Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Songs of Praise


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Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Josie d'Arby celebrates the golden jubilee of Liverpool's iconic Metropolitan Cathedral. There is also music to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.


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MUSIC: Domine, Fili unigenite from Gloria by Vivaldi

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It was a Pentecost Sunday back in 1967 when here, in Liverpool,

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Roman Catholics celebrated as they consecrated a brand-new cathedral.

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It was the end of a story that actually stretched back

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over 100 years, when the decision was first made to build

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a cathedral for the city's growing Catholic population.

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A story of frustrated ambition.

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But when the doors of the cathedral were finally opened,

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it captured the mood of the age.

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We hear from the man who oversaw

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the construction of this iconic building...

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I don't think, in the whole of my life, I've experienced anything

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as profound as what happened then.

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..and from two of the cathedral's young parishioners,

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as they prepare to make their first communion.

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You want to look really special on your big special day

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of being closer to God.

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We've music to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.

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And I'm on the trail of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.

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The story of the cathedral we see today began in 1930,

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with the purchase of the site of Liverpool's old workhouse.

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Three years later, the foundation stone was laid

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in a grand ceremony for which our first home was specially composed.

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'Catholics everywhere are watching with increasing pride

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'the growth of the great new Liverpool Cathedral,

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'which will one day rival

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'the largest and most beautiful in Europe.'

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But after the outbreak of war, construction work was stopped

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and spiralling costs meant all grand plans had to be abandoned.

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Instead, Liverpool looked to build a cathedral

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that reflected the new post-war era.

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This famous cathedral is the result of a competition launched in 1959.

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The winning design of almost 300 entries

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sent in from around the world.

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Among the congregation on the day of the consecration in 1967

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was Philip Harrison.

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For him, it was the culmination of five years

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overseeing the construction of the winning design.

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Working here was extremely exciting.

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This design proved a construction challenge, not least.

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I remember being right at the top of the lantern on the outside.

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And this was in the days before health and safety had been invented.

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You were walking on scaffolding tubes and holding the one above you,

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just to hang on.

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It was a bit hairy at times, yes, I remember.

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Tell me about the media buzz that surrounded this building.

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I remember in particular right towards the end of

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the construction period before the opening, one of the reporters said,

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"How did you know that the acoustics were going to work?"

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At that point, Jack Forrest, the junior partner,

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said, "We do know because we've fired a gun."

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Now that's a headline!

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And so there seemed to be one voice all clamour for

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a re-enactment of this firing a gun.

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And so I had the extremely embarrassing task

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of ringing the police,

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and saying could I borrow a revolver for half an hour, please?

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But that was in all the broadsheets at the time.

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And my father opened his paper

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which had this picture of me firing a revolver.

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But the headline in his newspaper said "Architect Shot In Cathedral."

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And apparently he fell off the seat in the train at the time.

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I bet he did!

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'The architect spoke in a new language,

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'but this is genuine art.'

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What, for you, were some of the special moments

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during this whole process?

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One particularly special moment was the day before the actual opening.

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I had been told that there was going to be

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a private service of consecration and it wasn't necessary

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for any of the workmen to stop whatever they were doing.

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And about 2 o'clock in the afternoon,

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I remember hearing this singing.

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CHORAL SINGING

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I don't think in all my life I've experienced anything

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as profound as what happened then.

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Without exception, every man seemed to go and sit down,

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the crash hats came off

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and this intense change came over the building.

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It stopped being a building and it became a sacred place.

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And it affected me so much that I just cried away.

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It was a wonderful, wonderful experience.

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Winifred Park has lived in Liverpool her whole life and witnessed

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the long struggle to build Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral.

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She has vivid memories of the celebrations 50 years ago

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on Pentecost Sunday.

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'Now here comes the procession with the cardinal legate.'

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Well, I went to the consecration.

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There were nearly 3,000 people in the cathedral.

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And the organ, this brand-new organ with the trumpets,

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was playing for the first time.

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And it was all joyful and uplifting because at long last we had

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our cathedral, after having had nearly 100 years of waiting.

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You go through the doors and you go, "Wow."

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You are met with this huge open space unsupported.

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And your eyes are automatically drawn to the lantern tower

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so you look up.

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It's not stained glass, it's coloured pieces of glass which are

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very intense and deep, representing all the beauties of God's nature.

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That looking up is almost a prayer in itself.

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When the cathedral was opened, it was absolutely bare.

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There wasn't a single solitary embellishment in it.

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Then gradually over the years,

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the needlework department contributed the hangings,

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the sculptors contributed the Stations of the Cross.

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And so much of it is local work.

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I didn't realise how marvellous it was going to be

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and how over the years it would go on developing the way it has done.

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It's a great joy and privilege to have that as my parish church.

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Back in the 18th century, the subject of our next film

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described the people of Liverpool as being "much alive to God."

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John Wesley, who, as Richard Taylor explains,

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was the founder of a new branch of Christianity.

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This is the parish church of St Giles Cripplegate in

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the City of London.

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Christians have worshipped here for hundreds of years,

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but our story starts in the early 18th century when, if you'd

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attended a service here, you would probably have been really bored.

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You see, in the 18th-century Church of England,

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you got an old-fashioned liturgy and sermons that could last for hours.

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There were no lovely hymns in those days - just maybe the odd

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psalm to chant, if you were lucky.

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This is all assuming you wanted to come in in the first place.

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One young clergyman at the time, who attended services here,

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was a certain John Wesley.

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But in 1738, he was to have an experience just around

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the corner from here which, in time, would challenge what it meant

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to worship and what it meant to be a Christian.

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John Wesley was from a family of Lincolnshire clergy.

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He had travelled to the American colonies to minister there,

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but his time wasn't a success and, by this stage,

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he was back in London, disconsolate and unhappy.

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Then, on 24th May, 1738, he came to a service on this spot.

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This monument carries his description of what happened that night.

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It says, "I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street,

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"where one was reading.

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"While he was describing the change which God works in the heart

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"through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed.

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"I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation."

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Inspired by his experience that night,

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and with his missionary passion revived,

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Wesley began to take his message of absolute faith in Christ to

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the people that the established Church had left behind -

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the men and women of the early Industrial Revolution.

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He preached in the coalfields, in the brickfields,

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in cottages and in halls, and in the open air.

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Wesley intended Methodism to be a society within the Church of England.

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But as the movement grew,

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so it started to build its own worship spaces.

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One of the earliest is here, on London's City Road.

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And it's here that I'm meeting the Reverend Dr Leslie Griffiths.

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I've often wondered, where does the name Methodism come from?

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Well, it was the rather quaint way that the first Methodists

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divided up their day so that they got up very early in the morning,

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they fasted for a bit, they did Bible study for a bit,

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then they had breakfast.

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And after that, they divvied up the rest of the day, and they were

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so methodical that they were called Methodists as a term of reproach.

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-Methodical Methodism!

-Mm.

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In a place like this, where Wesley himself preached,

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what's it like following in his footsteps, as it were?

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It's a little bit intimidating.

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I feel that perhaps we're measuring up to the rather exacting

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expectations of our predecessor,

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but John Wesley's statue out in the yard here is facing into the world.

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His people must also face into the world.

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So I think it's a stimulus to have him as a predecessor,

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but also I'd like to think that his rather severe face might just

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now and again see the corners of his mouth turning up in

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the direction of a smile.

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RICHARD LAUGHS

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It's said that, by the time he died,

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John Wesley had travelled more than 250,000 miles and preached

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more than 40,000 sermons, and he left behind him nothing but

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a good library and the Methodist Church.

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One of the most important moments in the life of

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a Roman Catholic is their first communion - a joyous occasion

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shared with family and friends.

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This is my dress, and my dress is very sparkly and very puffy

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and it has a lot of patterns on.

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This is my veil and it has a lot of beads, and the front bit

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has loads of diamonds on.

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You want to look really special on your big,

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special day of being closer to God.

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I've been practising with everything so I know what to do on the day.

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-"Isaac and Rebekah had two sons..."

-Gracie is nine years old.

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She'll be making her first communion just

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a short walk from her home at the Metropolitan Cathedral.

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The Cathedral is a lovely place to make a communion cos it's just

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very big and it has nice crosses at the top of it.

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So this is my cake.

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So this is what happens when you have the best grandma ever!

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Communion's important because, when you go deep into God's family,

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you become more of a Christian.

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So the Father says, "This is the body of Christ,"

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and then we eat it and remember it's Jesus.

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And we do the same with the wine.

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The wine is normal wine and it's blessed.

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Even though they go to Mass

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at the Cathedral regularly, it's really special

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but, you know, this year,

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it's 50 years that the Cathedral's...you know,

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it's having its birthday, and the children get to be part of that.

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And you'll be able to see Jacob and Gracie make their first communion

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after the next hymn.

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# What a friend we have in Jesus

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# All our sins and griefs to bear

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# What a privilege to carry

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# Everything to God in prayer

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# Oh, what peace we often forfeit

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# Oh, what needless pain we bear

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# All because we do not carry

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# Everything to God in prayer

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# Have we trials and temptations?

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# Is there trouble anywhere?

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# We should never be discouraged

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# Take it to the Lord in prayer

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# Can we find a friend so faithful?

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# Can we find a friend who will all our sorrows share?

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# All our sorrows share?

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# Jesus knows our every weakness

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# Jesus knows

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# Take it to the Lord in prayer

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# Are we weak and heavy-laden

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# Cumbered with a load of care?

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# Precious saviour, still our refuge

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# Take it to the Lord in prayer

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# Do your friends despise Forsake you?

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# Do you need a friend?

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# Take it to the Lord in prayer

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# To the Lord in prayer

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# In his arms he'll take and shield you

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# In his arms

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# You will find a solace there

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# You will find

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# You will find a solace there. #

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The moment for which Gracie and Jacob have been preparing for

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many months has arrived.

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They're surrounded by family, friends and the Cathedral community.

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So, children, this is it!

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The big day has arrived -

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something you'll remember for the rest of your lives.

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Taking my Holy Communion in such a special building is actually

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quite a gift because you can look up and see all the nice colours

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and remember that God is always with you.

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So, at first, I was a little bit nervous and then,

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when they called out my name, I was, like, "Oh!"

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I got to wear a lovely dress and I got to have a lot of fun.

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# Lord, I know I am not worthy to receive you

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# You speak the words and I am healed

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# Here at your table

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# Love's mystery

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# One bread, one cup One family... #

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Next week, David Grant highlights the vital contribution that

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carers make to our families and communities.

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But we end today's programme with a rousing hymn in celebration of

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the Feast of Pentecost.

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Josie d'Arby is in Liverpool to celebrate the golden jubilee of the city's iconic Metropolitan Cathedral and to share a very special occasion with two of its young parishioners. And there's music to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.

Music:

Hail Redeemer, King Divine from Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Lord Of All Hopefulness from Lutyens Crypt at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Here Is Love, Vast As The Ocean from All Saints Church, Ecclesall O Thou Who Camest From Above from St. Alban's Church, Bristol Bread Of Life from Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Sutton Coldfield Holy, Holy, Holy from St. James the Greater, Leicester What A Friend We Have In Jesus by St. Peter's Church of England School Choir.