A Brilliant Broadcast!
8th November 2017
On Sunday, 5th of November BBC Radio 4’s flagship religious series, ‘Sunday Worship’ was broadcast live from St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Pakington Street, Bradford. Interestingly for a ‘Bonfire Night’ broadcast in this Reformation Anniversary Year, both priests involved with the broadcast were converts to Catholicism and had been Church of England clergymen before being ordained as priests.
Described by one appreciative listener as sounding ‘kind and welcoming’, the celebrant was St Joseph’s Assistant Priest and Chaplain to Bradford Hospitals, Fr Timothy Whitwell. St Joseph’s Parish Church is Bradford University’s Catholic Chaplaincy and also the regular home each Sunday to a Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form. One of the wider ‘team’ that celebrates the Latin Mass at St Joseph’s is Fr Michael Hall who preached the Homily for the broadcast.
In his Homily, Fr Michael spoke of how the Church has always been and continues to be a diverse community, but that diversity became division at the Reformation. He called us to consider the enormities that have been carried out in the name of religion. We are in union with each other through having but one Father in God and so through division we break faith not only with one another but also with God.
Mass began with the hymn ‘Praise to the holiest in the height’, led by The Bradford Catholic Youth Choir which is made up of four choirs covering the vast age range of 7 to 18: the Junior Boys’ Choir, the Junior Girls’ Choir, the Senior Boys’ Choir and the Senior Girls’ Choir. The seniors also sang the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin. Email feedback from listeners, including a very eminent professional conductor of young choirs, commended the beauty of the singing:
‘The music was spiritual and the singing stirred my soul, so beautiful to hear plainsong sung so reverently.’
‘The youth choir were wonderfully together and wonderfully balanced between the four parts. Their singing of Latin plainchant was exceptional, bearing in mind that Latin is not as common in school and church as it was. They must have worked very hard over a long period to produce plainchant of this standard.’
‘It was a joy and privilege to hear music of this quality. The Diocese can be very proud of its programme for choirs.’
These outstanding choirs are part of the ground-breaking Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme and were led by their Conductors Thomas Leech and Alex Kyle, accompanied by Cathedral Organist David Pipe. Parents, teachers, priests and other listeners – and the BBC’s producer - were unstinting in their praise for what the Schools Singing Programme does for Education in the Diocese:
‘What's your secret? How on earth do you it? Getting underprivileged youngsters to sing church music with such control and accuracy . . . May God bless you in this marvellous work!’
‘The splendid work that you and your colleagues advance unlocks such God-given potential in the lives of our youngsters, Catholic or otherwise.’
The programme is available for 30 days after transmission on BBC Radio iPlayer. To listen, follow this link:
More photographs - taken by Patrick Sice at the rehearsals - will be posted in due course!