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The nation's favourite hymn: Songs Of Praise

Category: Factual & Arts TV

Date: 27.10.2005
Printable version

How Great Thou Art has been named the nation's favourite hymn, in a poll by BBC ONE's Songs of Praise.


Tens of thousands of viewers voted for their favourite hymn and the top ten can be heard in a special programme from the Royal Albert Hall (5.30pm, Sunday 30 October, BBC ONE).


Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind comes in at number two on the list, but the American poet who wrote the hymn would be horrified at the thought of Songs of Praise raising the rafters with his words.


John Greenleaf Whittier was a Quaker, and the words were part of a poem extolling the virtues of silent contemplation over the excesses of singing and dancing!


Anyone who thought the age of hymn writing was long dead will take comfort from the top ten hymns, which include the modern hymns Shine Jesus Shine; Be Still for the Presence of the Lord; and In Christ Alone, which was written just three years ago by songwriters Stuart Townend and Keith Getty.


How Great Thou Art is a 20th Century composition based on a Swedish poem sung to a Swedish folk tune, and the poem was translated into English via Russian. The hymn was the favourite of the Christian evangelist Billy Graham and its official title is O Lord My God, When I In Awesome Wonder.


"It's no surprise that How Great Thou Art captured so many votes; the melody is beautiful," says Songs of Praise presenter Aled Jones.


"Hearing a thousand voices singing the top ten hymns in The Royal Albert Hall was truly inspirational."


Many hymns evoke a sense of national pride and the overtones of empire and majesty in The Day Thou Gavest, which comes in at number three, made it one of Queen Victoria's favourites.


Proud Welshman Aled Jones is only too happy to see Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer feature at number eight. The tune, Cwm Rhondda means 'Rhondda Valley' in Welsh, and was written a hundred years ago by John Hughes.


The words he set were produced two centuries earlier by the great and prolific William Williams, writer of more than 1,000 hymns. It was famously sung in the trenches of the First World War by Welsh regiments to keep their spirits up, and it's a firm favourite with Welsh rugby crowds.


An old favourite, Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, at number five is sung to another fantastic Welsh tune, Blaenwern.


Whilst Be Thou My Vision, rooted in an Irish prayer that's 12 centuries old, is sung to the old Irish tune 'Slane'.


The Top Ten Hymns


1 - How Great Thou Art

2 - Dear Lord and Father of Mankind Tune: Repton

3 - The Day Thou Gavest Tune: St. Clement

4 - Be Thou My Vision Tune: Slane

5 - Love Divine, All Loves Excelling Tune: Blaenwern

6 - Be Still, For The Presence Of The Lord Tune: Be Still

7 - Make Me A Channel

8 - Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer Tune: Cwm Rhondda

9 - In Christ Alone

10 - Shine, Jesus, Shine






Category: Factual & Arts TV

Date: 27.10.2005
Printable version


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