Special Service of Remembrance.

My vlog today – which includes my thoughts on how Bath should mark the first anniversary of our nation being under viral siege – was recorded before l received news of a special online Service of Remembrance being broadcast via the Bath Abbey YouTube channel on Wednesday next at 7pm.

I will put full details after the video.

People across Bath and North East Somerset and Wiltshire whose loved ones have died during the coronavirus pandemic are being invited to join an online community service of remembrance. The Community Remembering Together Service will be broadcast on Wednesday 24 March at 7pm via the Bath Abbey YouTube channel and will be available here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSTBxSCyS70_S_ZiPd-DANA

The event is organised jointly by the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, Dorothy House Hospice Care, Bath Abbey, SWALLOW Charity and Bath and North East Somerset Council.

RUH Lead Chaplain, the Reverend Narinder Tegally, said: “The service is intended to bring together those within the local community, who follow a professed faith or no faith, to remember all those who have died across Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire and Somerset at the RUH, at Dorothy House, in our local care homes and at home since the virus first arrived last year.

“As places of worship are currently closed for communal acts of devotion, the service will be pre-recorded and offered online. Not only is this an opportunity for people to remember those who have died during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is also a way for the wider community to be together, to grieve together and support all in the local community who have had their lives significantly changed by it.”

The Community Remembering Together Service will include:

  • An address by The Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton
  • Personal stories from two bereaved families
  • Reading from Wayne De Leeuw, CEO of Dorothy House Hospice Care
  • Prayers, readings and poetry offered from different faith traditions and none.
  • During this service, people will be invited to light a candle at home
  • Music by the RUH musician in residence, and Christchurch and Bath Abbey Choirs
  • Closing words from Cara Charles Barks MBE, CEO of the RUH Bath
  • Song by SWALLOW – South West Action for Learning and Living Our Way Supporting people with learning disabilities

This time of remembrance will offer a central act of devotion and remembrance for all. It will focus upon the lighting of candles as a sign of hope and renewal as well as a time of celebrating the lives of those who have died and also giving thanks for all who have cared for them.

The Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, said: “This time last year we’d only just heard of Covid-19. Now, a year on, it’s totally turned our lives upside down, taking away so many things we’d previously taken for granted, but above all, taking away many people who are dear to us and our communities. It’s been made so much more difficult by us not being able to have proper funeral services. So many people have not been able to gather together with family and friends to say goodbye as they would have wished. Our hope is that the Remembering Together Service will provide some of that solace and sharing in loss that is part of bereavement.”

Imam Dr Mohammed Gamal Abdelnour, Imam of Bath Mosque, said: “Offering condolences and sharing in grief with the family and friends of the deceased are considered valued acts of charity in Islam. However, coronavirus has largely changed the way we grieve, the way we honour the demise of our loved ones, and also the way we express our condolences. All these manifestations doubled our grief and added salt to our wounds. Believing in God’s ultimate mercy and mysterious wisdom, I pray that the Remembering Together Service will help heal our griefs and revitalize the sense of togetherness that we have missed since the virus began Amin.”

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath

Bath MP Wera Hobhouse said: “The pandemic has been a great challenge in our lives, and this is especially true for those who have lost loved ones. In addition to this, I know that many in our community are missing the chance to worship communally and draw comfort from being together. I am pleased to welcome news of this event, which will help to bring peace and comfort to those who have suffered the most.”

Cllr Dine Romero, Leader of B&NES

Cllr Dine Romero, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “As we approach the first anniversary since the first death from coronavirus in the UK, it’s only fitting that we should come together to remember those we have lost. Anyone who have been affected by the devastating effects of this terrible virus should join us and light a candle and remember loved ones. This is an anniversary that no-one wanted, but if we … … keep working together and doing the right things, we will drive the numbers down and get through these dark times.”

Meanwhile, Bath Abbey’s Director of Music, Huw Williams, has composed a new piece of music for a special Bath & North East Somerset event to remember all those who have lost their lives since the start of the Covid pandemic in the UK.

Members of Bath Abbey’s Choir of Lay-clerks singing the new anthem in the Abbey conducted by Huw Williams.

The new anthem – ‘Lord, you have been our dwelling place’ – is set to words from Psalm 90 – a prayer of Moses, which has brought comfort to those grieving loved ones throughout the centuries.  It will be heard for the first time at the Community Remembering Together Service online on Wednesday 24 March at 6pm, when it will be performed by Bath Abbey’s Choir of Lay-clerks, joined by professional sopranos.

Huw Williams, Director of Music at Bath Abbey, is a highly regarded conductor, organist and composer. While serving as Her Majesty The Queen’s Director of Music, Huw conducted the music for Prince George’s Christening, HM The Queen’s Christmas message in 2015, the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph, and has composed music that has been sung at St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace. 

Williams explains how he came to write this new anthem for the Remembering Together Service: “As the famous composer John Rutter says, it always starts with a phone call! While the service was still in its planning stages, I got a phone call inviting me to write a memorial piece for it, so have been working on it for some weeks now. It’s always an honour to be asked to write music, however this is especially momentous as well as poignant, as it’s commemorating something that has affected us all and changed our lives forever. 

“We chose the words from Psalm 90: ‘Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations’. The music itself is rather dark and mysterious; there’s a sense of anguish and grieving which is very much part of the music, with angular harmonies and wistful, short solos. I hope people enjoy it and it brings a sense of comfort and hope for a more optimistic year ahead of us. It is very much written as a tribute to those who have lost loved ones through this pandemic and a thank you to the care workers in the NHS and elsewhere who have guided us through this anxious 12 months.” 

Here’s a clip of Huw talking about the anthem with a snippet of the Choir singing it in the Abbey. https://youtu.be/jjxl7RKn_Wc