Summer Worship Songs of Praise


Summer Worship

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Today, we're in Hastings, a place famous for a battle

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that changed our history and for being a thriving seaside resort.

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Welcome to Songs Of Praise.

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On the programme this week, I visit Battle Abbey

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and discover why William the Conqueror had built it.

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He had committed acts of great violence,

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so William had to make good for this,

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and that involved the foundation of Battle Abbey.

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Claire McCollum travels to Malaga to meet a young Christian,

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whose faith has helped him make it all the way

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to the World Transplant Games.

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I visit a church who are filling Moses baskets for new mums.

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Peepo!

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And we have performances and hymns from all around the country.

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Hastings' famous pier has recently been totally renovated

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at a cost of over ?14 million.

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When it was first opened in 1872,

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24,000 people walked these very planks,

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taking in the sea air and the sunshine -

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sentiments echoed in our opening hymn.

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# Summer suns are glowing

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BATTLEGROUND HUBBUB

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Hastings is synonymous, of course, with the battle of 1066,

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when William the Conqueror defeated King Harold

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and went on to become the new King of England.

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Several thousand soldiers lost their lives in the battle,

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which happened on these very fields.

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Battle Abbey was built here a few years later.

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Dr Michael Carter is an historian for English Heritage,

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and has offered to show me around.

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So, why did William build Battle Abbey?

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He had committed acts of great violence,

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actually an act of sacrilege, in killing an anointed king,

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so William had to make good for this,

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and penances or a series of good works

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were imposed on William and his henchmen,

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and that involved the foundation of Battle Abbey,

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where the monks here, every day, would sing services

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for the salvation of the souls of all those who'd died

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at the Battle of Hastings, Norman and Saxon alike.

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And the intention of the abbey was to pay back,

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in a never-ending round of good works,

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for the blood that had been shed here by William and his supporters.

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So, I can see the remains of the abbey over there,

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but what is the significance of this plaque?

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We're standing in the ruins of the great abbey church.

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This particular spot here was the site of the abbey's high altar,

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where high mass was celebrated every day.

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And sources, written within living memory

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of the Battle of Hastings, 1066 -

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one of the most famous dates in British history -

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mention that King William, William the Conqueror,

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called for the abbey's high altar to be built

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on the very spot where Harold's body was recovered.

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The construction of this abbey by William was the starting point

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for changes to Christianity across the country.

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There's a great wave of reform that comes with the Norman conquest,

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including the building of some great cathedrals that survive to this day,

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such as Durham Cathedral,

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instantly recognisable as Norman architecture -

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the heaviness of it, the round, circular-topped arches.

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It's a great time of rebuilding and we also get churchmen

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of enormous significance and talent coming from France

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and as far away as Italy to key positions within the English church.

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How and when did this beautiful abbey become a ruin?

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Battle Abbey, like every single monastery in England and Wales,

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fell victim to Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries.

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And the end for Battle came in 1538,

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when the monks were cast out with pensions

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and the site is given to a courtier of Henry VIII.

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And he rapidly levels the monastic church.

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Battle Abbey was at the centre of British Christian history

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and now, to celebrate our heritage,

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here's William Blake's classic hymn, set to music by Hubert Parry.

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# And did those feet in ancient time

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# Walk upon England's mountains green?

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# And was the holy Lamb of God

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# On England's pleasant pastures seen?

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# And did the countenance divine

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# Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

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# And was Jerusalem builded here

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# Among these dark Satanic mills?

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# Bring me my bow of burning gold

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# Bring me my arrows of desire

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# Bring me my spear Oh, clouds, unfold

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# Bring me my chariot of fire

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# I will not cease from mental fight

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# Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand

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# Till we have built Jerusalem

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# In England's green and pleasant land. #

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Another reminder of our history is Hastings Castle,

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built by William the Conqueror, here on the south coast,

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to strengthen England's defences.

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1,000 miles across the sea is Malaga,

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where Claire McCollum has been cheering on

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an extraordinary young man

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who has overcome the odds to represent Great Britain

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in a sporting event with a real difference.

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These are the 21st World Transplant Games.

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There are over 2,000 athletes

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from 50 different countries competing here,

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and every single one of them has undergone

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some form of organ transplant.

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16-year-old Luke Alexander is representing

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Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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His faith is at the centre of his family life

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and he's an altar server in his local church.

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What does it mean to you to be taking part here?

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It means so much to me. I'm really honoured to be here

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and I feel this is the best way to honour my donor family,

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just represent my country and, hopefully, getting a gold for them.

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Luke's competing in the 5K time trials today,

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but he's been on a long journey to get here.

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I was born with a rare liver condition called biliary atresia

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and it causes irreversible damage within the liver.

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When I was 12, I became very ill and it soon became apparent

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that I needed a liver transplant and, on 19th November, 2012,

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we received a call for an organ donation

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and we raced into hospital in blue lights into King's College.

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The next thing I knew, I was awake and up in ICU.

