Launched on 1 October 1961, the BBC’s experimental programme of hymns and church singing was due to run for just 6 weeks.
50 years on from those first experimental broadcasts, the nation celebrates the world’s longest running religious TV broadcast.
50 years on from those first experimental broadcasts, the nation celebrates the world’s longest running religious TV broadcast. Each edition of the 2248 broadcasts of music and inspirational interviews is the Sunday evening highlight for lovers of congregational singing, many unable to reach a place of worship.
50 years of song and interviews
Songs of Praise celebrated 50 years of broadcasting history in October 2011 with almost 7000 voices and the nation’s best loved congregational gems. The capacity congregation packed the historic Alexandra Palace to rejoice in 50 years of singing praise.
The long lived Sunday religious broadcast continues to bring the best in congregational and choral singing together with stories of faith amid hardship, quiet resilience and sacrificial dedication into homes of viewers nationwide.
Inspirational commemorative book
Now the past, present and future of this landmark TV programme is the subject of a colourful, informative and inspirational coffee-table quality book. Like the series, and the accompanying celebratory CD, the book represents 50 years investment by churches across the UK and beyond.
Acknowledged in the book’s preface, Songs of Praise is all about the 1800 congregations and their 12,500 songs of the last 50 years. Though the content and format has changed over the years, the essential element remains the same; the joyous experience of Christians singing together.
Archive of behind the scenes photos
The high production values of 'Songs of Praise: celebrating 50 years' give you a gallery of fascinating archive photographs from the early days of television, and captivating images from the hundreds of scenes and locations visited in more recent broadcasts.
This is a book for the many whose love of Songs of Praise goes beyond the panning shots of enthusiastic singers. Inside the covers are on-location shots from recordings as diverse as beneath the wings of a Lancaster Bomber in RAF Scampton to filming on the Rio Grande.
Biography of a national TV treasure
Memories are revived with pages from the 1961 Radio Times and emotions stirred with archive pictures from the Aberfan coal tip disaster of 1966. The pictures are a reminder that Songs of Praise were sung through all those years to God present, if not always appreciated in all those events.
Trevor Barnes’ book is not simply a nostalgic picture book. It’s a biography of a much loved national treasure and an account of the devotion and behind the scenes effort that brought Songs of Praise an audience that peaked in 1984 with over 11 million viewers.
Honest appraisal of a challenging future
There is much to celebrate in the achievement of Songs of Praise, but the book doesn’t set out to simply praise the programme’s survival. There is an honest appraisal of what Songs of Praise sets out to do and the challenges that face it now and will in the future.
In modern consumer driven broadcasting, no programme has a right to longevity. The book gives an essential insight into the workings of a programme, so simple in its concept and discusses how Songs of Praise can best conitunue to serve the nation for another 50 years.
Songs of Praise: the not-so-trivial files
In the early years, Sunday’s Songs of Praise was often broadcast live from near football grounds where the cameras had been used to film football matches the Saturday before.
Quick Guide to Songs of Praise: Celebrating 50 years
What is it?
- Colourful, informative and inspirational story of this favourite TV programme.
- Celebration of the people and places involved in more than 2000 broadcasts.
- Past, present and future of religious broadcasting in an uncertain media future.
What as it got for me?
- Definitive photographic record and an insight into a behind-the-scenes TV world.
- Background to the programme’s success and its place in TV programme schedules.
- Beautiful, intelligent gift for anyone with an interest in the well loved TV programme.
Over to You
At Eden.co.uk you can find a truly interactive Christian community helping you find all you need to live, learn and grow your faith.
In the modern world of broadcasting, even public service programming is driven by consumer demands and commercial targets. No programme is assured of a place in the broadcast schedules.
- How important do you think a programme like Songs of Praise is to the ‘character’ of the nation, do you fear for its demise or hope for a replacement?
- If you were the producer of Songs of Praise, what would you do to ensure its survival or improve its relevance to church goers, and the un-churched?
Tell us. Post your ideas, views and tips - beautiful, brilliant or bizarre at Eden.co.uk
March 1st, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison