Praise be! St Mary’s to host Easter Songs

PRAISE BE From left, Vicar Canon Bob White and Brian Moles, director of music and organist of St Mary's Church, which will appear on Songs of Praise
PRAISE BE From left, Vicar Canon Bob White and Brian Moles, director of music and organist of St Mary's Church, which will appear on Songs of Praise
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HEAVENLY tunes soaring from St Mary’s Church, Fratton, are to be captured on film and shown on television during Easter.

The popular BBC programme Songs of Praise has selected the city church as the base for its special show for the holiday period.

A crew has already started to set up ahead of filming on Wednesday evening when a choir of 40 members and a 650 strong congregation will perform a number of hymns in front of the cameras.

Worshippers throughout the Portsmouth diocese were invited to apply for tickets to form part of the singing congregation and an overwhelming amount of requests were received.

The Reverend Canon Bob White, vicar of St Mary’s Church, said: ‘Everyone is excited about it, and we are truly honoured because it’s a big responsibility to host a show like Songs of Praise.

‘It’s the first time I have ever taken part in anything like this, and it’s great to be able to share the space with so many people.

‘But it will be a bit strange to look out and see so many lights, cameras and technology being used in the church by the TV crew.’

Songs featuring in the recording include The Day of Resurrection, Now the Green Blade Riseth and Thine Be the Glory.

All the tunes will be played by St Mary’s organist Brain Moles and assistant organist Matthew Dixon.

Mr Moles, who is also the church’s musical director, said: ‘I’m really looking forward to it, it’s a great opportunity.

‘Usually they would bring their own musicians to play for a broadcast of this scale, so it feels like a huge privilege.

‘We’ve done quite a bit of rehearsing to make sure it’s tight and that we don’t hit any bum notes, because we know there’s not going to be any time to do it again.

‘I’m just going to try to take it in my stride and enjoy it.’

Songs of Praise was last shot in the grand building on Fratton Road more than 20 years ago.

Extra footage will be taken on Tuesday evening which will be used in Portsmouth based programmes airing this August and in March of next year.