St Patrick's Day Songs of Praise


St Patrick's Day

Eamonn Holmes is in Londonderry to meet people inspired by Ireland's patron saint and to introduce songs from the city's Guildhall and singer Eilidh Patterson.


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Transcript


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Welcome to Songs of Praise.

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And in the week that we celebrate St Patrick's Day,

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we're in Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

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Last year, all roads led to Derry

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as the city celebrated 12 months in the spotlight

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as the UK's very first City of Culture.

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And what a great party that was.

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So, how do the people of Derry plan to keep that spirit of hope alive?

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And does the message of Ireland's patron saint have anything to add?

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This week, we hear from men and women

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who are carrying on the message of St Patrick.

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Choirs from the Derry area sing some great hymns

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in the city's historic Guildhall.

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And there's music from Derry singer-songwriter Eilidh Patterson.

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The historic walled city of Derry lies at the mouth of River Foyle.

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This is one of the oldest continually-inhabited areas of Ireland.

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And today, it's home to just over 100,000 people.

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The city gets its name from the Irish word Daire, which means oak.

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A symbol which is still proudly displayed across the city.

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James I granted Derry a royal charter in the 17th century.

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And the name London was added to the city's official title.

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That link is still evident today.

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The city's magnificent Guildhall

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a reminder of the historic association

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with the city of London and its guilds.

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And its in this newly-refurbished Guildhall

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that the choirs from the area have gathered

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to sing their songs of praise.

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As we prepare to celebrate the life of Patrick,

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we'll start with William Walsham How's great hymn,

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For All The Saints.

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2013 was a year-long celebration of culture

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which will be remembered by the people of Derry for a long time.

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The city opened its doors and its heart to the world.

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And they came in their tens of thousands.

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It was a year of unprecedented scenes.

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Images that captured a new picture of Derry

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and showed off this once-troubled city in a new light.

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The City of Culture baton has now been handed on to Hull

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as they prepare for 2017.

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Now, although the pace of life in this city is getting back to normal,

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there's also a determination that the spirit of hope

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built up during the last year wont be lost.

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Pat Storey shares that view.

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She's the first female Anglican bishop in the UK and Ireland.

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And prior to her recent appointment,

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Pat was the Rector of St Augustine's Church on the city's walls.

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As the first woman to lead the church in Ireland,

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she's following in the footsteps of the saint whose name she shares.

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Great to see you all! Group hug!

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I would describe our church as maybe being a very happy wee church,

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but maybe I would describe it as in a circle facing inwards,

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having a great wee time.

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And I think the City of Culture in 2013, the one thing it made us do

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was maybe turn around in that circle and face outwards.

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And that's actually been really significant

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in terms of just engaging with people outside our walls.

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I think the role of the church going into 2014

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after City of Culture's really important.

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Because I think a lot of us were thinking towards the end of 2013,

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"What are we going to do now?"

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"Is this going to be a really boring city now because we've done everything?"

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And it has been a fantastic year,

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but its just been a year in the life of this city.

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It has to leave a legacy and catapult us into a future with hope.

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So, what difference will having a woman in the House of Bishops make?

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I don't like to generalise by saying women are more this and men are less that,

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but I do think that maybe the way women make decisions

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is maybe quite different from men.

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Women tend to maybe gather information,

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talk it over and make decisions together.

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You know, for instance, if we're talking about some of the big issues,

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like, you know, maybe abortion or something like that,

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I'll be the only person on that board this could ever have happened to,

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an unexpected pregnancy could ever have happened to.

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So I come as a wife and mother.

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But I suppose hopefully, I bring Pat.

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And my gender, it really is secondary to that.

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Well, obviously the first test of a new bishop

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is getting up those pulpit steps.

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And I can tell you, it's going to be quite a test to get down them again.

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Patrick's main message was,

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I bring Christian faith, there is hope in Christ.

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Because Patrick, you know, risked his life.

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He left everything behind and he came to bring Christian faith.

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He felt that strongly about it.

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I think we should still have that kind of missionary zeal,

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even if we never set foot out of Ireland.

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But still, that missionary zeal that Christian faith works,

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Christian faith is true

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and Christian faith makes a difference to your life.

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The message of Patrick, my message,

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the message of every Christian in this city

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and in this country is the same.

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You know, this person is worth knowing.

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And it is all about personal faith. It's all about the person.

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This year, Derry has branded itself as Music City.

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It's very proud of its diverse musical heritage,

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especially when it comes to writing hymns.

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Perhaps the city's best-known writer was Cecil Frances Alexander,

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the wife of William Alexander, the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.

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Cecil Frances was the author of many well-loved hymns,

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including All Things Bright And Beautiful

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and Once In Royal David's City.

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But perhaps her best-known hymn

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was inspired by the view from her window

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as she looked at one of the many small hills

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that are features of this part of the country.

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Although we can't be sure exactly which hill she had in mind,

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she likened the scene to Golgotha, the place of Christ's crucifixion.

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She was then inspired to pen the words of that great hymn,

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There Is A Green Hill Far Away.

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Beneath the beauty of this city, there's also pain.

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Because like so many parts of the UK,

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a shocking number of people here die by suicide.

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The River Foyle which runs around this city is deceptively dangerous.

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And sadly, the river and the bridges which span it

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have been used by many people as a way to end their lives.

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As a community reaction to these tragedies,

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for the past 20 years,

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the volunteers of Foyle Search and Rescue

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have been on the front line in the fight to prevent death by suicide.

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Joanne, why do you do what you do?

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The reason I got involved in the beginning

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was because my husband and I stopped with a man on the bridge

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who was contemplating taking his life.

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And we stopped and we stayed with him

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and we talked to him until the police came and help arrived.

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It can be absolutely anyone.

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Any age, male, female, any background.

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There's no single common denominator other than that they are ill

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and they are unwell and they want to end their life.

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I'm talking to you here on a Saturday night.

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Will this be a particular night

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that you guys will expect to be called out?

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We run a duty night on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night

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and we go out on duty from 10:00 to just after 3:00 in the morning.

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And the reason we pick Thursday, Friday and Saturday night

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is they are the nights people go out to socialise.

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And sometimes if people are going out in the wrong frame of mind

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and they get some alcohol

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and that fuels maybe something that's going on in their own head,

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and because of that then, negative feelings creep in.

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For me, it's... I just want to come out and help people

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and offer something back to the community.

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And it gives me a good feeling, as well, to help other people.

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One night, me and a colleague were in the boat

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and a girl went off the top deck of Craigavon Bridge.

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And we managed to get a hold of her to get her out,

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but I literally had to lie on top of the girl

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to keep her from going back into the water. She did not want to be saved.

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And it was basically, how dare I infringe on her rights to do what she wanted.

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And going down the river in the boat, she calmed somewhat and began to cry.

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And she opened up slightly with me on the boat

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and she turned around to us and said,

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"Thank you for giving me a second chance."

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The people that we deal with sometimes,

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it really opens their eyes up to say,

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"There are people here that care."

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Albeit that they're in a very dark place at the time.

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Sadly, not all can be rescued.

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Basically, what I do if we make a recovery,

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into myself subconsciously, I would say a prayer

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for that person we take out of the water.

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And that probably comes down to my faith

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in greater things beyond here.

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And for me, it's an essential.

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It's not something I've ever shared with anybody before,

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but I just feel it's important.

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I do have faith. I do believe in God.

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There is a comfort in knowing that he is out there.

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Yes, it's difficult at times not to question

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why he allows things such as suicide to happen,

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but you still have to believe.

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# Tiny strands of starlight pierce the darkness

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# Here and there a flicker comes and goes

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# And underneath this wonder

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# I have feelings so secure

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# And I'm not afraid to feel the cold wind blow

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# Because you are there

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# Even though I cannot see you

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# You are there

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# Though sometimes I cannot hear you

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# And I'll never be alone

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# For you won't leave me

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# So I'll just sit here in the safety of your love

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# You know I haven't felt like this forever

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# It's only since you came into my heart

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# And I believe that some day

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# We'll meet beyond the stars

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# But till that day I'll know when were apart

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# That you are there

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# Even though I cannot see you

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# You are there though sometimes I cannot hear you

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# And I'll never be alone

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# For you won't leave me

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# So I'll just sit here in the safety of your love

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# I'll just rest here in the safety of your love

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# Ooo-ooo-ooo-ooh. #

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Back in 1748, a cargo ship called The Greyhound

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was making its way from Africa to England

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when it was caught in a fierce storm off the Irish Coast.

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On board was a slave trader, John Newton.

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By his own admission, a blasphemous rogue.

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Convinced that he was about to die,

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the non-believer called out to God for help.

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The storm abated and the crew spotted land.

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They made it safely to shore just along the coast in County Donegal.

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That close brush with death was a turning point in Newton's life.

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While his ship was being repaired,

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Newton, in his diaries, comments that he came to a church in Derry,

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where he gave thanks to the God who hears and answers prayers.

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Some years later, Newton was ordained as a clergyman

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and he became a mentor to William Wilberforce

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in his fight to introduce anti-slavery legislation.

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To illustrate his sermons, Newton wrote hymns.

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His most famous work inspired by his first encounter with his god.

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# Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

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# That saved a wretch like me

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# I once was lost, but now am found

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# Was blind, but now can see

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# 'Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear

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# And Grace, my fears relieved

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# How precious did that Grace appear

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# The hour I first believed

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# Through many dangers toils and snares

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# I have already come

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# 'Twas Grace that brought us safe thus far

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# And Grace will lead us home

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# The Lord has promised good to me

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# His word my hope secures

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# He will my shield and portion be

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# As long as life

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# As long as life

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# As long as life endures. #

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Just across the road from the Guildhall,

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this city garden is the home of Ireland's only world peace flame.

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Around the garden, local children

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have created a pathway of engraved tiles.

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A series of written pledges

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that tell of their commitment to live together in peace.

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Although the flame was lit just last year

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when Martin Luther King Junior visited the city,

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the project was inspired by the experiences of a local minister

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when he was many miles away from Derry.

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During the second half of 2008, I spent 14 weeks in Camp Bastion

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as the chaplain of the hospital facility there.

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And in those 14 weeks, just short of 1,100 casualties

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came pouring into that facility.

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It was a wake-up call for me.

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Because I began to reflect on how

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this is what it used to be like back home,

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but thank God we've exchanged our guns for government

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and former enemies are now talking instead of fighting.

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Is there a danger that we think

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it will never return and therefore we become complacent?

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Yes, we are not where we once were,

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but we are far from where we need to be.

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And so we must create the conditions

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that will allow us to see each other as God sees us.

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People made in the same image.

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David started this process by inviting schools from across the city

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to write a 25-word peace pledge.

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The children then gathered together

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to transfer their message onto clay tiles.

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These would then be used to create the Pathway to Peace.

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We've grown up with the notion that children should be seen and not heard.

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How foolish.

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The wisdom that I have identified within the peace pledges

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that children from the age of five right through to 18

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have been composing, it's quite humbling.

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It's quite moving.

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It's such a nice project for Derry as a whole

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because all the schools are coming together.

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I designed this because I have a dove on it for peace.

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They're more or less saying, it's time to reach out.

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Are you going to tell me a little bit about yours?

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That's like the Pathway to Peace there and the worlds behind it

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and then all the children or people are holding hands.

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That shows they're working together as a family by holding hands.

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That's beautiful.

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What we need to do more than anything else

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is to turn not on one another or from one another,

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but towards each other. That's it in a nutshell.

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What does the message of the patron saint

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have to add, if anything, to what you're doing?

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Just as Patrick felt he was raised up as a stone

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with a message for the people,

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these messages will be used to encourage all of us

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to keep on and on and on

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building a shared future from a divided past.

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The blessing is taken from St Patrick's breastplate

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and is led by Father Paul Farren

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and Archdeacon Robert Miller from the city's cathedrals.

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May we arise today through a mighty strength,

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the invocation of the Trinity.

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Through belief in the Threeness,

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through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

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BOTH: May Almighty God bless you,

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the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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And that is almost it from this St Patrick's Day Songs of Praise.

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And whether you're Irish or not, have a good one.

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Until the next time, Happy St Patrick's Day.

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Next week, Bill celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Isle of Man

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and meets a Manx teenager who is saving the environment

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by growing her own clothes.

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There'll be hymns from Peel Cathedral

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and performances from singer-songwriter Christine Collister

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and Manx choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh.

0:33:120:33:15

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