Pam Rhodes talks to school children about the Christian calendar and chooses suitable hymns for the whole year.
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For everything, there is a season.
That's what the Bible says and certainly from a very early age,
our lives are governed by the seasons
and I don't just mean the weather.
I'm here at Forty Hill School,
where in common with many colleges and schools, their term times
and holidays can trace their origins back to the Christian calendar.
You only have to take a look through any calendar or diary to see
that throughout the year, there are countless days of celebration
and tradition and of course, plenty of hymns for every one of them.
This week - hymnologist and author Gordon Giles,
the children of Forty Hill School in Enfield,
and congregations from all over the country
with a selection of hymns that take us right through the Christian year.
In many ways, the Christian story starts towards the end of each year
because the season of Advent looks forward to Christmas
and to the birth of Christ and even beyond that
to the day when Christ will come again.
Well, once Christmas Day is over the commercial world is inclined
to think that the season of Christ's birth is over too.
But you've heard the song. Christmas is a feast that lasts for 12 days
and that is just the start, as the children here know.
The Christian year is full of stories.
The three wise men came to visit.
We call that season Epiphany.
-Yes. Can you say that too?
-And then who came on Epiphany?
-The three Kings.
I've drawn the three wise men in big cloaks and a camel.
They saw a star and because they studied the stars
they followed the star to Jesus and they gave him gifts.
They gave him myrrh, frankincense and gold.
Gordon Giles is vicar of St Mary Magdalene in Enfield.
He is the author of several books on hymnody.
The Magi, the Kings, whatever you want to call them,
they bring gold, frankincense and myrrh
and show Jesus' kingship
and the revelation of his life and ministry and purpose,
not only to the Jews, of whom he was the Messiah,
but to the gentiles, to the whole world.
And that's what we celebrate at Epiphany.
And then on February 2nd, because it is 40 days after Christmas,
we have what some people call Candlemas
or what we might call the presentation of Christ in the temple.
That's when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem,
as the law requires, and offer a sacrifice of two turtle doves.
That is where the turtle doves in the carol come from.
Then, they immediately meet Anna and Simeon, these two old people
who have waited for the redemption of Israel and the seeing of Jesus.
And we have that lovely Canticle of Simeon,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.
And that is the departing in peace, if you like, of the Christmas season.
Some people keep their Christmas decorations up that long,
although many take them down on 12th night, around Epiphany.
The six weeks of Lent leading up to Easter time remind us
that Christ was tested beyond human endurance
during his 40 days in the wilderness
but that our faith too is constantly challenged and put to the test.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday,
when many people will have the sign of the cross
made on their foreheads in ash to remind them
and us, all of us, that we are mortal and that we must turn away from sin.
From dust we were made and to dust we shall return.
We then enter the season of Lent, a season of penitence,
a season of saying sorry to God,
and for many people,
that also involves giving something up or maybe taking something on.
Some people don't like to say the word "hallelujah" during Lent.
They feel it should be more austere
and they save that word up for the great Easter celebrations.
Lent is when we're getting ready for Easter.
Do either of you two know what Lent is?
When Jesus is in the desert and he thinks about stuff.
Jesus went into the desert
and he was thinking about whether he should turn his back on God.
The Devil came and said,
"If you are hungry, turn these rocks into bread."
And Jesus said, "You can't live on bread alone."
I think he would have been feeling confused and worried
and I'll be thinking the same too.
The Devil said that he could have all of the cities and be the king.
And he is saying here, "I'm so tempted to say yes to the Devil
"but I can't because God would be furious."
-What sort of things do you give up?
-Playing my PlayStation a lot.
Sometimes I give up chocolate but I find it quite hard
because I really like chocolate.
I try to argue less with my brother but it's pretty hard
because he gets on my nerves a lot.
The culmination of our Christian year is Holy Week,
when each day marks Christ's journey to the cross.
His pain, his obedience, his sacrifice for us
are all poured out in heartfelt hymns of sorrow and gratitude.
Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week.
It begins on a great high as Jesus enters Jerusalem,
coming down the Mount of Olives, palm crosses are waved now,
they were palm branches in those days of course, hailing the Messiah King.
"Hosanna to the son of David", the crowd shouted.
But it wasn't to last, of course.
Soon, they were changing their tune, as it were,
and calling for Jesus to be crucified.
But before that happened, we have the Last Supper.
He took bread and wine and likened himself to the Passover lamb
in what we now call the Eucharist, the communion, the mass.
He also gave the disciples a new commandment,
the great commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
That is a commandment that is very important to the Christian faith.
The other thing he did, of course, was to wash the disciples' feet
to reveal a servant nature that we should all learn from and follow.
# This is our God
# The servant King
# He calls us now to follow him
# To bring our lives
# As a daily offering. #
And then Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed
and all his disciples fell asleep.
