North Wales Songs of Praise


North Wales

Aled Jones takes to the hills with Mike Peters from The Alarm to raise money for NHS cancer services. The Rev Kate Bottley meets a composer at St Asaph's Cathedral.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to North Wales. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Welcome to Songs Of Praise from North Wales.

0:00:040:00:05

Today, I'm joining rock legend Mike Peters from the Welsh band

0:00:050:00:08

The Alarm and his lovely wife Jules on one of their charity

0:00:080:00:10

walks across the country.

0:00:100:00:11

Today, they're heading to Offa's Dyke. Hi, guys. How are you?

0:00:110:00:14

Lovely to see you. I'm good. Group hug. Well, listen.

0:00:140:00:16

I've got my walking boots on.

0:00:160:00:17

Shall we go for it? Let's do it, let's do it. Let's go.

0:00:170:00:19

Are you ready, everybody? ALL: Yes!

0:00:190:00:22

Offa's Dyke, here we come. Here we go. Let's go.

0:00:220:00:24

Hey!

0:00:240:00:25

APPLAUSE

0:00:250:00:27

This week, we're in the North Wales region of St Asaph.

0:00:480:00:52

We have hymns from the Cathedral and discover how it's produced two royal composers of sacred music.

0:00:520:00:58

I catch up with musician Mike Peters on his charity walk and hear

0:00:580:01:02

how his faith has helped him with his 20-year battle with cancer.

0:01:020:01:06

I turn to faith a lot, especially in the darker passages of the cancer

0:01:060:01:10

journey which everyone has to go through.

0:01:100:01:12

And Kate Bottley meets the hospital chaplain who's using

0:01:120:01:15

the power of music to break down barriers with dementia patients.

0:01:150:01:19

Godfrey, you've got an amazing voice. Oh, I know I have!

0:01:190:01:21

LAUGHTER

0:01:210:01:23

Today, we're walking along this dramatic footpath

0:01:300:01:32

built by King Offa in the eighth century

0:01:320:01:35

to create a border between England and Wales.

0:01:350:01:38

To the west is St Asaph, which has the smallest cathedral in the United Kingdom.

0:01:390:01:44

That's where our opening hymn comes from, ideal for a walk, this one.

0:01:440:01:47

Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah.

0:01:470:01:49

A great hymn sung in this wonderful cathedral.

0:04:450:04:48

Kate Bottley came to St Asaph to meet the composer

0:04:480:04:51

whose calling to write sacred music happened right here.

0:04:510:04:54

Paul Mealor may not be a familiar face but his music has made him

0:04:570:05:01

one of Britain's best-loved composers.

0:05:010:05:03

# Light after darkness... #

0:05:030:05:06

Paul wrote the number one hit single Wherever You Are

0:05:060:05:09

for Gareth Malone's Military Wives.

0:05:090:05:12

It was his suggestion was that he would get the wives to send

0:05:120:05:16

the letters that they had sent to their husbands

0:05:160:05:18

and partners overseas, so of course, I was given the greatest honour

0:05:180:05:22

to be able to read these very personal letters.

0:05:220:05:25

The very first one I open up says,

0:05:250:05:27

"Wherever you are, my heart will keep you safe."

0:05:270:05:29

And I thought, well, that's it.

0:05:310:05:32

What does it mean to you, music?

0:05:320:05:35

Music is everything.

0:05:350:05:36

I think it was St Augustine who said that he who sings, prays twice,

0:05:360:05:40

and I think for me, music and sacred music is at the heart of everything I do.

0:05:400:05:43

I'd had a religious experience when I was a kid.

0:05:430:05:45

I'd fallen into a river and I couldn't swim and I was dying.

0:05:450:05:48

I was nine and during that moment,

0:05:480:05:50

a huge warmth came over me and I felt, actually,

0:05:500:05:53

"Well, this isn't such a bad thing."

0:05:530:05:55

Anyway, I was dragged out and resuscitated and I said to my parents,

0:05:550:05:59

"I want to find out what that warmth was," and they brought me here.

0:05:590:06:02

And as I walked in as a little kid, thinking I was maybe,

0:06:020:06:05

it was the priesthood that was calling me,

0:06:050:06:07

I heard the choir singing here in the stalls and I said to Dad, "This is it. This is what I'm after."

0:06:070:06:13

CHORAL SINGING

0:06:130:06:18

It's an amazing place, isn't it? It is. It's a stunning place.

0:06:180:06:21

Can you imagine coming here as a little kid and being surrounded by all this?

0:06:210:06:25

For me, it was unbelievable.

0:06:250:06:26

Where did you sit? Well, it was either one side or the other,

0:06:260:06:28

depending on how naughty I'd been! Here in the front row.

0:06:280:06:31

Why does it not surprise me that you were the naughty choirboy?

0:06:310:06:34

CHORAL SINGING

0:06:340:06:39

Paul is following in the footsteps of another illustrious

0:06:390:06:42

composer from here at St Asaph's Cathedral - William Mathias,

0:06:420:06:47

who composed a choral piece for the wedding of Prince Charles

0:06:470:06:50

and Lady Diana.

0:06:500:06:52

# Let the people praise Thee, O God

0:06:520:06:55

# Yea, let all the people praise Thee. #

0:06:550:06:59

He taught me to be the composer that I want to be

0:07:000:07:02

and not to follow fads or trends or anything like that.

0:07:020:07:05

Just do and say what's in your head musically.

0:07:050:07:08

It took me a long time to realise what great advice that was.

0:07:080:07:12

But it certainly was.

0:07:120:07:14

30 years later,

0:07:150:07:17

Paul would emulate his mentor by composing the music for another

0:07:170:07:21

royal wedding, this time the union of Prince William and Catherine.

0:07:210:07:25

Do you see that gift

0:07:260:07:28

as something that is your responsibility to share?

0:07:280:07:31

I think, for me, composing sacred music or music that has

0:07:310:07:34

a spiritual aspect to it is a kind of surrogate priesthood.

0:07:340:07:37

It's saying what...that which I couldn't really have done otherwise,

0:07:370:07:41

and so, yes, I think there is an aspect of service in it.

0:07:410:07:45

Now, to perform one of Paul's compositions

0:07:450:07:48

in this beautiful cathedral is the Anglesey Youth Choir.

0:07:480:07:52

# I am the gentle light

0:07:530:07:57

# The stars at night

0:07:570:08:00

# The morning bright

0:08:000:08:05

# I am the still small voice

0:08:060:08:09

# The living choice

0:08:090:08:13

# The hearts rejoice

0:08:130:08:17

# And if you follow me

0:08:180:08:22

# I'll be with you for all eternity

0:08:220:08:30

# I will hold on to you

0:08:310:08:35

# My love will set you free

0:08:350:08:43

# I am forever love

0:08:460:08:50

# Light from above

0:08:500:08:53

# The peaceful dove

0:08:530:08:58

# I am your loving friend

0:08:590:09:02

# Your heart I tend

0:09:020:09:06

# Until the end

0:09:060:09:10

# And if you follow me

0:09:110:09:15

# I'll be with you for all eternity

0:09:150:09:23

# I will hold on to you

0:09:240:09:29

# My love will set you

0:09:290:09:34

# Free

0:09:340:09:38

# I am forever

0:09:390:09:45

# My love will set you

0:09:450:09:52

# Free. #

0:09:520:09:55

Mike Peters from the rock band The Alarm and his wife Jules

0:10:100:10:14

are walking across north Wales to raise money for NHS cancer services.

0:10:140:10:19

Today's walk is a far cry from the early days of Mike's career.

0:10:190:10:23

One, two, three, four.

0:10:230:10:25

He formed his band, The Alarm, in 1981

0:10:270:10:30

and they toured America supporting U2.

0:10:300:10:33

It was during this time that he found his faith.

0:10:330:10:36

I really learned a lot from them about spirituality, about faith.

0:10:360:10:40

Before they went on stage they'd have prayer meetings

0:10:400:10:43

with not just the band but the crew and the people on the tour

0:10:430:10:46

and I really got to experience how it brought everyone together.

0:10:460:10:51

It really brought faith alive for me as an individual.

0:10:510:10:56

I love reading about Jesus turning the tables over,

0:10:560:10:59

and that seemed to me that Jesus was a punk rocker, you know?

0:10:590:11:02

And then just creating the wine.

0:11:020:11:04

I thought, he's a bit rock and roll as well.

0:11:040:11:07

Mike and the band have enjoyed huge success,

0:11:080:11:10

selling millions of records worldwide.

0:11:100:11:13

But, behind-the-scenes, for the past 20 years,

0:11:130:11:16

he's had his own personal battle with cancer

0:11:160:11:19

and is now fighting leukaemia for the third time.

0:11:190:11:23

Did you find yourself turning to faith when you were diagnosed?

0:11:230:11:27

A lot of people do, don't they? Very much so.

0:11:270:11:29

You have to have that faith to keep moving

0:11:290:11:32

and I turned to that a lot, especially in the darker passages

0:11:320:11:37

of the cancer journey, which everyone has to go through.

0:11:370:11:39

I often say that I've been blessed with cancer in a weird, strange way.

0:11:390:11:44

What do you mean by that? It's changed my life in so many ways.

0:11:440:11:48

It's made me a better person, it's made me more appreciative

0:11:480:11:50

of the world I live in.

0:11:500:11:52

It's taken me on some incredible journeys with other people

0:11:520:11:55

who have done incredible things.

0:11:550:11:57

I would never have done that if cancer hadn't come into my life.

0:11:570:12:01

I think it makes you learn to be calm,

0:12:010:12:03

learn to stay strong and learn to be grateful for all that we have.

0:12:030:12:07

Mike put his faith into action

0:12:080:12:11

and in 2007 the couple set up their Love Hope Strength Foundation

0:12:110:12:15

to raise money to support other cancer patients.

0:12:150:12:18

It's seen them walk all over the world, from Snowdon to Everest.

0:12:180:12:23

I think we just felt compelled to do this

0:12:240:12:27

because of everything that others gave up for our good health.

0:12:270:12:32

It's very difficult to explain how compassionate the care was

0:12:320:12:36

for both of us and we have grown up with these doctors

0:12:360:12:39

and nurses in north Wales...

0:12:390:12:40

We're very lucky to have them, aren't we? Yes. We're so lucky.

0:12:400:12:44

You can keep saying it, and we want to keep saying it,

0:12:440:12:46

and that's why we're walking, really.

0:12:460:12:48

Many of the walkers have their own reasons for wanting to be involved.

0:12:490:12:53

Trish is recovering from breast cancer.

0:12:530:12:56

I spoke to Mike about how he felt when he was diagnosed

0:12:560:12:59

and he said that it had made him more spiritual, in a way.

0:12:590:13:02

Would you agree? You look at your life completely different.

0:13:020:13:05

People go through life and they don't think of what's going on

0:13:050:13:08

and the next thing you're faced with, you might not be here.

0:13:080:13:11

My daughter's called Faith. We try and explain to Faith

0:13:110:13:15

about God and angels and things like that

0:13:150:13:17

and just try and keep it alive for her because you never know.

0:13:170:13:22

Wherever Mike and Jules go on their charity walks, they also

0:14:550:14:59

ask people to join the list of potential bone marrow donors.

0:14:590:15:03

The donor drive involves cheek swabbing people

0:15:030:15:07

who are aged between 17 and 55, put them on

0:15:070:15:10

the International Bone Marrow Donor Registry

0:15:100:15:12

and give more people a fighting chance to find a match to live.

0:15:120:15:15

So far, 151,000 people have signed up to the list

0:15:150:15:20

and 3,500 life-saving matches have been made.

0:15:200:15:24

One person who became a donor is Kevin Davies.

0:15:250:15:28

A year after donating, he received a card from his recipient in Germany.

0:15:280:15:33

"Dear friendly saviour, with this card

0:15:330:15:36

"I am thanking you for going through the trouble of saving my life.

0:15:360:15:40

"I am expecting my English to improve overnight

0:15:400:15:43

"and to get cravings for fish and chips."

0:15:430:15:46

How did you feel? I felt...

0:15:480:15:50

It's made me feel very different as a human being.

0:15:500:15:54

I cannot beat this. I cannot beat this.

0:15:540:15:57

I cannot do anything better in my life than save somebody's life.

0:15:570:16:00

One of the hospitals benefiting from Mike and Jules' charity work

0:18:510:18:54

is Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.

0:18:540:18:56

The Reverend Kate Bottley has been enjoying a sing-along

0:18:560:18:59

with the chaplain there,

0:18:590:19:00

who's using his unique talents to help patients on the dementia ward.

0:19:000:19:04

Dementia is a distressing illness.

0:19:050:19:08

People who live with it find themselves trapped within a world

0:19:080:19:11

of their own, while their loved ones and carers look helplessly on.

0:19:110:19:14

Wynne Roberts, chaplain here at Bangor's biggest hospital,

0:19:160:19:19

has found his patients love singing

0:19:190:19:21

and it helps them to communicate with their loved ones.

0:19:210:19:25

# Take my hand

0:19:250:19:29

# Take my whole life too... #

0:19:310:19:37

They're living in difficult times.

0:19:380:19:40

They're going through life with dementia

0:19:400:19:43

and so therefore what I find is that the music,

0:19:430:19:46

especially Elvis music in my case, it actually takes them back to their

0:19:460:19:50

younger years, they're teenagers again, they're in love again,

0:19:500:19:53

they're singing all those songs

0:19:530:19:55

which were a part of their history and their memories.

0:19:550:19:58

APPLAUSE

0:19:590:20:01

When you see the fact that they remember every word

0:20:020:20:04

and that they come up and they sing with you,

0:20:040:20:08

it's just sheer joy.

0:20:080:20:10

# It's not himself

0:20:100:20:13

# More than you have... #

0:20:130:20:15

Godfrey, you've got an amazing voice. Oh, I know I have.

0:20:160:20:19

LAUGHTER

0:20:190:20:21

That's why I sing in the choir. It's like a light comes on.

0:20:210:20:25

If it wasn't for music, he'd sit in the chair and sleep all day.

0:20:250:20:29

But the reality of it is, he will have forgotten all of this

0:20:290:20:33

by the time we get home.

0:20:330:20:34

And I understand there's a special motivation for you,

0:20:410:20:43

a very personal reason why this is important. Yes.

0:20:430:20:46

It's because of my dear mum.

0:20:460:20:48

She has dementia and she's in a very good nursing home

0:20:480:20:51

and one day I just felt so sorry for everybody there

0:20:510:20:55

and so I started learning the songs and I went in there to sing,

0:20:550:20:58

because I remember 50 years ago

0:20:580:21:01

sitting with my mum watching television,

0:21:010:21:04

watching an Elvis film, singing those songs with her.

0:21:040:21:07

And now I'm able to actually do it with her now so that's precious.

0:21:070:21:11

# Shackled by the heavy

0:21:120:21:17

# Burden... #

0:21:170:21:19

I believe very much that spirituality, particularly being

0:21:200:21:23

a hospital chaplain, isn't just about going to church or singing

0:21:230:21:26

a hymn, spirituality is far wider than that in people's lives.

0:21:260:21:31

I love it. It's like God called you to be a priest

0:21:310:21:33

and called you to be Elvis as well. Yes.

0:21:330:21:36

That's like a double blessing, isn't it? I think it is.

0:21:360:21:39

And when you actually find that people,

0:21:390:21:41

when you do sing a song, which you don't think is a spiritual song

0:21:410:21:45

very often, those are the songs which actually give people peace,

0:21:450:21:49

give people strength and give people hope.

0:21:490:21:52

# That's the wonder

0:21:520:21:56

# The wonder of you. #

0:21:560:21:59

Do you love to sing? Yes, I do.

0:22:000:22:02

Seeing him enjoying himself, that makes a difference, yes.

0:22:020:22:05

Thank you. Goodbye.

0:22:090:22:12

We're coming to the end of our walk today.

0:24:340:24:36

In the distance we can see Prestatyn.

0:24:360:24:39

It's where Mike and Jules Peters first met

0:24:390:24:42

and fell in love 30 years ago.

0:24:420:24:44

When it happens to yourself, you kind of know.

0:24:460:24:49

Two weeks after we met, we got engaged.

0:24:490:24:52

Our parents thought we were absolutely crazy but I knew,

0:24:520:24:56

Jules knew.

0:24:560:24:58

It was binding, right there and then.

0:24:580:25:00

And I knew nothing in life would break it.

0:25:010:25:04

Their love and faith continues to get them through

0:25:050:25:08

Mike's ongoing battle with leukaemia.

0:25:080:25:10

Then, in 2016, came the devastating news that Jules had breast cancer.

0:25:100:25:17

I am prepared

0:25:180:25:20

and I've had lots of experience of dealing with these moments

0:25:200:25:23

so if it's going to have to happen to anyone,

0:25:230:25:26

you know, I think I can manage it.

0:25:260:25:28

But your world must have really rocked

0:25:290:25:32

when you were diagnosed as well.

0:25:320:25:35

That was the hardest for me.

0:25:350:25:37

He's looked the most worried I've ever seen him

0:25:370:25:39

over the last six months.

0:25:390:25:41

I found it easy to be strong for myself

0:25:410:25:43

but I find it very testing to be strong for Jules.

0:25:430:25:47

He was the most amazing partner and he was there for me

0:25:470:25:50

every step of the way, he came to every single chemotherapy session,

0:25:500:25:53

got up first thing in the morning, brought me my cup of tea.

0:25:530:25:56

That was all the stuff that really helped me.

0:25:560:25:58

Do you feel that God's looking after you?

0:26:010:26:03

In his own way, he's looking after all of us.

0:26:030:26:05

That's the message that comes through the Church,

0:26:050:26:09

through the Bible, through the teachings of Jesus.

0:26:090:26:11

You're going to perform a song for us as well.

0:26:130:26:15

What does that song mean to you? It's a song I wrote in 1985

0:26:150:26:19

called Walk Forever By My Side and it's a hymn-like song.

0:26:190:26:24

It's a song which has been sung in churches all over the world.

0:26:240:26:27

People have been getting married.

0:26:270:26:29

Jules and I sang the song on our wedding day.

0:26:290:26:32

It's a song that, from my point of view,

0:26:320:26:36

has a multi-layer of meanings.

0:26:360:26:38

# I'll walk

0:26:410:26:43

# Forever by your side

0:26:430:26:48

# Never lose sight of the day

0:26:480:26:52

# When we will run

0:26:540:26:57

# Through all our weakness

0:26:590:27:03

# On through the fields

0:27:040:27:07

# Strewn with our broken

0:27:090:27:13

# Dreams

0:27:140:27:19

# I'll walk

0:27:200:27:23

# Forever

0:27:230:27:25

# By your side

0:27:250:27:30

# Walk on

0:27:330:27:36

# Till morning

0:27:360:27:41

# Always by your side

0:27:420:27:50

# Walk on

0:27:520:27:56

# Till morning

0:27:560:28:01

# Always by your side

0:28:020:28:09

# I hope

0:28:160:28:18

# You'll stay with me tonight

0:28:190:28:23

# Lift the veil from my eyes

0:28:240:28:29

# For I am weak

0:28:300:28:33

# And I am foolish

0:28:350:28:38

# I need your love

0:28:390:28:43

# To see me through this

0:28:440:28:49

# Darkness

0:28:500:28:55

# I hope you'll stay

0:28:550:29:00

# With me tonight

0:29:000:29:05

# I'll walk

0:29:070:29:11

# On till morning

0:29:110:29:18

# Always by your side

0:29:180:29:25

# To help me make it through

0:29:270:29:30

# So walk forever by my side

0:29:300:29:34

# Walk on

0:29:350:29:39

# Always by your side. #

0:29:400:29:44

So, there it is, Mike, Prestatyn. The end is in sight.

0:29:470:29:50

That's it. A beautiful sight it is too.

0:29:500:29:52

I've never been so pleased to see it. Listen, you're an inspiration.

0:29:520:29:55

Thank you, Aled. Thanks for letting me walk with you.

0:29:550:29:57

It's been a pleasure. Brilliant. See you down there. Bye-bye.

0:29:570:30:00

Next week, Katherine Jenkins is in Hastings to find out how

0:30:000:30:03

the battle of 1066 changed British Christianity.

0:30:030:30:07

William the Conqueror caused the Abbey's high altar

0:30:070:30:10

to be built where he had won his great victory.

0:30:100:30:13

And Claire McCollum cheers on the Christian teenager

0:30:130:30:16

who's representing Great Britain in the World Transplant Games.

0:30:160:30:20

Now, we're going to end with a Welsh favourite, Blaenwern,

0:30:200:30:23

that sums up what God's love is all about.

0:30:230:30:26

'From the heights of the Scottish Highlands

0:34:110:34:13

'to the shores of East Anglia, I've travelled across Britain...'

0:34:130:34:17

We got a fish!

0:34:170:34:18

Aled Jones takes to the Welsh hills with Mike Peters from the band The Alarm on a walk to raise money for NHS cancer services. The Rev Kate Bottley meets a royal composer at St Asaph's Cathedral and the hospital chaplain who connects with dementia patients by singing like Elvis!