The Lindisfarne Gospels Songs of Praise


The Lindisfarne Gospels

Bill Turnbull takes the ancient pilgrims' path to the island of Lindisfarne, where one of the world's most beautiful books was created over 1,200 years ago.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to The Lindisfarne Gospels. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Eadfrith is not a particularly famous name in the history books

0:00:050:00:09

but more than 1,200 years ago the skill and devotion of this godly man

0:00:090:00:13

led to the creation of one of the most beautiful books in the world.

0:00:130:00:18

The Lindisfarne Gospels combine a work of art with the word of God,

0:00:200:00:24

intricate design interwoven with

0:00:240:00:27

the Latin text of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

0:00:270:00:30

The book is named after the tiny island on which it was created,

0:00:300:00:34

Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumbria,

0:00:340:00:36

a place so imbued with spirituality

0:00:360:00:39

that it's become known as Holy Island.

0:00:390:00:41

These days you can still take the old pilgrims' route to the island,

0:00:430:00:47

so long as you time it right because twice a day

0:00:470:00:51

Lindisfarne is cut off from the mainland

0:00:510:00:54

by the rising tide of the North Sea.

0:00:540:00:57

This week, how one of the most magnificent copies

0:01:000:01:03

of the New Testament Gospels continues to inspire.

0:01:030:01:06

And the Durham University Chamber Choir

0:01:060:01:09

evoke the music of our medieval past in the Lindisfarne Priory ruins.

0:01:090:01:14

Well, the tide is going out

0:01:220:01:24

and I can see from my trusty timetable

0:01:240:01:26

that I've got a few hours before the sea rushes back in

0:01:260:01:29

and cuts the island off from the rest of the world again,

0:01:290:01:33

enough time to take in the atmosphere

0:01:330:01:35

and explore the place where Eadfrith worked on his masterpiece.

0:01:350:01:39

Eadfrith's book is held for the nation in the British Library.

0:01:520:01:55

But this summer you can get a glimpse of its magnificence

0:01:550:01:58

at a special exhibition in Durham University's Palace Green Library.

0:01:580:02:03

This is St Mary's Church,

0:02:080:02:09

built on the site of Lindisfarne's first monastery,

0:02:090:02:12

where Eadfrith painstakingly created

0:02:120:02:15

his offering to God in words and pictures.

0:02:150:02:18

And it is where tonight we offer our songs of praise.

0:02:180:02:21

I have an emotional reaction to all medieval manuscripts

0:05:080:05:12

that I have the good fortune to touch.

0:05:120:05:14

These were made by our predecessors,

0:05:140:05:16

they were made by humans like ourselves.

0:05:160:05:18

And as one looks at their writing,

0:05:180:05:20

at their illumination,

0:05:200:05:21

one can see something of the personality of the scribe,

0:05:210:05:24

of the people who used it.

0:05:240:05:26

What is remarkable about the Lindisfarne Gospels

0:05:280:05:31

is that it is a masterpiece of calligraphy

0:05:310:05:34

and of spirituality and art,

0:05:340:05:37

and it is the alliance of remarkable preservation of a remarkable book

0:05:370:05:41

with an amazing record of its history across the centuries

0:05:410:05:45

which we have every reason to believe that makes it unique.

0:05:450:05:49

It's all a masterpiece,

0:05:520:05:54

but at the opening to Luke's Gospel, Quoniam quidem,

0:05:540:05:58

in the margins, Eadfrith the scribe artist

0:05:580:06:02

drew a very smug-looking cat

0:06:020:06:06

and in his stomach, as it were, we see a progression of birds

0:06:060:06:10

that are based on the cormorants that teem on Holy Island,

0:06:100:06:14

and we know that monks from the Irish tradition loved their cats

0:06:140:06:20

and it shows us that they are attuned to their natural environment

0:06:200:06:24

as well as to the spirituality within it.

0:06:240:06:27

We shouldn't forget that although one man is writing,

0:06:320:06:35

the whole community is involved in the project as a whole.

0:06:350:06:38

Other people are making the parchment.

0:06:380:06:41

Other people are preparing it, procuring the inks.

0:06:410:06:44

And it is a community effort, and equally

0:06:440:06:47

everybody who prays while one scribe writes

0:06:470:06:50

is involved in the whole project.

