Scripture Union and the Queen Songs of Praise


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Scripture Union and the Queen

The programme joins Her Majesty the Queen to celebrate 150 years of the Christian charity Scripture Union.


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Today, we are celebrating 150 years of Scripture Union

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and everything they've done to introduce children

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to the Christian faith,

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and we'll be joining Her Majesty the Queen in this celebration.

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Welcome to Songs Of Praise.

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Everybody, including me,

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is very excited about the arrival of our guest of honour.

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CHEERING

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As our reigning monarch,

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Her Majesty the Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England

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and her personal Christian faith plays a central role in her life.

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ORGAN PLAYS

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The setting for this 150th celebration

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is here at St Mary's Church in Islington,

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close to where the charity began.

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And it's where all our music comes from today.

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As well as celebrating the past,

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today is also about the future,

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so there are lots of children from local schools in the congregation.

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Our first hymn was written 50 years ago for the centenary of Scripture

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Union and gives thanks for God's faithfulness through the years.

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BAND PLAYS

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Scripture Union began here in north London in 1867, as dramatized

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by Christian actors Christopher Poch and Jonathan Maltz.

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It all started with the Bible -

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the Scriptures from which a union was formed.

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Josiah Spiers, a 31-year-old office clerk,

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was an ordinary man with a desire to read the Bible.

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"Let the little children come to me.

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"Do not hinder them."

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Inspired by the words of Jesus,

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this ordinary man did something extraordinary.

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In fact, he did something radical for the year 1867.

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He opened the doors of 309 Essex Road, Islington,

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for a gathering of children.

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He had the desire to see them

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each develop a personal relationship with Jesus,

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the light of the world.

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Speaking of a shining light, it's a marvellous day.

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To the beach, at Llandudno!

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TRAIN CHUGS

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For, all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

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But...how can they be saved if no-one tells them?

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Next stop Llandudno!

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Sat at the beach at Llandudno,

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Josiah made a declaration in the sand.

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God is love.

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And he invited all the children at the beach to decorate it.

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That's it, gather round.

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So what do you have for us today, Mr Spiers?

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How old are you, boy?

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I'm ten.

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Erm, what are they feeding you up here?

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No...I have a story to tell you.

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New ideas were springing up.

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In 1892, two students from Cambridge University

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had come up with a novel idea - to create a boys' camp.

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Our plan is as follows - to collect as many in tents as possible.

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And to provide all the sports and amusement dear to the heart of boys.

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And whilst in the midst of these enjoyments,

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they shall learn more by example than by words.

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"Therefore, let your light shine before others

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"so they may see your good deeds and give glory to the Father."

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THUNDER RUMBLES

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Oh, dear. A storm's coming.

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-Best get inside.

-BOMB WHISTLES

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1914. A fatal shot sparks the war to end all wars.

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The world was plunged into a storm of darkness.

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But Scripture Union did not stand still and decided to print

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booklets of Bible notes for the British tommies on the front line,

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which led to the first issue of daily notes for adults in 1923.

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The Lord is my light and salvation.

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In whom shall I fear?

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But the world has changed in those years.

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How do we keep up with a generation that feels so disconnected?

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Well, the message hasn't changed.

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That's it, children.

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Write it out.

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"God is love."

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That's right, kids.

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Write it out. "God is love."

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How to introduce children to Jesus remains a big

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challenge for Christians.

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This is Scripture Union's computer game, which takes

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children on animated adventures through stories from the Bible.

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But although Scripture Union has come a long way since its

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beginning in the 19th century, its message is still very much the same.

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Tim Hastie-Smith is the national director and I asked him

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about the challenges the charity faces today.

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150 years ago, more young people were in church.

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That didn't necessarily mean they had any real understanding of God.

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And I think children outside of church,

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these days it's about 95% of children, young people,

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are not in a church,

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but I don't think that means they're closed to the love of God

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and it means, I suppose, sometimes a change of dynamic.

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The place we need to be is outside of church,

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finding new ways of making that love known, not waiting

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for kids to come into a building to find out what's going on there.

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It's through sports ministry,

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it's through finding neutral third places, if you like,

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and being there and being able to build relationship,

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because I don't think in the end that has changed.

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Relationship and sharing God's love

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in many ways is much the same as it was 150 years ago.

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But in many cases it's about trying to find language,

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language that's appropriate and understandable

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and not sort of slipping into Christian jargon and cliche.

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The Queen is defender of the faith,

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so I asked Tim how important a role Christianity plays in her life.

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I think it's been shown in particularly her Christmas

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broadcasts. On a number of occasions she has referred to her own faith.

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I know just how much I rely on my own faith

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to guide me through the good times and the bad.

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Each day is a new beginning.

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I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right,

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to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings

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and to put my trust in God.

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Last year, to mark her 90th birthday,

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we were allowed to produce a little booklet which included

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some of those quotations and she did an introduction to that.

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And it also spoke about how she found extraordinary

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strength in her faith.

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And while she's very private about these things, as one would expect,

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I think her faithfulness shines through,

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and I think we find the fact that for so many young people

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it's the faith of their grandparents,

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lived over decades, through good times and in bad,

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which actually testifies to the reality of the love of God.

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And what does it mean to the community,

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but especially the children?

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They're so excited to have the chance to sing for her

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and with her and she is the grandmother of the nation,

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the great-grandmother of the nation,

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and I think they find that inspirational.

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One, two, three, four!

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# Your love will last forever

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# It's like a mighty river

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# That flows and flows for ever

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# Never stopping

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# Your awesome love protects me

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# When I sin Your love corrects me

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# You're faithful to direct me

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# Always to your love

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# And when I think of all you've done

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# There's no love greater than this

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# You freely gave your precious son

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# To die for all my sins

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# Your love will last for ever

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# It's like a mighty river

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# That flows and flows for ever

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# Never stopping

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# Your awesome love protects me

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# When I sin Your love corrects me

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# You're faithful to direct me

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# Always to your love

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# And when I choose to disobey

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# You lead me back to your truth

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# You show the fullness of your love

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# By making me like you

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# Your love will last for ever

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# It's like a mighty river

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# That flows and flows for ever

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# Never stopping

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# Your awesome love protects me

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# When I sin Your love corrects me

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# You're faithful to direct me

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# Always to your love... #

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One, two, three, four!

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# ..Your love will last for ever

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# It's like a mighty river

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# That flows and flows for ever

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# Never stopping

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# Your awesome love protects me

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# When I sin Your love corrects me

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# You're faithful to direct me

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# Always to your love

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# Your love will last forever

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# It's like a mighty river

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# That flows and flows for ever

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# Never stopping

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# Your awesome love protects me

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# When I sin Your love corrects me

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# You're faithful to direct me

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# Always to your

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# Always to your

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# Always to your

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# Love. #

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Yeah!

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Introducing children to God is also central to the work

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of one of the world's most popular authors - CS Lewis,

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who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia.

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Pam Rhodes met his stepson Douglas Gresham

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in St Jude-on-the-Hill in London.

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Douglas Gresham's mother and CS Lewis fell in love

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when he was eight years old.

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I was born in '45.

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The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe had been published by then

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and as soon as the book was something my mother thought that

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I could understand, she read it to us

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and, of course, I was absolutely fascinated.

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I was going to meet this character who was on speaking terms

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with High King Peter of Narnia and the great lion Aslan.

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So I went to see this great man and expected him

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to be wearing silver armour at least and probably with a coronet

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on his head and carrying a sword.

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And, of course, he was a stooped, balding, professorial gentleman

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in the most shabby clothes I've ever seen on a human being,

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with long, nicotine-stained fingers and teeth.

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But he was, in fact, a great comic.

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He was very funny to be with.

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And very soon, I lost an illusion and gained a very good friend

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and later a fabulous stepfather.

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Did his faith shape yours?

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I learnt from Jack that it is possible

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to simply do what Jesus said.

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Just concentrate on what Jesus

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tells us, reported in the Gospels, and try to do it.

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And it changes one's entire outlook on life.

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I mean, there were students, quite a few of them at Oxford,

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whose educations were saved when they ran

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out of money by a cheque suddenly being slipped under their door,

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anonymously, from some law firm in London,

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and it wasn't till many years later they discovered that this

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was coming from CS Lewis.

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And the Narnia books are said to be full of Christian symbolism.

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Was that his intention from the start?

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Not initially, I don't think.

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He said that he started writing this story for children,

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suddenly Aslan leapt into the scene

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and dragged the whole of the rest of Narnia with him.

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So I think what he was saying obliquely when

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he said that, is that the Holy Spirit of God then inspired the books.

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And at a time in the world when perhaps Christianity is not

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appealing to young people as it has done in the past,

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how important is your stepfather's message?

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I think it's absolutely vitally important.

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I think he's one of the few people who can explain to young people,

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through his fiction, exactly why we should follow Christ,

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and the first thing one has to realise is that he's real.

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Aslan is a representation of Jesus Christ.

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And one soon learns that wherever one is, whatever one's doing,

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the Holy Spirit of God is right there with you.

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If you do stupid things, he's watching.

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And he's grieving sometimes at what we do.

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If you do the right thing, he rejoices.

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And it just works.

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One of the main reasons that I am a committed Christian is

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because it works.

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Dear Lord, we thank you for the staff of Scripture Union

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and their passion to see your good news shared

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with the next generation.

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Help them to be like your son, who didn't spurn children,

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but welcomed them with open arms.

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We ask this in your name. Amen.

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Everlasting God, strengthen and sustain all those who

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volunteer on our holidays, residential events and missions.

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We pray that with patience and understanding,

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they may continue to love and care for your children.

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We ask this in your name. Amen.

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Dear Lord, we thank you for our sovereign Queen Elizabeth.

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We thank you for her servant heart, as she is reminded of your son

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who came to serve rather than to be served.

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Encourage us by her example to serve one another as you have

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called us.

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We pray that you will give her strength to carry out her duties

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and uphold her with your Holy Spirit in the years ahead.

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We ask this in your name. Amen.

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Dear Lord, we pray especially for the children

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and young people who are yet to experience the difference

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Jesus can make to the challenges and adventures of life.

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Teach us to make the most of every opportunity to

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share your good news.

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Give us the strength not to stay silent, but to be the salt

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and light in our communities and families.

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Help us bring hope to the hopeless,

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to be the light in the dark,

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a lamp on a stand for all to see.

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We ask this in your name. Amen.

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-CONGREGATION:

-Amen.

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Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith is one of our most celebrated modern hymn

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writers, with credits including Lord, For The Years

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and Tell Out, My Soul.

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Scripture Union has been part of his life since childhood.

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Scripture Union first came into my life when I was a schoolboy.

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I think through a Christian Union at school, they probably

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introduced me to Bible reading notes and I began to read the Bible.

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The introduction to Scripture led to him being inspired to become both

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a minister and a prolific writer.

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I think the link between hymns

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and the truth of the Scripture is really very important,

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so that it's as I listen to the lesson in church or as I read the

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Bible daily, something will strike me and become a starting point.

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And Timothy has written a brand-new hymn for this very special occasion.

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It began with Tim Hastie-Smith, the director of Scripture Union,

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writing to me three or four years ago -

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he was well ahead of the game -

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saying that having written Lord, For The Years for their centenary,

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could I write a hymn for their 150th?

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And I was delighted to try.

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When I am asked to write, I always say, "I will try,

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"but I may not succeed."

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And so I set to work and, again, because it's an anniversary,

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you want to thank God for the past and look at the present

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and pray about the future, which this text does.

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And here it is for the very first time.

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May God's holy word be a light to your feet

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and a lamp to your path.

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May Christ, the son of righteousness,

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shine upon you,

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scatter the darkness from before your path

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and make you ready to meet him when he comes.

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And the blessing of God Almighty,

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the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

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be amongst you and remain with you always.

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-Amen.

-Amen.

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Well, our time here in Islington is nearly up and it's been

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a real privilege joining Her Majesty the Queen in the celebration.

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Our final hymn is one that sums up in many ways

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the mission of Scripture Union and, indeed, the church -

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Tell All The World Of Jesus.

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Until next time, goodbye.

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Katherine Jenkins hosts a special programme as Songs of Praise joins Her Majesty the Queen to celebrate 150 years of the Christian charity Scripture Union. We discover how one man teaching Bible stories to children in north London in 1867 started a movement that now works in 130 countries around the world.

One of our most cherished modern hymn writers Bishop Timothy Dudley Smith reveals how, even in his nineties, his faith continues to inspire him to write music.

And Pam Rhodes meets Douglas Gresham, the stepson of the great CS Lewis, to find out how he let the light of his Christian faith shine through his children's books.

Music: Lord for the Years - St Mary's Islington 10,000 Reasons - St Mary's Islington Your Love Will Last Forever - St Mary's Islington God of Unchanging Grace - St Mary's Islington Tell All the world of Jesus - St Mary's Islington.