issues that you were dealing with.

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My marriage had been a sham.

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It wasn't built on the right foundation.

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We had to go from stage one, working through that,

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and then spent a couple of years putting the right foundations in.

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-We renewed our vows and we were able to come through.

-Mm.

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And here we are today.

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Would you say, then, that God and your faith, obviously, in God,

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has had the most impact on your life?

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Yeah. Without a doubt. Faith can move mountains.

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Everything is reconcilable. You are never too far away from God

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and I'm living proof of that.

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I was written off by so many people, even myself.

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But God turned that around.

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Yeah, so faith, it's just amazing.

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It's changed my life.

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That's almost all we've got time for here in Hereford.

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Next week, Sean Fletcher and I are going to be in Milton Keynes.

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We'll discover how, over the past 50 years, pioneering Christians

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have been at the heart of the UK's most famous new town.

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And there'll be music from worship leader Noel Robinson and his band.

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The clocks may have gone back

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and the autumn nights might be drawing in,

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but our next hymn reminds us that whatever season we're in,

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God's faithfulness never changes.

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The Reverend Kate Bottley visits Hereford Cathedral and is shown its famous treasure, the mappa mundi, the world's largest surviving medieval map. She also meets a Christian and her family who have farmed the same land for four generations.

Top jazz singer Gregory Porter tells JB Gill about his own Christian faith and performs the song When Love Was King.

Former military man and bodyguard Stuart Anderson explains how Christianity has impacted his life. Hymns include For All the Saints, Great Is Thy Faithfulness and There Is a Redeemer.