The Gift of Music Songs of Praise


The Gift of Music

David Grant explores how music transforms lives, with a group of young singers finding harmony together and a choir who are singing away the blues.


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HE SINGS A SCALE

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As a singer and songwriter, arranger and vocal coach,

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I've had the privilege of working with countless other singers.

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Some famous, some not yet famous.

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The thing that never ceases to amaze me

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is music's ability not just to change a mood,

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but to completely transform a life, the way that it did mine.

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This week we're going to be going around the country,

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looking at people whose lives have been transformed

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by the gift of music.

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Coming up - the student who's changing the face of rugby.

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The singer who's found a new voice.

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And the teenagers bringing their community together

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through the power of song.

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Plus, of course, hymns galore to lift your spirits.

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Hans Christian Andersen said, "Where words fail, music speaks."

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Of course, music is a powerful way of worshipping and showing our love for God,

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as expressed in today's first hymn

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which comes from the oldest church in Portsmouth, St Mary's.

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This is Stockbridge Village in Knowsley on Merseyside.

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Originally built in the '60s, it's had a troubled past

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but a group of youngsters are using music to try and brighten its future.

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As a vocal coach and youth music ambassador,

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I'm well aware of the power that music has to engage young people

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and that is certainly what is happening here.

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The En-Chord music project is giving local teenagers the opportunity

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to make and perform their own music.

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I've come along to one of their sessions to share some tips with them.

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# Oh see it's getting late Oh please don't hesitate

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# Put a little love in your heart

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# Put a little love in your heart... #

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18-year-old Judith Guabadoa has been involved in the project from the very beginning.

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I only discovered I could sing at the age of 12

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when the music pastor of our church said,

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"You should audition for a part in the choir."

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I was shy, I didn't want to sing and he forced me to sing

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and when I sang, he went, "Wow, you've got a voice."

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Everybody sing their first note.

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There is nothing to do in our lives

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so En-Chord has given us the opportunity to come together,

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to make one big family.

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We've literally created a music community in a community.

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# Put a little love in your heart... #

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'I've met so many nice people who are into music

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'and I've learned from them, the way they've learned from me

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'and it has actually changed my life so very much.'

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# Put a little love in your heart... #

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Everyone is like a family and everyone is close

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and there's no judgemental people.

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You can be yourself around everyone.

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Just because the area we live in has a bad name doesn't mean

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everybody who lives there is bad as well.

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If you think back to two years ago, there was nothing like that.

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Now there is and it's just amazing.

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En-Chord may be giving the gift of music to their community

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but Judith believes that her voice is a gift in itself.

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'I feel that it is a gift from God.

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'He has given me this gift and I must share this gift.'

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I don't want to be selfish with it by not allowing people to hear

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what God has given me.

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# Above all powers

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# Above all Kings

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# Above all nature and all created things

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# Above all wisdom and all the ways of man

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# You were here before the world began

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# Above all kingdoms

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# Above all thrones

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# Above all wonders the world has ever known

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# Above all wealth and treasures of the earth

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# There's no way to measure what you're worth

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# Crucified, laid behind a stone

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# You lived to die Rejected and alone

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# Like a rose Trampled on the ground

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# You took the fall and thought of me, above all

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# Crucified, laid behind a stone

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# You lived to die Rejected and alone

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# Like a rose Trampled on the ground

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# You took the fall and thought of me, above all

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# Like a rose Trampled on the ground

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# You took the fall

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# And thought of me

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# Above all. #

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Elle Caldon regularly sang at her church and in local choirs.

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She earned a music scholarship to university but when there,

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her health began to suffer.

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I was diagnosed with bipolar about six years ago.

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The depressive episodes make lots of things more difficult.

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They make just getting up

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and getting out of the house become quite a challenge.

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Everything just feels as though it moves very slowly.

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There are times when the depression is so significant that the idea

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of singing is not one that I would feel I could entertain at that time.

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When things are beginning to shift and I start to feel a bit better,

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I find singing can actually be really helpful.

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# ..And mercy shall follow me... #

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Elle realised that music might also help other sufferers.

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Six years ago she set up The Mustard Seed Singers,

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made up of people with mental health issues and those who support them.

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The choir is not a Christian choir, it hasn't got a spiritual component

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although I do feel that God has helped and inspired me

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to do what I am doing now.

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# Parsley, sage Rosemary and thyme... #

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And it's not only Elle who believes that music can have a

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profound effect on people's moods.

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Professor Stephen Clift

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is from Canterbury Christchurch University and has been

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studying the effect which music and singing has on people's wellbeing.

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Singing is a very uplifting activity.

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It helps people to feel happier.

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It's a very social thing, people come together regularly.

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They get to know one another,

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they have social support from their friends.

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It's especially important for people who might have a

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history of health problems.

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# Just call on me, brother

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# When you need a hand

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# We all need somebody to lean on... #

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Singing is my main hobby. It's my lifeline.

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'I always feel good after I've sang.'

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# ..I'll help you carry on. #

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Music creates a sense of harmony that unites generations,

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and to sing together with a group, singing different harmonies,

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creating a complete entity of song, is a wonderful experience.

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I think music generally is a gift from God.

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Whether people experience that in that way for themselves...

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It's going to be different for different people,

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but I personally think music is a gift.

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# Make me a channel of your peace... #

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22-year-old soprano Laura Wright has packed a lot

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into the last eight years.

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The former Radio Two Young Chorister of the Year had a successful

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career with the group All Angels, selling over a million albums.

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SHE SINGS

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Having gone solo,

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her debut album went to number one in the classical charts.

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She was last seen by Songs Of Praise viewers here,

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performing at The Big Sing,

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but she actually spends most of her time here.

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LAURA SINGS

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Currently, Laura's finishing her degree in opera studies

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at the Royal College of Music, but she's in demand.

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Last year she performed at the Queen's Jubilee,

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at the Olympic Stadium and at the Festival of Remembrance.

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Do you feel that music somehow brings a nation together?

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Yeah, enormously. I've just been made the official singer

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for the England rugby team, which is an amazing feeling,

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but a big responsibility.

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It's only 50 seconds long, our anthem.

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It's so short, but in that space of time you can unify the entire

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crowd and be the symbol of unity.

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THEY SING "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN"

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-You have a vested interest in rugby, don't you?

-I do.

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I have three older brothers who all play rugby,

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and let's put it this way, I was the rugby ball when I was younger.

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But in recent times, I did actually start playing rugby,

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and I'm having so much fun being in a team sport, because obviously,

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as a soloist, you're up there on stage on your own a lot of the time.

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You're travelling around on your own, and to be part of a rugby team

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and to be with a group of girls that just have so much fun,

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they're so driven as well, that they have that drive

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that you have as a performer. It's great to mix the two.

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So there you are, you're singing in front of 86,000 people.

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How does that compare to, say,

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singing in an opera house or a concert hall or a church?

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Singing in a church, for me, is the most peaceful experience,

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and I feel like I have a very strong faith there as well.

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SHE SINGS

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And I think it's interesting

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when you take that music out of the church and out of that surrounding.

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I still feel that faith

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and I still feel that connection to the church

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and to my faith as well, and I think that's the beautiful thing about

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choral music, is that it's written in devotion to God

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and that kind of goes with you wherever you go.

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You talked about the need to have an emotional connection with a song.

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How do you connect to I Vow To Thee, My Country?

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You sort of feel like it's the people's national anthem.

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Everyone gets behind you, everyone sings it, everyone knows it,

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and you see people almost sit up straight when you start singing it

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because they feel proud, and I think that's how I feel when I perform.

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# I vow to thee, my country

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# All earthly things above

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# Entire and whole and perfect

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# The service of my love

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# The love that asks no question

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# The love that stands the test

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# That lays upon the altar

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# The dearest and the best

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# The love that never falters

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# The love that pays the price

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# The love that makes undaunted

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# The final sacrifice

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# And there's another country

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# I've heard of long ago

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# Most dear to them that love her

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# Most great to them that know

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# We may not count her armies

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# We may not see her King

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# Her fortress is a faithful heart

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# Her pride is suffering

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# And soul by soul and silently

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# Her shining bounds increase

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# And her ways are ways of gentleness

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# And all her paths are peace

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# And her ways are ways of gentleness

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# And all her paths are peace. #

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For some, their devotion to music has meant overcoming physical

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barriers to fulfil their dreams.

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Gemma Lunt was a musical child,

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but suffered from hypermobility syndrome,

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which caused joint pain and fatigue.

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It was such a huge part of my life at that time, and as I grew up

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into secondary school, there was leading the Wigan Youth Orchestra

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when I was 14, which was a great opportunity.

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It was a way I could express myself,

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it was a way I could kind of get frustration

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out in my music as well as all the other emotions,

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and I think it really became a big, big support to me.

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Gemma overcame these barriers to secure a place studying

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performance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire.

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But after an accident in 2003, she lost the sight in one eye,

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and four years later, suffered an anaphylactic shock which led

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to nerve damage and the loss of the use of her legs.

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I was in bed for most of that year a lot of the time, and I'd been

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told I wouldn't play again properly, and that really, really...

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..hit me. I was just absolutely devastated.

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I suddenly started being able to pick up the strength to play

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my soprano sax, and I just kept at this,

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and gradually built that up and got some of the sensation back

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in my hands a bit, and basically then started picking up the viola.

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Within a year she was back at college,

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but even this threw up new barriers to overcome.

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It's quite hard going back to Trinity Laban

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being in a wheelchair, cos obviously I had issues with

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access at first and it was very frustrating.

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But it felt like that's where God had wanted me to be

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and I was just determined to stick at that

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and work my way through whatever else came up.

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I'm going to be playing Amazing Grace.

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It always seems that there's certain songs that have really stuck

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out to me or really kind of really reached out to me at times

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when I've just felt like giving up,

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and that is one of the songs that has really, really helped.

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'Oh, Lord, through music we express our faith in you.

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'With song in our hearts, we find strength and confidence.'

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'Music's power heals, transforms and unites us.'

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'And for this wondrous gift, we thank you. Amen.'

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The gift of music is a wonderful thing,

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for the performer as well as the audience.

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But when that music or song comes from the soul,

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then it becomes more than just a tune.

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Then it becomes a musical prayer.

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Next week, ahead of St David's Day, Aled visits the saint's

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birthplace on the Pembrokeshire coast,

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and takes a look around the fascinating cathedral in St Davids.

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The hymn singing, as it's from the Land of Song, is heavenly,

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and there's music from special guest, Rhys Meirion.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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David Grant explores how music transforms lives, with a group of young singers finding harmony together and a choir who are singing away the blues. Plus performances from singers Laura Wright and Ramin Karimloo, and hymns from St Mary's Church in Portsmouth.


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