Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Songs Of Praise

How very fortunate I was, to be given the opportunity to sing in Dunfermline Abbey recently with Songs of Praise.

On April 2nd there was a rehearsal from 7pm till 10.30pm

The hymn books were handed out and as we sat waiting for the conductor and crew to begin the proceedings I flicked through the blue book. I was familiar with only two of the hymns and could sing only one of them without the book!

As the evening of song began we worked our way through all 10 hymns with the conductor Gordon Stewart guiding and entertaining us in the most amusing manner.


There was no filming on this evening only singing. We were told that they had decided to make a few changes to how they normally do things, so with us we had this extra practice evening and then there would be two evenings of recording live five hymns each night. Apparently in previous recordings they would record the singing and then the congregation would sing or mime to playback. So we were the first to do this all live! Quite exciting really
The two evenings of recording and filming took place on Friday and Saturday (15th & 16th April)

From 7pm till 10.30pm on the Friday and a little earlier on Saturday from 5pm till 9.45pm.
The Abbey is stunning, it was lovely to be there and the lighting was beautiful.
On the Saturday evening we were accompanied by Alba Brass who were excellent
There was also a children's choir but I didn't catch where they were from and forgot to find out.

We had to wear the same clothes on both filming evenings and sit in the same seats too as the hymns will be played over 3 shows in August (7th, 14th & 21st)


I feel very privileged to have been a part of such an enjoyable and spiritual event, made all the more so by Gordon Stewart a very distinguished and accomplished concert organist, teacher and conductor among other things. Born in Dundee, the son of a minister, he has conducted Songs of Praise many times and at many memorable events such as, the opening of the Olympic Games in Athens and also in Johannesburg, South Africa at the end of apartheid. He has played Celebrity Concerts in such places as St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral to name a few.

During the course of the 3 evenings he told us many humorous and uplifting stories of his travels and some of his father who was a minister. If ever there was a person perfect for such a job it is he. There were moments throughout when we had to wait for lighting, cameras and crew to fix problems, change positions, re-take and run through films and sound to get things right, each time he was there with another timely piece of humour to keep us entertained and relaxed. He talked us through each hymn, made us think about the words and feel them and sing from our hearts, he reminded of why we were all there, to sing in praise of God and to give his message to those who faithfully watch the program, those who may be unable to attend church or would not be able to experience these beautiful hymns of praise in such a wonderful setting.


At the end of Saturday evening, my arm ached from holding the booklet up, my legs were tired and my vocal cords were feeling a little achy and overstretched but none of that mattered. I came away with a feeling of great fulfilment, a heart full of joy and song! It didn't matter that I didn't knew the hymns because by the time we had finished filming I knew them all...I am ten hymns richer!

When everyone was heading for the door, I seized the opportunity to speak to Gordon, to shake his hand in thanks and tell him what a wonderful experience the 3 evenings had been and one which I will never forget. I asked him to autograph my ticket as a little memento and he happily obliged.

It was a huge time commitment and I was very fortunate to have been able to do it. Thanks to Kevin I was able to take the time out of family routine, leave him with it all.... the dinner, the mess, getting Charlotte settled for bed, the bedtime stories and the tidying up, it’s usually very much a joint effort in the evenings as we are both tired from our busy days. So a huge thank you to you Kevin x
When the shows go out in August I will be watching, but not to see if I can spot myself in the crowd. I will enjoy hearing the hymns and remembering the evenings I spent in the presence of God with my fellow Christians from churches all over the area, Gordon Stewart and the wonderful people who work so hard to bring Songs of Praise to a worldwide audience.

3 comments:

frayedattheedge said...

What an amazing experience!!

Joy said...

What a fantastic experience you had! I looked at all the links and you were in the midst of history and great talent. I am so happy for you to have been able to do this. I would love to see that church, hard to imagine anything that old. The tombstones would have been interesting also. The angels in heaven most assuredly heard you singing! Thank you for sharing this with us.

Boxoftrix said...

Thank you Anne, it was indeed an amazing experience!
Joy, lots of history there, its a great place to visit perhaps I will take a trip up there soon and take some more pictures for you to see, some of the tombstones too. If I thought even the angels I know who are in heaven heard me that would be enough :)

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