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It was very scary.

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For my family, it was, um, a rough period,

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but they found strength and support within the Church.

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The community in the parish that we have is a very good one

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and they helped my family out a lot.

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When he was undergoing the surgery, obviously, there was huge concern,

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but we are Catholics and we prayed and we prayed

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and we prayed and God listened.

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After my transplant, my energy levels just shot out the roof.

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It was really good to get back out and start exercising again

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and it was only when I went to Liverpool, last year,

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for the British Transplant Games, I realised I can do a lot more,

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I can push myself further, I can become a better athlete.

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I won four bronze medals and one silver and that was a highlight.

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I wasn't expecting any medals.

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Reflecting back on it now,

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it definitely does make you think that God has a path for everyone.

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Luke has been training six days a week

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for the last year, in preparation for this day.

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ANNOUNCER STARTS THE RACE

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His personal best for the 5km distance was just over 12 minutes.

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This time, he crossed the line in under ten

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and won gold in his category.

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To be here and compete, how thankful are you, Luke?

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I'm so glad, so thankful.

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Words can't even describe how thankful I am.

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It's just an amazing opportunity.

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And your donor - what words would you have to say?

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Thank you. Everything I've done now, I owe it to you.

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Um... Yeah, just thank you very much for saying yes.

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It's a miracle, isn't it? I think it's a miracle of life.

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Um... It's something, I think, we just prayed and prayed,

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and we've prayed so much through the journey,

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and to see the difference in him.

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And just thankful to the donor family

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for having made that decision. Yeah.

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And in their grief, they made such a powerful decision

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which has just changed our life for the better.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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We're back in the UK for our next hymn,

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celebrating the summer on the sandy beach of Tenby.

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On September 10th, Songs Of Praise hosts singing on a grand scale,

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with our annual Big Sing.

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If you'd like to buy tickets for this event

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at the Royal Albert Hall, then please go to our website

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for all the details you need.

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And Big Sing regulars the Adventist Vocal Ensemble

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lead the congregation in our next hymn.

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# Every time I feel the spirit

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Behind the newly renovated Victorian splendour,

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Hastings is not without its problems.

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It was recently ranked as one of the most deprived towns in the UK.

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But one church here is making a difference to people's lives,

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by helping some mums care for their newborn babies.

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King's Church takes part in a national charitable scheme

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called Baby Basics, which delivers a Moses basket of essentials

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to help mothers with newborn babies.

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So far, the main women we've been helping

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are victims of domestic violence,

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women who are homeless and women who've been trafficked

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and basically been enslaved and have now been set free,

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but they're pregnant and in desperate need of help -

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women who just wouldn't really know how to support their newborn baby

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and, actually, the idea of giving birth is something that's terrifying

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because they're wondering,

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"How am I going to support this life that I'm responsible for?"

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So, anything we can do to help, we're absolutely thrilled to do.

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Are you getting a lot of support from the community for this?

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Yeah, we're getting fantastic support,

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where people are really rallying around,

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donating items such as nappies, wipes, bottles, clothing,

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a whole load of things, and really rallying to support mums in crisis.

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And how does your Christian faith play a part?

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Well, we believe, as Christians, that we have been shown

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such great mercy and compassion and generosity from God

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that it's our responsibility to show that to anyone we can

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and everyone we can at any opportunity,

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so this project and many others are just ways

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that we get to show the love of God, his compassion, his mercy,

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to others, in the same way that we've experienced it.

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In the church, volunteers Davina and Rose are packing up

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a crib for their next delivery.

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And what are we putting inside? Well, we start off with the nappies.

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The nappies, sure. In the middle.

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And then we have at least 40 essential items for baby. Oh, wow!

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And I'm also seeing that there are some for mum as well,

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which is a lovely idea, because...

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Oh, yeah, we like to treat mum, especially after having a baby.

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And how many of these are you making, would you say, in a month?

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We're looking at doing about four to six a month,

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but we've just been over to the hospital

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and talked to the community midwives

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and we're hoping that the demand will increase from there.

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That's lovely. And these are all from donations from people.

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They are, yes.

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They're from the parent and toddler group here

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and we've also linked up with other churches,

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who are helping us as well.

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Right, I have a donation for you.

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Just a little something. Got some wipes. Thank you.

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Some baby shampoo. Thank you.

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And a little onesie there with a little hat.

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Ah, that is so sweet. That's brilliant. I'm very happy to help.

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This is such a great idea. Thank you. Thank you.

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Peepo!

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KATHERINE LAUGHS

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So, Lou, you donate to the Baby Basics here. Why do you do that?

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Um, I donate because I've got two girls of my own,

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another one on the way, and I just know how many things you need,

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whether it's a sippy cup or shampoo, and all of it tots up, really.

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You're a member of the church here.

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Do you feel like your faith plays a part in this? Yeah, definitely.

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I mean, being part of a church, it's just such an amazing...

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You just feel part of a family

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and I can't imagine life without having that support and family.

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So, to be able to bless someone and think,

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"Let's show God's love to others, as we know that God shows to us,"

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and just make them feel like they're part of the family, really.

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Growing up as a chorister,

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I know the importance of choral singing

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and one group who are keen to fly the flag are Voces8,

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who've been taking their inspiring music to the inner cities,

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as another former chorister, Sean Fletcher, has been finding out.

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# And where was I?

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# And where was I before the day...? #

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Classical chart-topping choir Voces8 are used to playing

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concerts all over the world.

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But today, they're helping 180 boys

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from ten schools across Leicestershire

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to find their singing voices for the first time.

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Lads ranging in age from 8 to 14 have come here, to De Montfort Hall,

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to rehearse for a gala performance tonight.

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Just have a listen to the first part of this melody.

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Could you sing it for us? Part number one goes like this.

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# Thula, thula bamba, thula... #

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Let's have a go. All together. Three and...

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# Thula, thula bamba, thula. #

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Very nice. Next part.

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Voces8 founder Paul Smith wants to pass on his passion for singing.

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We were pretty much as lucky as you could possibly imagine to be,

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in terms of the education we had.

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Many of us were choristers in cathedral choirs around the UK

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and so, we see it as our responsibility, I suppose,

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to try and share what we have learned

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and pass it on to the next generation.

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When you see me do this, this means keep going.

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When you see me do that, what does that mean? BOYS: Stop. Very good.

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A couple of things that struck me when I was watching the rehearsals

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is it was all boys and there's a real mix, in terms of ethnicity.

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Using singing as a vehicle for pulling people together

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from all walks of life is incredibly important to us.

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This is one of our projects which is really focusing

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on trying to get young boys singing, to get across the difficult boundary

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between primary school and secondary school.

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Often, it's those early teenage years,

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where boys, for a number of different reasons,

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will lose their love of making music and the freedom of singing.

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Last time.

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# Thula, thula bamba, thula

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# Thula bamba, thula

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# Thula, bamba, thula. #

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The music is mainly secular, isn't it?

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Well, in Voces8, we sing a really wide spectrum of music

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and, in a project we've just done in France,

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we had secular music alongside sacred music.

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I think if you can open music up

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and say it's not about being sacred or secular,

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it's about saying it's great music.

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In and of itself, it has a great message

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and it's incredibly beautiful to sing.

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I sort of sense that, maybe,

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if there were two or three kids in the future

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who go on to get into music or love music,

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does that feel like the job is done?

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Actually, there are some students we've worked with,

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we've sort of kept track of them,

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and those that started off as young singers, as part of our programme,

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are now beginning to start a professional life

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as a young singer, and that is, for us, where it all counts.

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Hey, high five.

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Paul certainly loves singing, but what about has new recruits?

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It's almost like proving to other people

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that singing isn't just a girl thing.

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It's to do with everyone as well.

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Boys can sing just as well as other people.

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So, who is nervous about tonight?

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I'm very nervous. You're really nervous, are you?

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Do you know how many people are going to be there? Um, 1,200 people.

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Well, it sounds great, so just go out there and sing your heart out.

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# Thula, thula, bamba, thula

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# Thula bamba... #

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A few hours later, Paul's latest proteges put their nerves aside

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and take to the stage to perform for their families and friends.

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# Thula, thula bamba, thula

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# Thula bamba, thula

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# Thula bamba, thula... #

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Can choral music change their lives? Absolutely.

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It is a life-changing thing, to be in a choir.

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I cannot emphasise that enough.

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# Thula bamba, thula. #

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Perhaps there will be a future chorister there, on the stage,

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who will go on to be in a group such as Voces8.

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Here they are now, performing Lux Aeterna.

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THEY SING IN LATIN IN MULTI-PART HARMONY

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THEY SING IN LATIN IN MULTI-PART HARMONY

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THEY SING IN LATIN IN MULTI-PART HARMONY

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THEY SING IN LATIN IN MULTI-PART HARMONY

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THEY SING IN LATIN IN MULTI-PART HARMONY

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Next week, Aled is in London to reflect on signs of hope,

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following recent difficult events.

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We need to clear this road so that the fire engine can get through.

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Josie d'Arby is at a training session

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with the emergency services and the Salvation Army.

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And there are uplifting hymns from Southwark Cathedral.

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Our final hymn, Praise My Soul, is older than this 19th-century pier,

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but still remains a favourite today.

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Until next time, goodbye.

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# Praise my soul the King of Heaven

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Katherine Jenkins explores the seaside resort of Hastings, revealing how the battle of 1066 changed British Christian history, and meets the volunteers from a local church who help mums by providing Moses baskets full of donations for newborn babies.

Sean Fletcher finds out how Voces 8 are inspiring young people to take up choral singing, and Claire McCollum meets a young man whose faith has helped him make it all the way to representing Great Britain at the World Transplant Games.

Katherine performs the classic hymn Jerusalem.


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