0:06:500:06:52

We can be confident that two years

0:06:560:06:58

will be the absolute minimum it would take.

0:06:580:07:01

But given the regular interruptions owing to inclement weather,

0:07:010:07:05

waiting for supplies, the pressure of other duties,

0:07:050:07:08

probably the best part of a decade is a better estimate.

0:07:080:07:12

But we have to put this in the context of an eternal time frame,

0:07:120:07:16

we tend to think in commercial terms -

0:07:160:07:18

something has to be done by next year.

0:07:180:07:21

If you are doing this

0:07:210:07:22

for all of the saints on Lindisfarne past, present and future,

0:07:220:07:26

it doesn't matter if you finish it today or tomorrow,

0:07:260:07:29

you are doing it for eternity

0:07:290:07:31

and what matters is the quality, not the time.

0:07:310:07:34

'Holy Island is often referred to as a thin place

0:07:400:07:43

'where the veil separating Heaven and earth is lifted

0:07:430:07:46

'to reveal a glimpse of the Divine,

0:07:460:07:48

'a place where people say they sense

0:07:480:07:50

'the endless cycle of prayer and praise echoing down the centuries.

0:07:500:07:54

'It's a feeling enhanced perhaps by the words of our next hymn,

0:07:540:07:58

'which in Eadfrith's day would have been sung in Latin.'

0:07:580:08:01

-SOLO:

-# O Trinity of blessed light

0:08:060:08:15

ALL: # O Unity of primal might

0:08:150:08:23

# The fiery sun now goes his way

0:08:230:08:32

# Shed thou within our hearts thy ray

0:08:320:08:40

-WOMEN:

-# To thee our morning song of praise

0:08:400:08:49

# To thee our evening prayer we raise

0:08:490:08:58

-MEN:

-# Thy glory, suppliant, we adore

0:08:590:09:07

# For ever and for evermore

0:09:070:09:15

ALL: # O Trinity, O Unity

0:09:190:09:27

# Thou help of man's infirmity

0:09:270:09:35

# Protect us through the hours of night

0:09:350:09:44

# Who art our everlasting light

0:09:440:09:53

# To God the Father, God the Son

0:09:530:10:01

# And God the Spirit, Three in One

0:10:020:10:10

# Let glory, praise and worship be

0:10:110:10:18

# From age to age eternally

0:10:190:10:27

# Amen. #

0:10:280:10:32

At the heart of the Lindisfarne Gospel decoration

0:10:390:10:42

is the intricacy of Celtic knots.

0:10:420:10:44

They are a particular inspiration for local artist Mary Fleeson.

0:10:450:10:49

There's a part in Ecclesiastes where it says,

0:10:540:10:56

"A strand of three cords is not easily broken."

0:10:560:11:00

And it's the weaving of those cords that makes it strong.

0:11:000:11:05

It can be symbolic of the trinity, so father, son and spirit again -

0:11:050:11:10

together they are stronger.

0:11:100:11:13

Here we are then on the same island

0:11:170:11:19

where Eadfrith created the Lindisfarne Gospels.

0:11:190:11:22

Do you feel a connection with him somehow when you're working?

0:11:220:11:27

I think Eadfrith was probably inspired by similar things to me -

0:11:270:11:31

the beauty of Holy Island, it's a gorgeous place to be.

0:11:310:11:36

The extremes on Holy Island -

0:11:360:11:39

the extreme weather that we get sometimes,

0:11:390:11:42

the sense of extreme isolation that we get when the tide's in.

0:11:420:11:46

I think that Eadfrith was a marvellous artist.

0:11:520:11:55

The attention to detail in the Lindisfarne Gospels

0:11:550:11:58

is second to none.

0:11:580:12:00

When you combine art and faith...

0:12:030:12:06

you produce something very special which blesses other people

0:12:060:12:10

and helps them to...

0:12:100:12:12

see God differently and to know God differently.

0:12:120:12:15

What is it about this place that makes it so special to you?

0:12:170:12:21

You can feel the prayers of those that have been before -

0:12:210:12:25

all the pilgrims that have visited,

0:12:250:12:27

the monks that have lived here.

0:12:270:12:29

It's almost tangible - you can almost touch it at times.

0:12:290:12:33

The first time I came onto the island,

0:12:340:12:37

we came over the causeway in a car...

0:12:370:12:39

..and I just cried.

