Once a Chorister Songs of Praise


Once a Chorister

Aled Jones meets some famous faces who, like him, were once choristers. There'll also be some wonderful hymns sung by choristers from across the country.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Once a Chorister. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

# Pie Jesu Domine... #

0:00:020:00:08

OK, so I have changed quite a bit, haven't I?

0:00:090:00:12

But so have the famous faces we're meeting this week.

0:00:120:00:15

We have one thing in common. We were lucky enough to be choristers.

0:00:150:00:18

This week, I catch up with conductor Sir Mark Elder,

0:00:220:00:26

David Lammy MP

0:00:260:00:28

and wine expert Olly Smith to chat to them about their chorister days,

0:00:280:00:31

with music from some of the very best choristers

0:00:310:00:35

from across the British Isles.

0:00:350:00:37

CHORAL HARMONY

0:00:420:00:45

When I look back at my time as a chorister in Bangor Cathedral,

0:00:510:00:55

I not only remember the wonderful music I was fortune to sing

0:00:550:00:58

but also that glorious building I was in.

0:00:580:01:01

Mind you, it wasn't as glorious as this one.

0:01:010:01:03

That time as a chorister is very dear to my heart

0:01:030:01:06

and I'm looking forward to meeting others

0:01:060:01:08

who shared a similar experience

0:01:080:01:09

and finding out how it shaped their lives.

0:01:090:01:11

Still today, thousands of choristers don their choir robes

0:01:150:01:19

to lead the worship in all sorts of buildings,

0:01:190:01:22

from rural churches to grand cathedrals like this one.

0:01:220:01:25

We'll feature some of them today.

0:01:250:01:27

Our first hymn comes from Beverley Minster,

0:01:270:01:29

where the choristers lead the congregation in a hymn

0:01:290:01:32

that celebrates everyone's love of singing. It's Angel-Voices.

0:01:320:01:35

Before we hear from our other guests,

0:04:190:04:21

I caught up with my good friend Simon Lole,

0:04:210:04:24

who was a chorister here at St Paul's Cathedral

0:04:240:04:27

and later, director of music at Salisbury Cathedral, to chat about all things chorister.

0:04:270:04:32

So this is it, the nerve centre of choral music in the cathedral.

0:04:330:04:37

Yeah, this is where it all happens, all the hard work. Music round the walls, the piano.

0:04:370:04:42

All the congregation see is the angelic bit and this is the graft.

0:04:420:04:45

Yeah, this is where all the hard work happens, day after day, morning, evening.

0:04:450:04:49

Why is it that when you speak to choristers these days, they say,

0:04:490:04:52

"What I learnt as a chorister stayed with me all my life"?

0:04:520:04:55

Well, it's an interesting thing. It is so special because, obviously,

0:04:550:05:00

there's a remarkable musical discipline -

0:05:000:05:02

you learn so much musically and you're doing it all the time, so you're infused with this technique,

0:05:020:05:08

but there's so much more.

0:05:080:05:09

You learn about things like punctuality.

0:05:090:05:12

Heaven forbid if you're late for choir practice,

0:05:120:05:15

-you must have been there when you were late and the choir master...

-Dodging the hymn books!

0:05:150:05:20

It's interesting how you grow in confidence

0:05:200:05:23

and in ability day after day. You get to know the music.

0:05:230:05:26

I remember when I first came here and these big boys singing this beautiful music,

0:05:260:05:30

I felt completely out of my depth. It's weird, isn't it?

0:05:300:05:33

It is that feeling of being totally lost at the beginning.

0:05:330:05:37

I remember my first rehearsal in a choir room a bit smaller than this one in Bangor,

0:05:370:05:41

but everything was a bit smaller in Bangor,

0:05:410:05:43

and following the musical notes with my finger

0:05:430:05:46

and not knowing what was happening and thinking, "What have I done?"

0:05:460:05:50

Simon's chorister training stood him in good stead

0:05:520:05:55

when he became director of music at Salisbury,

0:05:550:05:58

inheriting the first cathedral girls' choir in the country.

0:05:580:06:02

Make sure there's a nice, warm crescendo on that.

0:06:020:06:04

It's something I've championed for many years and I believe

0:06:070:06:10

so strongly in girls singing in cathedral choirs. Why not?

0:06:100:06:14

I don't think I would have concentrated so much on the singing

0:06:140:06:18

if there had been a gorgeous girl standing next to me, even at 11.

0:06:180:06:20

LAUGHTER

0:06:200:06:22

I went back to the cathedral last year to celebrate 20 years

0:06:220:06:26

and it's amazing.

0:06:260:06:28

They're now breaking through into the university world, the professional singing world,

0:06:280:06:32

and it's fantastic to see.

0:06:320:06:34

There's a saying, "Once a chorister, always a chorister."

0:06:340:06:37

-Do you think it's true?

-I think it's absolutely true.

0:06:370:06:40

All the people I meet in all walks of life who've been choristers

0:06:400:06:43

always look back very fondly on the experience.

0:06:430:06:47

Often, it doesn't matter... I chose to make music my profession,

0:06:470:06:51

but there have been so many people who have been successful in other walks of life

0:06:510:06:55

and who've used a lot of the experiences from being a chorister

0:06:550:06:59

and translated that into their professional lives.

0:06:590:07:02

It's helped them enormously, really.

0:07:020:07:04

# I know that my Redeemer liveth

0:07:080:07:15

# And that He shall stand

0:07:210:07:26

# At the latter day

0:07:260:07:34

# Upon the Earth

0:07:340:07:37

# I know that my Redeemer liveth

0:07:440:07:52

# And though worms destroy this body

0:07:530:07:58

# Yet in my flesh shall I see God

0:07:580:08:06

# Yet in my flesh shall I see God

0:08:070:08:15

# Shall I see God

0:08:150:08:19

# I know that my Redeemer liveth

0:08:190:08:27

# For now is Christ risen from the dead

0:08:330:08:40

# The first fruits

0:08:430:08:47

# Of them that sleep

0:08:470:08:53

# Of them that sleep

0:08:530:08:57

# The first fruits

0:08:570:09:03

# Of them that sleep

0:09:030:09:07

# For now is Christ risen

0:09:140:09:18

# For now is Christ risen

0:09:180:09:22

# From the dead

0:09:220:09:26

# The first fruits

0:09:290:09:37

# Of them that sleep. #

0:09:380:09:45

World renowned conductor Sir Mark Elder was a chorister

0:10:110:10:15

as Canterbury Cathedral in the 1950s,

0:10:150:10:18

which meant heading off to choir school at a very early age.

0:10:180:10:21

I was eight when I went and I remember begging not to be sent,

0:10:220:10:27

I remember crying for the first few nights for the first few terms.

0:10:270:10:31

It was a very difficult thing to do,

0:10:310:10:35

to pull a family apart.

0:10:350:10:39

But I think I soon realised that there was going to be

0:10:390:10:43

great excitement.

0:10:430:10:45

The job of being a chorister is not just fun.

0:10:460:10:50

There is fun attached to it but, actually, it's work.

0:10:500:10:53

It's learning how to be responsible,

0:10:530:10:56

how to appear in public day after day and perform,

0:10:560:10:59

to walk with the right grace and the right speed.

0:10:590:11:03

We used to have secret processing lessons in the cathedral at night,

0:11:030:11:06

when nobody else was there.

0:11:060:11:08

The musical list came out once every two weeks, I seem to remember.

0:11:100:11:14

We used to rush after service and try and see what was written up,

0:11:140:11:17

and what we were going to do.

0:11:170:11:18

Of course, we were all drama queens in the making at that age.

0:11:180:11:21

We all wanted to see how many solos there would be,

0:11:210:11:24

and who was going to get the solo.

0:11:240:11:25

"He did it last time, perhaps I'll get it this time."

0:11:250:11:27

Oh, we were little divas.

0:11:270:11:29

Terrible!

0:11:290:11:31

# Glory to Him

0:11:310:11:34

# Glory to Him

0:11:340:11:37

# Glory to Him... #

0:11:370:11:41

When I find myself conducting, specifically sacred music,

0:11:410:11:45

as opposed to religious music -

0:11:450:11:47

deeply spiritual music,

0:11:470:11:48

and The Dream of Gerontius is a very good example of that -

0:11:480:11:51

the experience I had as a chorister

0:11:510:11:53

undoubtedly informs how I feel

0:11:530:11:56

conducting it.

0:11:560:11:58

But there's something else -

0:11:580:12:00

there's a sense of being in touch with something

0:12:000:12:02

on another level.

0:12:020:12:04

I very often think

0:12:090:12:11

that I owe my career in music

0:12:110:12:14

to the fact that my parents

0:12:140:12:16

organised that I should be a chorister.

0:12:160:12:20

As the years go by,

0:12:200:12:22

I'm more and more convinced

0:12:220:12:24

that there is some

0:12:240:12:27

energy or higher power

0:12:270:12:30

connecting the events of our life together.

0:12:300:12:33

And I think it was a wonderful present,

0:12:330:12:38

actually,

0:12:380:12:39

that I should have been given this chance

0:12:390:12:42

to open my ears,

0:12:420:12:44

open my heart...

0:12:440:12:46

And get me in some state

0:12:470:12:50

where I could start to face the rest of my life.

0:12:500:12:53

# Amen. #

0:12:530:13:01

Not all choristers

0:15:280:15:30

end up as professional musicians.

0:15:300:15:32

Member of Parliament, David Lammy,

0:15:320:15:34

was a chorister at Peterborough Cathedral.

0:15:340:15:37

I sometimes say to people,

0:15:370:15:39

when I became a minister

0:15:390:15:40

in the Government,

0:15:400:15:43

and you're going through your papers,

0:15:430:15:45

you've got to have the discipline to do that

0:15:450:15:48

last thing at night or first thing in the morning.

0:15:480:15:50

Actually,

0:15:500:15:52

I think back to those days as a chorister

0:15:520:15:55

and the rigour of practice

0:15:550:15:58

and application, day after day after day.

0:15:580:16:01

And also a sense of duty

0:16:010:16:03

that you're following in the footsteps of

0:16:030:16:06

many thousands of other young choristers,

0:16:060:16:10

over many years.

0:16:100:16:12

And you're providing a service to the local community.

0:16:120:16:15

I remember walking into the cathedral for the first time,

0:16:200:16:23

and there is this big sort of smell

0:16:230:16:27

of limestone

0:16:270:16:29

that I must have got addicted to,

0:16:290:16:32

cos you get it in the House of Commons as well.

0:16:320:16:34

I think the highlight for me

0:16:430:16:46

was Songs Of Praise

0:16:460:16:48

in 1983,

0:16:480:16:50

because, you know,

0:16:500:16:52

I was on telly!

0:16:520:16:54

And my mum and dad were here in attendance.

0:16:540:16:57

Very proud,

0:16:570:16:59

telling their friends.

0:16:590:17:01

And it was a very, very special moment.

0:17:010:17:04

I don't think

0:17:060:17:07

the choirmaster would say

0:17:070:17:10

that David Lammy was a model chorister, put it that way.

0:17:100:17:13

I'm embarrassed to say

0:17:130:17:16

that on the stalls,

0:17:160:17:19

my name's scratched in!

0:17:190:17:21

HE LAUGHS

0:17:210:17:23

I'm afraid I was a very mischievous, naughty chorister.

0:17:230:17:28

Actually,

0:17:300:17:31

there have been moments in my life when things have not gone well,

0:17:310:17:35

when very quietly, I've gone on a train,

0:17:350:17:37

come up to Peterborough - it's only 45 minutes from London -

0:17:370:17:41

sat here,

0:17:410:17:43

and that strong sense of faith

0:17:430:17:45

that I still have,

0:17:450:17:47

I draw very much from being a chorister.

0:17:470:17:49

I find now that I'm 40,

0:17:520:17:55

that it's music

0:17:550:17:57

that helps me understand

0:17:570:17:59

and get into my faith.

0:17:590:18:01

Whether that is

0:18:010:18:04

soaring anthems,

0:18:040:18:06

like I Was Glad.

0:18:060:18:08

Whether that is gospel music

0:18:080:18:11

that makes your eyes water.

0:18:110:18:14

Erm, jazz - whatever it is,

0:18:140:18:16

it's music that lifts me to that other plane.

0:18:160:18:21

Erm...

0:18:210:18:22

And I'm very grateful, in a sense,

0:18:220:18:25

that the discipline of being a chorister

0:18:250:18:27

has helped me tap into that.

0:18:270:18:30

# Lord now lettest thou Thy servant

0:18:340:18:41

# Depart in peace

0:18:410:18:47

# According to Thy word

0:18:470:18:54

# For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation

0:18:540:19:01

# Which Thou hast prepared before the face

0:19:010:19:07

# Of Thy people

0:19:070:19:12

# To be a light to lighten the Gentiles

0:19:120:19:24

# And to be the glory

0:19:250:19:30

# Of Thy people Israel

0:19:300:19:40

# Glory be to the Father

0:19:470:19:54

# And to the Son

0:19:540:20:00

# And to the Holy Ghost

0:20:000:20:12

# As it was in the beginning

0:20:120:20:19

# Is now and ever shall be

0:20:190:20:25

# Is now and ever shall be

0:20:250:20:32

# World without end

0:20:320:20:38

# World without end

0:20:380:20:44

# World without end

0:20:440:20:53

# Amen. #

0:20:570:21:02

# Amen. #

0:21:020:21:05

# Amen. #

0:21:050:21:11

I'm all at sea off the East Sussex coast,

0:21:200:21:23

for Saturday Kitchen, but it's time to put the anchor down, head ashore,

0:21:230:21:26

and find some tip-top wines for today's show. Land ho!

0:21:260:21:30

'Saturday Kitchen's wine expert,

0:21:300:21:32

'Olly Smith,

0:21:320:21:34

'became a chorister at King's College Cambridge,

0:21:340:21:36

'28 years ago.'

0:21:360:21:38

I wonder if choristers get a taste for wine, because they...

0:21:380:21:41

-Do you think?

-HE LAUGHS

0:21:410:21:43

I don't know.

0:21:430:21:44

I loved it. I loved all the finery

0:21:440:21:46

and the incense, the wines, the smells and the stimulation.

0:21:460:21:48

I certainly enjoyed the flavour of the communion wine.

0:21:480:21:51

So, yeah, maybe!

0:21:510:21:52

I was in and out of this building every day of my life.

0:21:520:21:55

It's such a privilege to have been here,

0:21:550:21:58

been part of the history of this amazing building.

0:21:580:22:01

Probably the ultimate place to be a chorister, isn't it?

0:22:010:22:04

I certainly had the most incredible time,

0:22:040:22:06

and it changed my whole life -

0:22:060:22:08

there's no question about it.

0:22:080:22:09

The incredible self discipline,

0:22:090:22:11

and the incredible exposure you get to music...

0:22:110:22:14

When you think of the range of all the different things we would sing,

0:22:140:22:17

right from Britten's Rejoice In The Lamb

0:22:170:22:19

to the old psalm chants.

0:22:190:22:20

An extraordinary education.

0:22:200:22:23

# Gloria... #

0:22:230:22:31

The first thing that comes to mind, of course,

0:22:310:22:34

is the carol service at Christmas.

0:22:340:22:37

-Yes...

-Once In Royal David's City, and all that business.

0:22:370:22:40

I think I was lined up to do it

0:22:400:22:41

the year my vice broke.

0:22:410:22:43

-Oh!

-I know.

0:22:430:22:44

Gutting! Absolutely gutting.

0:22:440:22:46

But it was terrifying. We'd stand over by the screen,

0:22:460:22:49

the red light would go on, and you'd know you were on air -

0:22:490:22:51

to the entire world.

0:22:510:22:53

It's an international, huge event.

0:22:530:22:55

And my mum always says,

0:22:550:22:56

"Christmas doesn't start until it's Carols from King's College."

0:22:560:23:00

But the red light goes on,

0:23:000:23:01

and the finger come out.

0:23:010:23:02

Dean Cleobury wanders up and down the row

0:23:020:23:04

and then very calmly points to a boy

0:23:040:23:06

who has to step forward.

0:23:060:23:08

Whilst you're on air?

0:23:080:23:09

Yeah, the red light goes on, and he chooses...

0:23:090:23:11

No-one knows who it will be.

0:23:110:23:13

The boy has to stand forward

0:23:130:23:14

and fill this incredible space with a single solo voice.

0:23:140:23:17

I feel sick!

0:23:170:23:18

Can you imagine the nerves?

0:23:180:23:20

In a way, I'm quite relieved my voice gave way before that,

0:23:200:23:23

but what an incredible thing.

0:23:230:23:24

It is magic when you hear it,

0:23:240:23:26

just across the airwaves.

0:23:260:23:28

HE SINGS

0:23:280:23:29

We all took pride, without question, in trying to deliver

0:23:320:23:36

the very best quality of music,

0:23:360:23:37

and you're here in a place of worship.

0:23:370:23:39

Ultimately, when all these things come together -

0:23:390:23:41

the sculpture, the stained glass,

0:23:410:23:43

the music, the worship, the reverence for the place,

0:23:430:23:46

that's quite a powerful thing, especially if you're ten.

0:23:460:23:48

THEY SING

0:23:480:23:51

I come from a family of quite strong faith.

0:23:530:23:54

Both my grandparents were vicars.

0:23:540:23:56

My grandmother still is. She's probably watching, saying,

0:23:560:23:59

"What do you mean 'were'? I'm still working!"

0:23:590:24:01

Sorry, Grandma!

0:24:010:24:03

Sorry, Grandma, yes.

0:24:030:24:05

But it's an incredible experience and a real privilege

0:24:050:24:08

to see and to be part of...

0:24:080:24:11

I guess to "contribute" is the word I'm looking for.

0:24:110:24:14

To contribute to other people's faith.

0:24:140:24:16

Would you recommend being a choirboy...?

0:24:160:24:18

Yeah, hands down, I would.

0:24:180:24:19

It changes your whole life.

0:24:190:24:22

And it's a huge, enormous change,

0:24:220:24:24

but I have absolutely no regrets. I loved every minute.

0:24:240:24:27

# Mater, ora Filium

0:24:310:24:36

# Ut post hoc exilium

0:24:360:24:41

# Nobis donet gaudium

0:24:410:24:47

# Beatorum omnium

0:24:470:24:51

# Fair maid, who is this bairn

0:24:510:24:56

# That thou barest in thine arm?

0:24:560:25:01

# Sire, it is a kinges son

0:25:010:25:06

# That in heaven above doth wone

0:25:060:25:11

# Man to father, he hath none

0:25:110:25:16

# But himself, God alone!

0:25:160:25:21

# Of a maid he would be born

0:25:210:25:26

# To save mankind that was forlorn

0:25:260:25:32

# Mater, ora Filium

0:25:320:25:37

# Ut post hoc exilium

0:25:370:25:42

# Nobis donet gaudium

0:25:420:25:47

# Beatorum omnium

0:25:470:25:52

# Mater, ora Filium

0:25:520:25:58

# Ut post hoc exilium

0:25:580:26:02

# Nobis donet gaudium

0:26:020:26:08

# Beatorum omnium

0:26:080:26:16

# Oh, oh, oh

0:26:160:26:23

# Oh. #

0:26:230:26:29

Bless, O Lord, us Thy servants

0:26:370:26:40

Who minister in Thy temple

0:26:400:26:42

Grant that what we sing with our lips

0:26:420:26:46

We may believe in our hearts

0:26:460:26:49

And what we believe in our hearts, we may show forth in our lives

0:26:490:26:55

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

0:26:550:26:58

# One voice

0:27:070:27:10

# Singing in the darkness

0:27:100:27:16

# All it takes is one voice

0:27:160:27:23

# Singing so they hear what's on your mind

0:27:230:27:27

# And when you look around

0:27:270:27:30

# You'll find there's more than

0:27:300:27:32

# One voice

0:27:320:27:36

# Singing in the darkness

0:27:360:27:42

# Joining with your one voice

0:27:420:27:49

# Each and every note another octave

0:27:490:27:53

# Hands are joined and fears unlocked

0:27:530:27:56

# If only one voice

0:27:560:27:58

# Would start it on its own

0:27:580:28:01

# We need just one voice

0:28:010:28:04

# Facing the unknown

0:28:040:28:06

# And then that one voice

0:28:060:28:09

# Would never be alone

0:28:090:28:11

# It takes just one voice... #

0:28:110:28:17

WORDLESS VERSION OF MAIN MELODY

0:28:230:28:26

# One voice

0:28:340:28:39

# One voice singing in the darkness

0:28:390:28:47

# All it takes is one voice

0:28:470:28:51

# Shout it out and let it ring

0:28:510:28:57

# Just one voice

0:28:570:29:00

# It takes that one voice

0:29:000:29:07

# Then everyone will sing

0:29:070:29:18

# One voice

0:29:320:29:36

# Singing in the darkness

0:29:360:29:40

# All it takes is one voice

0:29:400:29:45

# Shout it out and let it ring

0:29:450:29:51

# Just one voice

0:29:510:29:55

# It takes that one voice

0:29:550:30:01

# And every one

0:30:010:30:05

# Will sing

0:30:050:30:10

# We will sing! #

0:30:100:30:19

Only Men Aloud there,

0:30:240:30:26

performing a song that celebrates the joy of singing.

0:30:260:30:29

Our final piece is a hymn I sang heartily as a choir boy

0:30:340:30:37

in Bangor Cathedral, and you know, I still love singing it to this day.

0:30:370:30:41

Next week, I will be asking why do we pray,

0:33:230:33:28

hear about a national day of prayer at Wembley,

0:33:280:33:30

and meet someone who has dedicated their whole life to prayer.

0:33:300:33:34

Plus plenty of hymns and songs, old and new.

0:33:340:33:37

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:33:550:33:58

Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS