The BBC today announces a range of new and returning religious programming across BBC Television and Radio in celebration of Easter. The line-up includes innovative documentaries, music, reflection and worship to mark this cornerstone of Christian faith.
From an emotional and personal journey to the heartland of Christianity to Franciscan Friars in Bradford on BBC One, live worship from Hereford Cathedral on BBC Two, to Revd Kate Bottley and the London Community Gospel Choir on Radio 2 and a Good Friday meditation with Revd Lucy Winket on BBC Radio 4, BBC Religion & Ethics reflects both the sanctity of Eastertide and the celebration of the resurrection with a wide range of programming across television and radio.
Fatima Salaria, Commissioner, Religion & Ethics, says: “I am delighted to bring viewers a range of programmes marking the most significant date in the Christian calendar. Easter is a time of reflection and inspiration and I believe this is very much reflected in our output. From poignant moments, thought-provoking documentaries to live worship and music we hope our audiences enjoy the array of programmes during Holy Week."
Christine Morgan, Head of Radio Religion and Ethics, says: “BBC radio marks Easter with a range of special programmes across Radio 2, 3 and 4. With many special guests and beautiful performances scheduled, listeners will be able to engage in the Easter period in their own personal way.”
Central to this year’s television offering are two new programmes on BBC One. Fern Britton's Holy Land Journey (pictured) sees Fern travel to Jerusalem on a life-changing and emotional exploration of faith. Fern discovers the story of Jesus’ final days, bringing viewers along for the deeply personal journey. Meanwhile, Bronx To Bradford: Friars On A Mission heads to Bradford to reveal the everyday lives of a group of Franciscan Friars living in the city. Audiences will see first-hand the dedication involved in the friars’ austere way of life, as well as the remarkable services they provide the community.
Alongside these highlights is a service of live worship from Hereford Cathedral, the hugely popular Easter From Kings on BBC Two, together with Pope Francis’ Easter Sunday Message and Blessing - Urbi et Orbi. Songs Of Praise will also have a special Easter Sunday edition featuring community performance, the Manchester Passion, from the Cathedral Gardens.
Meanwhile on BBC radio, Easter editions of key religious programmes will provide time for conversation, reflection, as well as classic and contemporary music.
At The Foot Of The Cross returns to BBC Radio 2 on Good Friday when Diane Louise Jordan hosts an evening of storytelling, poetry and music with artist and writer Siku, the Bach Choir and special guests. Plus, in ‘Easter Glory’ Revd Kate Bottley teams up with the stunning voices of the London Community Gospel Choir in a celebration of hymns and gospel favourites on Easter Sunday evening.
On BBC Radio 4 in a powerful Good Friday meditation, Revd Lucy Winkett explores feelings of loneliness and abandonment; feelings which formed a profound part of Jesus’ experience as he faced his final days. She talks to people whose faith has been challenged in the face of their own struggles with loneliness.
And in the setting of the historic surroundings of Norwich Cathedral the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James celebrates Easter Morning with a feast of rousing Easter music.
BBC Radio Three marks Holy Week and Easter week with Choral Evensong broadcasting live from Chester Cathedral and Norwich Cathedral respectively.
Fern Britton's Holy Land Journey
Fern Britton travels to Jerusalem on a life-changing journey of faith. Fern searches for the real story of Jesus’ final days, from his triumphal arrival to his brutal crucifixion. It’s an emotional trip, which culminates with Fern’s decision to mark her pilgrimage in a way she will remember forever.
Bronx To Bradford: Friars On A Mission
How can a group of Franciscan Friars help the poor and turn around a disused inner-city church, all while living a simple life of prayer and devotion? This Easter, Bronx To Bradford: Friars On A Mission delves into the unique lives of those based in a Franciscan Friary in Bradford. Following five friars on their mission to support the poor, both spiritually and materially, this programme examines just how challenging is it for friars to help those in need, while they themselves must live a humble life of few and simple comforts.
Easter Day Service - Live from Hereford Cathedral
Live from Hereford Cathedral, BBC One presents a traditional Eucharist for Easter Day. Introduced by the Dean, the Very Revd. Michael Tavinor, the Cathedral Choir will lead the congregation in familiar Easter hymns, including Jesus Christ Is Risen Today and Thine Be The Glory. The service will be led by the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd. Richard Firth. The service will also feature the Cathedral’s medieval and modern treasures, such as the historic Mappa Mundi as well as the Ascension window - a tribute to the Special Air Services based in Hereford.
Urbi et Orbi
Pope Francis’ Easter message, from Vatican City to the world. Multi-camera coverage will join viewers with the hundreds of people crowding St Peter’s Square to hear the Pope’s words and receive the traditional blessing. The commentator will be Martin Bashir.
Songs Of Praise
During Lent, Songs of Praise’s special guest presenter, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, meets inspirational Christians with extraordinary stories. Contributors included Gee Walker (9 April), who turned a devastating tragedy into a charity which seeks to promote racial harmony.
On Palm Sunday (9 April), Songs Of Praise visits a Bolton Abbey’s tenant farmer in the Yorkshire Dales, who's in the throes of lambing season. The programme also visits a Cistercian Monk at Rievaulx Abbey to discuss the historic importance of farming to their order.
On Easter Sunday, David Grant introduces the Manchester Passion from the Cathedral Gardens. A community performance of the story of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection through eye witness accounts from the Bible. The programme includes Easter hymns and songs reflecting salvation, renewal and forgiveness.
Also on Easter Sunday we meet Dr. Julie McDonnell, who has raised more than £7 million for blood cancer treatment through her bell ringing charity, Strike Back Against Blood Cancer. We visit Julie at St George’s church, in her home village of Brede where it all started.
Easter from King’s
Music and readings for Holy Week and Easter from the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge. The world-famous Choir, directed by Stephen Cleobury, sing some of the best-loved choral music for the season, including God So Loved The World (Stainer), Hallelujah (Handel’s Messiah) and Ubi caritas (Duruflé).
The Choir is joined by mezzo soprano Kiandra Howarth for a glorious performance of the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascangi). The story of Jesus’s death and resurrection is told in the words of the King James Bible and reflected on in poems by Rowan Williams, Phineas Fletcher and Edmund Spenser.
At The Foot Of The Cross
Join Diane Louise Jordan (pictured) at Watford Colosseum for a night of music, poetry and reflection to mark Good Friday (14 April). The BBC Concert Orchestra and the Bach Choir, conducted by David Hill, perform excerpts from Mozart's Requiem. The story of Good Friday will also be told in an innovative new way, by artist and designer, Siku (the illustrator behind the Manga Bible, Judge Dredd and 2000AD comics). The programme will include performances by special guests, Wynne Evans and Geraldine Latty.
BBC Young Musician of the Year, Sheku Kanneh-Mason will play cello pieces by Fauré and Casals and BBC Radio 2 Young Choristers Of The Year, Florence Cain and Edward Hyde, will unite to perform John Ireland's It Is A Thing Most Wonderful; Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu; and César Frank's Panis Angelicus.
The Sunday Hour
Diane Louise Jordan celebrates Easter Day with a special edition of The Sunday Hour (16 April, 6-7.00am). Featuring uplifting music, Easter hymns, gospel and choral classics, the programme will also include listener dedications and requests.
Good Morning Sunday
Join Clare Balding this Easter on Good Morning Sunday (16 April, 7am- 9am). In this special Easter programme, Claire will talk to the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Dr David Walker, live in studio. Guests also include composer Patrick Hawes and Jonathan Bryan - an extraordinary 11 year-old who is fast gaining a reputation as a poet. Jonathan was born with severe cerebral palsy and unable to communicate until his mother found a way for him to communicate with one eye using special boards. Today Jonathan presents a powerful Easter poem composed specially for Good Morning Sunday.
The Revd Kate Bottley introduces an hour of music and reflection for Easter Sunday, with the stunning voices of the London Community Gospel Choir (16 April, 8pm-9pm). This special programme features favourite Gospel songs and spirituals recorded in BBC Maida Vale studios, London.
Live during Holy Week from Chester Cathedral:
Introit: Salvator mundi (Howells)
Office Hymn: O Thou who through this Holy Week (Cheshire)
Psalm 88 (Marlow)
First Lesson: Isaiah 63 vv.1-9
Canticles: Darke in A minor
Second Lesson: Revelation 14 v.18-15 v.4
Anthem: Attende Domine (Villette)
The Winchester Litany (Jonathan Harvey)
Philip Rushforth (Director of Music)
Live during Easter week from Norwich Cathedral:
Introit: My beloved spake (Hadley)
Office Hymn: Ye choirs of new Jerusalem (St Fulbert)
Psalm 105 (Hawes, Brooksbank)
First Lesson: Song of Solomon 3 vv.2-5; 8 vv.6-7
Canticles: Dyson in D
Second Lesson: John 20 vv.11-18
Anthem: Blessed be the God and Father (S S Wesley)
Te Deum in C (Stanford)
Organ Voluntary: Carillon-Sortie (Mulet)
Ashley Grote (Master of Music)
David Dunnett (Organist)
Every year, to celebrate the season of Lent, Radio 4 invites contributors to explore the story of the Passion from a personal perspective. This year the theme is destiny. In the last in this series former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Richard Harries, who is 80 this year, talks about confronting destiny in old age (12 April, 8.45pm-9pm).
Prayer For The Day, Holy Week
With New Testament Scholar, author and former Bishop of Durham, the Revd Professor Tom Wright.
Daily Service for Good Friday
A dramatic retelling of the death of Jesus Christ, from St Martin-in-the-Fields in London’s Trafalgar Square (14 April). The service is led by the Revd Dr Sam Wells and features well-known Radio 4 voices.
Good Friday Meditation
In the final few days, Jesus knew that that he was going to be crucified. It was a lonely time, as those closest to him did not know his fate and when he needed them most, deserted him. In the Good Friday Meditation, the Revd Lucy Winkett explores these feelings of loneliness and abandonment in a 21st century context, featuring conversations with a new mother, a 92 year-old woman and a man whose faith has been challenged by his struggle with self-hatred and addiction (14 April, 3pm-3.30pm). How is it that despite success, wealth and relationships we can feel lonely in the crowd? Revd Lucy Winkett investigates different types of loneliness and challenges our perceptions of what it means to be alone.
Emily Buchanan presents a special Easter edition of Sunday, examining the role of religion in British rural life (16 April, 7.10-7.50am). This programme will include an exploration of the challenges experienced by church ministry in the countryside and the future of the thousands of listed rural church buildings.
Malta is famous for its Easter morning processions of the Statues Of The Risen Christ, which attract thousands of people from across the island. The Easter Sunrise service explores this tradition from St Paul’s Pro Cathedral in Valletta, Malta, where the Chancellor, the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey, lights the Paschal Candle from the Easter Fire (16 April).
Easter Sunday Worship
A feast of Easter carols and hymns live from Norwich Cathedral, with the Bishop of Norwich The Rt Revd Graham James (16 April) From the setting of this historic cathedral, the congregation celebrate Easter morning with such favourites as The Lord Of The Dance and Thine Be The Glory.
Prayer For The Day, Easter Week
With His Grace Bishop Angaelos General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.