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BBC One’s Songs Of Praise to mark 60 years on air

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BBC One’s Songs Of Praise, the world’s longest-running religious television programme, turns 60 this October. The Songs Of Praise 60th Anniversary programme will air on Sunday 3 October (BBC One, 2.45pm) marking nearly 3,000 programmes since the first transmission in 1961.

Hosted at Westminster Abbey, Aled Jones will be joined by fellow presenters from the past and present, including Katherine Jenkins, Sally Magnusson and David Grant. The programme will feature star guests and favourite hymns, as well as some special musical collaborations.

Also, marking the anniversary, airing this Sunday 26 September, a special episode of Songs Of Praise, Where It All Began, will look back at standout moments across 60 years of Songs Of Praise.

Aled Jones says: “I’ve been a Songs of Praise presenter for over 20 years and it’s one of the biggest joys of my life. It is an honour to be able to share uplifting stories of faith with our dear audience and to gladden hearts with music that means the world to me. Here’s to a future filled with wonderful Songs Of Praise!”

Songs of Praise continues to reach over one million viewers each week. The original Songs Of Praise broadcasts went out live on Sundays from churches, many of which were chosen because they were near sports grounds, where the outside broadcast vehicles were in use on the previous Saturday afternoons. Interviews were introduced in 1977 to complement the hymn singing. The biggest congregation on the programme was at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 2 January 2000, with 65,000 people celebrating the new millennium.

Over the years there have been 270 presenters on the programme, the current family of Songs Of Praise presenters are: Aled Jones, Katherine Jenkins, Sean Fletcher, Canon Kate Bottley, Brenda Edwards, Claire McCollum, JB Gill, Katie Piper, Laura Wright, Pam Rhodes, Gemma Hunt, James Lusted, YolanDa Brown and Radzi Chinyanganya.

Pam Rhodes is the longest-serving presenter. Having first appeared on the series in 1987, she has presented 386 episodes over the years. Aled Jones has been on the programme for 21 years; he first presented as a child in 1988 from Pwllheli, and since he joined the team in 2000 he has hosted 338 episodes. Guest presenters over the years have included Cliff Richard, Don Maclean and Charlotte Church.

Patrick Holland, Director Factual, Arts and Classical Music, says: “For 60 years, Songs of Praise has held a very special place on BBC One. Never has this been more important than the past year – when as churches had to close their doors Songs Of Praise continued to bring together people of faith across the UK every Sunday. It is a great honour to pay tribute to the world’s longest-running religious television programme – long may it continue.”

Matthew Napier, Songs of Praise Series Editor, says: “Through the singing of hymns and worship songs and by featuring ordinary Christians putting their faith into action in remarkable ways, Songs Of Praise has reached its 60th by continuing to bring joy, comfort and spiritual enrichment to audiences across the UK.”

Songs Of Praise is produced by Avanti Media and Nine Lives Media, the Executive Producers are Emyr Afan and Cat Lewis, and the Series Editor is Matthew Napier. Songs of Praise is commissioned by Daisy Scalchi and Carla-Maria Lawson for BBC One.

60th Anniversary hymns and credits –

Music list:

Lord For The Years – Congregation

Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace – Laura Wright & Alexander (Songs of Praise Young Chorister of the Year)

All People That On Earth Do Dwell – Congregation

Blessed Assurance – Monique McKen (Songs Of Praise Gospel Singer Of The Year) & YolanDa Brown

Great Is Thy Faithfulness – Congregation

Let All The World In Every Corner Sing – Westminster Abbey Choir (conductor – James O’Donnell)

Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord – Aled Jones & Katherine Jenkins

Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer – Congregation

Conductor – Ken Burton

Organist – Matthew Jorysz

Choir – Vocal Creation