0:12:400:12:42

Unstoppable tears.

0:12:440:12:45

And I'm not given to emotional outbursts particularly,

0:12:450:12:49

but something about the place touched me somehow.

0:12:490:12:54

I felt like I was coming home.

0:12:540:12:56

I've never felt that anywhere else.

0:12:590:13:02

FLUTE PLAYS

0:13:020:13:04

The most dramatic chapter

0:15:040:15:05

in the history of the Lindisfarne Gospels

0:15:050:15:07

came a century and a half after Eadfrith's death.

0:15:070:15:10

Viking raids forced the monks to flee their island home.

0:15:120:15:15

They took with them their most precious possessions -

0:15:180:15:21

the Lindisfarne Gospels of course,

0:15:210:15:24

but also the body of their most revered bishop - Saint Cuthbert.

0:15:240:15:28

The modern centrepiece of St Mary's Church

0:15:300:15:33

is this sculpture called The Journey.

0:15:330:15:36

And it's a dramatic representation of the moment that the monks

0:15:360:15:39

and the Gospels left Lindisfarne.

0:15:390:15:42

It's really quite powerful and sombre in this setting,

0:15:420:15:45

and you can't help but feel sympathy for these men

0:15:450:15:47

as they left the island for the last time.

0:15:470:15:50

I could see this epic story,

0:15:550:15:57

so how could I express this journey?

0:15:570:16:00

Durham-born Fenwick Lawson has been an artist

0:16:010:16:03

and sculptor for over 60 years.

0:16:030:16:05

His acclaimed sculpture, The Journey,

0:16:050:16:08

was carved from seven elm trees.

0:16:080:16:09

There was something very interesting happening

0:16:120:16:15

while I was actually doing this.

0:16:150:16:17

Layers of meaning

0:16:170:16:18

that I wasn't actually,

0:16:180:16:20

in a sense, expecting,

0:16:200:16:23

or I didn't preconceive, you know?

0:16:230:16:25

It was like happening after the event.

0:16:250:16:28

And in one sense it was becoming larger than just...

0:16:280:16:33

than just six months carrying Cuthbert's body.

0:16:330:16:36

I'm from a mining community.

0:16:390:16:41

My father always said he depended for his life down the pit

0:16:410:16:46

on his marras, on his other workmen.

0:16:460:16:50

They all had a responsibility for safety,

0:16:500:16:53

their lives depended on it,

0:16:530:16:56

and it formed a bond

0:16:560:16:57

which is very strong and very meaningful.

0:16:570:17:01

These could equally be six miners carrying their brother.

0:17:030:17:06

And the monks were carrying their brother.

0:17:090:17:13

Fenwick's life work, which includes Saint Cuthbert at Lindisfarne Priory

0:17:160:17:21

and the Pieta in Durham Cathedral,

0:17:210:17:23

has developed into an exploration of our humanity.

0:17:230:17:26

I wanted to get past,

0:17:290:17:31

you need to be religious to engage with a religious image.

0:17:310:17:35

If you're not, you tend to put up a barrier.

0:17:350:17:37

But I find that that barrier is totally unnecessary.

0:17:370:17:41

For instance, Christ condemned

0:17:410:17:44

is every man condemned.

0:17:440:17:48

He's a prisoner of conscience, he's a political prisoner.

0:17:480:17:52

I hear stories that the Pieta moves people, you know?

0:17:520:17:57

And when that was challenged by some of my colleagues

0:17:570:18:01

as being just religious...

0:18:010:18:03

HE SCOFFS

0:18:030:18:04

it's...it's... it's a mother with a dead son.

0:18:040:18:08

We must become more than we are,

0:18:110:18:14

we need to grow into humanity,

0:18:140:18:17

and that's the message,

0:18:170:18:19

and I think it's an important one.

0:18:190:18:21

I think it's a primary message to be stated.

0:18:210:18:25

And I'm using my voice as a sculptor

0:18:250:18:28

to try and give voice to this.

0:18:280:18:31

The monks of Lindisfarne

0:20:100:20:11

travelled all over the north of England

0:20:110:20:13

before settling in the newly-built Durham Cathedral.

0:20:130:20:16

Saint Cuthbert's resting place

0:20:160:20:18

has been a sight of pilgrimage ever since.

0:20:180:20:20

But it was not the end of the journey for the Gospels,

0:20:220:20:24

and this year marks a rare return to the Northeast

0:20:240:20:27

for this jewel of our medieval heritage.

0:20:270:20:29

To mark the occasion, a Lindisfarne Gospels community choir

0:20:320:20:36

has been formed and Martin Ward and his family volunteered to take part.

0:20:360:20:40

-ALL:

-# Glory... #

0:20:400:20:42

MARTIN WARD: 'The music that we have to sing,

0:20:420:20:44

'there are some really beautiful pieces.

0:20:440:20:46

'It just becomes an act of worship when you're singing.'

0:20:480:20:50

Not bad, lovely.

0:20:500:20:52

You feel that you're part of a body

0:20:520:20:55

because you're singing with all these other people

0:20:550:20:57

and all your voices are joining together

0:20:570:20:59

to produce something that's far better than any one person's voice

0:20:590:21:03

on its own can produce.

0:21:030:21:05

-ALL:

-# Hosanna hosanna... #

0:21:050:21:08

'Singing shouldn't be left to just that

0:21:080:21:11

'tiny percentage of the population who can sing fantastically well,

0:21:110:21:14

'it's actually something everybody can do.'

0:21:140:21:16

-ALL:

-# Glory be to God. #

0:21:160:21:21

'One thing I like about this choir is that there's no competition'

0:21:210:21:24

involved, there's no auditions,

0:21:240:21:28

that anybody is welcome to join it and be part of it.

0:21:280:21:31

-One, two, three...

-ALL:

-# Hosanna...

-#

0:21:310:21:34

'In our society there's a huge emphasis on competition,

0:21:340:21:39

'and the thing with competition is that if you and I are competing

0:21:390:21:42

'then if I win,'

0:21:420:21:43

you lose,

0:21:430:21:45

if you win, I lose.

0:21:450:21:47

But if you and I are cooperating on something, then if you win, I win,

0:21:470:21:50

and the choir is very much about cooperation, about working together.

0:21:500:21:55

# Hosanna, glory to... #

0:21:550:22:00

'The Lindisfarne Gospels were produced

0:22:000:22:02

'not as a result of any competition,'

0:22:020:22:05

they didn't have a...

0:22:050:22:06

The way we do it nowadays, we'd say,

0:22:060:22:08

"Oh, it would be good to have some Gospels that are really beautiful,

0:22:080:22:12

"so let's hold a Lindisfarne Gospels competition.

0:22:120:22:15

"And let's get a load of Gospel writers to compete

0:22:150:22:17

"and then we'll judge them.

0:22:170:22:19

"And one of them we'll pick out and that will be the winner

0:22:190:22:22

"and all the others will be the losers."

0:22:220:22:24

But that's not what happened

0:22:240:22:25

because the person who wrote the Gospels just wanted to produce

0:22:250:22:29

the best that he could because the Gospel message was so important

0:22:290:22:33

and so wonderful and fantastic.

0:22:330:22:37

ORCHESTRA PLAYS

0:22:380:22:42

Well, that was a brand-new tune

0:25:170:25:19

written especially for this programme.

0:25:190:25:21

Every generation leaves its own mark

0:25:230:25:25

and that's also true for the Lindisfarne Gospels.

0:25:250:25:27

As we can see from this reproduction,

0:25:290:25:31

although Latin was the language in which they were created,

0:25:310:25:34

a couple of centuries after Eadfrith,

0:25:340:25:37

a translation was added by another monk called Aldred,

0:25:370:25:40

making this the first version of the Gospels in English.

0:25:400:25:44

Sandy Duff and his crew are artists working in a medium

0:25:460:25:49

usually reserved for secular rather than sacred works.

0:25:490:25:52

Having established the largest legal graffiti wall in England

0:25:550:25:59

at the Sage in Gateshead, Sandy's come up with the idea

0:25:590:26:02

of an up-to-date version of the Lindisfarne Gospels with spray cans.

0:26:020:26:06

When we started researching

0:26:080:26:09

the Gospels project,

0:26:090:26:11

I was really struck by the parallels between the graffiti writers

0:26:110:26:14

that I was used to working with

0:26:140:26:16

and actually the programmes of work that these monks undertook.

0:26:160:26:20

What they could see in their mind there wasn't the materials to create,

0:26:200:26:23

so they actually had to go out

0:26:230:26:25

and create the tools to project what was in their heads.