Judas Iscariot kissed him on the cheek as a sign,
to come and... that's the one they need to take.
Servant girls were asking Peter about if they knew that guy
and he kept denying and denying and denying.
Then follows the crucifixion, the saddest day of the year.
Known, perhaps ironically, as Good Friday.
It was a very sad day, out of which create good comes.
I feel happy and sad.
I feel sad because Jesus had to die
and I feel happy because Jesus gave his life for all of us.
Jesus didn't have to do that,
but he went through all the hardship just for us, to save our sins.
Well, you need to understand that Jesus died for us and he saved us.
And God was happy about that because he was forgiving us
for all that we have done bad.
The hymn by William Walsham How, 'It Is A Thing Most Wonderful',
was written for children.
The crucifixion, the story of Jesus' death is a very difficult story
for all of us to come to terms with.
The pain of crucifixion was just unbearable.
What Walsham How did was to write the hymn as if from the perspective
of a child standing at the foot of the cross and seeing it happen.
We might say in our day and age
that no child should have to see anything like that,
a terrible crucifixion scene.
But the spirituality of any of us coming to the cross as children
and trying to just get to grips with the pain, the terror,
the significance of what is going on
when Christ died for me on the cross and bled for me.
This is what this hymn is about.
And after the sorrow of Christ's crucifixion
comes the joy of his resurrection.
Easter is, of course,
the most important feast in the Christian year
and it's marked by celebration and tradition and pageantry,
not just in words and music,
but in the decoration of both the building...
..and the clergy too.
Clerical vestments aren't just for show.
They are decorated with Christian symbols and often with images
of significance in the life and faith of the priest who wears them.
But the colours robing the clergy or the altar
at different times of year also have meaning.
The seasons of the Church year,
to some extent reflect the seasons of the year.
And they are marked,
as are the seasons of the natural year, by colour.
So in the Church we would celebrate Lent
and Advent maybe with the colour purple or blue, perhaps.
When there is no season, we think of green,
which might remind us of the green fields of the summer.
We use white for Easter and Christmas.
We use red for Pentecost, the flames of the spirit,
and also for Passiontide for the red on Palm Sunday and in Passion Week.
So for the Easter Day processional,
the vestments are predominantly white
and once again the triumphant "Alleluya" can ring out.
Christ's final ascension into heaven is another cause for great
celebration in the Christian year, followed by Pentecost,
when the flames of the Holy Spirit ignite in all of us
the possibility to become disciples of Christ.
Pentecost is when the Holy Spirit came
and there were flames on people's heads
and they began to speak lots of different languages.
It's when the wind came in Pentecost.
There was like... Was it fire on top of their heads?
Their heads started going on fire and then they started speaking
different languages and that was the start of the Christian Church.
We do celebrate Pentecost, to some extent, as the Church's birthday.
It's when the Church began
as the outworking of God's spirit in the world.
But we can pray for the Holy spirit any day.
The Holy Spirit prays within us. It expresses our needs.
She, he, whatever you want to call the Holy Spirit in that way.
We can sing 'Come Down O Love Divine' any day
and ask God and his spirit to fill our lives,
that we may continue to serve him
and be a witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, the message of the Bible
and our experience of everyday life come together in glorious harmony,
like harvest, when we give joyful thanks
for God's blessing in the fields
and for the gifts of his creation around us.
There are many famous harvest thanksgiving hymns.
'We Plough The Fields And Scatter'
and 'Now Thank We All Our God' can be used.
'Come Ye Thankful People Come'. But there are some new ones too.
This one is relatively new. 'For The Fruits Of His Creation'.
It was written by Fred Pratt Green and a tune used by Francis Jackson.
Francis Jackson was organist at York Minster for many years
and this tune really has taken off, East Acklam.
It's a lovely tune and it works really well for these words.
May the God who provides us with all the fruits of creation
give us grace to care for the hungry and the despairing,
that at our lives' end, we may rest eternal in the divine
fellowship of the saints.
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always.
The school's war memorial serves to remind the children of both
military and civilian casualties from wars past and present.
Although remembrance isn't actually part of the Church's year,
coming so soon after All Souls' Day, it is a time to remember
not just the faithful who have lost their lives,
but all the saints in heaven whose festival days
punctuate the Christian year
and whose hymns of praise to God will live for ever more.
Later this year, we'll be revealing the UK's top 10 hymns.
But to find out what they are, we need you to cast your vote.
You've only got a week left to vote but it couldn't be simpler.
Just go to the Songs of Praise website
and choose your favourite from the list of 100 hymns.
The 10 most popular will be sung at The Big Sing
in the Royal Albert Hall.
And next week,
Diane will be introducing more music with worship and praise
in the great outdoors as the summer festival season gets under way.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd