Paisley Songs of Praise


Paisley

Sally Magnusson visits the Scottish town of Paisley, home to a world-renowned sculptor who is creating a 'work of a lifetime', and a craft group with a colourful creation.


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Transcript


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I hope you've got a head for heights.

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I'm climbing the bell tower of Paisley Abbey because, believe me,

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there's a view up here you've really got to see.

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Wow, what a view!

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You can see some of Paisley's grandest buildings from here,

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of the kind that still provide inspiration for people

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living in and around the town.

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In today's Songs Of Praise we've got inspiring music too,

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and I'll be meeting some of the people most proud to be living in Paisley.

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There are the stitchers, making sure Paisley's past is not forgotten.

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This lady is in all her finery with her cloche hat and fancy wee handbag.

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A world-renowned Paisley sculptor who's embarking on his work of a lifetime.

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It's a huge project. It will see me out.

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I'll be working on it until my dying day.

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And, of course, some wonderful hymns from a packed Paisley Abbey.

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People tell me that folk from Paisley are known as Buddies.

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It's such a popular term that Buddies is the nickname

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of the local football team - St Mirren.

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There are plenty of Buddies from Paisley inside the abbey now,

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ready to sing for us along with people from the surrounding areas.

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They've all come together to raise the roof with some of our

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best loved hymns, starting with Praise To The Holiest.

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Paisley has many fine monuments, not least to this chap,

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the Reverend John Witherspoon.

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He was an evangelical minister who left Paisley in the 18th century

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to go and run Princeton University and became the only clergyman

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to sign the American Declaration of Independence.

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The statue was made by the internationally acclaimed sculptor

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Alexander Stoddart, who has been commissioned by the Queen

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as well as making monuments that can be seen across the world.

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Tell me about your sculpture.

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You stand here in this studio and you could be in any century, couldn't you?

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You could be in any century

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because sculpture like this has been made for the last 2,400 years.

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Personally, I've always found old, dead people

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to be tremendous companions and they're seldom horrible to you.

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Tell me about the Christ figure we've got there.

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Well, this is a very small, what you call, a bozzetto.

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An Italian word and it means a quick study,

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modelled in about half an hour, maybe an hour, of a work that will

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eventually go through bigger dimensions

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until it reaches a rather heroic scale, bigger than life-size.

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What is it that's special about the pose as it is down there?

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You might just think it seems, as it were, domestic and occasional

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with no question of the essential mystery of the New Testament,

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which is overwhelmingly brilliant.

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I read it every day.

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But when you turn the work you notice that it does feature

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a very big, broad piece of wood lying horizontally.

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Then, in front of that broad piece of wood we see two hands...

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..significantly positioned.

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Then, on the point of the base, two feet crossed.

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So, really, with this one has an intimation of the final

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redemptive catastrophe in the story of Jesus, as it were,

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pre-figured in a domestic context.

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Where does this figure, and where is it going to, fit in your canon?

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This is a figure that is to be accompanied by the 12 apostles

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including Judas, which is a challenge.

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It's for a new chapel I'm helping to decorate.

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It's a huge project. It will see me out.

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I'll be working on it until my dying day.

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It's actually quite a profound object.

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This thing transpired out of my fingers, there was no real plan

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and the central mysteries of the work transpired uninvited as well.

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When this happens, you know you're doing the right thing

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because you're setting aside that vulgar thing called creativity.

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You're allowing that old-fashioned thing called inspiration to apply.

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You find that when you're inspired, your personality fairly withers.

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It's a kind of hypnosis and your eyes cross.

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And then you wake up two hours later

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and something is underneath your fingers,

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most of which you can't remember coming into existence.

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And this is the grail of artistic production.

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Tell me why you don't sign a work like this.

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I don't sign work that's religious.

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When it comes to something that represents a faith specifically,

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I don't really like to put my name on it

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because I don't think it's appropriate.

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I always write Paisley, where the work has been made,

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because Paisley needs a good shout these days.

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This is the town I work in and love.

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So I always credit the town for the place.

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So creating this thing of beauty and of power,

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what does the person of Christ mean to you?

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Well, gentle Jesus, meek and mild, is what it means to me.

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You know, rather than trying to leave the world a better place

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it's our duty to try to leave the world a better man.

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If we could do that, all of us,

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then won't the world become a much better place?

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When it was announced that Scotland was going to produce a Great Tapestry,

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telling the story of the nation in panels

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embroidered by volunteers, a group of Paisley women

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was determined to ensure their town's rich heritage was included.

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We wanted to get a group of people together to do something

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really worthwhile in the town.

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We put forward the Paisley Panel for that.

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We were given the theme of the 1930s. That's great.

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Paisley's been a place where everybody comes together and

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does things together, and we're all full of chat and that sort of thing.

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So we made it Paisley Patter, so we're doing the stitching

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and chatting and telling stories, and telling the stories about the mill.

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This is a woman who's going to Kelburne cinema in Paisley.

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It was on the Glasgow Road.

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It was built in the 1930s and this lady's in all her finery,

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with her cloche hat and her fancy wee handbag.

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I'm doing a St Mirren football player.

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It's one of Paisley's biggest features, St Mirren Football Club.

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It's one of the great things about it, everybody supports them even if they're not into football.

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It's really, really important that projects like this run.

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It's very much a community group and it's bringing people from

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all different walks of life together and that's what Paisley needs.

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It makes me feel proud to be part of it.

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You know, it's going to be up in the Scottish Parliament and in 100 years

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people will be able to look at it, and we'll be cutting up the daisies!

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I think that'll have to come round a bit. I'd love to see that.

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My values are just try my best to be a good person,

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to do what's right.

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To help your town, to help your family, to help your friends.

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That's the Christian value thing.

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We're relying on good people who want to do good things.

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I don't know who's got the threader now. Thank you.

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To be part of something that's going to be the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

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It's all going to be sewn together,

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all the ones from every town or city in Scotland that are doing them.

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It brings the whole of Scotland together, really.

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We've all done a part in that whole tapestry.

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Scotland is also rightly proud of its musical past.

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Now, Alistair Ogilvy weaves the words of a familiar Scottish hymn

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into a traditional folk tune.

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# O love that wilt not let me go

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# I rest my weary soul in thee

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# I give thee back the life I owe

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# May richer, fuller be

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# O light that follows all my way

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# I yield my torch to thee

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# My heart it restores its borrowed ray

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# That in sunshine fairer be

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# O joy that seekest me through pain

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# I cannot close my heart to thee

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# I chase the rainbow through the rain

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# That morn shall tearless be

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# O cross that liftest up my head

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# I dare not ask to fly from thee

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# And from the ground there blossoms red

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# Life that shall endless be

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# And from the ground there blossoms red

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# Life that shall endless be. #

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When Grace Terry moved to Paisley last year

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she had a broken marriage behind her and four children to support.

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She struggled both financially and emotionally.

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I felt very low.

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Confused.

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Depressed. I had nobody.

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Nobody to talk to.

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A lot has happened in my life and I'm just trying to pick myself up again.

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I had hope in God.

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That's all I had.

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Grace's fortunes changed when she heard about a community group

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whose doors are open to everyone.

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The project began when four Paisley churches joined forces

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to offer support to people in their community.

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These are going to represent your own Star journey.

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The project has a Christian ethos.

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We symbolise that Christian ethos through the fact

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we accept everybody who walks through our door. People are people.

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It doesn't matter if you are unemployed or employed,

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if you have a parenting issue,

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if you have an issue with addiction or a mental health issue, it doesn't matter.

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Or if you're just somebody who's new to the area

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and need to meet new people.

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So we actually serve everybody in the community,

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no matter who they are.

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The impression you get the first time you come in will tell you

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if you're going to trust the people there or not.

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It was uplifting, I would say, because when I walked in

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they were all welcoming and you sat down with a cup of tea and chatting.

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I met other people there, actually my best friend in Paisley.

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They've actually helped me with everything.

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Support.

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Listening ears.

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They are always there, they are great people.

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I just always say they are God sent.

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Star has helped me education-wise.

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Parenting-wise.

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Confidence-wise.

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You know, it's amazing.

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Star is a place where God's used them to actually bring me out,

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make me be who I'm supposed to be.

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Tell me that when all hope is lost, it's not lost.

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My addiction completely had consumed every aspect of my life

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to the point I was begging on the streets to feed that addiction.

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Steph Macleod was studying music at the prestigious

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Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow.

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But when his drinking spiralled out of control,

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he found himself on the streets.

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I was very messed up.

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So aggressive.

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I'd get kicked out of the homeless hostels.

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I'd sleep wherever I could and it tore my family to pieces.

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What brought you out of that?

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I found myself in a homeless centre run by the Bethany Christian Trust,

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which is a homeless charity,

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and the centre was geared towards men with addiction issues.

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They did a Christian recovery programme which...

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I just patronisingly nodded at first.

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I'd been to church as a kid but I didn't take it too seriously.

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But when I heard a guy give his testimony,

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he spoke about God in a way that I'd never heard before.

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About freedom and Christ.

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About breaking the chains of the life that had been killing me

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and finding the courage to live the life I was supposed to.

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And I made a commitment that night and I prayed,

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and I just asked God for a life worth living.

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A real sense of peace overwhelmed me,

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an inner peace I hadn't felt since I was a kid.

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People are sometimes a bit sceptical about the nature

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of that kind of very intense, emotional,

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transcendental experience you describe.

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I can't deny what happened to me that night

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because I know I was full of rage and fear,

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and just utter despair about the things I'd done to myself

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and to my family, my friends. And, er, to feel that sense of peace...

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I prayed and God answered my prayer that night.

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I cannot deny that.

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After that you rediscovered your music.

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Yes, I started writing songs in the centre about being homeless,

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and an addict and my faith.

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I was so blessed, my music was so very well received

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and I use it to share my story and I believe this with all my heart,

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that God has shown me I can be a much better man than I thought possible.

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I'm blessed by that.

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# When I found Jesus he was holding on to me

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# I was broken, I couldn't stand on my own two feet

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# He said a word and broke my chains

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# I was free to breathe again

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# My life was saved by the love and blood of Jesus

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# He was walking next to me

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# On the lonely path of my mind, made destiny.

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# He must have looked into my eyes

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# Saw the tears and heard my cries

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# For where I stood, I was saved by the blood of Jesus

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# Mm-mm

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# The empty promises

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# Of the world that had forsaken me

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# Left me in the wilderness

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# It was Jesus who rescued me

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# He called my name

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# And I would never be the same

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# Just one touch from the king of kings

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# Changes everything

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# Everything

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# When I found Jesus, he was heavy on my heart

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# I was lost for words, I didn't know where to start

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# All I know is I believe

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# But more than that, I have received

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# My sins were paid by the love and blood of Jesus

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# He took the weight off my shoulders

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# Came and gave me a rest

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# Gave me peace from my troubles

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# Lord, I have been blessed

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# Lord, I have been blessed. #

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Father, I believe you have a plan for my life.

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And I trust that you will be by my side always.

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Christ Jesus, help us use the talents you have given us

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to honour and praise you.

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Help me to remember and respect your teachings

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with a hope for a better future.

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Because your love helps me leave dark days in the past

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and look forward to tomorrow.

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Amen.

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# O for a closer walk with God

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# A calm and heavenly frame

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# A light to shine upon the road

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# That leads me to the lamb

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# Return

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# Oh, holy dove

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# Return

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# Return, return

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# Sweet messenger of rest

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# I hate the sins

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# That made thee mourn

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# And drove thee

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# From my breast

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# So shall my walk be close with God

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# So shall my walk be close with God

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# Calm and serene

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# My frame

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# So purer light

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# Shall mark the road

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# That leads me

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# To the lamb. #

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Up there in the right corner of the stained glass window

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is Paisley's coat of arms, granted to the town in 1912.

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The mottos reads,

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"Lord, let Paisley flourish by the preaching of thy word."

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And well into the 21st century this lovely abbey

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is doing its best to keep Paisley flourishing.

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Next week it's the Big Sing from London's Royal Albert Hall.

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Join Bill, star guests and an audience of 5,000 voices

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as he reveals the results of our vote

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to find the UK's favourite hymns.

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Tune in to see if your favourite is in the Top 10.

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Subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Everything to look forward to, on BBC Four.

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Would you consider me a dangerous terrorist?

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You don't want to discuss politics with me.

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Blues. Truly, it is not a sad music.

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Sally Magnusson visits the Scottish town of Paisley, home to a world-renowned sculptor who is creating a 'work of a lifetime', and a craft group whose colourful creation is set to go down in history. Plus inspirational hymns and traditional music from Paisley Abbey.


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