The Queen congratulates the BBC show on its 60th birthday
The Queen congratulated “everyone involved” in the BBC One praise songs as the show celebrates 60 years on the air.
Almost 3,000 episodes of the world’s oldest religious television program have been broadcast since it was first broadcast from Cardiff in 1961.
In a message broadcast on Sunday’s Westminster Abbey broadcast, the Queen applauded the series for showing Christianity “a living faith”.
Hosted by Aled Jones, the show will feature former presenters and featured guests.
In a pre-recorded message, the Queen said: “For 60 years Songs Of Praise has brought together congregations and BBC viewers across the UK in collective worship.
“During this time, the program showed Christianity as a living faith, not only through hymns and songs of worship, but also by showcasing the many people who have made their faith the center of their lives.
“I congratulate Songs Of Praise and everyone involved with the program on its 60th anniversary.”
The show, which continues to reach over a million viewers every week, was conceived by television producer Donald Baverstock, who – in 1961 – saw a test transmission of an outdoor show of hymn songs. in Welsh from a Welsh chapel.
He then described the emotional attraction of “ordinary people, in their finest hats, singing with their souls”.
Mr Baverstock suggested to Stuart Hood, then BBC TV’s director of programs, that something similar might work for the designated ‘close time’, between 6.15 p.m. and 7.25 p.m. on a Sunday evening, which was – at the time – reserved, by law, for religious programs.
The first program came from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cardiff, from which a format developed for touring cathedrals and parish churches across Britain, with an emphasis on the singing of congregational hymns.
It was an overnight success, reaching up to 12 million viewers on select Sundays.
The original shows were broadcast live on Sundays from churches, many of which were chosen because they were near athletic fields, where outdoor broadcast vehicles were used on previous Saturday afternoons.
By the time broadcast restrictions were relaxed in 1972, the show had become a mainstay of the Sunday schedule.
Over the years, there have been 270 presenters on the program, including Sir Cliff Richard, Charlotte Church and audience’s favorite singer Sir Harry Secombe – who moved on to the show with the demise of the ITV Highway anthems in 1993.
Actress Dame Thora Hird then hosted the spinoff show Praise Be! for 17 years.
Pam Rhodes, the show’s longest-serving presenter, presented 386 episodes, having made her first appearance on the show in 1987.
Current host Aled Jones has been on the show for 21 years, having debuted in Songs of Praise as a child in 1988.
The format of the show has changed over the years, reflecting the changing face of Christianity in the UK.
Interviews were introduced in 1977, to supplement the singing of hymns, and viewers heard stories of faith from members of the local community.
Over the years, there have also been increasingly ambitious outdoor issues.
In December 1982, Songs of Praise traveled to the Falklands to meet some of the islanders and the armed forces stationed there. More recently, in 2015, an episode was filmed at the “Jungle” migrant camp in Calais.
To mark the millennium, more than 65,000 singers performed live at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The show was relaunched in 2014 in a magazine format, and now features a range of churches, venues, congregations and choirs – including gospel and Pentecostal churches – but remains resolutely “a spectacle of Christian music”.
“For 60 years, Songs of Praise held a very special place on BBC One. It was never more important than last year – when churches had to close their doors, Songs Of Praise continued to bring people together of faith across the UK every Sunday, ”said Patrick Holland, factual director, arts and classical music.
He added: “It is a great honor to pay tribute to the world’s oldest religious television program – may this continue for a long time.”
Songs of Praise: The 60th Anniversary airs Sunday at 2:45 p.m. on BBC One