0:26:250:26:28

Another interesting parallel between the Gospels

0:26:320:26:34

and the contemporary graffiti work is the fact that

0:26:340:26:37

when a graffiti writer finishes his piece,

0:26:370:26:39

the last thing he will do is to sign it off

0:26:390:26:41

and he will tag somewhere in the piece with his own name.

0:26:410:26:44

But not only that, they do what's called a shout out,

0:26:440:26:47

so you'll get a number of different names that go around the piece

0:26:470:26:50

which are references and thanks to various different crews,

0:26:500:26:53

possibly artists that have inspired them.

0:26:530:26:55

And the Gospels themselves actually mirror this in the last pages -

0:26:550:26:58

not only is the work signed off

0:26:580:27:00

but there's acknowledgements to the various people

0:27:000:27:02

that have supported and helped it.

0:27:020:27:04

I really wanted to do something that was not only a one-off

0:27:070:27:09

sort of exhibition or art show, but really it brought young people

0:27:090:27:14

and other members from the community and engaged them, got them involved,

0:27:140:27:17

got them thinking about what the history was behind the Gospels,

0:27:170:27:21

what the faith aspects were behind the Gospels,

0:27:210:27:24

and what the creative angles were in the Gospels.

0:27:240:27:27

I think the interesting thing about having skills

0:27:300:27:35

is to remember that these are gifts.

0:27:350:27:36

And, actually, my feeling is that, you know, praise

0:27:360:27:39

and worship can come in the use of the gift that you have

0:27:390:27:42

and actually by sharing those gifts,

0:27:420:27:44

not just in producing your own work,

0:27:440:27:46

but actually working alongside others -

0:27:460:27:48

and in my case working alongside young people -

0:27:480:27:50

and sharing those skills

0:27:500:27:52

and sharing those gifts is as valid a form of worship as any.

0:27:520:27:56

CHOIR SINGS IN LATIN

0:28:020:28:03

-MEN:

-# Christus

0:28:030:28:07

# Est Stella Matutina

0:28:080:28:16

ALL: # Christus

0:28:170:28:21

ALL: # Est Stella Matutina

0:28:210:28:31

# Christus

0:28:320:28:40

WOMEN: # Qui nocte saecum

0:28:440:28:53

# Transacta lucem vitae

0:28:540:29:04

ALL: # Sanctis promitit

0:29:060:29:18

# Et pandit

0:29:180:29:28

# Aeternum

0:29:280:29:45

# Aeternum. #

0:29:470:30:06

Holy God, you inspired Eadfrith

0:30:090:30:12

to glorify your name

0:30:120:30:15

and proclaim the holiness of Cuthbert

0:30:150:30:17

in the creation of these marvellous Gospels.

0:30:170:30:21

Fill our hearts with your spirit

0:30:210:30:24

and change us from glory to glory.

0:30:240:30:28

May the holy three, the father, son and spirit,

0:30:280:30:33

who call us into life and summon us to holiness,

0:30:330:30:38

encircle us in love

0:30:380:30:41

and hold us in blessing.

0:30:410:30:43

-ALL:

-Amen.

0:30:430:30:45

ORCHESTRA PLAYS

0:30:460:30:49

Well, Lindisfarne really does deserve the name Holy,

0:33:150:33:18

but although it's a place almost as timeless as the story told

0:33:180:33:21

by the Gospel itself,

0:33:210:33:22

I better be off because as they say,

0:33:220:33:25

"Time and tide wait for no man."

0:33:250:33:27

Next week, a musical celebration led by the Ulster Orchestra

0:33:290:33:32

from the Waterfront Hall in Belfast

0:33:320:33:35

as Eamonn introduces hymns old and new

0:33:350:33:37

written by people from across Ireland.

0:33:370:33:39

Plus special guest Anuna,

0:33:390:33:42

Robin Mark and The Celtic Tenors.

0:33:420:33:44

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

0:34:020:34:05

Bill Turnbull takes the ancient pilgrims' path to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, where one of the world's most beautiful books was created over 1,200 years ago.

St Mary's Parish Church is the setting for congregational hymns including Lord Of Beauty, Thine The Splendour, There Is A Gospel To Proclaim and O Splendour Of God's Glory Bright.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS