Olympic Countdown Songs of Praise


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Olympic Countdown

Aled Jones gets to look around the new Olympic Stadium in London, and introduces some spectacular hymns and songs from Britain and beyond.


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'Every Olympic Games begins with this motto...'

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'A trio of Latin words, which means faster, higher, stronger.'

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I bet you didn't know, but those words were inspired

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by the teachings of a Dominican priest 100 years ago.

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Well, this week, I've come to Stratford, east London,

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where this time next year, the 30th Olympic Games will be taking place.

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So it's on your marks, get set, go!

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'So, this week, I'll be looking around the Olympic site

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'as the builders are about to move out,

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'meeting the vicar laying the Games' spiritual foundations

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'and enjoying more great music from Britain and beyond.'

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UPBEAT INSTRUMENTAL

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'In just over a year, London will host the Olympic Games.

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'It's the biggest sporting event to ever take place in the UK.'

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'This is the brand-new Olympic stadium,

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'which will welcome a massive 80,000 spectators

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'and billions more watching on television around the world.'

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If you're lucky enough to be in one of these seats,

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you're guaranteed an experience you'll never forget.

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The biggest event in the Songs Of Praise calendar

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is the ever-popular Big Sing, when thousands of us raise the roof

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in the glorious surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall.

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'And I'll have exciting news about this year's Big Sing event

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'at the end of the programme, so have a pen to hand.'

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'Construction at Olympic Park started five years ago.

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'It's already three quarters finished.'

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The Games are on track, thanks to an army of workers

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whose mission was to turn Britain's Olympic dream into reality.

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At its height, the workforce reached 16,000.

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That's the size of a small town.

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This place has got its own medical centre,

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fire service, even police force.

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'And this building site is the last place you'd expect to find a vicar.

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'But it's a community, like any other.

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'Kelvin Woolmer is hard-hat chaplain to the workers.'

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How did you get this job?

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-Well, I used to be a policeman.

-Right. How did you get that job?

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I was ordained in 2001

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into the Church of England.

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And I became the borough chaplain for Tower Hamlets

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in my last few years in the police.

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I'd retired, and then we went and got the Olympics

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in the summer of 2005.

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And I was asked to look at this job,

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to take on the role of chaplain for the construction workforce.

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It was an opportunity that won't come again, so take it with both hands.

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This has got to be the biggest parish ever, hasn't it?

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Everywhere you look, there are workers, construction going on.

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As a parish, it's unique.

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Because we've got no children and we've got no mums and toddlers clubs.

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But we do have a lot of fellas away from home, not seeing their family.

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I'd love a look around. Shall we go for it?

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-Walk on.

-Fantastic!

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You'll definitely know our next hymn - For All The Saints.

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The words were written by William Walsham How,

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who was actually Bishop here, in the East End of London.

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Were people a bit reticent to start with, coming up to you?

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Initially, they were. They didn't understand what we were about.

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But I think, once we'd broken the ice

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and people learnt they could come to us about anything

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and what they said stayed with us, was confidential,

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that's when we really couldn't cope.

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Because you could have them queuing up to come and talk to me.

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We deal with people of all backgrounds, all faiths,

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all situations.

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And we're just generally there for them.

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So, it's not a case of you evangelising?

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You're not here to try and convert people?

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We're not here to convert anybody. One of the workers said,

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"You'll never make me a Christian."

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I said, "I've got more chance of making you a Jedi Knight

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"than I have of making you a Christian."

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So once we got past that point,

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and once everyone understands we're not here evangelising,

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that we're just here as people of faith,

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albeit a Christian faith, we are here for everybody.

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Because we are all God's children.

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So we are here to look after them for him.

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'As Kelvin's been telling us, this area has attracted people

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'from all different backgrounds and faiths.

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'It's also created lots of employment.

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'Londoner Keith Gordon is just one of the army of workers

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'who've transformed this area into a world-class sporting venue.'

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Tell me a bit about what you do here.

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Well, I'm an apprentice on this Olympic site.

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-Doing what?

-Landscaping.

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I'm an apprentice landscaper.

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You must be very proud when you look at that sight.

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Oh, yes. I'm really proud.

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To see this site how it was before it got to this stage,

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it was just all mud and just rubble.

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And to see what it looks like now, I'm just proud to be a part of that.

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Is this the sort of place you're going to bring the family?

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Oh, definitely.

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I do want to bring my family down here,

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so that I can, in a sense, show off,

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to say, you know, I helped to put in those trees.

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I did those hills there. I helped to plant those plants.

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Is this work for you or is it pleasure?

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I think it's a bit of both.

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But more pleasure for me,

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so the whole job itself is a pleasurable experience.

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# As high as the heavens

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# Are above the earth

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# So high are your ways to mine

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# Ways so perfect they never fail me

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# I know you are good all the time

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# And through the storm

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# Yes, I will praise you

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# Despite it all

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# Yes, I will sing

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# Through good and bad

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# Yes, I will worship

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# For you remain the same

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# King of Kings

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# You are the voice of hope

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# The anchor of my soul

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# Where there seems to be no way

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# You make it possible

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# You are the Prince of Peace

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# Amidst adversity

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# My lips will shout for joy

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# To you, the most high. #

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All the athletes will have one thing in common - the will to win.

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Sport isn't just about competition.

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It can unite nations and bridge barriers.

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When I was in South Africa for the Football World Cup,

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I found out exactly how sport can change the world.

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'South Africa's emphatic return to international sport

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'was underlined at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

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'But, for the country, the tournament had a deeper resonance.

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'During apartheid, the Springboks were hated by most black South Africans,

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'because rugby was the sport of their oppressors.'

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As President, Nelson Mandela saw the potential of sport

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to unite and reconcile a divided country.

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'This was reciprocated by the South African captain, Francois Pienaar,

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'who took his players to Robben Island during the 1995 tournament.

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'He was the last team member to visit Nelson Mandela's former cell.'

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I stood in that cell, and he was on Robben Island for 17-odd years.

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And it was just a small cell with no view, really.

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And, er, I remember...

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Because now I've met him, we've spoken about many things.

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He came to the opening - just before the opening game, he came to see us.

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It was very emotional.

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'During the tournament,

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'the team also learnt their country's new national anthem.'

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We got a voice coach in to teach us how to sing.

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And the players loved it. They were training in the showers.

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We laughed at each other when it came to the pronunciation.

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Some of the forwards just couldn't pronounce some of the words.

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We sang it regularly.

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It was important for us to be able to sing our national anthem.

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'In the final, the Springboks faced the favourites, New Zealand's All Blacks.

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'President Mandela visited the home team's dressing room before the match.'

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And he wore a Springbok on his heart.

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Never did we know he was going to be there.

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And nor did I ever imagine in my wildest dreams

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that he would wear a Springbok shirt,

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having fought against the Springbok,

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as it were, in the days of apartheid.

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He stood with a Springbok on his heart and he said good luck to us.

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And when he turned around, my number was on his back.

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So when I stood there in front of 65,000 people -

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and, actually, in front of the world,

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because I knew this was beamed across the world -

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I was too emotional. I could not open my mouth to sing,

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because I knew I would cry.

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I knew I would just cry, because I was so proud.

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And I remember looking to my right,

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and my team-mates were singing Nkosi Sikeleli from the bottom of their stomachs,

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and the tears were rolling down their cheeks.

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They were also incredibly proud.

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So I realised we would play until we couldn't play any more,

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until they have to drag us off the field that day.

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When that final whistle blew, I went down on my knees

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to say thank you for the privilege of playing in this wonderful match.

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And before I knew it, everybody just stormed around me.

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And the whole team was around me on their knees.

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And I just asked one of our players to say a prayer,

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and everybody bowed their heads.

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That's when all the emotions of the six weeks just came to the floor.

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We said thank you for the opportunity to play in the World Cup.

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It was a very special moment.

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I think it's one of the first times ever that a sporting team

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showed their faith and belief in such a way.

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# Nkosi Sikelel i'Afrika

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# Malup hakanyiswu phondolwayo

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# Yiswa imithanda zo yethu

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# Nkosi Sikelela

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# Thina lusapolwayo

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# Morena boloka setjaba sa heso

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# O fedise dintwa le matshwe ne ho

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# O seboloke

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# Seboloke

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# Se tjaba sa heso

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# Se tjaba sa South Afrika

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# South Afrika

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# Uit die blou van onse hemel

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# Uit die diepte van ons see

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# Oor ons ewige gebergtes

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# Waar die kranse antwoord gee

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# Sounds the call to come together

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# And united we shall stand

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# Let us live and strive for freedom

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# In South Africa, our land. #

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As we can see, the stadium is completed.

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Everything around it almost completed.

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-Does that mean the end of your role here?

-Not entirely.

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It finishes as the chaplain to the construction workforce,

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but I still run a parish.

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I've got plenty of people I've got contact with.

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So I've got a continuing role.

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What's been your proudest moment?

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My proudest moment is just being here

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and being available to these people.

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For them to talk to me and my team

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and to share part of their life.

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Has your faith changed in the time you've been here?

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It's got stronger and stronger and stronger.

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Because you can see God at work in everything here. You really can.

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People might not understand what God is,

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but in praying for them, walking around, listening to their stories

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and seeing this work going up, God has got to be in this.

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The piece of music you chose reflects the time you've spent here.

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Yes. It's The Prayer.

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And it's got those wonderful words in it -

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"We are all God's children and we are seeking God's grace."

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That's what I've been doing. Walking around here,

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praying that everybody receives God's grace.

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# I pray you'll be our eyes

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# And watch us where we go

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# And help us to be wise

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# In times when we don't know

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# Let this be our prayer

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# When we lose our way

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# Lead us to a place

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# Guide us with your grace

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# To a place where we'll be safe

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# A world where pain and sorrow will be ended

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# And every heart that's broken will be mended

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# And we'll remember

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# We are all God's children

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# Reaching out to touch you

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# Reaching to the sky

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# We ask that life be kind

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# We ask that life be kind

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# And watch us from above

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# And watch us from above

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# We hope each soul will find

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# We hope each soul will find

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# Another soul to love

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# Another soul to love

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# Let this be our prayer

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# Just like every child

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# Give us faith so we'll be

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# Safe. #

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'Lord God, may our world come together

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'and be united as one people,

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'joined in joy and love

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'for one common purpose,

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'of being humanity at its best.

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'Lead us in love and may your Holy Spirit keep us safe

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'and guide us in living your gospel.

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'For the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.'

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For some athletes, this will be the greatest moment of their lives.

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The hard work will have paid off. It's the finishing line.

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Look, I've just won a race. Mind you, it was only me competing.

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I'd love to be here in 12 months' time.

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Imagine this stadium full - 80,000 people cheering.

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The atmosphere's guaranteed to be electric.

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APPLAUSE

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'As promised, I'll have news of how to get your ticket

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'for this year's Big Sing in just a moment.'

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APPLAUSE

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Grab a pen and paper, because here we go again.

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It's that special time of year when I can announce

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how to apply for tickets for this year's Big Sing,

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which takes place on Sunday 11th September.

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"From where?" I hear you ask.

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You've guessed it. The Royal Albert Hall.

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The all-important ticket line number is...

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For more details or to apply online, please go to our website...

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So, if you want to be inside,

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as opposed to outside in the cold, then don't miss the boat.

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If you don't manage to get tickets,

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you can watch from the best seat in the house - at home on your telly.

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I'll be there. See you soon.

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'Next week, Pam Rhodes explores the enduring power of hymns

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'as the Methodist Church publishes a new hymn book

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'called Singing The Faith.

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'So there'll be plenty to enjoy, with great hymns

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'from the congregation in Oxford, Wallingford Parish Church Choir,

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'and special guests Melanie Marshall and Wynne Evans.'

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail [email protected]

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