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September 24th, 2010 - Singing for the Pope in Birmingham
Singing for the Pope in Birmingham

Singing for the Pope in Birmingham

Singing for the Pope in Birmingham

Thousands of worshippers cheered and waved flags as the Pope celebrated Mass in Birmingham's Cofton Park on the fourth and final day of his state visit to the UK. A massed choir of 2000 included some 500 members from the Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme, all dressed in their papal yellow hoodies! Eleven Coaches left Yorkshire, literally at the crack of dawn, to transport children in time for the extensive security checks on site at 4am. The rehearsal began two hours later, but the rain, cold and lack of sleep did little to dampen the excitement of the young singers. The children, who all attend Catholic schools, are drawn from Bradford, Keighley, Huddersfield, Harrogate and Leeds. These include all the members of the Cathedral boys' and girls' choirs, the Bradford boys ‘and girls' choirs, Huddersfield boys' and girls' choirs and Harrogate boys' choir.

The pope's arrival by helicopter was could be seen on the large television screens at the venue, and once the Popemobile came into view, the singing began with the hymn ‘Praise to the holiest in the height'. The mass was broadcast live around the world on most news channels and afterwards the Pope could be seen speaking to some of the organisers. These included the choir's conductor, Fr Peter Jones from Birmingham Diocese, and the Master of Ceremonies,  Mgr Philip Moger, Dean of Leeds Cathedral. After the service the eleven coaches made their way quietly back to Yorkshire and the singers caught up on a nights missed sleep.

Preparations for all the children taking part had been taking place over the last 6 months, in schools. The music for the Beatification of John Henry Newman included many of the hymns he had written over his life. Also featured was a new mass by James MacMillan for choir, organ and brass.


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